Bittersweet in Hamilton: Part two
(Just in case you missed it, Part one. It’s like the Twilight saga – you’ll be totally lost if you don’t follow from the very beginning. Totally lost. You won’t even know if you should be on Team Edward or Team Jacob!?)
I woke up super early on Sunday morning – partly excited, partly hyperventilating about a stressful daylight savings situation. I just don’t trust time. Or understand it. Forward, backward, gain an hour, lose an hour, yada-yada…just tell me if it’s the middle of the night or if I slept through the last 3 days, thankyouverymuch.
So after checking my phone, alarm clock, computer and my all-time favourite channel, the weather network, I was convinced that I was not an hour late and was a-ok for time. So the usual pre-race stuff ensued…breakfast of champions, precise race bib pinning, double knotting of shoelaces… very important stuff here people. It’s a mental game really.
It was the perfect temperature for sporting my new short sleeve shirt with matching arm warmers. Because that’s what matters – how I look. I knew it would be chilly to start and the arm warmers would be ideal when I needed something to strangle myself with half-way. Win!
The race began at a high school which was easy to find and had plenty of room to hang out in before the start. Cousin K, Muffin and I had passed the time by making of fun of weirdos. C’mon…even if you are a runner, you know that half of the people look ridiculous or are doing ridiculous looking things. Between the bum kicks, garbage bags, copious amounts of spandex, band-aidy nipples, shaved legs…they’re just asking for it.
So after plenty o’ judging and smirking (and subtle finger pointing), a banana to top off my morning toast and pb, and a last minute trip through the port-a-potty village – we set off to see the marathoners start.
It was a bit of a late start, so there was some confusion (oh, just me?) when we halfers started to corral ourselves up. Having opened my big fat mouth I was on the look out for the 1:50 pace bunny. I elbowed and kicked my way through a few people and tried to get an “edge of the pack” spot to start (because it’s easier to pass the 18 abreast pack runners and any walkers who don’t know how to line up). Still trying to maximize the length of my entire 5’2 body to spot a pace bunny…any pace bunny…I finally asked the tall dude beside me if he knew where we were. And he pointed to just up ahead of me, the 2:00 bunny. Shoot. At least I knew where I was though. Oh wait, and just behind me was the 1:50 bunny. Amazeballs. Off to a wonderfully confusing start.
As you know, I’m not great at recalling details of actual races…the Big Guy has blessed me the with ability to repress all race memories and push any run-inspired suicidal thoughts way, way down. Racing is a lot like drinking tequila…it’s horrible and you swear you’ll never do it again…then lo and behold, the next thing you know you’re in Mexico peeing your pants (again).
So, some highlights…
The first few km’s were uneventful, although I couldn’t help but notice the wild range of wardrobe choices. Some (crazy) people went for shorts /tank tops, and others, sported full-on parka and snowpants(ish). Thank mercy, I was perfectly dressed – a model runner, if you will. So basically the first 5k were spent dodging flinging gloves and sweaty garbage bags.
Three wonderful things happened around 5-6km. 1) We were greeted with a lovely view..
The infamous decline was starting! 2) the weather started to warm up so much that I slipped into something more comfortable by losing the arm warmers – excellent planning on my part, and 3) “Pumped up kicks” came on and I started to pump it up.
For the next few km’s, I felt hella good. A fantastic playlist, sunny day, good course…I was like Forrest Gump out there. Breaking free and just ruun-n-ning! Between the royal waving, obnoxious air drumming and spirited high-fiving, volunteers were practically yelling for my autograph. I was like a local celebrity. The Katie Holmes of the Hamilton half-marathon. Yes, just like that…just. like. Katie.
I trekked on through the next 10k or so feeling moderate to good…trying to take it all in. I followed a cute girl forever who seemed to be magically running on her tippy toes the whole time (great calves), I fell in love with Brett Dennen, crazy cowbell lady had fab boots on and I told her so, our 13k marker also marked 31k for the marathoners and I was giddy-happy not to be running a full marathon, and I sucked down a gel between 15-16k.
The last few km of the route were along a gorgeous, waterfront path…maybe I was just starting to feel the burn of the race, but it seemed awfully windy to me. Wtf, mother nature?! Call me a baby, but in my whiny little mind, that wind ix-nayed any of the positive effects of the early 5km decline.
At just past the 17km marker, I was talking to myself – obviously – just like all runners do. You see, I’m not the smartest
person runner. Smart runners use their Garmin to pace themselves, determine if they have some time “banked” or if they need to speed up to make their goal time…all that “smart” stuff. Me? I blast my legs during a Black Keys song, talk to myself through not quitting, NEVER look at Garmin (bad luck) and then hope to hell that I can wobble over the finish line, clueless as to what time it is. Very professional.
So, back to my self talk. “You’ve 4k to go…keep this pace for the next few and then put some pepper on it from 19k on…remember, WHAT WOULD KATIE DO?!” I figured that the crowds and cheering (and basically my pride) would fuel me through the last couple of km’s. Just then, I felt a shoulder brush mine as a little posse passed by me. WTF…1:50 pace bunny and his entourage! Hooray…wait, he’s passing me. Crap, crap, crappity-crap. A gust of wind and his stupid little ears blew off right at my head. Literally rubbing it in my face! True story! Nervey little punk. I managed to
wheeze trot along with them until about 18k, then watched as his smug cardboard ears disappeared into the sea of people ahead of me.
I’d like to blame that bunny for something – anything really – just because that’s what I do…point fingers and shirk responsibility. But seeing him was actually an excellent motivator. Now I had some clue as to where I was…despite not having looked at my evil Garmin or seen a pacer at any point in the race.
At less than 1/2 km to the end, I saw a SHARP turn, which then led straight to the finish line! Huzzah! I poured it on (in my head at least…I wasn’t necessarily going any faster but cheese n’crackers, I felt like a Kenyan), puked in my mouth a bit, ignored my angry, angry quads and not-so gracefully hit the mats. Just like always.
End result? 1:50:09.
For a few hours I let that “09” bug me…brooding over how I could have shaved off those few seconds.
- I shouldn’t have been dicking around with the volume on my iPod so much!
- Why did I cross the road to high-five those kids? KIDS!?
- I can’t believe that chick stopped DEAD in front of me for her 1 minute walk break. I should have pulled her hair.
- Gah! Wasted SO MUCH TIME hitting that volunteer in the head with my water cup!
But in the end, it doesn’t matter. It was a great race, I worked hard and felt good. Now if there had only been chocolate milk at the finish…
Thank you Hamilton…see you next year! And thank you to my wonderful, handsome, patient Muffin. Can’t do it without you!