Reflections on a 30k Run

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Today is International Women’s Day. It also would have been my Mom’s 80th birthday. I kind of like that they fall on the same day.

A 30km run allows a lot of time for reflection. But hard-core introspection is not something I’m incredibly comfortable with, so I was fortunate to have a bunch of awesome people to keep me company this morning.

Seriously – a 30km training run?

30km is the longest run I’ve ever done. In my life. 3 weeks ago, I did the First Half Half Marathon. My training runs have been increasing in length since then, and as of today I’ve done three additional ‘half marathons’, at least in terms of kilometres run. I’m working towards my first-ever full marathon, the BMO Vancouver Marathon, taking place on May 4, 2014. There’s more to that story, but I’ll save it for another time.

Yesterday, the weather report was calling for a ‘pineapple express’-like tropical monsoon, worrying me enough that I started Googling things like ‘running in heavy rain’. Not that I haven’t run in rainy conditions, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for the predicted downpour. By 8am today, as we gathered outside Forerunners on 4th Ave, the skies were cloudy but the roads were dry and we set off on our journey.

It’s all uphill from here…and why cancer is a bitch

It’s less than 2km into the run, and we’re headed up the slopes of Alma & Dunbar, an incline that starts at Broadway and doesn’t peak until King Edward (about 15 blocks, for non-locals). “Eyes up, don’t look at your feet, look at your goal” is our pace group leader’s advice. I do my best to comply.

We pick up the pace heading downhill to 41st, and then across to Camosun, aiming for our first water stop. My running buddy and I start chatting about health – a recent medical procedure, people we know who are struggling with their health. I tell her about a young guy in my office who began an unexpected battle with cancer just over a year ago. He recently returned to work and seemed to be on the mend, but just the other day learned that he has to go back in for another invasive surgery, requiring another extended period of recuperation.

Reflecting on that, I recognize yet again how much cancer sucks. How random it is in who is affected. Some battles are won, many are not. My Mom lost her battle last year a mere 6 weeks after diagnosis. My coworker continues to fight, and I want to cheer him on. But it still sucks.

Plodding along

And then we’re headed up another, steeper hill. This is where we hook up with the Vancouver Marathon course, giving me a taste of what I’ll be in for. “Keep your eye on the stop sign!” yells the group leader. What stop sign? I can’t see that far ahead?? But there it is, the climb continues.

reflectionsHeading into UBC campus, there are a few unscheduled pee breaks (those ladies were quick!), and the rains begin. Pineapple express? Hardly. But enough to make me glad I wore a light jacket, and wish I’d worn a peaked cap. It’s warm now, and I really don’t need my running beanie…but if I take if off now my head will freeze. I persevere.

The conversation ebbs and flows – stories about kids and families, pets and partners, all the individuals (furry and otherwise) who affect our lives. I miss my Mom. It’s amazing how much you learn about people while on these long runs. There’s another water stop, I test out an new energy gel (PowerBar PowerGel® Double Latte – not too thick, not too sweet), we do a second loop and somehow we’ve completed a half marathon distance already!

reflectionsThe Home Stretch

It’s mostly downhill now – NW Marine Drive to Spanish Banks, another uphill push at Locarno – and suddenly I’m on my own. A few speed demons in the distance, no footfalls behind me. I wonder what Mom would have thought if she knew I was training for a marathon. She’d probably be worried – she always worried – and tell me to be careful. She might have heard about someone who collapsed doing a race, and warn me to take it easy. I hope she’d be proud. I regret that she never had a chance to see me race.

And then it’s over. 30 kilometres, just under 3 hours. Happy birthday, Mom – this run’s for you.

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: #42for42 or ‘Why the heck am I running a marathon?’ | Bradley on the Run

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