First off, the term “half marathon” indicates that it is not the FULL marathon. It is only half. Which is a terrible attitude. It is still 21.1 kilometres. That is 21.1 kilometres farther than 0. Which is fantastic, however you look at it.
On Sunday, I ran the Banff Half-Marathon. It was absolutely beautiful. The setting was amazing. On the route I saw mountains, rivers and elk. There were so many people and they were all excited about running in such a gorgeous place. There were 1084 participants, and the average time was 2:15:03. In my division, there were 126 runners and I placed 58th. Of the female runners, I placed 284th out of 687th. I am pretty darn happy about that. My official time was 2:12:34.
Regardless of the time or place is the fact that every single person who was there had a reason to be there. Once upon a time, maybe they started running to lose weight. Maybe they were worried about heart disease. Maybe they wanted to make new friends and joined a running group. Maybe they were bored and started walking and that eventually led to running. Whatever the reason, every single person there was successful and should be proud of themselves.
For me, more important than the division, or gender, or time, is the fact that I started. I almost didn’t make it. Just a few days before the race, I had a seizure in my sleep. No injuries, but I was very sore and very upset. I considered not running. My muscles were sore, my head hurt, I was tired. “I couldn’t run because my body hurt”. While part of that was true-ish, I was just trying to make excuses. The race was well marked, there were lots of volunteers, there were medical aid stations, and there would be lots of other runners. Although it would have been very easy to make the excuse and skip the race, I would have been doing exactly that: skipping it. If I had a concussion as a result of the seizure, I may have reasonably considered not running, but that just wasn’t the case. I was tired and sore. That was it.
I can’t say that the entire race was fun-fun-fun. My calves ached. My head was pounding with each step. I wore shoes I hadn’t planned to and managed to tear a hole through the toe (which is totally unrelated to epilepsy). While I was running though, what I thought to myself was “How on earth am I ever going to manage a marathon?” (I’ve registered for a marathon later this year). I reminded myself then though just to get through the race that’s in front of me. That’s all there is to it. What is immediately in front of me is what I need to get through. One foot in front of the other. I am there, running, with all the challenges I have faced in my life, just like everyone else.
As a result, I had an amazing time. Some moments I hurt. Some moments I was completely lost in my surroundings, awed by the beauty of the mountains (and I am lucky I didn’t trip). I saw life growing around me. It was a fantastic event and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to run in it. The journey to the starting line is longer than the journey to the finish line. I am infinitely impressed by all the people who made it to the race on Sunday, either to run, to support friends and family, as organizers, and as volunteers. Way to go, to everyone!