My First Half Marathon


580561_1429800477232857_488062561_nAfter injuring my right knee for the 2nd time in just under 7 weeks, my dream of completing my 1st half marathon had gotten pretty dim. Delaying any decision for as long as possible, and after 4 weeks rest, and 2 weeks before the big event, it was literally “down to the wire”. In one last desperate “experiment”, not found in any book or website, I tried a combination of power walking and running, while barely lifting the feet to minimize impact on the knees. It seemed to work. A week ago the full distance of 21.1 k’s was covered in at time of 2:47 (well under the 3:50 cut off time).

So there was a very emotional “Old Fellow”, as he arrived in Toronto to participate in one of Canada’s largest marathons., 25,000 people doing the 5k, half and full marathon. including 10,074 running the half marathon alone.

The start was VERY intimidating. I placed myself in the corral about 500 runners behind a “pacerunner” who was holding a sign that read 2:15. After the starting horn it took 15 minutes for all the runners ahead of me to cross the starting gate, when I crossed that gate a chip under my bib records my starting time. Starting with my same pace as last weekend, in an instant I knew I HAD to quicken my pace or get trampled by this running pack of humanity, but it didn’t take long for things to open up for people to go by me.

Keeping that same quickened pace from the beginning as the k’s started I was actually able to go by some others myself.
At about the 5k mark, I was noticing how the runners were getting “in their zones”. There were people cheering, ringing bells, waving signs from the sidelines, but the runners were quiet and focused. All there was , was the sound of running shoes striking pavement by the hundreds. Many people had earbuds attached to their smartphones, lots of others were engrossed in those new pace watches. I noticed some people checking theirs like every 15 seconds.

I was enjoying myself, thankful to be there on a bright sunny day, thankful for family and friends. But I did find each k very long (just used to bicycling….covering longer distances in shorter time). I’d go past the 8k mark and to get to the 9k seemed like forever. Nine k became 10, 10 became 11, and just past the 12k, I was startled by a voice directly behind me, “you’re hardly lifting your feet”. Was I being criticized for my running technique? An extremely fit looking, middle aged lady slipped in beside me, adjusted her pace to mine, and complimented me on my running technique, adding “I’d be tripping over my feet if I tried that”. I thanked her, explained a bit about the knee situation, and she asked where I was from, which seemed to me she wanted to talk…..and talk we did. We talked about our families, our work, but mostly about running. It turns out she is an EXTREMELY experienced full marathoner, having run them for over 20 years, and in years past doing the big ones such as Chicago and Boston and still runs several a year. So here we were, a fully experienced full marathoner, and an ‘old fellow’ striving for his 1st half, running as one. In no time at all the lady said this is where you go for your half…pointing to the left lanes. As she headed to the right lanes to finish her full marathon we wished each other luck. Before my new friend got too far away, I called out “How much further for me?” She called back “2k’s”. Are you kidding me….those 7 kilometers absolutely FLEW by, and here I was only 2 k’s from the finish. Kept the same pace and technique for the next kilometer, and then when I read the sign reading “1 km to finish”, with legs surprisingly fresh, and a knee feeling strong, stable and pain free, I said to myself “Okay Old fellow, let’s do this thing”. And with 1 kilometer to go, WE (you and I) leaped into a full steam RUN for the finish. Picking openings to the right, to the left, to the centre, we flew past others labouring on a bit of an uphill grade. At the 500 meter to go sign we blasted past the pacerunner who was running with the 2:15 sign,, and fueled by adrenaline and the roar of a crowd that was getter larger and larger WE together crossed the finish line with a time of 2:13:28. (6719 place out of 10,074 half marathon runners) It was absolute euphoria! Every setback, every injury, every disappointment made that finish SO MUCH SWEETER!!!!

Thank you everyone for travelling this journey with me. You have encouraged me, cheered me on, and we really have done this together. Thank you to those who have tangibly and so generously supported my cause, Dekpor School Development
Organization. You’ve made some lives of real people like you and I MUCH more bearable. Thank you to my tri athlete friend Matt, who bent over backwards to mentor me on what works and what does not from his own experiences. Lastly thank you to the lady I met in the marathon. You demonstrated what marathon running is like in it’s purest form…run simply for the love of running. Free from the trappings of smartphones and pace watches, you reached out in the middle of my “unorthodox walk/run”, struck out an old fashioned conversation between us, and time literally FLEW by for both of us.

So ends this chapter of the Old Fellow. Will there be a sequel….ALSOLUTELY YES! Until that sequel, there will likely random postings from the Old Fellow and his perspective in this AMAZING world we live in.

Sincerely…..The Old Fellow

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Categories: RunningTags: ,

8 comments

  1. Hi Carl! Great posts! I am glad you shared your blog with me, thank you! You are a wonderful writer and I am inspired and motivated to get back to my training! Thanks to you! See you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Ashley. 🙂 I am really excited that you would like to get back into training. I have a feeling that running a half marathon is very important to you. It really is an incredible sense of accomplishment when you reach the finish line. You still have time to be ready for Oct. 19th. I KNOW you can do it Ashley!! 🙂

      Like

  2. Thanks for your encouragement!!! I love the photo you posted to this blog- it captured your joy and achievement! You look so happy and proud. I can’t wait for that feeling. I am counting down the days til race day and already feeling good about my training. Thanks again!

    Keep up your great work and writing and all that you do, you are an example for all of us to follow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing!! It is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment 🙂 We also have running in common!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I am late in saying this but Congratulations! The first one is always something that is unforgettable 🙂 Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

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