Another weekend, another race. But actually…
Our little group seems to have so many meaningful race day milestones these days –a mark of pride and achievement, to be sure– that I’d be remiss to try to name any of them as the “Definitive Weekend of Running Awesomeness” for fear of leaving one out. But if I was forced to make a shortlist of, say, the top five annual(ish) weekends that leave an indelible mark upon our crew, Calgary Marathon Weekend would likely be in that list.
Sure, it’s only been a couple years in which Team Terwillegar has found ourselves populating the ranks of runners racing through the downtown streets of our neighbor city, but in those two years we’ve earned a consecutive pair of outstanding and epic participation badges from whichever higher running authorities happen to award that sort of thing.
This year was no exception.
We met for a pasta dinner the evening before, twenty-eight of us filling the tables in a crowded corner of the Old Spaghetti Factory down by Eau Claire Market. There was a distinct air of pre-race jitters, not a drop of alcohol displacing the forty jugs of water that were consumed between heaps of delicious pasta. And the talk was largely a mix of anxious nervousness and speculation on the fate of another of our running pals who, in those very moments, was in the last hours of his 100km ultra marathon a few hundred kilometers away… but who hadn’t checked in to social media for a few hours following an ominous “at 50km very dizzy” comment. (He turned out mostly fine, not quite finishing the race on a bungled ankle, but earning more admiration in all our eyes than I think he’ll ever believe…)
Then race morning arrived. A few lingering nerves. A transit system that left at least one of our crew running for the start line, and a packed corral that scattered a large lot of our team to the winds of solo running.
I stuck with Lynda and my brother for the first third of the race before I lost them in the shuffles. Lynda raced ahead and the next I saw of her was at the finish where she was celebrating her first sub-2 half and, of course, a personal record. Derek had some foot issues, and lost his momentum, but finished still standing. And unbeknownst to me, Stacey was less than a minute behind me for most of the race and nearly matched my time, coming in a mere sixty-odd seconds at my tail.
Jenn had some leg cramps, a frustrating prospect to which I can relate all-too-well thanks to a similar episode last year at the Edmonton Half. To her credit she worked through it and lost only a couple minutes, still cracking a half marathon PR. As she announced as she found me in the grandstand-slash-finish line at the end, she’d “pulled a Brad” and tumbled down to asphalt town thanks to some calf cramping. Potassium!
Leon surprised us all, announcing the evening before (in classic Leon style) that he’d in fact registered for the ultra 50k race… and not the impromptu running of the marathon which we’d assumed he’d spontaneously registered for less than a week previous. He rolled through with a little more than five-hours and thirty on the clock, though I have some evidence in my phone’s chat history that suggests he spent more time texting in the last 8 klicks of the race than running. Still… he ran for three-and-a-half hours longer than I did yesterday.
Oh, and don’t forget Dave, who pulled out a Boston Qualifier time in the marathon yesterday. A bunch of us hung around to watch him finish, squeezing in a nail-biting time with just a minute to spare. Much deserved kudos there!
And of course Heather’s crew who has let the rest of us schmoes mooch and shadow them in their diligent and (obviously) rewarded training regime of the last four months. All those hills and meticulously paced tempo runs made for a slate of awesome first half celebrations. I’ve only just got to know a lot of these folks but hopefully their experience this weekend was positive and keeps them coming back for more torture… at least for the rest of the summer. After all… Edmonton is only a few months away!
I’m hesitant to try and find logic in my own time. I rolled in with a 2:04 on the clock. Four minutes slower than my last half, and not quite meeting my soft goal of casually hoping for a sub-two time. I hadn’t slept great and I had some random aches and pains, not to mention the heat and I are generally not great pals anyways… I would have preferred a steady eight Celsius over the gradual climb into hot-and-sunny that met us during that long morning. That said, I didn’t crash. I just started with a really strong first ten klicks, a strong but slightly slower next five, and an average last quarter. No walls. No fails. Just a solid, but okay race. I probably could have pushed through some of the fatigue, but part of me was just fine with trotting along at a sub-six for two hours and seeing where that landed me.
And I’m happy with that…. particularly since I’ve got another crazy run next weekend.