Monday, May 20, 2013

Um...did I just sign up to be in a race?

Yes, I did!

A fortnight after the finale of the Times Colonist Health Challenge, there's this little thing called the TC10K.  This race in particular is the reason my Wednesday nights have involved power walking with the Crystal Fools, and I was sure...certain even...that participants in the Health Challenge would be forced to participate.  We weren't.  So, I embraced my new lifestyle and the free pass that Shannon had given me via email and signed myself, as well as my parents, up for the walk.  My darling husband, Stéphane, had already enrolled as part of his company's (Genivar) team in the competitive walking section.  If you've ever seen Stéffi on the treadmill at the Crystal Pool, you'll know why he's not in the pleasure category...the man is a machine!

So, what do you do the night before the big race?  Well, in most cases you would eat a good dinner, drink lots of water and go to bed early.  But not us, we had a birthday barbecue planned.  We were only supposed to stop in for a quick hello and a couple of drinks...and doesn't this always happen?  We stayed until 1 AM or something...where'd the time go?  Oh, I remember, we started to have fun talking to everyone at Ron's celebration that we kept bumping up our cut-off time.  Haha...and believe me, we paid for it the next day.

 5:30 AM - Wake-up, Ninja!

Up at the butt-crack of dawn after too little sleep...I got into the shower to wake myself up.  Threw on my stretchy clothing, and, slapped on some mascara, and put my hair in ponytails.  Stéphane did much the same...well, he had a shower...I think.  We both ate our respective race breakfasts and waited for the arrival of my folks.  The thing is...parking would have been killer downtown as many streets were blocked off, so we decided to meet at the loft and then walk to the starting line from there...a mere 2 kilometres away. What were we thinking?

7AM - Leave the Shimmy Shack.
 
7:30 AM - Crystal Fools warm-up in Thunderbird Park.  Yes, we did a mambo...Number 5, in fact...and there's video to prove it.  Everyone was raring to go, but a special few fools congratulated me on being the most improved person to have done the Health Challenge.  Thank you, guys. xoxox

video

7:45 AM - Muster in start area - Stéffi takes off to his place (the competitive hour and a halfers) and I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, that it'll take me and the folks at least 2 hours to complete the course...so mom, dad, and myself are hangin' with the stroller drivers and octogenarians.  Perhaps, I should have chosen differently?  We'll see.  Live and learn.

8AM - The elite runners cross the start line...and the rest of us follow!

8:10ish - We cross the start line...and there stands Shannon (of the TC) ringing her cowbell furiously!  I gotta have MORE COWBELL!  She cheers us on...and we're on our way towards Johnson.  Moving slowly at first, it's hard to navigate in a crowd of 13,000, but we managed to reach our stride.  

On Johnson...we encountered THE BEST signs in front of Body Dynamics (encouraging the racers)...these were some of my favourites:

GO, RANDOM STRANGER! GO!

WORST CROWD EVER! (because there were only about 10 people standing there..haha)
WHY DO ALL THE CUTE ONES RUN AWAY?

ARE YOU TIRED...BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN RUNNING THROUGH MY MIND ALL DAY!

WHAT KIND OF A PARADE IS THIS?  

On Johnson Street we reached the 1K sign, and I thought...wow, 9 more of these to go.  Better get a move on.  This is how it works for me, generally I take quite a while to get started...but in this case I knew I wasn't walking as fast as I had when I was with my Crystal Fool buddies.  Mom and dad are fast walkers, but I was just caught up in the excitement of it all...there were tones of people around and I was even slowing down to take pictures!  Haha...

When we hit Vancouver, a very special thing happened to me...a lovely curvy girl came up to me, and asked me if I was the girl from the Times Colonist Health Challenge.  I answered yes, of course, and she proceded to tell me that I had inspired her to get fit and healthy.  I'm only on kilometre 2 and I'm crying like a baby...this is not a good sign.

The entire time I was racing, I was also listening to my super workout playlist in one ear...I find it next to impossible to exercise without tunes...but in this case, I found in next to impossible to hear what my parents were saying with music being piped into one ear.  Haha...sorry guys!  The weather was just perfect as were the cherry blossoms through Fairfield.  And then the water station...where I could have downed about 7 times the amount I was handed, that's why I brought some with me in my giant spiky backpack.

Along the route, there were bands set up to entertain us and volunteers a plenty...as a Crystal Fool, I intended to run up and hug a volunteer and thank them, but I completely forgot.  Sad face.  One thing I did get to do was help a blind woman "see" my backpack.  As we pressed on against the heavy and chilly wind on Dallas Road a group from Pearson College were guiding a blind racer.  Apparently, the guide had been describing my backpack, and so asked if the blind woman could touch it...of course!  My grey, snake-skin, spiky packsack constantly sparks conversation on buses, in rec centres, and in general...so, I wasn't surprised when its spikes acted as descriptive braille.  And, wow...walking a 10K without sight, THAT is inspiring.

We walked, walked, walked and walked along the water until we hit the curve around Fisherman's Warf and past the park.  Nearly there, nearly there!  Random spectators cheering us on and telling us to push harder...so I burst into a jog.  What?  Yes, I did.  My mom and dad were still with me...walking strong...and my backpack was flapping around wildly, so I decided to break back into a walk, but before hitting the straight away to the finish line I told my parents that if they crossed over first, I would kill them.  Bad daughter.  And, in the excitement of it all I ran the last 10 feet and jumped over the finish line.  I even heard the announcer say, "And here comes Suzie Spitfyre!"  

Around 1 hour and 59 minutes after the very first person crossed over the starting line in the TC10K  - I finished the race, me..the fat chick...I just walked 10K!  And in 1 hour and 49 minutes, according to RaceDayTimer.com.

So now what?  I'm happy and sweaty and hungry!  Stéphane runs up and hugs me shortly after I finish.  He speed walked the race in 1 hour and 24 minutes, I'm so proud of him and my parents...and of myself.  And, so is he...he tells me so as we embrace.  Just after the finish line, there are juice boxes (juice punches...and I don't usually drink my calories, unless the fruit juice is gape, and those grapes are fermented), full fat yogourt (and I prefer fat-free, thank you very much), and several types of cookies (Really?  Okay, not everyone is as strict with their food as me).  I had the lesser of 3 evils...punch...because Ferris' Oyster Bar & Grill beckoned with après race brunch.  And by brunch, I mean oysters, and by oysters I mean raw, and by beckoned I mean I heard a champagne cocktail call my name.  Huge thank yous to the movers and shakers behind the scenes at Ferris' because they bent the rules and got me something that wasn't on the menu until 11:30 AM...well done, seasoned professionals, well done!   It just go to show that if you go somewhere and habitually order the world's most amazing deep fried oyster burger and fries with a mayo sampler for years and years, they might just make an exception, if you're really nice.  The experience was great, not only did we get the extremely intimate and dark booth at the back (which I now fit into quite comfortably), but the food was superb...if I were going to order brunch, may I recommend the Louisiana inspired poached eggs with chorizo on red beans and rice, it smelled deeelish!  And I know the 3 other parties at the table thoroughly enjoyed it.  Please tip your server generously.  The buzz in the restaurant was decidedly 10K.  All the diners in our section had run the course, and were excited, loud, and content...like us.

22 Days Later -  Here I am writing about this experience, and I'm so sorry not to have done so before...because what an amazing day it was.  Now I fear I have forgotten so many details.  Argh!  Such is life!  It gets in the way of true documentation.  Please kick my ass, dear reader!  Haha...
 

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