Thursday, May 8, 2008

My friend the half marathoner

As I sit here, a little over a week away from the start of the Blue Nose Half Marathon in Halifax, I am reflecting back over the past seventeen weeks of training and thinking how my Running Club buddies have wowed me, yet again. The focus and determination exhibited by each one of our Running Club members has been a great source of inspiration to me and to others who have watched their progress since training started in late January. The latest example of their unwavering focus came last week when, to a man (and a woman), they declined to participate in a local 5-K road race, opting instead to run 8 miles -- talk about taking the road less travelled.

As our trip to Halifax draws nearer, there is a quiet excitement starting to surface around our workplace as we all look forward to the memories in the making and sharing our first half marathon with each other - I for one can't imagine sharing the experience with anyone else. But for all the excitement, I have one running buddy, ah heck, a friend, who I'm a little worried about.

Joan and I have not always been friends, more like workplace acquaintances, but I think she would agree that running together has brought us closer to each other. My concerns with Joan have nothing to do with her ability to complete the half marathon distance - she has conquered every other distance, so this is just another Sunday for her. My fear is that her nervousness about the event is going to take away from what is surely to be a highlight for all of us -- when I ask her what she's nervous about, she says "it's just bla" and gestures as if she's about to vomit. Most runners have a restless night before the big day, but to lose sleep three weeks before the event is something different entirely. So Joan, I am offering a few final words of advice, a sort of last ditch effort to calm you down enough to enjoy a top-ten life moment in the making. A part of me thinks this is akin to offering a shovel full of sand to the desert, but I remain determined to make sure you enjoy this weekend, damn it.

First off, the race distance and your ability to reach the finish line is not open for discussion. You could complete this race in your sleep. I've seen you pull off some amazing runs over the past 16 weeks, this is just another Sunday with your running friends. Take it nice and easy from start to finish. If you're having a tough time at some point, take a walk break - no one will laugh and it won't affect the world running rankings in any way, and it probably won't jeopardize your chances at a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Those standing on the sidewalks will still clap as you pass them, inspired by your courage to start and your tenacity to finish.

Every time you feel a nervous moment coming on, remember you're not alone, we're all there with you. Take solace in the fact you have methodically prepared for this weekend - preparedness equals success. You'll get out of it what you put into it, and you've put in a hell of a lot.

You've run races before, this one is no different. Your racing resume includes 5-k, 8-k and 10 mile races. Soon you'll be adding a half marathon to the list and like I told you before, think about your friends and those you hang out with outside of our Club - how many of them can say they have participated in a half marathon? You're an inspiration to all of them, every time you lace up your running shoes.

Finally, Nova Scotia has some really antiquated Sunday shopping laws, so distractions will be kept to a minimum allowing you to light it up on race day. Leave your credit card in your hotel room, just in case.

My friend JM - the little engine that could.

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