Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Half Marathon Take Two (Tylenol, That Is!)

I knew it was going to be a slow run when I got owned by Barney the Dinosaur during the first kilometer. That's right - Barney. The. Dinosaur. The purple and green menace from my childhood, back to haunt me on The Scotia Bank Half Marathon.

The sad truth was, I was very sick the entire week before the race. I'd had a fever for five days straight, and spent most of the week in bed, unsure if I would even be lacing up on Sunday morning.

I felt terrible - not just physically. How could I bail on the run I had dedicated to my son? How could I let down my sponsors, who believed in me enough to put money down on my behalf, in support of adoption? And if that wasn't enough, I'd been named Team Captain this year. I simply could NOT sit on the sidelines.

When the killer sore throat made its devilish descent into my lungs, I convinced myself "I can do this... what's a little bronchial inflammation to a runner like me?" Clearly the extra strength Tylenol and excess Fisherman's Friends had messed with my brain.

The first kilometer wasn't too bad. I started waaay back in line. It was the octogenarians, the limpers, the take-it-easies, and me. I was doing okay for the first few hundred meters. But then I saw the dinosaur. He ran along, tantalizing me with his blue sneakers and FULL BODY COSTUME, including headpiece. With zero effort, he blasted past me, leaving a trail of purple fuzz in his wake.

"Come ON Sarah." I cheered myself along. "He's sweating his lungs out inside a polyester torture chamber. You have a little cough, a minor fever, and a whole lot of wimp... pick up the pace!"

I tried. I did rather well for the next few km, until someone caught my eye. She darted out from the thinning pack behind me and seemed to sprint forward into the crowd. She happened to be a Little person. And she was fast. "No matter," I told myself. "Good for her!" A few kilometers later, I was wheezing at the side of the road, and something incredible happened.

I got passed by a SECOND Little person. Now, I didn't have a measuring tape, and she was running pretty fast, so I can't be sure if she was just of short stature, or was genuinely Little. It didn't matter. She, like a few thousand others humans (big and small) and one prehistoric carnivore, had left me in the dust.

At this part I became concerned that maybe I would be last. Perhaps I didn't have it in me to finish this race. I might have to bow out. I told myself if I could make it to the top of the hill, and past the second water station, I would be okay.

That's when the stentch of skunk spray hit my lungs. Oh, yes. The faint odor I'd detected on my descent down the hill on SW Marine Drive at UBC, was now a full-fledged offensive onslaught. After the turn around, and with the encouragement of the morning sun, I was lamely hoofing it uphill when the smell punched me in the face.

Oh God oh God oh God. It was terrible. All I could think about was running as fast as I could to get past the smell. And you know what? It worked. It got me to Spanish Banks (or was it Jericho? Kits beach? Who cares, it was beachside and skunk-free and closer to the finish line).

So I kept running. And stopping to hack on the side of the road. I even found five dollars on the course (if you're reading this, Leaky Pockets, I donated it on your behalf to AFABC!). I made some games out of it. Run a kilometer. Stop to hack. Every time someone with pink socks passed me, I could stop. Every time the father/son team that ran and stopped at about the same pace as me stopped, I could stop, too.  Everytime a little kid stood cheering at the side of the road, I would have to run faster.

My little mind games kept me going until the 20km mark. Almost home! I could hear the celebration on the final stretch. Then I spotted my teammate, Drew Savage, who was finishing the last of his 5km race on our shared course. I sprinted a little to catch up to him and said/spat "Hey teammate, let's finish together!"

He had no clue who I was of course, some oxygen-deprived crazy squeezing up next to him in the final kilometer. I tried to nudge him with my elbow to keep his attention and say "Hey we're both on Team Adopt!" That's when my arm decided to flail and I accidentally slapped our celebrity teammate across the arm.

I'm sorry Drew.

He ran away after that. Like a horse whipped at the racetrack, he gunned it towards the finish line and I did what I'd been growing used to by that time of the morning. I stood on the side of the path and hacked.

I DID finish the half on Sunday morning. My time was a wretched 2:38, but I FINISHED it! I am so proud to have led (or rather followed!) Team Adopt across the finish line, and to have been part of this wonderful campaign.

Thanks and congrats to everyone who joined us and cheered us on this Sunday!