When I was 16 I ran the Vancouver Sun Run (10K) without training and in a pair of Nike Air basketball shoes that were 1.5 sizes too small for me. (Fashion over function, always!) I think I did it in 1:07 and could not walk for the next week. I remember vividly the giant blister that developed on my foot, about the size of a toonie. What struck me in addition to being sore was how much fun it was! The energy of an enormous crowd coming together to celebrate the city, healthy lifestyles, and just having a good time was infectious. It was my first taste of running in a “race” situation and I loved it.
Fast forward 18 years to last Sunday. I happened to read an article in the Vancouver Sun about an expected surge in last minute registrations for the Sun Run due to the Boston Marathon bombings, and people’s desire to do something to help. It created a sense of urgency in me to sign up. I really wanted to pay a tribute in my own way to those victims in Boston, and running seemed to be a very appropriate way for me to do it. When am I ever in Vancouver at the time of the Sun Run, have free babysitters (my parents), and in shape to run 10K on a whim? NEVER! Until this year. So I was compelled to run. I didn’t need a friend or family member to do it with me. In a way, there are 48,000 other people who are your friends for that 10K journey—in those moments you are on the same wavelength as everyone else around you. But the competitive side of me WAS in a race—I had something to prove to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that even though I am 18 years older than I was when I first ran the Sun Run, and probably about 45 pounds heavier than I was at age 16, and had to re-learn to run these past 3 months since having a baby, that I was healthier and in better shape. I am proud of the fact that I completed the run in 56:11. That’s not my best 10K time but what I’ll remember the most about last Sunday was how uplifted I was that yes, I CAN do this, I can keep getting better as I get older, and hard work does pay off. At the beginning of February, I could barely run 4 minutes without having to stop and walk. There are really no excuses I can give myself—“I’m too old and fat” is no excuse. “I’ve got 2 kids and just had a baby” is no excuse. “I am too busy” is no excuse. If I can do this, anyone can do this.
I think I will always remember the last 500m of my Sun Run running downhill into BC Place Stadium with thick crowds of supporters cheering everyone on both sides of the road. The sun was hot and I thought my lungs would collapse. But running with so many like-minded people at one time is euphoric. I celebrated life for those 56 minutes, relishing the fact that I had 2 legs to run with, that I live in the most beautiful part of the world, and that more people come together as a community to do good things rather than harm others. I may never run the Boston Marathon (perhaps this should be a new goal of mine??) but I think I have begun to understand why people are compelled to do it. It’s good for your soul.
|the start line 1 hour before the race|
|20 minutes before the race start, a few more people had shown up!|
|walking home from the race, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom....Vancouver is so beautiful|