Yesterday was the Banff Marathon, held in Banff National Park Alberta. I raced in the half-marathon last year. This year, I successfully completed the marathon. It was amazing. The scenery was unbelievably gorgeous. I stopped for pictures because even though I’ve seen Tunnel Mountain and the Three Sisters at least a hundred times, it doesn’t stop being beautiful and different each time. The wildlife I saw on this trip was limited to birds and squirrels, but I was no less excited when I came across them on the route.
The race itself was amazing. The team that put together the event did a fantastic job and it ended up being 100% waste diversion (I believe making it the world’s greenest marathon). Which is amazing on its own. So thank you to everyone who made that possible, staff, volunteers, vendors, first responders, cheer teams, everyone. There were volunteers along the route who made me actually laugh when I was in the last half of the run, when I was definitely feeling it in my knees, IT bands, calves, and definitely my enthusiasm. Thank you.
My final time was 5:07:14, so just shy of 10 minutes more than the time I had for the Victoria Marathon in 2017. I had originally hoped to be less than 5 hours, but along the way, I ended up taking photos for other runners, having photos of me snapped, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) stopping to stretch. I did not train as well or for as long as I did for the marathon I did last year (not to mention the three month time difference). I tried, but the reality is that my medical condition upped its game in 2018 and made training (and everything else) a lot more difficult. Nevertheless, I am SO proud of myself for training when I could, resting when needed, getting to the race and starting, and realizing that during the race, my body needed some breaks.
On top of the limited training, I almost didn’t start the race yesterday. Two additional reasons. One, I was having minor myoclonic seizures and was having trouble staying balanced. Even when I was standing with friends over an hour before the race started, I was struggling to stay up. Second, I’m very superstitious. When I got my race bib, I had number “261”. For anyone who likes running history, “261” was the bib number for Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to run as a numbered entry in the Boston Marathon in 1967. I was so not emotionally ready to have that bib number.
So despite my medical condition and neuroses, I got to the start line. I could end this blog entry right there, because getting to the starting line is a HUGE accomplishment all on its own. Anyone who trains, registers for, and gets to the start of a race should be proud of themselves. I am so impressed by every single runner who was there yesterday. Every single person who was there should still be basking in the glow of an amazing accomplishment, whether it was the 10K, Half-Marathon or Full-Marathon.
I imagine that there are times for every single person where they maybe don’t want to race. Even if it was a race they had been looking forward to for months, or to reach a goal they had set for themselves years ago. There are times where it feels like it might just be too much. There are two perspectives. One is to be realistic and listen to your body (I’ve addressed this in previous blog entries). The other (and this is where “strong-willed” characteristic crosses the line into “stubborn”) is to push through. I could have stopped. I could have not started. Lots of people never run a marathon, never mind run two (so why do I need to do a second?).
I wanted to be there so badly. My training may not have been the level it should have been at. My medical condition was definitely making an appearance. My superstitious nature was completely manifesting itself. But I wanted to do that race. I wanted to be part of the Banff Marathon. Part of me wanted to prove to myself that my condition wasn’t going to stop me from starting. Part of me wanted to embrace “261”.
I was stubborn. I also stopped along the route to stretch periodically, which is me listening to my body. Today I can mostly walk. I’m also sunburned and have blistered feet. While that may sound like a deterrent to running in a marathon, I can absolutely 100% guarantee, that running in that marathon was being part of an absolutely stunning event. It was worth the blisters. It was worth the fear. I’m proud of myself for starting and finishing. As I mentioned earlier as well, everyone there should be proud of themselves.
Thank you again to the team that made it happen.