The day began with next to no wind but a scary threat of rain and a temperature of 10C (or 50F). As a member of Team CBC I got ready just a little early so I could meet my brother and running partner then find the CBC team booth in the race reception area. Everything went off without a hitch, and it was great to see all of my fellow team CBC members for a group picture just before we would part ways for the day.
After some quick speeches the gun went off promptly at 9 am. The marathon pack stretched out like taffy as I rounded the first corner and got a good view of about 800meters ahead. Already the leader was pulling away from the pack. My brother and I quickly found our pace and settled in, chatting and commenting on the race and some of the more colorful costumed runners. We finished circling the Citadel and turned down one of Halifax's more historic north end neighborhoods. There were a few spectators, mostly people with children, some eating the breakfast from their windows and doorways, cheering as we ran past. The road continued until we had gone 3km, then we turned sharply and went down a long, steep road to the waterfront. I ran down the hill, trying to let my calves relax. My brother isn't as big a fan of downhills so he let me surge ahead and caught up to me again as we closed in on the Navy base. Once we hit the base we ran down a twisty road to get to the main parking area. This is where we had our first walk break, at 5km. We were right on track for a 4:50 finish at that point. I grabbed a non-caffinated GU and we continued to a nasty steep hill in front of Halifax's casino. Once we were up and over that we sailed down again to the next street up from the waterfront, Hollis street. Restaurants, banks, hotels, amuseumand shops line the street so there's always plenty to look at. At the end is likely the largest water stop and first med station. University girls and signs screamed a block prior to the station. One sign said: You've Got Stamina, Call me, 464-****!! Another said "Running is cheaper than therapy." It had me laughing. I grabbed some Clif bar and we continued up a hill to Point Pleasant Park. I always find the best crowd is along that street leading runners to and from Point Pleasant, but this year we arrived to hardly a soul. We ran into the park jamming to Pink at an aid station. The park is right on the ocean so we felt the chilly wind in the exposed areas, but after less than a kilometer we were into the trees and then popping back out into the city, this time running on the opposite side of the road and to suddenly many more spectators. The crowds cheered and called our names as we passed. A few fellow Team CBC members ran past, one guy grabbing my brother in a runner's high-five/shake.
At this point we began getting other runners asking about our shoes. Up until then it was only the odd spectator that would happen to look down and see my brother's white VFF treks and say "Oh look, he's got those new (five finger thingy/toe shoes/latest technology(really?technology?) and oh, she's wearing them too..." We would grin and keep going. It got to the point that by the 17km mark we couldn't go 5 minutes without someone running up along side and asking how our feet were, how the shoes were working out, responding to "Oh my god, you're running the marathon in those?" One guy ran past my brother, poked him on the shoulder, pointed down and gave a thumbs up. We laughed at that well executed non-verbal message of approval. We both would answer that our feet felt good, we were doing fine. Truthfully my feet were a bit sore, but no more sore than they were at this point last year when I wore shoes. I shifted my point of contact when I landedand that helped alot. I forgot any soreness and pressed on to the half way point.
As we passed through the half way mark I noticed police cars and motorcycles coming up behind us. We were to the side of the road so we were well out of the way when the winner of the marathon won as we passed through the mat for our split time. We rounded the citadel again tucked in behind a pack of girls all in braids and headed back into the north end, this time without most of our company.
We began a surge at the 22km mark but as we tried to pass the girls decided to chat us up. They asked about our shoes, then if we were married. They gave a collective "aww" when we said we are siblings. We asked where they were from, Newfoundland it turns out and they were all running their first marathon. We passed the girls, then a group of three women, rounded the corner on North Street and made our way to Dartmouth (or Mordor-if you're my brother). We sailed down the hill to the bridge, then began the slow climb up to the crest of the bridge, then back down to the bridge tolls. Traffic had opened up at that point so I reminded my brother to pay attention. We began climbing almost immediately, heading into the heart of Dartmouth. We made a right turn as we entered a subdivision then down a sharp hill and up another. We saw our first casualty at this point. One woman, after making the last climb had suffered major cramps in her hamstrings and was doubled over with her friend by her side, clutching them. We wished them well and pressed on, rounding another corner and making yet another climb up the side of the highway. My brother's knees were giving him alot of pain at this point so he stopped taking walk breaks shortly after we completed the half. Now his run had become more labored, but he continued up the hill at a steady pace. I followed behind, trying, very poorly, to text my husband not to forget my brother's bag (and especially his pain relievers) when we finished the second park, Shubie.
We crested the hill after a good 5 minutes and then descended again to enter the Shubie park area. Shubie has a bunch of small hills as you enter the parkwhich really taxed the quads after the punishing ascents and decents we had just ran through. We encountered some large pieces of gravel that gave us cause to slow down and at some points get creative by running along on wooden border planks. We had hit the 20 mile mark and my brother was in pain but somehow found a reserve to keep going. He grabbed a can of coconut water, popped some pain meds then took off again down the road. I chatted with my husband for a second, ate a banana then headed off after my brother who had just passed two walkers. We rounded a corner and started down Braemar Drive, along Dartmouth's beautiful lakes Mic Mac and Banook. I reminded my brother we had less than 10km (6 miles) left and tried hard to encourage him. Once we had passed lake Mic Mac my husband met us again and this time ran beside us for a half kilometer. It was great to see a fresh face and hear his encouraging words. We pressed on, I tried to shake it up for my feet and I ran down along the wooden plank boardwalk on lake Banook. That felt great on my legs but my feet were sore all over.
We went past the duck pond/Sullivan's pond, then made the dreaded start to Giv'r Hill. It's hilly reputation is so strong they have special signage made for it so runners know that this is the hill they are about to climb. A500 metersof incline. Impressively my brother ran up the whole thing! I walked a few steps but seeing him somehow dig down and find the strength to run up Giv'r hill inspired me to try too. He crested the hill and kept going. I caught up just as we made our decent to the bridge again, the 39km (or 24 mile) mark. We ran down, passed the last aid station, then began the ascent up the bridge, the last one of the marathon. As we reached the bottom I saw a girl ahead of us, trying to keep the gab between us from getting any closer. She kept turning her head and checking to see where we and the group of 4 girls were. Then thegirls stopped suddenly with 4 blocks to go. The grabbed a bag at the side of the road and began putting on make up! My brother and I marvell
ed at their concern for their finish line picture and tried to speed up. My brother grunted out; "No Stopping". I croaked back "K!" as we came on the last spectator who was sporting a Mohawk andholding a sign, offering free lap dances to marathoners all day. Just after reading the sign I turned my head back to the road to see the girl who was ahead of us collapse. Witha friend of hers that had joined her just a few meters prior and with the team of medics that flocked to her we passed andwe wondered if she'd be able to make the last 300 meters to the finish. I doubted it whenheared her screams as they tried to work out what looked like a leg cramp on the road. We ran faster as we heard the announcer say our names, and I started to tear up as the emotion of finishing a marathon with my younger brother started to sink in. With 100 meters to go he grabbed my hand and said "Let's go." We ran as fast as we could, my brother jumping on the finish mat as we went through. We hugged and high-fived as my husband, daughter and our mother and her boyfriend ran up to us. It was a wonderful feeling. After a minute I turned my head and cheered on the girls as they finished and miraculously the girl who had collapsed made it up to the finish line.
I didn't achieve my time goal of under 5 hours, in the end we came in at 5:13. I'm not disappointed though because I know we both gave all we could yesterday and together we built a memory we'll both have forever. Now...about next year....
Bluenose Marathon Race Report - My First Marathon in VFFs!!
Blog entry posted by vibramchic, May 30, 2011.