Alllllrighty. Now that I've recovered somewhat from Sunday's 10K, I thought I'd tell you a bit more about it; tell you the stories.
For me it's a ridiculously early wake up. I actually was out of bed earlier than I would be on a work day. Crazy.
Wanted to try to get some food in me because I do not have fun running in the mornings, but do much better running in the afternoon/evenings with a breakfast, lunch and some snacks in my system, so wanted to make sure I'd had something. But waking up that early confused my stomach and it was all, what? Eat? Nah. So I had a half a bagel and a bit of tea and a couple of nuts and called that breakfast.
Headed out the door just before 7:30 (yes, AM!) to meet a friend and walk down to the start together.
We met C-Dawg halfway there and marvelled at the number of people we could already see heading towards the start.
It was an entirely new route this year from the one I walked last year and I missed being able to see the elite runners starting, but there were some cool moments right at the start when a cheer spread through the ten thousand strong group and made its way back to us.
It was also cool once we started moving forward because that meant it was time!
In the race I ran in December, there were maybe a hundred of us so we all just gathered together and started. For this race? With upwards of 10,000 people (yeah, you read that right!) racing, it took us (slower folk) close to 8 minutes to even get to the start line. How awesome is that.
By the time we were starting to run? The elite runners were one fifth of the way done.
Let that blow your mind!
C-Dawg and I weaved our way through downtown, trying not to go to fast but also trying not to get stuck behind walkers. It was really cool to see the normally busy downtown streets closed to traffic and full of people walking and running.
One of the prettiest parts of the route came when we turned onto Vancouver Street and you could see the thousands of thousands of people up a slight incline ahead of us, the trees lining the street and the mountains framed in the background.
It was truly spectacular.
And was also the first time I got a little choked up.
The first part of the race felt pretty good but as much as we tried not to, we must have gone faster than planned because by our fourth set (we run 10 and 1s : 10 minutes of running and one minute of walking) I was starting to feel a little rough.
C-Dawg pointed out that we'd come super far pretty fast and at that point there really was no turning back (we'd already passed the street where my apartment is, ha!) so I figured we'd just keep going even though I knew I was running out of steam and there was still a good few K to go.
They have music stations all throughout the course and it only just occurred to me now why I felt like they weren't playing as much.
Dude, because I was running!
I remember last year I'd hear a good full song as I walked past the bands and this year it was like I'd hear a bar or two and I couldn't figure out why. (I think maybe my brain never quite got out of bed.)
There was another nice turn and then we were on the waterfront.
If you've never been to Victoria, we have this waterfront road, Dallas Rd., that snakes right along the ocean. And when you're on it and looking out at the ocean, you're also looking at this beautiful set of mountains, the Olympics. And when it's sunny and the blue skies are highlighting the snow still on the mountains you remember why you love to live here. And when your best friend reminds you that two years ago you'd just been in a serious car accident and weren't able to walk without pain never mind be running, you know you're very very lucky.
And I got choked up again.
Which is when one of the hills decided to murder me. I took an extra walk break and C-Dawg who could not stop because otherwise the hill wouldn't let her up was always just a few people ahead of me and I wasn't actually sure I could keep running the race anymore.
So I started telling myself I was doing awesome (yes, outloud) and that I was proud of myself and that I could do it.
And then I saw the girl dressed in the bear costume and the firefighter in full gear and I said well, if they can do it, I can certainly keep trying.
But I was feeling pretty icky.
Kept trying to get C-Dawg to tell me a story but neither of us had breath to spare.
Know what was lovely though? The people on the sidelines.
Shouting encouragement, holding signs. The little kids waving at you and the strangers cheering you on.
I'd find myself looking at them and saying thank you. Listening them say I was doing great even though I knew they weren't really talking to me and that I wasn't really doing great.
My favourite sign of the day? By far?
I'll just give you a minute on that one.
It was a massive sign held by a group of older ladies with awesome hats and I saw them twice during the race and both times I laughed.
Got to the point where I knew the end wasn't more than 2K away but I also knew I didn't have it in me to keep going. But that I still had to. But I wasn't sure why.
Just kept on telling myself I could do it and I would do it but man it didn't feel fun.
Not that running really usually does feel fun, but at least when I'm not in a race I can stop when I want.
We turned one of the corners near Fishermans's Wharf and there was a group of international UVic students all there cheering us on with signs and I nearly lost it. Could have sat down right there in the middle of the road and cried.
There's something so amazing about strangers cheering on strangers. Knowing that people are doing something difficult and challenging and just being there for them and encouraging them. It's amazing.
Say what you will about the troubles of the world, we are an amazing creature we humans. I love people. I really do.
At that point I knew that there was less than a K to go but I didn't think I could finish. Didn't want to either. Kept telling C-Dawg as much.
I specifically remember telling her I wasn't going to do this again. Like, never.
Not sure I remember what she said or how many times but I just kept telling her I couldn't do it, that the finish was too far and I really didn't think I could really. But she just kept telling me I could and I would and "come on dude, we can do it."
I swear the finish line was further away than last year. The last 400 meters were about a year long and there was this one guy at the end who was telling people they were almost done and that they could do it. I remember looking at him and saying "tell me again." And he did.
Told me I was almost there, that I could do it.
Which I didn't think I could. Honestly.
Right right at the end when we were in sight of the glorious FINISH banner, someone shouted out my name. I couldn't even look to the side to see who it was but I wanted to cry.
Instead I just kept running.
I can imagine what my face looked like, but I kept running.
And then C-Dawg and I linked arms, and smiling (somehow) crossed the finish line.
Which was awesome.
And then I thought I'd die. Would have felt better to do so I think.
Ripped my Janestrap
off so I could breathe and took a good few deep breaths. Finally.
We high fived a few thousand times and wandered towards the (what I like to call) treats tents.
My chocolate milk was calling my name and I'd mentally promised it to myself a good few times during the run.
By the time we got into the line I felt much better. Was still red in the face and sweaty but I could breathe and was not going to die. Actually started to feel quite chipper.
So when I saw a guy in line behind us with a tiny bib number (elite runner!) I started up a conversation.
The three of us chatted about the race and how he'd done (let's just say he could have run the course three times in the time it took the two of us) and how he was doing World Cup qualifying and it was the best conversation.
I know I have a thing for runners, but part of it is that I'm genuinely interested.
I love that they're continually pushing themselves to reach a goal and that they're focussed and determined.
But yeah, we chatted with this really nice super awesome runner who, it turns out, runs for Canada (I may have bowed at him when he told us that) and I'd just run the same race as him.
I don't know if other races are like that, but you guys? C-Dawg and I just started running in September and we just chatted away with a world class runner. How cool is that? He flew out for the race. And was happy to be there and happy with the city and the course and there he was right behind us in line. Pretty amazing to have that kind of experience, I think. Often the elite runners all know each other and stick to themselves. Oh, yeah, and are already home by the time most of the rest of us are finishing! But I love that this guy was there and so friendly and cool.
It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day, all sun and no wind and a good experience.