My girlfriend, Andrea, and I left my house this morning dressed to run the infamous Melissa's 10km run in Banff. We had Scout on the back seat of her jetta, ready to drop off for a play date, we had our timing chips fastened to our shoes, our numbers pinned to our Lululemon tops and our hearts filled with anticipation of the fun, beautiful day that waited for us in the majestic rocky mountains. Andrea had been training religiously and was ready to tackle this run with the single goal of beating her previous time of 1 hour and 14 minutes, a time she had run the same race in, after finishing chemo treatments three years ago. Today, she was stronger, a survivor, ready to race! I was uncharacteristically nervous. My recent bowel troubles have side lined my training, but it wasn't lack of training that made me nervous about today, I know I can run 10km, no prob. The idea that my stomache could retaliate and cause me to have uncontrollable gas, which could turn into liquid in my pants(ew), is what made me nervous!!!
We had carefully planned to leave my house by 8:45am, which should have given us plenty of time to arrive at the 10:30am start of the race with time to spare, and we did. What we had forgotten to factor into our perfect plan, was the time it would take to drop Scout off at her play date. By the time we left Andrea's brother's house it was 9:15am and we still had an hour to drive. Ok, we'd be cutting it close, but we, techinically could still make it. Things were still looking good....then we got stuck behind the BMW. It was a black car and looking back, I see that following the obnoxious driver of that car was the start of our real "adventure." He was the kind of driver who controlled the road. He wouldn't let you pass him, he'd slow down and speed up like a maniac and when we finally managed to squeak past him, he waved a creepy wave that sent chills down our spines. Now, we were both rattled, but we chose to focuse on getting to Banff, to the race start! We hit the town of Banff at 10:22am, still feasable to make it to the start. All we had to do was find a parking spot, not an easy feat in the little touristy mountain town. After driving to the top level of a parking stadium and back down again without finding a vacant spot, we had lost all kinds of time. The clock in the jetta now read 10:30. We pulled illegally to the side of a street and parked beside a yellow curb. We raced out of the car towards the start line, at least a km away. This was not the ideal way to start a race, but we knew, from previouse experience, that it would take the runners atleast 10mins to get through the starting chute, so we could concievably make it. Ofcorse we had to stop at the washroom on the way to the start line, hey no one can start a run with a full bladdar, and Andrea noticed her timing chip had fallen off her shoe! We had no time to go back for it, we'd have to use mine as our official time. We ran from the washroom to the start line with my wrist watch reading 10:45am. We passed the runners as they made their way across the bridge, our anxiety levels raised, but there was nothing we could do, we had to get to the start. This was clearly not going to be an ideal "start," but we'd make it before they took down the start gate. By the time we made it to the official start crossed over the timing chip pad, and started the race, we were last!!! We had already run an extra kilometer and we were last!!! We were so far behind the others that we couldn't even see the pack at all. Andrea and I had to rely on the race volunteers in their bright orange vests to guide us on course. We got to the bridge, the same one we had passed the runners on, however the race volunteer at the bottom of the bridge, instructed us to run under the bridge. Against our own judgement and despite our confusion, we followed the direction his finger pointed, and we ran under the bridge. It wasn't until we hit the sign that said 1 mile, that we learned our adventure was going to continue for a lot longer than we had anticipated. "Yay," I said to Andrea, "only 5 more miles to go!" The lady holding the sign heard me, smiled and said, "you mean 12 more miles." I assured her that I definately meant 5 more miles!!! She gave us a confused look as we jogged by, and when my eyes met hers, I figured it out, we were on the 22km race course, NOT the 10km. We were now running in a half marathon!!!! Ahhhhh! This was not what Andrea had been training for, this was not what I had promised my bowels they had to behave for, this was not plan A!!!! Andrea handled all of this stress very well, afterall she was there to run a Personal Best and so far, nothing that had happened was helping her reach her goal. We decided we'd run to the 10km mark, check our time and see how we felt. We could stop after 10km, like we had planned, or we could keep going and see how far we could go. I have run lots of races, including more than one half marathon, so I wasn't worried that my legs and lungs could handle the run, I just wanted Andrea to have an awesome race. I know what it is like to chase a personal best and by now I would have been mentally destroyed, but she kept a smile on her face and determination on her brow. We hit the 10km mark at a time Andrea was proud of, she had done it, she had beat her post chemo time, gotten the PB she had come for! The only thing missing was...the finish line!!! There was no music, no muffins, no cheering. The only thing there, to witness her stellar finish were trees and the cannon camera I had carried to capture the moment!! We had a mini celebration, but quickly realized, we were far from...anything. We did not have a choice at this point, we had to keep going! We walked for a while, we ran for a while and before we knew it, we had run 12km, 2km farther than Andrea had ever run before!! 12km was a big accomplishment, but we still couldn't drop out of the race, there was no where to go, we were in the middle of the rockies....we decided to run one more km and quit.
The 13km marker witnessed a mini celebration from us, but offered no opportunity to quit.
Just after mile 13 we hit "smiley bridge" where the volunteer Crazy Larry greeted us with balloons and smiles, he encouraged us and we made it one more km where we finally saw TOWN!!! Andrea made the call, she could feel a migraine developing and didnt feel she could run any farther, who could with a migraine??? We staggered our way back towards the finish line where we indulged in the donuts, cookies and bananas, treats reserved for race finishers, which we considered ourselves, though we never actually crossed an official finish line at the end of our race!!
I tip my hat to Andrea for having such a positive attitude throughout this ordeal and for achieveing a personal best! Here's to next year and Plan A!!!
Check out Andrea's blog where she has posted her own "take" on our race adventure at http://andreasanimals.blogspot.com