What Happened...

Monday, August 13, 2007
aka Them Hills, They're a Bitch

Thanks to everyone for the kind words, well wishes, generous donations, and support. I couldn't have even attempted the marathon without all of you. As a reward here's a rundown of what happened...

We arrived at the Shaw in plenty of time, ate our energy bars, had some water, watched the full-marathon runners head out, and took some pictures (a couple of our own and a whole lot for other people). Just before 8am we headed back outside and watched Betty and the other half runners take off. It was very exciting to watch and a wee bit intimidating to see the all the runner's bodies flying by. Yikes! As soon as they were gone, though, they called the walkers to the start line. Interestingly enough, none of them wanted to be at the front of the pack. So...who steps up to the line? That's right, yours truly and her mommie-dearest were second from the front. The anthem played, we counted down the last 10 seconds with Running Room founder John Stanton, and then...we're off! Within 30 seconds we had been left in the dust by approximately 90% of the group and were thinking What the Heck?

The first few KM were great, we kept a good pace and had about 10 people behind us. Unfortunately mom suddenly had the urge to pee and we had to stop at the 3.5K mark so she could whip into a porta-potty. While I waited, the last few walkers including the final "To Complete" Pace Bunny (the fabulous Barbara) passed us. She eventually dropped back to walk with us as she HAS to be the last walker across the line. Down Victoria Park Trail we went. This shouldn't have been a problem as I've walked this hill numerous times before but I usually only go down half the hill and then up the full length (I take the stairs down in the middle of the hill). About half way down, my knees began to tighten up (the result of a 10 year old walking injury). I knew they'd be ok once we hit the incline at the bottom and then continued up Groat Road so I didn't bother to stop and stretch.

Up the winding death trap that is Groat Road. No problem on the way up. Mom and I were perfectly happy to finish last with Barbara by this point. 6K. Feeling ok. Turn around at the top and head back down. 7K. Ouch. At the bottom of the hill near the entrance to Government House Park (?) and the start of the River Valley Portion, I had to stop and stretch out my knees as both had started to tighten up and hurt at this point. It helped and we continued onwards. 8K. The exit of McKinnon Ravine. Holy shit. Steep incline, although thankfully short. I was fine going up but once I hit the flat part ... the knees seized up. As if that wasn't bad enough, I had a sudden, extremely wicked attack of PCOS which made me want to crawl into bed and cry. We stopped at the water station, I stretched, we continued on.

9K. 10K. Constant pain, stretching not helping. 11K. Walking along the top of the river valley. Mom and Barbara talking in the background. I'm having an internal debate about whether or not to continue. I don't want to give up. No, I have gone the last 4 or 5K simply because I am stubborn. 12K. I'm on the verge of tears and looking off into the river valley to avoid joining the conversation. I know I have to stop as I'm risking some serious damage by now but since I'm so gosh-darn proud and stubborn, I can't bring myself to do it or say the words. Then it happened. Mom must have looked over and seen the tears beginning to form in my eyes. She reaches over and...holds my hand, giving it a "mom" squeeze. That was all it took.

I stopped in my tracks in the middle of the street, full marathoners whizzing (more like wheezing) past us. I started sobbing uncontrollably and mom hugged me in a way only a mother can hug her child. I don't remember the last time I cried so hard or so emotionally. If it wasn't for her holding me and Barbara the Pace Bunny's hand on my back I likely would have just collapsed in a heap right there. I didn't care about anything except for the pain in my knees (and, as a result, my calf which had long ago seized up and wouldn't loosen up) to stop. After a good five minutes and a good snot-soaking of mom's shirt, we moved off the street and onto the curb where I finally collapsed. I managed to mumble something like "I'm done" and Barbara went back to the last water station to call for a medical evacuation (ie: a chick in a van).

Mom and Barbara stayed with me until the van arrived to take me back to the start line which ended up being 45 minutes later...! Back at the Shaw, I managed to stumble to the bag check, grab my pack and change into non-sweaty/non-snotty clothes, found my brother and the family who showed up to cheer us on, and my aunt who had finished the half-marathon run in a fabulous time of 2:32:59! There was plenty of time before mom made her way to the finish line so the group of us cheered on the rest of the runners and walkers crossing the finish and there were smiles on all their faces (well, mostly). The most outstanding was a 75 year old man who ran the marathon and has been setting records in the 70+ age group year after year. Amazing. Finally, there she was. We saw Barbara's bright pink bunny ears first and then mom rounded the corner. Still going strong, smiling as always, she headed towards the finish "chute". Dave had brought the kids to meet up with her and both Avery and Dara held her hands as she walked the last few metres. Words can't describe how extremely proud I am of my mom, the half marathoner who will turn a fabulous 60 years old later this year. After she received her medal and made her way out of the finish area we had another emotional moment with us both crying uncontrollably, the kids looking on confused and my brother noticably uncomfortable (heh, heh).



So there you go, the reason I didn't finish but still lots to be proud of. I did try to finish a half marathon. And I completed half of it. If it weren't for the hills I likely would have finished upright and smiling. Unfortunately no more walking for a while until my legs are feeling better. Still painful to walk today but slightly better thanks to alternating ice packs and heating pads (and ibuprofen). The BBQ went well, lots of food as always. Thanks again to everyone.

8 comments:

* (asterisk) said...

Hey, not to worry, right. You had a go, and maybe now that you know what's involved you might be able to prepare better somehow for the next one. I'm sure there is no other way to learn how it feels than simply to try and do it. Big props to you!

Sarah said...

What a story Dalmatica. I've never had knee issues, but I can certainly imagine how painful it would be to walk such distances. We all can't have good days everytime. I know I've had my share of crappy races where I've finished in tears. Come back strong for the next one. Congratualtions to your mom. You've got a great role model and walking buddy there.

Beth said...

Trying is everything. And you tried very, very hard. Congratulations on the huge effort and the huge heart. And here's hoping your knees are ok soon.

Did you know that you are one of the reasons I decided to try the 5K run I'm in next month? Well, you are. Your decision to hit this half marathon made me think, "Well hell - I'm going to set myself a goal and try something that's bigger than I am, too."

Cheers, Karen.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Once your knees start hurting, it's hard to think of anything else. You did an amazing job and you should be proud of what you accomplished!

Stupid hills.

Wandering Coyote said...

Hey Karen,

Just catching up on your weekend here. OH...I am so proud of you!!! You knew when to stop! That takes such courage, sweetie, it really, really does. And it takes courage to just even get out there and attempt what you did! I hope you are less sore now...you should still stretch, though. Take a long, epsom salt bath. And give yourself a huge, huge pat on the back. YOU DID GREAT!!!

Candy Minx said...

I agree with everyone, especially the idea that you tried, it was an expereience and an experiemnt...and you knew when to quit before serious ijury occured. Ouch, the knees are so tough yet so vulnerable.

Big hugs to your knees and WAY TO GO...I know I couldn't probably run around a block nevermind try a marathon!


Thank god for the great snacks and food at the end...to put a smile and calories in everyones body!

YOU DID GREAT!!!!!

sp said...

Congratulations to you and your mom and everyone who helped you get there.
Like WC I agree that the hardest part is knowing when you need to stop. Making that decision is far tougher than continuing. Congrats on the distance you did complete. That is something to be very very proud of. It was great reading about your journey.

Avid Andy said...

wow that is great that you could share that with your mom.

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