How crazy is it to choose a half marathon as your very first race without any training?!?!
This is what I remember:
1. Getting extremely drunk with the friends I stayed with on the Friday night before the race. I needed all of Saturday to recuperate from the wild night of drinking together, and I was still feeling ill on the Sunday morning of the race! Can you tell that there was absolutely no concept of run preparation?!?!
2. Buying a water belt from the Running Room the day before with two large plastic water bottles on it because I had no idea there would be water stations along the way, and thought I should bring some with me, just in case I got thirsty!
3. Feeling alone and lost in the sea of people at the starting line, most of whom seemed to know someone else they could talk with and appeared to know more about what they were about to do than me!
4. The huge swooooosh of hundreds of people moving together forward after the race started. I watched as people took off at full speed and at the hundreds of people who swept by me. Oddly enough, without any prior knowledge, I told myself to keep at my pace and not to get caught up in the people dashing forward. To this day, it is still a significant memory of the number of people whom I passed within the first 2K, people who were clearly exhausted from sprinting and would now walk the rest of the way.
5. The huge piles of clothes along the first 5K of the race that were left by runners. The day started as a typical Vancouver day - rainy and cloudy, but the race day itself eventually turned into a beautiful sunny day. I recall thinking how I would like to come back to this spot, just to get a few nice shirts and jackets that I saw tossed along the way! I was wearing my heavier ROWING jacket (not a RUNNING jacket, but a rowing jacket!), and I refused to toss it when it got too warm so I tied it around my waist!
6. I listed to one bloody CD the entire time - ONE! I did not carry any additional music with me and there was no MP3 players at the time so it was my trusty Sony CD player and one Pet Shop Boys CD, ad nauseum, for the entire race!
7. How incredibly gorgeous the city of Vancouver truly is. I lived in the city for seven of my years in B.C., and I saw areas of the city I had never been in before as a result of the marathon. I "get it" now when I read how a marathon is a great way of seeing a city because "seeing" Vancouver from a race perspective that day was spectacular.
8. How caught off guard I was by the loneliness that hit me while I was out there. I had several friends reprimand me for not telling them I was going to be in the half marathon because they would have come out to cheer for me if they had known. However, prior to the race, I honestly did not want many people to know about it. It was something I wanted to do and I felt very private about it. I did not think it would be a big deal with the thousands of people around me. But you know what? It was! To this day, I am very grateful to the kind spectators who cheered me personally along the way. It did not realize how much it meant to have your own supporters along the route until I saw it for myself in action. Wow!
9. Watching the elite marathoners run by me. Another Wow! What a phenomenal experience to see these not-an-ounce-of-body-fat-on-them men and women SPRINT at full speed past me at one point. I am thankful for the organizers who designed the course as such because it was incredibly cool to see them! A huge highlight of the race.
10. Sprinting to the finish line and hearing the cheers for me (and the others!) at the end. I may have walked most of the middle part of the half marathon, but I ran consistently for the first few K, and darn it, I was going to finish my first race by running, too!
11. The wonderful spread of food at the end! It was food buffet heaven at the end of the race. My sister ran her first half marathon last summer in Toronto, and I told her at the time how great the buffet would be at the end! However, she told me afterward that it had "sucked," and it was not at all like what I had described to her. She said the same thing about the food at the end of her second half marathon this spring in Ottawa. I have no idea if this is a change at all marathons in the last seven years, but in 2003, in Vancouver, I enjoyed the most amazing spread of food in the fenced-in area for post-marathoners, which made the previous 3+ hours well worth it !! :)