There’s still a chill in my bones after running the Legs for Literacy half-marathon in Moncton today. But there’s also a skip in my step – I beat my personal record.
I ran my third half-marathon of the season in 1:59:54, under that sought-after two-hour barrier by the skin of my teeth. Damn, the victory is sweet.
The weather was absolute dirt. It was the kind of yucky late-fall day that makes you shudder just to look out the window. Bitter cold, hovering above zero. Wind and spitting rain.
But, somehow, it all added up to a great race for me, from beginning to end.
The flat terrain of Moncton made for smooth sailing the entire time. I wanted to rip from the beginning (to warm-up, really) but held back my pace between 5:30 mins/km and 5:45. My goal pace was 5:55 but it felt way too slow.
The route involved three segments of the riverside trail, in an out-and-back format.
Coming from Saint John, where you couldn’t avoid a hill if you tried, I can’t even express how delightful it felt to keep up a brisk pace on flat terrain. Yes, it was wet and cold, but it didn’t seem to matter. Once my body warmed up, I was OK. My hat kept the water off my face and my clothes were moisture-wicking.
More than once I hung in runners’ tail winds, tagging on to their paces, then when I felt like they were slowing down, I zipped on by.
When I got to the 15 km mark, I started rejoicing. I knew I was feeling good and that six more kilometres would not slow my pace. I kept it going as best as I could.
Before long, the two-hour pace bunny was at my rear. I ran with the group until they stopped for a walk break, and I kept on going, managing to just keep ahead of them the rest of the way.
The final couple of kilometres were more challenging, but I just kept pushing, knowing I had a new PR (beating 2:01:40). Getting in under two hours would be icing on the cake.
For the last leg, runners leave the trail and run about a block to Main Street, where the crowds are waiting. For some reason, that last piece before the turn is so hard (I remember that from last year’s 10 km).
But rounding the corner, I emptied the tank. I picked up speed, and passed other runners on the home stretch. I saw the timer at 2:00:10 and was filled with glee. I knew my chip time would get me under the two-hour mark.
As I crossed the finish line and was directed to pick up my medal, my heavy breathing turned to sobs. I was just so happy.
By this point, it was no longer spitting, but raining. And my thin shirt was no barrier to the cold. I started shivering and looking for Mark – who ran his own killer 5 km race today – but he was nowhere to be found. I was wandering aimlessly for about 10 or 15 minutes, which felt like forever, before I found him. I was kind of panicky and still emotional, but it was nothing a hot shower couldn’t fix.
I have no good pictures of the best race of my life, because the shoddy weather did not make us feel like sticking around for glamour shots.
But here is what is stamped on my memory forever: 2013 has been an epic running year. Three half-marathons, a 10-miler, a 10 km, a 5-miler, and a couple fun runs. Each one better than the last. I am so grateful to have discovered and enjoyed this sport that has introduced me to so many great people and has enriched my life in so many ways.
There is no feeling out there quite like it: pushing your legs and heart are hard as you can. It hurts but it also feels good, makes you feel like you can take on anything. Do anything, be anything.
I hope it never ends.
In summary: Legs for Literacy half-marathon in Moncton, N.B.
Gun time: 2:00:11
Chip time: 1:59:54
Place for women 30-39: 65/216
Avg pace: 5:43 mins/km
Breakfast: Two pieces of thin toast with jam, half a banana
Fuel: One chocolate gel, Gatorade and water
Weather: Showers and 6-7 C