Calgary Half Marathon May 27, 2012.

Early Sunday morning, the cloud looks like it will lift and uncover pure blue sky.  It is very chilly as we leave the house.  We drive across 22x to the C-Train and get on board with a few other runners.  By the time we get to Chinook the train is full of runners with different bibs.  Some are taking pictures.  Shoes are in every colour of the rainbow.  We surge off the train en masse at Stampede station, heading for the entrance gates.  There is a lot of traffic; we are backing it up by crossing the road.  It seems colder now and we head inside to the Grandstand for bag check and bathrooms.  People are milling around everywhere in the heating.  We see our dentist - Kev will beat him in the Half.  I wonder if I can do this.

It is time to go and we decide to start together.  We let the packed crowd pass until a guy wearing a large dog costume overtakes us.  Flo Rida is playing on the speakers – Good Feeling.  This is good.  It’s sunny right now, I can see shadows.  Suddenly we’re running, it’s on.  Kev and the Dog leave me for dust.  We follow the river then turn sharp right into Inglewood.  There is a steel drum band playing outside Starbucks.  The race keeps on across the zoo bridge and passes the first water station.  I am surprised at how many people stop.  I walk the uphill section to cross Memorial then we are on a slight downhill.  More people stop at the 7-11.  I wonder what I am missing. 

I finally hit a rhythm as we run toward the river; on the other side we see the East Village cheer station which includes a SAIT robot and my favourite sign – Run Like F**K.  It’s time for a gel pack so I walk through the edge of downtown.  Now we are starting out on the longest stretch, 11th Avenue.  There is a nice detour past gardens and the old library then back to 11th.  Everything looks shut down but it’s just too early for businesses to be open on a Sunday morning.  We pass a large digital clock and I am not quite as fast as I want to be, I subtract 5 mins for our later start and realize this is the fastest 10k I have run during any race.  The sky is completely overcast.  There is no wind.  The road is rutted at the edges and far from level.  It seems endless and my feet hurt. 

At 11k we turn onto the 14th Street bridge, it is slightly uphill.  I have an orange gel pack with caffeine.  It feels like a solid lump.  The next section doubles back and I wish I was already on the other side.  I can’t feel my arms or close my hands; it is the cold not a heart attack I realize.  The sky is uniform light grey.  Now we pass the runners coming into the start of the double back and I feel happy it is not me.  I high five some random ladies biking on the pathway and feel better.  There is another water station at 15k and I catch the 2:30 pacer.  I lose her again as I have another orange gel pack.  We continue up Memorial and my foot is suffering from the blister between the toes on my right foot.  As we cross the Centre Street bridge I decide I will have to keep running on it until it gives in.  At 17k I am running further than I ever have before.  Jay-Z helps me out on the I-Pod and we pass my favourite sign again. 

Soon I can see the Saddledome and know the end is near.   I walk the uphill section of the underpass; there are more people out with signs now and a small band on the corner.  We do not take the direct route back but turn left and run toward the river.  We pass a grassy treed area with ruins of an old church.  Then we cross the river, I don’t know this area.  The 20k sign is right there, people stop to take pictures with it.  A couple in front of me are taking pictures of themselves running.  Etymon comes on my I-Pod and I know if I can finish before it ends I will come in around 2:30.  I start running hard as we see the final stretch in to the Grandstand; there are a lot of people lining the route.  I can’t stop now no matter how much I want to.  I finish with 2:36 on the clock and a final time of 2:31.  I am so happy to stop running.  I am handed an enormous medal and a wonderful man gives me a cup of water.  I sit in the stands and can’t believe I ran a half marathon.  My hips are stiff and my right shoe is unpleasantly squishy. 
Happy to be finished!
I find Kev and we realize its freezing.  He has achieved his goal of finishing below 2:00 with a time of 1:55.  Pancakes are forgone (we`re too cold to wait) and we head for the C-Train.  McD’s refuses to do breakfast so we share a Wendy’s in the car park as the rain starts.  It is time to go home for a jet tub with medals hanging on the towel rack. 


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