It has been quite a long time since I’ve run a long distance event. In February, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Relay with my sister, Susie. For the first time since the 2012 Disney Princess Half, we’re running a half marathon together in our Mom’s home country of Canada! It’s been many years since I’ve been to Montréal, so saying I’m excited is a bit of an understatement.
Since June 1, I’ve been participating in the Ideal Protein Protocol which has helped me finally achieve the weight loss I’ve been desperate to attain since I started running in winter 2009. As a result, I have not been able to train and eat as I normally have for previous races. A triathlete I flew with once said, “It’s not training that causes the DNF (Did Not Finish), it’s nutrition.” Though IP has been designed to include athletes, as its a lean protein and vegetable centric diet plan, I had just started reintroducing carbohydrates and dairy into my diet the week of the race. To be perfectly honest, had my sister not been at my side during the race, this concern would have nagged at me for the entire 13.1 miles.
Additionally, two days after the race, I had a scheduled six-day on-call stint on my work schedule, and any injury or strains would have work a little complicated. Since I have started flying, I have not adhered to a proper training schedule. Weekends tend to be where my trip assignments fall, so planning for a weekend away becomes quite a tricky (and sometimes exhausting) process. I love the flexibility of being a flight attendant, but I know that my running has suffered as a result of my career move. A prime example was my giving up running the lululemon athletica SeaWheeze in Vancouver, back in August. Try as I may, I simply could not get that weekend off, and wound up paying $120 CA for a pair of fancy running shorts. Although, I do love them, I had been looking forward to experiencing a new city in Canada.
Living in Florida and primarily training in hotel gyms on layovers did not prepare me for the bite of the rainy autumn morning in Montreal. The Demi started on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, and we stood in the corrals for nearly an hour with the rain bearing down on us, and the wind ripping through us as we waited. In addition to the challenge of an endurance race, we started the race soaked and chilled to the bone with squishy shoes. Turns out, our Quebequoise-side came out, and our blood turned into ice and maple syrup for the race.
We started on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, and proceeded to tackle the two islands on the Saint Laurent River: Saint-Helene and Notre Dame. After circling Notre Dame Island, we crossed the Concorde Bridge and made our way toward Fontaine Park.
We ran along the riverside, but the elevation challenged us when we arrived at the foot of Vieux Montreal. The wet cobblestones made for a very slow ascent so as to avoid injury. Heading toward the Molson Brewery, we found ourselves staring at the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Talking about coming full circle (and not being finished)! We pushed hard as we wove our way up the winding streets and hills. Close to the end, we passed a cheering squad full of Super Heroes, and they were just the kick we needed.
The last half-mile always tends to be the most emotional for me. Often people ask why I bother running, and more specifically, why I waste my time and energy on half-marathon races. I haven’t broken my 2:45:00 Personal Record. I doubt I will ever run a sub-2:00 (under two hours) half. I consistently finish near the bottom of my age category and the race all together. I have more running gear in my closet than nice clothes to go out with, so its no small wonder I am still single. My body still jiggles when I run, despite actively running for nearly four years. I mean, honestly, what’s the point of jockeying for position with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of sweaty bodies most of which look way better than my own, to suffer through thirteen miles of luke warm drinks, possible shin splints, slipping on snot rockets and banana peels, eventually missing toenails, and uncomfortable amounts of chafing?
Simply put, I run because I can.
I run because I have been told I am too slow, too weak, and too fat to do so.
Every time, I round that last bend and see the crowds of people smashed against the railings, I feel my chest swell. I take every last high-five and fist bump held out for me, feeling the energy transfer from their hands to mine. I grit teeth, seeing the medals around the necks of the Finishers crowding the railings, cheering the rest of us on.
“You’re almost there!”
“Don’t give up!”
Catching sight of the race clock, the cacophony washes into a brief silence. Tears steal past my lashes as my sister takes my hand, and we gun it for the finish line together. A sob slips past my lips as the announcer calls out our names to another chorus of cheers, booming music, and cowbells. Relief washes over me as I pound my foot over that final timing mat and look up at my finish time. Ragged laughter escapes my chest as the hefty medal is slipped over my neck.
Why? We finished.
I finished with one of the most important runners in my life, and we did it together. Running has changed my life in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I am exceptionally thankful the many important people in my life who support my choice to run whether it’s going for a casual jog, running a race, or cheering from the sidelines. It has made me a healthier, happier person, and I am fortunate that I can share it with the people in my life. Lacing up and stepping out of my door was the beginning of a transformation. I may not look like it, but I am an endurance athlete, and no one will tell me otherwise. Ever.
- 5K Split: 42:48.4
- 10K Split: 1:21:26.2
- Finish: 2:52:38.7