Well that was fun! What a race and what a weekend!
I had an amazing time at Bluenose Marathon 2016 this weekend. I began the weekend with my friend Vanessa by visiting the expo and picking up our race kits on Saturday. The expo was fun and had lots to see and do. I must admit though, I feel right at home among pirates! We seemed to end up back at the Maritime Race Weekend booth several times!
After picking up our race kits and activating our bibs, we headed for a little stroll along the Halifax waterfront to enjoy the gorgeous warm weather and we may have stopped for a BeaverTail along the way. No, actually, that’s a total lie! We made a beeline for them and they were so delicious!
We then made our way to the finish line of the 5 km race…one of my favorite places in the world. The race was filled with excitement and tons of people! We watched the inspiring wheelchair athletes, the entertaining jogglers, Myles the Bluenose mascot, men in suits and ties, children with their parents, and runner after runner crossing that finish line. A finish line never gets old for me. I just love watching the accomplishments of every runner. My heart bursts with pride for complete strangers! I actually knew a couple of runners and was lucky to spy them in the sea of Bluenosers! I caught sight of @titodiddles / Runner Waves just as she crossed the finish line and was able to watch my daughter’s best friend cross the line as well. It was fun being the fan cheering from the sidelines and made me even more anxious to have a chance at my race!
Saturday night had us out for a pasta supper with a few other friends who are beginning their running journey and those who are supporting us. The food was delicious and the company fantastic. After we left the restaurant, the switch flipped. I was officially in race mode.
With food, clothing and gear prepped for the next day, I headed to bed to try to sleep. All my devices were charged, my Flat Tanya laid neatly out for the morning, I felt confident and ready but sleep would not come. After tossing and turning I realized that I missed a crucial step in my preparations. My hearts! I didn’t get my hearts from my kids! How could I forget that? Before every race, I have my family draw hearts on my arm with permanent marker. The colorful markings are a constant pick me up during the race when things are getting hard or if I’m feeling alone. Once I made my rounds and got my hearts (Boo Bear drew two since Baby Girl was sound asleep), I was able to settle to sleep quickly.
I usually hate alarm clocks but on race day, the alarm is like beautiful music. It’s go time! Breakfast was challenging as my tummy wasn’t as excited as I was to be up so early, but I managed a half a bagel and a yummy smoothie. Right on time, Vanessa arrived at my door for us to head out. We arrived in town a bit early and chilled inside while I ate my banana. I was doubting my clothing choice at this point because many were layered with long sleeves and were wearing capris while I was in my shorts and tank. I do have to figure out a plan for having something to keep me warm while heading to the race that I can ditch easily because I don’t often have someone to hand gear to at the last minute. One more stop at the porta potty and then we headed to the start line. I found where I thought I should start based on the posted times, did some stretching and started scanning the crowd for my best friend, Michelle and her husband Yann. After five years of waiting to run together, it was finally happening! I didn’t find them right away but I did find another familiar face – Anna from Piper’s Run. It was great to finally meet her in person after following her awesome blog. I’m afraid my nerves for the race left me a little off and I didn’t take the opportunity to thank Anna for supporting me through my blog and my step into the world of Twitter. She has been nothing but a positive influence on this running journey. Thank you Anna!
The huge crowd started to fill in the starting line shoots, Michelle and Yann found me, Vanessa headed to her starting point after good lucks were exchanged. We bumped into Mike, a neighbor friend who was also running while his wife, who was my running buddy from last year, was on the sidelines with their daughter wishing us good luck!
We all got our devices ready to go. The MC was pumping up the crowd and the countdown was on for the full marathoners. The folks from the Citadel Hill Historic site came down in full dress and fired the gun to start the race. So exciting! All the nerves melted away and I couldn’t wait to start moving my feet! Our countdown started and we were off! A slow walk quickly becomes a run filled with determination by the time you cross that start line. Watches started and we were off.
The spectators cheering us on bring the fun of the race to a new level. At the first corner we were met by live music and their energy was awesome! There was so much to take in – drones overhead, crowds lining the street, music, awesome volunteers directing us and so many runners. Before I knew it, my watch buzzed and beeped that we had already completed a kilometer. What?? Already?? Michelle and I fell into a good pace and found a hole in the crowd to run together. We passed the awesome Maritime Race Weekend water stop and were heading towards Point Pleasant Park when Michelle pointed out that we had caught up to the 60-minute pace bunny. She said, “We’re staying with him as long as we can”. My immediate thought was that she had lost her mind. I was hoping for a 1:03 at the best. If I kept with the 60-minute pace bunny I’d run out of juice for the inclines at the end. Then I thought, if there is anyone who knows me and what I’m capable of, it’s Michelle – trust her racing experience, trust your training and give it a go. If it works, I’m leaving this race feeling like a rock star. If it doesn’t work, I’ll take a walk break when we hit the last inclines or slow the pace down, probably still coming in lower than my practice run of 1:07 last week. I focused on this pal of mine, the awesome pace bunny, the five feet of path in front of me and let them pull me along.
It is beyond amazing to see familiar faces along the route of a race. You are using everything you have to make this race the best you can. Sometimes, the tank that empties first is not the fuel tank but the spirit tank. It can sometimes be brutal to keep your focus and your positive spirit during a race. Every time you see a familiar face, that spirit tank gets filled up a little bit more. My first sighting was a complete surprise! My nephew Roman was playing music at one of the awesome boost stations along the route. It was so awesome to see his smiling face and get a little wave before heading onto the trails of the park.
