On Sunday, May 23rd, I ran my first marathon. This is the report of the Halifax Blue Nose, (the way I saw it). After many months of training with many awesome people,( and you know who you are), I was ready to embark on this race. As some of you know, the reason that I chose Halifax for my first marathon was to avoid the warm weather that has plagued Ottawa as of late, avoid a "dead flat" course, and to enjoy a bit of a vacation while in Halifax.
Well, the weather was more like the Caribbean on Sunday morning (high 24C with a humidex somewhere around 28C) and the course was certainly anything but flat. According to Graham, he came across a fellow runner who had counted the "hills" at 20 in total. I was however, more than prepared due to the training in the Beach and under Duff's leadership. According to John Stanton, who was in Halifax, he said that if you could train in the Beach with its hills, then this run would be more than do-able.
At 8:45 am , all 318 of us gathered at the start line (only 280 of us made it back to the finish line, including Graham, but that will come later), and off we went with the sound of a rifle courtesy of a soldier from the Historic Citadel. We ran along the downtown streets of historic Halifax, around the Citadel, through the Naval Dockyards and along the waterfront before again entering the residential areas of Halifax, and down a boulevard lined street which reminded me of the homes in Castlefrank, before entering Point Pleasant Park. This began the first run through a "trail-like" path which was similar to High Park if you have done the Harry Rosen run, (yes-hills). It was about this point 11/12 km where the leaders of the Half-marathon caught up to us, (they started 25 min. after us).
So, out of the park, back downtown, and happy to have some company (with the half-marathoners) along for the ride. At about 16 km, Graham's ribs were beginning to cause a problem, so he prompted me to go on ahead, and after promises to be careful, best wishes , and a kiss for good luck, I began my quest solo. (and I mean solo, with only 318 people in the event, by halfway, you were pretty much alone for most of the run). To get the split time, I had to run through the finish line with the half-marathoners, and was tempted to stay to the left, but they wouldn't let me, red bibs(marathon) had to go to the right. So off I went with the crowd cheering me on.
I knew that the next hurtle would be at about 25km when I would cross the Macdonald Bridge into Dartmouth. Where the hell is that Bridge?? Before too long, it was in sight. As I crossed the bridge, many of the elites were coming back, and I cheered them on. The run continued on throught Dartmouth areas and into the next trail section called Shubie Park, where the nightmares began. AT 30km, I entered the trails ALONE. I came to a fork in the trail with no indication of which way to go. About 3 min later another runner came along and the 2 of us tried to figure out which way to go. Fortunately, a bike marshall came along and pointed us in the right direction, but that would only last for about 10 minutes before yet another fork in the road came. Again , WHERE THE HELL DO I GO???? By this point, I was hot, tired, and pissed off. I started to head to the left for a couple of minutes and decided that I didn't know if this was the right way, so I turned around and came back to the fork. 2 minutes later , a "Vintage Marathoner" who face was white with salt appeared. Was this a mirage?? He indicated that he thought that the route was to the right, so we started that way , and a bike marshall came along to say that , yes, this was the way.
Finally, I made my way out to the park. I was now at 34km. OK- only 8 km to go. The next landmark was the famous "Giver Hill" which is a steep incline of about 600 metres. I just continued on waiting for that to appear. A young lad was near the 35km marker with a hose spraying people down. Do you want me a spray you? he asked. God bless you , I replied. WHERE THE HELL IS GIVER HILL???? I kept thinking, knowing that once I reached that , the race only had about 4 km to go. A woman gardening up ahead, thank God, she has a hose!!!! Could you please water me down I pleaded.
Finally, I saw Maple Street, the dreaded Giver Hill. Sorry Julie, but it wasn't all that bad. Reminded me of Bowmore Rd of the famous finger hills. But I still walked up 80% of it because Macdonald Bridge was coming up. Why did I pick this marathon???? All I could hear in my ear was Duff saying "watch your form" . Oh yeah, straighten up! Nir, where were you when I needed you to run up this hill with me? OK- I made it up the hill, next where is the F'n bridge?? I ran through some residential streets, up another friggin hill and there in the distance was Macdonald Bridge. I am almost home. this is where it hit me, I have done it. Tears filled my eyes and I knew that I had done it. I passed about 10 people on the bridge, (they were walking), and yes Duff it felt good, and I did not laugh at them, how could I ? I felt their pain.
At the bottom of bridge, the volunteer told me that I had 1.5 km to go. Oh my God! I rounded the corner, and I could see the finish line in the distance. But, the street was a final insult, a steady uphill to the finish line. As I cursed and complained , "this is not fair", the announcer called out my name, Heather Vardy, all the way from Scarberia, yes Scarberia! has completed the marathon, I crossed the line.
Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. It all transpired in a parking lot in Kingston 2 years ago. All of the usual suspects were there,I only did this so I could hang out with you guys.
I can't name everyone, but you know who you are.Thank you Graham for telling me I could do this. Someone said that it feels like you have been hit by a truck, that is pretty accurate. It took 2 days before I could walk downstairs like a normal person, but I guess I could be talked into doing another one. Flying Pig, here I come, right Julie??
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