Posted by: Karen | May 1, 2006

Police Half – My Race

Dawn and I ran the Police Half marathon here in Calgary on Sunday. This is such a popular race that registration often fills up in the first couple of weeks. The course goes through beautiful lakeside residential areas and on a paved pathway around the Glenmore Reservoir. Of course, ?scenic? in race terms often means hills and there were a few ups and downs.

The weather was nasty. It had rained during the night and it was still coming down, though it lightened up as I picked up Dawn and we drove to the race. By the time we?d greeted friends, made our final clothing choices and been to the bathroom, the light drizzle had shrunk into a few teeny little snowflakes. I decided today was not a day to carry my camera, but Dawn took some awesome shots during her race. The cold wind was more of a concern, so instead of wearing the long sleeved shirt + garbage bag, I opted for my usual winter windbreaker over short sleeves. I stuffed the garbage bag into my pocket in case it got wetter later.

Dawn and I stepped into the crowd on the street somewhere towards the back. I kept looking at the other runners around me and thinking ?I?m not back far enough?, but it all sorted itself out in the first kilometre. Gradually most of the skinny crowd passed me by as I found my pace. I felt more and more comfortable in the crowd as the butts got bigger and hair got greyer. I settled into a leap frog with a slightly older woman in shorts and an orange hat, whose right leg looked kind of bowed. Man, she must have knee or IT problems, eh? I hugged a friend of mine, Nadine, who was a course marshal near the beginning.

In the second 5k we rounded the south side of the reservoir and ran on a pathway right along the edge of the water. Here we were the most exposed to north wind and horizontally-flying tiny snow flakes, and sometimes I had to hold onto my hat. I chose to think of the blasts of wet, stinging wind as ?refreshing? and ?makes me feel ALIVE?. I couldn?t believe that we actually had spectators out in that weather, no doubt waiting for a loved one to come by. One woman was hooting and cheering us all with a big grin. I thought, I paid for this with money and sweat ? I wouldn?t waste all that, but she could?ve stayed warm and cozy at home. I looked at her and shouted ?You?re CRAZY!? She shouted back with a laugh ?So are YOU! And you?re doing GREAT!?

The orange hat lady left me behind around then, but there was a black woman in windpants and a big baggy fleece going my speed, and we huffed and puffed along together. I took walk breaks every 10 minutes, but that strategy wasn?t in her plan. She?d run a little slower, and then when I caught up again she?d go a little faster. Fine with me.

Shortly before the 10k marker my tummy asserted that no, we had not been to the bathroom enough times before the race. Dawn had told me about a bathroom behind the Sailing Club, and sure enough I found it. I hadn?t wanted to give up the time for it, but it was worth the few minutes. I felt much, much better after that.

Now the pack was thinner, and due to the winding path through stands of birch I could only see one runner ahead of me. The birch trees were lovely, and Ponytail Girl ahead was my rabbit. I could also hear someone catching up behind me, so I tried to maintain a steady effort. Kathy, 1st time halfer, came up beside me and together we reeled PG in over the next few km. We breezed down into the valley (wheeeeee!) and caught her on the flat at the bottom.

My hill-strategy worked. During the first 15 km I anticipated running the biggest hill on the course. “The real challenge starts on the hill” I had told myself.

I took one last walk break before the hill, and then started up. As I turned the corner in the bottom third of the hill I heard voices calling my name and lo and behold, a whole load of friends had come out to cheer me on up. Kris and her hubby were there, as well as Nancy, Yolanda, Derek, Paul and Linda. The group was a little ways from the top, and as I ran by them I told them ?Hugs at the TOP!? and they all came up with me. I hugged Linda, my broken/healing running buddy first, as she was already at the top, and then just about everyone else too. As I tried to hug Paul last, he pulled away and made me run for it ? what a joker. Then he jogged with me a short way with some encouraging advice. I had a little over 5 km to go now.

What a wonderful boost that personal pep rally gave me! I felt darned amazing! For the next 2 km I had the wind at my back and an ever so slight down grade. I repeated my mantra “I am STRONG, I am AMAZING” and decided I would not walk again until the finish line. I even caught up to the black woman, Jennifer, whom I?d lost way back at the bathrooms. We blazed on together and then Kathy from the valley caught up to us. Jen moaned and I said ?Jen is STRONG, Jen is AMAZING? and Jen said ?Hey, take it easy, I?m a mother of two? I told her ?So am I? and Kathy said ?So am I!?

We three strong, amazing mothers headed over a couple of overpasses and into the wind again. I would have smiled more, but the cold air hurt my teeth. I added back into the mantra “I am ALIVE”, and gently picked up the pace for the last 2 km to the finish line. First Kathy was gone, then Jennifer was breathing hard and suddenly she wasn?t there with me either. I wasn?t zippy, but I did find some reserve. I reeled in 4 more people in the last km and finished strong.



  1. What an inspirational report. So happy and positive. Great job!

  2. Great report. To bad the weather didn’t co-operate just a little better.

  3. Most excellent report and thanks again for all your support.

  4. Ouch! Too cold!!!! Horizontal snow!!!

    You did great, though! I DO like Half Marathons, but why is it usually so COLD when it’s time to run them?

  5. Yeah, Karen! Great job! Cold and wind is no fun for a race, but it sounds like you pounded right through it. I knew you’d run that hill. 🙂

  6. you ARE strong and you ARE amazing. what a great, celebratory cresting of the hill, and way to push over the last 5k! congratulations on a fun and smartly run race!


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