Oh my, the hill in the park was a true test of determination. I lost Michelle and the pace bunny in the crowd as we headed into narrower paths. The hill was steep and was covered in loose gravel. I was scared of slipping and scared that it would never end! It did though and the crowd spread out again as we came to wider trails. We passed a water station and I spotted Michelle getting a drink, I slowed down knowing that she would spy me too. With her back by my side and the pace bunny back in sight, we were on track but the hill had done me in. I knew that there was another hill ahead and was starting to doubt my ability to keep up with her. I was just about to say to her that I had to slow it down when I spotted more familiar faces!
Neighbors, Honza and Erin, who are quickly becoming good friends, packed up their three young children at the crack of dawn and found a spot that was absolutely perfect! I probably cut off a few runners (sorry!) as I made a mad dash to them. I gave quick kisses to the top of the children’s heads while my feet kept moving. Those three seconds of contact along the route between the two hills totally filled me up! We attacked the next hill with a new found energy.
Before I knew it, we made a turn and were heading back towards the Citadel. We were still with the race bunny and doing good. We passed our pirate friends again and my watch started buzzing and I was loving it. Days before the race, I had let friends and family know that I can receive and read test messages on my watch during the race. So quick messages of “Yeah for Tanya!”, “Believe”, “Go Tanya Go!”, “So Proud of You!”, “You can do this!”, “You can do it!” were appearing on my watch with a little buzz. It was AWESOME!!!! Every time my mind would start to wander into “I don’t know if I can keep this up” land, a text would let me know I could. Technology is awesome! My friends and family are the most supportive folks in the world!! I am so lucky!
We were back to the live band we passed when we started the race. Just a little over a kilometer left and we had been on a bit of climb with still more to go. It was the point in the race where everything was being used. I told Michelle that we had to stop talking, I focused on keeping myself upright and trying not to the shoulders collapse, repeated the texts over and over in my head, focused on breathing and started visualizing the finish line we had watched the day before. Michelle asked if we should ease up but I said, “we’ve come this far and are so close, it’s too late to ease up now”.
We blasted down the hill of Cogswell Street and knew we were so close because the crowds were thickening and the cheering was awesome! We turned onto Brunswick Street and started the uphill climb to the finish line. I took a quick look at my watch and realized that although we could see the finish line, it was still a long way away and we had 2 minutes to get there if we were going to come in under 60 minutes. I said “two minutes” to Michelle and both of us with our next step sped up our pace, passed the bunny and dug down into an already empty tank to find energy. Just when the pace started being way too much I heard my name.
NO WAY! More familiar faces exactly where I needed them to be! My friend Valerie and her family were cheering from the sidelines. Her gorgeous smiling face was radiating with love and support. It was amazing to feel her push us to the finish line!
The Finish Line.
Well, I couldn’t tell you much, except that I crossed the finish line knowing that I had given it my all and had the pleasure of doing it with Michelle. We gave each other a hug but I’m not sure if it was celebratory or to hold each other up physically! We made our way through the shoot towards the medals and Robyn, my running buddy from last year, was there to congratulate us. And then the blur set in. Exhaustion, overwhelming pride, the crowd, or maybe a combination of everything, but even though I stayed upright, I only remember small moments of the next little bit. We did receive our beautiful medals and were well taken care of by the volunteers. Sweet people who give of their time to make the race run smoothly and are always encouraging and supportive. Thank you to everyone who gave their time to the Bluenose 2016! You rock!!
After some photos with Michelle and Mike, I returned to the finish line to cheer on Vanessa with Valerie and her family. And then something kind of special happened. Valerie’s youngest daughter who is 3 years old, caught sight of the medal around my neck. With that innocent little face looking up at me, I asked her if she would like to try it on. I was thinking about this moment at home later while reflecting on the race and thought that it would go down in the books as one of my most favorite racing memories. Watching the next generation of runners fall in love with the sport is beyond awesome. It was while I was standing with them that my brother, who was following the race online from New Brunswick, texted me a photo of my chip time from the stats website. I may have screamed a little!
I still can’t believe the results. They kind of make me a little giggly when I think of them and I couldn’t be prouder to say that my chip time was 59:33.7! We did it! My feet may have crossed the finish line but many gave me strength to do it!
The rest of the day consisted of trying to find something that would make me feel normal again. I tried eating but things didn’t settle too well, so snacks and smoothies got me through the day. I had many quick naps and soaked in my tub. I stretched throughout the day as I could tolerate more and got a good night’s sleep. 24 hours post race, I’m feeling so much better, although stairs and I will probably not be friends today. The plan is to head to the track this evening with the regular Monday night track crew to do some light walking, as well as spending some time on the yoga mat gently stretching out the sore muscles. Despite all the recovery pain. It was so worth it! The plan for Bluenose 2017 is already starting to take shape!
Thank you to everyone who provided pictures for this blog!
Thank you to all those who organized and volunteered at the amazing Bluenose 2016!
Thank you to the police and emergency health services who kept the race safe!
Thank you to all the strangers that lined the streets and cheered us on!
Thank you to all who have supported and continue to support my running journey, near and far. Love ya all!
Thank you to Michelle for making me feel like a rock star….
Countdown to Races:
- 10 km at Blue Nose Marathon! Completed!
- 40 days until 10 km at Salmon Festival
- A bunch of days to Color Run 5 km (This is my competitive side trying to stay chill!)
- 116 days until 5 km at Maritime Race Weekend
- 117 days until my first 21.1 km at Maritime Race Weekend