Prior to starting this blog I had about a year and a half of running experiences. Too many experiences to recall here but certainly some memories worth sharing. So in no particular order…
- Running one August evening in Fitzroy (rural West Ottawa). It was one of those runs I just didn’t feel like doing. It was still muggy, I was tired and Fitzroy is not the flattest area in which to run. I was training for my first half marathon and was starting to question if I would ever really be able to do that distance. Suddenly, as it sometimes happens when running, everything fell into place.
My breathing relaxed and became steady, my legs found a rhythm that was just right and ahead of me there was the most glorious sunset, a shimmering red globe glowing over a farmer’s fields. And at that moment of everything being just right I heard playing on my ipod the following lyrics from Bruce Cockburn’s Lovers in a Dangerous Time: “One minute you are waiting for the sky to fall, the next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all.” And doesn’t that just sum up running? One minute you can’t imagine continuing (and unfortunately that feeling can last for more than a minute!) but in the next breath, or at the very least in another run, you will be dazzled by what you are accomplishing and by the beauty of the world around you. As a runner, these are the moments I wait for.
- Running my first 5k race, Emilie’s Run, in Ottawa on June 25, 2011. Prior to this I had run a 5k and a couple of 3k’s with my 8 year old son, but really, you can’t go too fast with an 8 year old. And who’s kidding who, it was great to have the excuse of running with a kid so I didn’t have to push myself too hard. I had also done many 10k’s and a few half marathons as a Nordic Walker and I was proud of my walking times. But Emilie’s Run would be my first all-out, run til I want to puke effort. I was definitely successful on that last bit, up until that finish line I had never experienced such a sudden urge to lose my breakfast after exercising! But the best part was my time. For the first time I had broken the 30 minute barrier. I crossed that line at 29:05. Even more exciting, the average race time was 29:04. Never had I been so excited to be average! It’s not like this was a new experience for me, really I think it is safe to say I am average at most things I do. But to be an average runner came as a complete shock to someone who always said “I can’t run” or “I am a lousy runner”. I think that was my moment when I realized that I could do this crazy sport of running.
- My first half marathon, the 9 Run Run race in Ottawa. First, it was a repeat of the previous story. Race average time – 2:04:53, my race time – 2:04:50. Could I be any more average? But mostly I will remember the feeling of accomplishment, of doing something that for most of my life I considered impossible. And the bonus… I felt good afterwards. I may have even had a km or two left in me. In fact I do distinctly remember around the 19k mark thinking that maybe one day I could do the Around the Bay 30k. I wasn’t quite ready to think about a full marathon yet but I knew I could do more. I also remember around the 12k mark finding that feeling again where everything is just right and somehow it no longer feels like work. It is a feeling that never lasts too long, by 14 or 15k it very much felt like work again, but for whatever short time you experience the feeling, you can’t help but enjoy it. My “runner’s high” comes after a good run. During my run I just hope to hit those moments of peace, those moments when you almost don’t feel like you are running even though all evidence is to the contrary. Those moments don’t come often enough, but then again maybe that is the point. Maybe these moments have to be a little rare in order for us to recognize them and be thankful for them. All I know is that if you are privileged enough to have these moments, hold on to them and be thankful you get to experience them. It is a gift given to runners, embrace it.