I had to approach the race a little differently this year. Normally a half marathon isn't really an issue, a challenge yes, but not an issue. I have not been able to train at the level that I would have needed to over the last several weeks, so I knew that 21.1km was not going to be realistic, or at least not a comfortable experience for me to complete. The last thing I wanted to do was not run, or to have a bad experience trying. I was thrilled when Teresa, the fabulous race director, posted on Facebook that there was a 4-person relay team looking for a 4th team member. I contacted her right away, asked if I could switch my registration, and when I had the green light, I got myself in touch with the team captain. It turned out we were a good match, and I signed up to run the last leg of the race for the team "Hill is a 4-Letter Word". Sure, a 5.4km leg isn't a challenge for me, but I knew that I wanted to be part of this event no matter what and that it'd be fun to try something different. If I took an approach that relieved the pressure of the whole distance, I could do just that, have fun. And really, that's what running is about and should be about.
One of the things I LOVE about this particular race is the community feel of the event. It's a seriously awesome race with serious competitors, and all the details you'd expect of a well-run event (it's exceptionally organized and celebrating its 40th anniversary). But the spirit of this community, those who choose to run this event, those who call the Sunshine Coast home, and everyone else, are what make this event so special. I feel like today I got to experience that more than I ever have. Deciding to run this event as a relay team member gave me a unique perspective on the race, and an experience I won't soon forget.
Soon after switching my registration over from the half to the relay, I was friended on Facebook by my team captain and part of a group chat with the other team members to plan our pre-race meet up and get clarity on who was running what leg, etc. I already felt a bit of the warm fuzzies of the awesome running community right away as my team welcomed me with open arms.
This morning, I took the 7:20am ferry with my friend Mary who returned to run the half marathon for her second year in a row after I convinced her to run with me last year. We had a great sailing, saw the beautiful sunshine warming the skies, and soon enough, we docked at the Langdale terminal with our yellow buses and the "ferry fairy" there to greet us and take us to the start line at the Gibsons Community Centre. I had the same bus driver I have every year, and great conversation with fellow bus riders, some new to the race, some veterans like myself.
|With Mary at the bag check room|
|By surprise, I found and old running buddy Alexa at the start line!|
|BMO bear wanted a selfie too....|
After the selfies, I headed beyond the start line so I could get a good look at the race as it got going. That was a lot of fun! I had a few people say "aren't you on the wrong side of the line?" which was kind of funny.
|Getting ready to go!|
|Paul Kimugal, top male and overall|
|Jane Murage, top female|
It was also so nice to be at this tough point in the race to high five and encourage Alexa and Mary as they passed. And I ended up seeing a bunch more runners I knew as well! Did they learn of this race because of ME? Maybe :) I'll just say yes!
Two of my teammates, Brianna and Emma, ended up driving to my exchange point after they finished running so they could cheer in Jasmin (our third runner) and see me off. That was awfully sweet of them! When we saw Jasmin come up the hill we cheered super loud, I gave her a quick high five, and off I was to run my 5.4km leg to the finish line.
The beauty of having run this race 5 times over is that I know it so very well, and exactly what to expect, every turn and every hill. The difference today was that I was starting a few hundred metres from the 16km mark but with fresh legs. I wasn't tired and spent, I was just starting! I was also a little cold from standing a little in the cold. Had I known better what my teammates pace was, I could have timed a warmup jog, but it was fun the way I approached. Once I got going, I warmed up plenty. The sun was sure beating down and gorgeous. I knew I had one hill to the 17km marker, another short one would come up later, but otherwise it was mostly downhill or flat to the finish.
I ran strong, and loved how quickly those km markers came by. It felt like redemption for the halfs I ran where those last kms were hard. When I turned the corner to the finish, I was very surprised to see I only took 33min to get that far (on my watch). In total, our team completed the relay in 2:25:50. Not bad at all! I was greeted by friendly volunteers at the finish, and was handed 4 medals to distribute to my team, who were all the sidelines cheering loudly!
|The back of the shirts: "WTF! Where's The Finish?"|
So if you can't tell, this was an awesome day and I had a blast. You still wondering why I do this event every year? :)