Whistler Half Marathon from the Back of the Pack


Running the Whistler Half Marathon
PHOTO: Michelle Leroux

So the thing about Whistler is this: sometimes it feels like everyone is super human here. This town attracts and breeds elite athletes. Men and women of steel who seem to to effortlessly excel in every sport all the time.

And then there’s me. The Jane of all trades. Keen to try everything. Not really amazing at anything.

So, naturally, when the Whistler Half Marathon was announced last fall, I decided to sign up. On January 4 I signed my name in blood to the WHM roster – or so it felt like. Read my first post about the half here.

Little did any of us half marathoners know, but 2010.2011 winter season would become the second snowiest season on record in Whistler. This meant lots of snow on the mountain and in the valley – and plenty of excuses to ditch running for snowboarding or hibernating indoors after work.

It was a long journey – mostly mental to my surprise. The guilt of not training as hard or as frequently as I thought I should plagued me for 6 months.

On June 4 I found myself fired up and ready to run in Whistler’s Olympic medal plaza – on one of the few sunniest days we’ve had this year. What would this 21.1 kilometer hillfest have in store for the 750+ runners? I had no idea because I hadn’t even run the full course yet.

But, U2 began blasting – the very same song that gets the Vancouver Canucks pumped on home ice – and I got a little teary eyed thinking about the Stanley Cup. I felt a strange kinship with my favourite hockey team. They struggle. I struggle. We are all Canucks.

The thumping of 750 pairs of feet on the pavement is an astounding sound. It’s as if we were running the beat of a collective drum – perhaps the drum of our own fierce determination.

The excitement of race day propelled me through the first half of the race. That and the fact that super fit senior citizens were passing me with ease. Of course, the amazing Whistler residents, friends and family of the racers cheering for all of us was a huge inspiration. Some people had bubbles, other had balloons and music – all had a high 5 and a cheer for every one of us.

Just after the half-way point, something happened. A feeling of dread and self-doubt began to wash over me. There was a long, long, LONG way to go. I began to question how the heck I would be able to make it to the 21.1 km. mark. What was I thinking?

With every kilometer that passed under my feet, my mind and body were screaming for me to give up.

To my surprise, the physical aspect of this race was painful, but the mental tug-of-war was tougher. I had to dig deep within myself – perhaps deeper than I’ve ever had to. By 18km all I could think was the phrase “dig deep.” And that mantra kept one foot in front of another until the very end.

Whistler Half Marathon 2011
PHOTO: Michelle Leroux

As I hoofed it across the finish line, my good friends, boyfriend and beautiful pup were waiting for me along with 500 of my fellow racers.

After reflecting upon my personal saga a week later, I now realize something: rather than thinking about all the days I didn’t lace up my running shoes to give ‘er, I should focus on the days I did. All those times when I ran in the dark, in the sleet, in the rain, and in the hail. The days I charged up the hill in Bayshores through gritted teeth and the days I ran in ankle-deep snow like a lunatic.

The journey may have been a challenging one, but it was a journey all the same. And crossing the finish line was simply the icing on the cake. It doesn’t even matter to me how long it took to get there.

Here’s a hilarious video that I think all the runners out there can relate to:

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