Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Those first steps on my journey of 952.2 kilometres

You know that old clichéd adage:

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with just one step.

Ok technically my journey will be 42.2 kilometres, but by the time I will have finished my second marathon training program, I should have run about 952.2 km. Which works out to 592 miles. And that ain't half bad, even if it's only a little more than half a journey in the eyes of that old adage (but 1,000 miles just seems so random anyway).

Vital stats of my GoodLife journey:

Race: GoodLife Toronto Marathon
Date: May 15, 2011
Time goal: 4 hrs (30 minutes faster than my first marathon)

Those first steps

Last Sunday was our first day of training and called for a 10k Long Slow Distance. I'd been a lazy bum ever since running my first marathon in October, and my legs (and waist) were starting to show it. But when my phone rang its annoying chirp at 7:30 (I'll admit, I've been too lazy to try and find a better alarm sound), I pushed myself upright, swung my legs out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom...where I very nearly fell asleep on the toilet. But didn't.

Toothpaste froth flying as I grumbled to myself under my breath wondering why the heck I was doing this, I glared at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. But I knew there was no backing out today. I'd stood my running buddies up way too many times in the last several weeks, and I was beginning to feel guilty about it.

Halifax's streets were quiet in the early morning gloom as I drove downtown, with cars neatly parked in their driveways -- everyone was likely enjoying a lazy Sunday, I thought to myself resentfully. But when I walked into the Running Room, a few runners had already started gathering, and more continued to trickle through the doors for the next 15 minutes, until we were crammed in there, shoulder to shoulder -- a roomfull of inspiration for lazy me.

I joined the 18k group with running buds Wendy, Andrea and Jenn, hoping I could keep up with them (especially up the long hill at Devonshire Ave - thanks, Bruce!). The first few kilometres for me are always about warming up and settling into the groove of the run, and I was glad that I'd decided to come out this Sunday.

As we crested the long hill (thanks again, Bruce ;) ), my legs feeling the strain, I used the pain as a reminder not to ever get complacent again. Who would have thought that only a month and a half ago, I was sprinting around the track at The Tower like a little gazelle? (Ok not really a gazelle. To those watching me I was more like a slow short woman huffing and puffing around a track...but I liked to imagine I looked gazelle-like nonetheless). It is so easy to get out of shape.

At around 6k, the snowflakes started to fall. Big, chunky fluffs of white that stuck to my eyelashes and pretty soon had us wincing in pain as the wind drove them sideways into our faces and down our open mouths to the backs of our throats. I'd forgotten what it was to run in snow again -- that slight loss of purchase with each step, slipping back and not knowing whether the night step might -- whoops! -- be on a patch of ice.

But we continued on, around the Halifax Shopping Centre and through to Quinpool, then onward to Oxford. Running in snow might be harder, but Halifax in winter is so much prettier under the snow. As we chatted about holidays, work, husbands, boyfriends and shopping, I felt so grateful to have found such a great group of running friends.

I'd only planned to do about 14k, so at Cobourg I waved the rest of the group on, and stepped onto the intersection, only to glance at my left and see a big truck skidding downhill toward me, its rear tires fishtailing out to the side in slow motion. Stepping back, I yelled out to the rest of the group to be careful, and watched the truck driver come to a stop on the other side of the intersection.

I headed back to the Running Room slowly, picking my way uphill along Cobourg, then past the Public Gardens. My wooly mittens were sheathed in white, as was my hair, which I'd left untied and now looked like a dripping rat's nest.

We figured that all of the slipping back probably accounted for a few extra kilometres, so I like to think that my first step actually consisted of about 16k on a snowy morning in January. Only 890.2k left to go!

~ Ceebie

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