Did Not Finish. These are not the 3 letters you want next to your name at a race. A race that you have been training for with an amazing group of people for the past 16 weeks.
But that is what happened for me at the Medavie Blue Cross Half Marathon at the ScotiaBank Blue Nose Marathon event this weekend.
And I’m okay with it…. now.
When I first started to feel the tell-tale signs of my asthma wheeze start up, I breathed through it.
In 1-2-3-4. Hold. Out 1-2-3-4.
And it did help. I got things under control and kept going. But the longer I kept going, the hotter it got. When we reached kilometer 9 and had to go across Valour Way, a lovely flat section of the course that doesn’t have a single spot of shade, I knew that I wasn’t going to make it another 11+ km.
I was running with 3 friends – Terra, one of the Team Myles mentors, Jeanette and Jody. Terra and Jeanette were both looking strong and I felt that I was holding them back, with Jeanette often getting ahead and waiting for me to catch up. Jody was also struggling with asthma from a chest cold and ongoing foot issues. We took turns bolstering each other as we each dealt with our own issues, but we both knew that this was not going to be our race. Together we decided to turn off at the split in the course that sent the half-marathons on their way to the South End and the 10k runners to the finish line. We stopped to hug Jeannette and Terra, to wish them good luck on the rest of their run and we made our way to the finish.
It was hard to keep it together and to keep the tears at bay. None of the spectators knew what we were doing they just saw two more people coming up to the finish line and cheered us on. I felt like such a fraud, wanting to tell them all to stop cheering, I don’t deserve it, I failed and I gave up.
We crossed the line, got our medals and started meeting up with other members from Team Myles. Everyone was so happy and proud of finishing their races and every time someone asked me how I did, how my race went, I had to tell them. It was really hard to see how excited everyone was and I was so very proud of everyone’s accomplishments. I didn’t want to let my own failure to rain on their success and joy.
We waited, as a team, at the finish line for everyone to come in, cheering random strangers and friends alike as they struggled up the hill for the last 300 meters to cross the mat and finish. Seeing the look on my friends faces as they realized what they had accomplished – a first half-marathon for many of them – was amazing. We had all worked so hard to reach this point.
Slowly I have come to a place of acceptance with my choice. Friends and I have 3 running rules that we love so much that have them printed on t-shirts and shoe charms:
I had stopped having fun somewhere around km 6. While I hope that I wouldn’t have actually died if I had pushed myself further, it was certainly a risk. There were many people on the course that succumbed to the heat and the rigors of running that needed medical attention, and I’m glad that I stopped before I became one of them.
And I did finish – just not the distance I had intended.