Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dashin' for Compassion

Well I've done it! This morning I successfully completed the Dashin' for Compassion half-marathon (my first!), and it couldn't have gone any better. Perfect weather, great route, a medal, delicious breakfast...what more could I ask for?

The race went great. There I was, at the starting line, all set to go with my essential supplies:

Ipod? Check. Complete with running music compliments of B*Witched, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, Good Charlotte, All American Rejects, Aqua, Shiny Toy Guns, Disney, Jimmy Eatworld, Bon Jovi and a few others.

Gels? Check. I was a little skeptical about these because I hadn't used them in my training, but it turns out they're not too bad. I would even go as far as saying they are quite tasty (although a quick note to self for next time...take them when there is a water station nearby to prevent coating my throat with strawberry banana flavoring)

Beans? Check. Instructions for use: Eat approximately a kilometer before the Whitemud hill. They will do you wonders!

One thing I've heard about long-distance races is that you're supposed to find someone that you think will run about the same pace as you, so at the starting line I scoped things out. There was an older couple running together, and the first few kilometers they seemed to be going a decent pace, so I thought I would gauge myself against them. (Now, one side note about how I run: I've never been one of those people that can run, nonstop for hours, and never get tired. When I first started reading up on marathon training I came across a walk/run plan that I found quite appealing. Run 9 minutes, walk 1. I'm telling you, this makes a world of difference!) Well, at about 4.5 km there was a water station, and the husband turns around to his wife, who is walking as she drinks her glass of water, and says "Nadine, its a RUN!" Time for me to pick someone else to pace myself against I guess. Luckily, I found Kim. We were both first-timers, and I don't think she knows it, but she helped pace me the rest of the way. Thanks to her quick little reminder ("Last hill!" with a big smile on her face) and my ipod playing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan, I made it up Groat Road hill alot easier than I had expected.

Now, when you run a half-marathon, you have ALOT of time to think. The next couple kilometers I was just kind of trudging along, until the song changed on my ipod. Forever, by Chris Brown. Awww...Jessica! (my old roomate - that song will always remind me of her). I got thinking how much I missed her, and how great she is, and then I remembered reading somewhere about a lady that dedicated every mile of her marathon to a different person that had influenced her life, and she thought about that person for the entire mile. I had nothing better to think about, so I gave it a shot. I'm not going to lie, I have a hard time focussing on one thing for very long, but for the rest of the race I just thought about all the great people that have helped me become who I am today. There are so many! My parents, my siblings, my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, high school friends, current/old roomates, Hawaii friends, Edmonton friends, Lethbridge friends...I even thought back to a couple of inspiring gym teachers I had back in the day. I thought about the great qualities that all of these people have, the fun times I've had with them, the examples they have been to me, lessons they have taught me, and what great people they all are. If you need a way to pass the time while running for a couple of hours, give this is shot! Trust me.
2 hours, 17 minutes, and 48 seconds was my official time. 13/20 in my age category. That's decent isn't it? I'll take it! My goal was just to finish!

Where did I get the crazy idea that I (the girl that hated running growing up, but tried to convince myself that I liked it; the girl that could easily be classified as "athletically challenged", and the girl that dreaded track and field day every year) should run a half marathon? Well, since moving to Edmonton I've really come to enjoy the time I have to myself when I run down in the river valley. I stopped worrying about my speed long ago; I just run, blast my music, and enjoy the scenery. So last summer I decided maybe I would step things up a little. I had run a few 10K races, but never anything further. I have an aunt and a couple uncles that have done half and full marathons, so I called up my Aunt Angie to see if she had any suggestions. She recommended this book:
Let me tell you, this is THE most motivating book I have ever read. Right from the very first page:

"You already have everything you need to be a long-distance athlete. It's mind-set - not miles - that separates those who do from those who dream"

Okay, I get the whole mind-over-matter thing. Then I get to this paragraph,

"It doesn't matter where you're coming from. It doesn't matter how un-divine your running skills are. It doesn't matter how low you feel you rank among the ranks of mortals. You can and will become a long-distance athlete. We promise. We've seen it happen. We've seen mortals of every shape and size, of every type of fitness background, of every sort of lifestyle cross the marathon finish line. You can be one of them. We invite you to experience the joy that many of us find as the miles we run exceed the miles we thought we could run."

Chalk another one up under "Half-marathons finished by normal people". Did I love it? Yes. Will I ever do a full marathon? Someday, but I think I'll conquer a few more halves before I get to that point. I think I need a running buddy for my next one though, any takers?

And oh yeah, cross this one off the list!


  1. Amy,
    I love you. You are so inspiring to me in so many ways! I have always always always wanted to become a "runner" and have known deep down I could do it, but you posting this pushes me to take some action. I wish I were in Edmonton to run with you!!!

  2. Dear Amy:
    When I run a half-marathon one day, I will dedicate one of my miles TO YOU. How awesome that you did this! I'm so proud of you. You look fabulous, and so happy. Setting goals and actually accomplishing them is a feeling over the moon isn't it?!
    P.S. I am running in the 10K this year. Wish me luck. and some more luck. and extra luck. Running is hard, but I'm trying to stick to it!

  3. Holy crap you are so amazing! Good job! Sounds like you are lovin life. I love the 'list' thing. That's so creative.

  4. Awesome Amy! You did great and you look great too!
    I will totally train for a half marathon with you!