As regular readers know, I started sharing details on my get-fit efforts about a year and a half ago. As I’ve gone through that journey, losing 48 pounds and six inches off my waist, I always had this vague goal of running in one of the Blue Nose Marathon events as a way of marking how I’d changed.
I wanted to understand the Blue Nose’s appeal. It’s a big event, and it gets a lot of Haligonians out running… But I never saw why they bothered. You can run any time, almost anywhere. Is having the street closed and a few thousand people in matching shirts around you really a big deal?
Years of being too fat wreaked havoc on my knees, so on the advice of my doctor, I signed up for the 5K instead of the 10K I originally had in mind. I began training with the Team Myles running group. We ran Point Pleasant Park and the waterfront, gradually upping our time and distance. When May rolled around, I was routinely running 5K, in about 40 minutes. (I know that’s a snail’s pace for regular runners, but it felt pretty good to me.)
The energy on race day was palpable. You’d have to be pretty committed to cynicism to not get caught up in the excitement of 2,135 people, all giddy to be minutes away from the start of something they clearly love. When the start gun went, I had to resist the impulse to shoulder through the crowd like a demented linebacker. Despite all warnings from experienced runners, I took off at a far faster pace than normal.
After the first two kilometres, I paid for my overzealousness. My energy flagged. As I headed down South Park Street, in the midst of the pack, I was amazed to see the leaders, who would finish in 16 minutes, already returning up the other side of the street. I staggered on. People cheered, cowbells rang. After an eternity, I passed the three-kilometre mark. (Only three kilometres?!? Really?!?)
It was starting to feel like this would just be the rest of my life: pounding feet, laboured breathing, and eventual death. As the route passed Citadel High, I heard a choir singing. (Òran from Edmonton, in town for a choral festival, and using their free time to encourage the runners.) Don’t ask me why, but that did it. My energy returned, my feet lightened, and I felt like I was sprinting for the last kilometre.
I was shocked to see I finished in 35:18, shaving almost five minutes off my best 5K time. It felt like I had been running for days. The feeling of crossing the finish line with
all those people was unlike anything I’ve experienced, and entirely different than staggering into my driveway alone after a run around my neighbourhood. I want to experience that again and again. I’ve signed up to run the Navy 5K in August. Somehow, running has become an enjoyable hobby.
And this seems an appropriate time to move on from my get-fit story—my fitness updates are done. It started out as a journalistic stunt but it’s become a new lifestyle. For the last 18 months, I’ve shared my weight-loss efforts and eating habits. I’ve received fantastic advice and tons of support. Thanks to everyone who offered a kind word or shared an encouraging story—it’s been a lot of fun sharing this with you.