We’ll be thinking of you this morning as you float through the miles. That was in the email I read from my parents at 6:00am on Sunday. It put a smile on my face and I decided it would be a good motto to run with in an hour when I started the Calgary half marathon race, along with thousands of others starting out in the full marathon.
After a few days of nonstop rain, we were lucky to wake up to a sunny morning, although still rather chilly at 7:00am. I have to say running races like this one are pretty cool when you can feel the energy of joining so many others setting out with the same goals for the day, finish and finish as strong as possible. After all, how often do you see this many people hanging around in the porta-potty lines at once!
We lined up to start and I set myself up behind Lucy Njeri Muhami who had come out from Toronto to race. With her PB of 1:12 I knew I would be racing for 2nd. She was tiny and ran so effortlessly. I enjoyed watching her back for about 1km before she pulled away. After that I settled into my own rhythm but turns out a guy named Elmostafa Ansom of Cochrane, AB was into the same pace. As we rolled through the zoo in the first few kilometres I noticed even our breathing sounded exactly the same and we were knocking elbows several times during the race. Weird, but always good to have a pace buddy! When the marathoners tagging along behind us turned south, we crossed downtown on 11th into a slight headwind and hit the 10km time split in 38:15. I was slightly behind my pace a year ago at all the time checks but also feeling way better, and did kind of feel like I was floating along rather smoothly. Heck, I’ve been a runner since the age of 12 so there must be some long-term payoffs to knowing how to put one foot in front of the other with some decent technique and muscle memory!
Through 14km or so the sun was shining a bit warmer and it is always so cool to have such major roads like Memorial (paralleling the Bow River on the north side of downtown) closed off just for us to run on. I saw Lucy a good few minutes ahead approaching a turnaround point but as I made the turn the 3rd and 4th women didn’t look too far off. I knew I would need to keep the pace strong to defend 2nd place. I felt like I still had another gear in the tank if needed which was a nice feeling. Back under the Centre Street bridge we merged with the 10k runners for a few hundred metres of gong show, tricky passing before having our own half-marathon lane all the way into the finish. My running buddy dropped off the pace and I was on my own. One young dude seemed to just saunter by with about 600m to go and said good race. I stayed in contact and said no way are you going to take me here with this short of a distance to go. I mustered up what felt like a sprint finish to pass him back and crossed the line in 1:21:34, and in the money, woot woot!
Congrats to everyone who ran and many of my training pals who set personal bests. A huge shout out to a record-breaking weekend by my training friend Myron and 9 others. They broke the Guinness record for fastest linked marathon by a group of runners tied together with leashes around their waists. The old record was a group of five who ran 2:57; the new record is 10 guys who ran 2:55:23, while impressively raising nearly $100,000 for research into mitochondrial disease! Read more here.
Of course a few shout outs to the moms: Congrats to Pauline, the third placed women who has kept up some solid run training with 2.5 year old twins! Lisa Harvey, mom of two and our Olympic legend in Calgary won the 10k in 36:22, with Chantell Widney, a mom, was hot on her heels in 36:30. Watch for Chantell racing the Xterra East Champs with me in Richmond, VA on June 9th!
Thanks to the Calgary Marathon for a super well organized event! Next year will be the 50th year of the Calgary Marathon so should be pretty special, apparently it is the oldest marathon in Canada!