The annual James Cunningham Seawall race joined up with RnR for the inaugural Vancouver RnR. Local and new? I'm in.
With the race being a week before Halloween, I knew people would dress up. And after the fun I had on the Eastside 10K, I knew I had to dress up for this one too. I went as Clark Kent. Long workout pants, glasses, tie, and white shirt (ripped open to reveal a Superman shirt. I knew it would be a cold morning so the long pants and shirt did not concern me. I was still pretty cold on some parts of the course.
I woke up early, took my time getting ready, and walked to the start line. I met up with a friend/coworker whose friend was running her first half marathon. She hung out with me in the back corral and I did my best to calm her nerves while trying to keep a good balance of advice while trying not to overwhelm her.
The race started at 8.15, but the corral I was in did not cross the start line until around 8.45. I started out feeling really good. It is always a worry. You never know how your body will react on race day, plus it usually takes me a couple of kilometers to get warmed up (and for my body to realize, Oh we are running!).
This race course was going to be fun and I knew it. The route was so different. It combined so many other races' routes. It was a mix of the Eastside 10K, Pacific First Half, Scotiabank Half, Chilly Chase, and a few others.
There was a one mile marker (strangely the only mile marker on the course), and I like to have fun on the course. I shouted:
"Whooo!! Only 12.1 miles to go!!"
I got a few laughs, some cheers, and one very dirty look.
At about kilometer 2.5 I spotted the familiar pink polka-dots of a Team Fin jersey. I had heard of Team Finn, knew they ran for various cancer charities, but never really knew anything else about them. A friend (who recently passed away from her long 9 year battle with cancer) participated in the Vancouver Half Marathon with Team Finn. Marie-Chantal was in a wheelchair and several team mates took turns pushing her. At the finish line, she got up and crossed under her own power.
As I caught up with the Finn jersey, I noticed that the "In Memory" bib on her back said "Marie-Chantal." I politely asked her how she knew MC and this started the beginning of my entire race.
The runner (who introduced herself as Doreen) said she had run a few triathlons with Team in Training. We each shared out TNT stories and our friendships with Marie-Chantal.
After that, Doreen and I ran together until just after the 15K mark. We talked about our running experiences, our fundraising experiences, and triathlons. She had done Lavaman several times and I start training for Lavaman in a matter of weeks. We talked about our families (I bragged on all my cute nieces and nephews), siblings, growing up, parenting, teaching, and just our mantras on life. I explained to her how my running was motivated by 3 key factors; to honour/keep alive Abi's memory, to raise money so no one has to suffer a lose due to cancer, and to ensure that I can get the most out of my life. Life is short and I want to feel alive. Running marathons (although torture on your body), makes me feel alive.
I asked Doreen about Team Finn and the story behind it. She explained that Finn was a 3 year old boy who passed away of cancer. His family (including his older sister and twin brother) made it their mission to help others touched by this awful disease. Finn loved a show called The Backyardigans and his favourite character was Uniqua. She was pink with polka-dots. The iconic Team Finn jerseys inspiration. Uniqua, and ultimately Finn's motto on life was run, jump, bounce, dance, sing, smile, and love. A motto that Team Finn has appended to Run, Jump, Bounce, Dance, Sing, Love, Smile, Ride.
As I held back tears, for both the loss of such a young person and for such an amazing team, I told Doreen that I had been wanting to participate in The Ride To Conquer Cancer (a charity bicycle ride from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA). I asked if Team Finn was looking for riders and that I would honoured to ride with them. So it looks like I've found my team for the ride!
Running with Doreen helped keep my mind off running. My 10:1 intervals seemed to fly by! I was very grateful to have someone to talk to. Several of my friends like running with me because I tend to talk alot when in a good mood, it keeps their minds off running as well. But I am always careful to shut up if/when I get on their nerves.
Doreen put up with my jokes all along the course. From people complimenting me on my outfit (to which I always replied "I would change, but I can't seem to find a phone booth anywhere!) to when we all ran by my apartment and I asked everyone to wave at my cat.
Kilometer 15 dawned the "hilly" portion of the race. This was when I wished Doreen luck and pulled ahead. About 1k later I passed my friends Kathy and Sherry.
This time last year, Kathy, Sherry, Kara, a few others, and I, were pretty much running a race every weekend. It became a bit of a "chase game." I would win out almost all the time (there were a few "timing chip errors," my story and I'm sticking to it!).
A few minutes after I passed them, I hear this whisper in my ear,
"Joseph. It's Kathy. I'm right on your tail."
We had a good laugh, asked how each other raced were going, wished each other luck, then I darted up the next hill.
At about kilometer 18, I began to feel the tole I was putting on my body. My energy level was falling and I was taking more walk breaks. I was still having fun and feeling good. I knew the finish line was just ahead. A few more curves around the seawall and it would be a good finish for me.
The aid station at kilometer 19 was run by Team Finn. They were all cheering and making noise while the speakers blared 'The Final Countdown.' As you ran out of the aid station, there where posters with pictures and stories of all the children Team Finn supports. I knew then and there that my decision to join Team Finn for the Ride to Conquer Cancer was the right one.
The finish came quicker than I thought, not because of any increase in pace, but because I read the map wrong and thought it was further away. Earlier in the race I made a comment about how I hate races where the finish line is in sight from kilometers away. I much prefer races where you round a corner and there it is.
And that is exactly what happened. I rounded a corner and there it was. I ran around the family with the stroller (no way were they going to ruin my finish photo (I can do that on my own)).
I crossed and felt great! I did not get the time I was aiming for, but the time I had on the course was great! I walked down the finishers chute grabbing free food and drinks. A few of my friends were waiting for me, so I stopped to chat with them.
Then, I went back to finishers chute to wait on a few TNT runners from out of town that I had net the day before at the expo. And of course Doreen.
I saw the TNT runners and then not to long after, Doreen. She gave me a huge hug and we chatted about our last 6k.
This was my last half marathon for 2014 and although I am still not as fast as I was a year ago, I feel great!
As always, thank you for taking the time to share in my experiences!
I encourage you to check out the following links:
Up next: Fall Classic 10k and/or Vancouver Historic Half 10k