My friend Jody was a mentor for Team Myles this year, a group that helps new runners train for and run their first race. I had joined them on a few of their training runs and hung out with them before the race started. Even though I wasn't an official member of their group, they supported and encouraged me along the way.
I ran well at the beginning, going 30 minutes before I needed to walk, which for me is almost unheard of. The course snaked through Point Pleasant Park and had some pretty rough uphill spots that had me walking (and cursing). I was able to get back to running once we were out of the park, but I was starting to struggle. I had no time goal, just my 3 standard race goals - 1) don't die, 2) finish, 3) have fun, so I ran when I could and walked when I needed to.
One of the best and unique things that I liked about the Bluenose is their volunteer runners that they have placed at strategic points along the course. Their sole purpose is to run a few hundred yards with runners that are struggling, talking to them, encouraging them and getting them through a rough spot. For me that was around the 7.5km mark. I had come out of the park and hit another steady uphill section. The next thing I knew, someone was running beside me with their hand on my shoulder, telling me that I could do this. I looked over and it was someone I knew from the Bedford Running Room. John stayed with me for a few minutes and gave me the strength to keep going.
Of course the finish line is at the top of a hill. Why do they do that? With the encouragement of the crowd and other participants around me, I gave it everything I had left and crossed the finish line. One of the Team Myles coaches was there and gave me a big hug and congratulations. I think that is when my emotions got the better of me and I started to tear up. I was already out of breath from my final sprint, so adding crying to the mix was not a good thing. I tried to walk it off, but quickly realized that I couldn't actually breath and flagged down a volunteer. The first aid folks whisked me away in a wheelchair pretty quickly. My breathing sounded like that of a 2 pack a day smoker having an asthma attack. They put a pulse-ox monitor on me and my oxygen levels had dipped below 70. Luckily, the longer I sat taking deep breaths, the better it got and no further medical intervention was needed. They kept me in the first aid tent till my oxygen levels were over 95 and they had me drinking Gatorade and talking. They even had finisher's medals in the tent just in case people couldn't make it to the line of volunteers to get theirs.
I was still pretty wheezy as I slowly made my way to the finisher's area where I was to meet up with everyone. I found Jody first, and while I was trying to tell her what had happened, I teared up again and started losing my breath. Jody, not knowing what was going on, snapped this picture of me.
I was able to get my breathing under control again, though I struggled the rest of they day with a slight wheeze and cough.
We celebrated everyone's finish with brunch and headed home for a well deserved nap.
I finished the race with a chip time of 1:50:34.