Some half marathons are hard.
Some are easy for most of it and then hard at the end. Some get easier as the kilometres fly by.
I have stood at the start line of 8 half marathons. I have crossed the finish line of 8 half marathons. That feat alone I am pretty proud of. There are some that I ran beautifully and there was one in particular that I thought I might need medical intervention at the end. There are some where I am embarrassed to say how much I walked and I don't think there's one so far that I didn't walk at least once or twice for a minute just to catch my breath and regroup.
No matter what happens between that start line and that finish line, there's one thing I can be pretty certain of: my finishing time.
All 8 races have been between 2:18:00 and 2:30:00.
Regardless of performance, of blood sugar, of weather, of injuries and of energy level.
I'm rather metronomic in my running as it turns out.
Yesterday's run started off in a mild state of panic. We left the house at 8:15am - plenty of time to drive the 30 minute drive to the 10am start line. Once we passed the last possible highway exit before the Garden City Skyway bridge, we saw a sign telling us that the highway was going down to one lane on the bridge and, within seconds, we were in huge gridlock. Doug, bless him, did a U-turn and drove down the on ramp (the wrong way), did another U-turn and got us headed in the right direction. We probably lost one minute rather than 45.
We got to the half marathon start at 9:05 and I immediately spotted a very long line for the sole porta potty so I headed right to it. Doug went off scouting and said that there were others, all with similar lines. So I waited. And waited. And waited. At 9:40, I checked my sugar, had my gel and box of raisins. At 9:45 I changed from my t-shirt into my long sleeved shirt because the wind was whipping and I was worried about the cold. At 9:50, I pulled off my warm-up pants, tied up my shoes and handed all my stuff to Doug. Still waiting.
I got my turn at the porta potty at 9:52 and made it to the start line at 9:56. I pulled on my running belt, turned on my Garmin, popped in my earbud and the gun went off. Wow!
My goal was to stay ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny because I wanted to try for 2:15 and knew I needed a diabetes buffer. I ran 5K in 29 minutes (pretty fast for me). I spotted Doug at 5.5k.
I ran over, did a lightning fast sugar check (11.2 - yay!) and trotted off.
Proudly sporting my Medtronic Global Heroes shirt.
I ran 10k in 61 minutes. Still fast. I spotted Doug again at 13k.
I did blood sugar check #2 (11.4 - still?) so I had two edisks and took a 0.3 unit bolus just for a bit of insulin.
Water + edisks = hopefully enough je ne sais quoi to get me home.
As we were doing the diabetes business, the pace bunny ran by. Damn it! One quick kiss and I was off. I chased him for 3k and kept my pace with his but I just couldn't hold it. I was starting to fade. I stopped at the water station and chose electrolytes over water. I grabbed three jelly beans from the nice kids at kilometre 18 and washed them down with more electrolytes. I was worried I would spike my sugar but my legs were feeling weird and I was more worried about hydration and electrolytes. For the first time in my life, I think I was getting close to cramping up. So I upped my basal rate to 150%, crossed my fingers and carried on.
As promised, at kilometre 19, the road dipped down and we had a lovely downhill to the finish line. Niagara Falls loomed in the distance and the cheers of the crowds were getting louder. I soldiered on and found that last bit of energy that always surges when you know you're almost done.
I missed 2:15. I missed 2:16. I missed 2:17 and 2:18. I pushed it to beat 2:20 and made it just under the wire at 2:19:48.
A wave a few hundred metres from the finish.
I found Vince in the chute. Two more half marathons complete!
The most famous finish line in the world. That would be Niagara Falls behind me. We finished the race with the falls, the Skylon Tower and a rainbow to carry us home.
And then the wind picked up and started whipping my shiny silver cape around - making for fun photos.
Final thoughts: As soon as I stopped my legs felt twitchy and I thought they might seize up. I willed them not to. Blood sugar check was 6.7 (thank goodness) so I ate a granola bar and had some chocolate milk. Doug found me and we walked the long, slow hike back up to the car and my legs slowly relaxed without any major distress.
I got my Niagara Falls half marathon medal. I finished in good (and typical) time and I pushed myself harder than I usually do which makes me proud.
Now it's time for a running rest. No more races until 2013 for me...unless I decide that a Boxing Day 10-miler is in the cards.
But first, rest my legs. They've had a busy year.