Welcome to throwback Thursday. Blogging is not only a really cool way to share your life with people around the world, a way to connect with people who think and live similarly to you, and help develop your writing and photography skills, it is also a super neat way for me to store my memories and stories over the years. It’s like a diary sometimes, only one that is not at all private. I thought today I would throw it back a little bit to recap a race that I did before I started blogging, actually way before I started blogging.
You might be surprised to know that I’m coming up on TEN YEARS since my first marathon. This August marks ten years since I did my first marathon and I know what you’re thinking… Kris, you’re only 24, how did you do your first marathon a decade ago? I know. It’s actually pretty crazy for me to think about now but it’s true. In 2007, I trained for an entire summer, and joined my mom and cousin to complete my first 26.2 mile event, the Loop the Lake Invermere Marathon. I know that there are 9-year old kids who do half marathons and race longer distances than even a marathon, but for me, at 14, this was the first “race experience” of my life and looking back, I think I experienced all of the typical first-timer emotions throughout the weekend of the race.
Full disclosure: I didn’t run the marathon. Prior to a few years ago my mom wasn’t a runner, she was a walker. She walked every single morning and she walked marathons. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. If you’ve ever walked a long distance you will know it is not easy. I won’t say it’s as hard as running a marathon but it’s pretty close. I mean, it’s the same distance, you’re out there for longer, and your hips feel like they might fall off by the end. Another note is that my mom is a FAST walker. We trained that summer not only to get lots of miles under our feet but to adjust to walking fast for a long time. I’ll skip over talking about the training but as a 14-year old who spent her summer walking with her mom and cousin around Winnipeg for a few hours every couple of days before the sun got too hot… I learned the true meaning of dedication.
The night before the race we went to the pasta dinner for the race. We dined on salad and spaghetti, feeling like elite athletes carboloading before our goal race. While we knew we were likely going to be the last people to the finish line because we were walkers, I still had butterflies in my stomach and was nervous for the next day. I’ve learned that that feeling never goes away. After a restless sleep, we laced up and headed to the start line where the walkers were able to start earlier than the runners and we set off just after 6am. I remember standing in the dark, singing O’Canada at the start of the race and just having the most incredible feeling of connection with the people around me. This is one part of the race that I always forget happens because I’m so focused on the course and pace and finishing but it’s one part that never ceases to amaze me.
It was HOT. 26.2 miles in the BC summer heat and it was certainly toasty. When you’re walking a long distance race, it actually becomes hard not to take quick running breaks. Obviously if you’re in a competitive walking race or competing in race walking, you can’t run for disqualification reasons, but we took a few short running breaks to give our hips a rest from the fast walking.
It was close to the 3/4 mark that my cousin started feeling it. She was chaffing and hurting and all she wanted to do was stop. I was the annoying “we can do it!” cheerleader that probably wasn’t helping matters but only making them worse. My mom walked with my cousin and told me to go on up ahead and just keep the pace. I started walking ahead. Knowing that we only had a few miles left, I started crying. I thought about how far we’d come together, training on hot summer mornings and walking for hours that day together and I couldn’t bear to cross the finish line alone. I turned around, tears streaming, and rejoined my mom and cousin to finish the race. We crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 42 minutes, arm in arm.
I think this perfectly sums up my feelings at the end of most races and training cycles and I think it’s really cool that I was able to have that experience during my first race. Most often, it’s not about the time on the clock when we finish, it’s about the journey it took to get to that finish line. We shared a bond that summer. This was 2007… I probably had an MP3 player or maybe the first iPod to distract me, but spending hours walking with your mom and cousin is really special. You can talk and laugh and also just enjoy being together in silence too. We were in pain together, we pushed each other, and we crossed that finish line together. I can’t say I’d advocate for all 14 year olds doing marathons but I’m really glad that I shared this experience with my mom when I was that young and it’s experiences like this that have shaped my current relationship with her. As it’s almost Mother’s Day, I thought this was a timely post to mention how much I appreciated the hours I spent walking with my mom that summer and how much I admire her for being a daily inspiration to me.
Whether it’s family or friends, your fitness community is important. Yes, you may end up crossing some finish lines together, but it’s the hours you spend with each other getting there that matter even more.
What was your first race?
Tell me about some of your feelings from your first racing experience!