The Lethbridge Regional Police Half Marathon for Special Olympics was held on Saturday, September 14th, 2013. They were hosting a 5km and 10km in addition to the half marathon. All events started at the Lethbridge Lodge on Scenic Drive, and all ended down at the police firing range in the river bottom.
Dan came with me to the start if the race to catch a few snapshots of the start. It started a little later than the 8:00 time. It was amusing to me, as it was being organized by all the police officers, and the main issue with starting on time was making sure the entrance and exit from the Tim Horton’s on Scenic Drive was blocked so the runners could go by. We didn’t need to be hit by some crazy folks getting their double-doubles!
All three event distances ran together from the start until you hit the Lynx Trail on Scenic. The 5km and 10km turned down the steep descent, and the half trucked onward. This was when I hit mile 1 and realized that yet again, I was going too fast. My second mile slowed down so much, and ended up being my slowest split of the whole race. I had to get with the program, otherwise I would be lucky to even finish the race in sub-2 hours.
As I was running next to the cemetery on Scenic, an old man tinkered past me—-I heard his steps coming my way, and as he got in front of me he said “nice pace!” He was decked out in short-short running shorts, a red and yellow marathon race sleeveless shirt with French writing, and a buff on his head. I started talking to him….his name is Barney, he has been running for 40 years, and he is in his upper 60s. I started running with Barney as we headed down into the Sugar Bowl, and the conversation we were having was fantastic. I started picking up my pace, and so did he, as we ran down the green strip to South Parkside Drive. Found out that the shirt he was wearing was from a marathon in France, where the goals as not to run your best time, but to stop at as many places as possible on the course and drink wine. He finished that one in 6:15, and was a little boozy by the end.
As we ran down Parkside Drive, another older man named Graham came up behind up. Barney knew him, and it turns out Graham is sort of a running icon in the running circle of Lethbridge. Graham is a little younger than Barney, and had moved from England to Lethbridge 30 years ago. Barney told us to keep on pushing and to go ahead of him. He thanked me for running with him all that time, as did I. Graham and I headed into Henderson Lake, where we ran together around the lake and chatted. He told me how my form was fantastic and so was my breathing. When he found out I was only 28, he also talked about how I have my whole life ahead of me to reach my running peak and potential—-that most women distance runners who compete in half marathons and more are their best in their mid 30s to 40s. After we got out the park and onto 9th Ave South, he told me to pushed ahead and he would be right behind—-his goal was for around 1:50, but he also said that at his age, just finishing is a goal in itself.
Miles 9-10 are usually my hardest spots in a half. This race made those miles feel like nothing, as a natural decline in the neighborhood kept my stride smooth. We now hit up to the Lynx Trail and it was our turn to go down to the river bottom. This trail is about 3/4 a mile, with a pretty steep decline, that if you’re not careful, you’ll ruin your quads. I barreled down to the river bottom and now I only had 5 km left.
The last 5 km was tough, due to the fact it is so windy down on those trails, and the spacing between competitors was far enough apart you could not see anyone behind or in front of you. It felt as if you were running alone, your own race. I was realizing I was getting really close to possibly running my fastest race ever. This motivated me to keep on trucking through, past Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and down past Fort Whoop-Up and Indian Battle Park. As you finished the race following the trail near the dirt bike park, you could see the fork in the road and then the finish. I went up a small incline, and then the goal was on sight! Down the gravel road, I finished in at 1:46:42, a whole 40 seconds faster than my previous best of 1:47:22 in Red Deer this May!
I wandered into the park area, only to see Graham come in one minute later, at 1:47:41! He came over and gave me a huge high five and handshake, thanking me for pushing him. Then Barney came in at 1:50:27! Seriously, these men are in a class of their own, and it am so grateful I got to run with them during this race. It is a good thing that I was hitting a wall around mile 3 when Barney decided to pass me, because I had some of the best race conversations ever while running the LRPS Half Marathon. Thank you Barney and Graham for being a huge inspiration!