Tag Archives: High Park

2011 Running Season Is Off And Running

2 Apr

From left: Dave, Penny, me, Kim

It’s official! My 2011 racing season is underway! I kicked it off today with Harry’s Spring Run-Off – an 8km run in the hills of High Park. It’s a gorgeous run, really. You’d be hard-pressed to beat it for scenicness (yes, that is a word – doesn’t matter that I just made it up thirty seconds ago), but oh dear Lord, it’s hard. Especially if you’ve just emerged from a winter lean of runs, and it’s been mere days since you recovered from a bad cold.

What made this race different to most others that I have taken part in is that I ran with some fellow members of my running club, Kim and Penny, along with Penny’s boyfriend David, who is not technically a member of the club but is part of the furniture enough for us to regard him as such.

We all started together, but we separated fairly early in the race. Although I really enjoyed the fact that my running friends were there with me, I felt a need to run the actual race by myself. Running with someone else, I would have felt obligated to match their pace. Having just recovered from a cold, and in view of the fact that I need to do some work to regain form and speed, I wanted to run my own race, following a pacing strategy that would make sense to me.

I ran fairly easy for the first three kilometres, aided by a long downhill stretch. The downhill was followed fairly quickly by an uphill, which was not long as the downhill had been, but the gradient was steeper. After getting to the top of the hill, I was utterly spent – and I still had 5km to go.

Cripes, how was I going to do this?

Sheer grit and determination, same way I’ve completed many other races I’ve struggled in. I took it fairly easy for the next kilometre, and then I reached the magical halfway mark, which is a psychological wonder in any race. From this point forward, every step I took meant that the distance remaining was that much shorter than the distance elapsed. For the next 3km, the hills were rolling (up and down) but manageable.

Then…

1km to go…

The first half of the last kilometre started well enough, but then, with a mere 500 metres left, there was another hill to tackle. A nasty, NASTY one. You know the long downhill stretch I mentioned at the beginning of the race? It was the same hill. Only instead of going down, I had to go up. After having run for 7.5km. It was not pretty.

I made it up the hill (Determination? Stupidity? Act of God?), and as I reached the top I was about to stop and take a breather when I saw the finish line around the corner, maybe fifty metres away. Those fifty metres felt like about fifty miles, and when I crossed the finish line, I was never more grateful to be able to stop running.

I received my medal with gratitude, went to the food station and inhaled a banana, and went to a predetermined meeting spot to meet up with the others.

We finished the race with varying times, and happily made our way out of the park with our medals hanging around our necks – our badges of honour that proved to the world that we had earned the right to have aching legs and look like crap.

Was this race my best one? Not by a long shot. With a time of almost 57 minutes, my average pace was slower than it had been in over a year.

But I FINISHED, damnit! It was a hard race and I finished it!

And that, my friends, is good enough for me.

 

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The Moment My Future Arrived

11 Mar

21 August, 2001

It is a beautiful summer’s evening, but my heart is feeling heavy. I am lonely. I have been in Canada for just over a year, and it seems to be taking an inordinately long time for me to build up any kind of social support network. Barry and I split up just a week ago after dating for five months. It wasn’t the best of relationships – we didn’t really have any kind of chemistry, me and Barry – but he had represented some kind of social normality at a time when I really needed it. The breakup was awful – the kind that involves lots of arguing, accusations flung back and forth, and absolutely no chance of friendship afterwards.

What stings the most is that Barry is not divorced at all, like he’s been telling me. He’s still married. It doesn’t matter to me that he and his wife don’t get along. It doesn’t matter that they no longer live together. The fact is that for five months, I’ve been sleeping with someone else’s husband. Even though I didn’t know, had no way of knowing, I feel tarnished. Like I’ve done something wrong.

I’m feeling sad, angry, lonely. I feel trapped in all of these negative emotions, and I have to get out. I cannot go for a run: I already ran this morning, and with my first half-marathon just a month away, I cannot afford to mess with my training.

Instead, I take a walk to High Park. As I wander into the park, I instantly start to feel calmer. High Park is the kind of place that does that. All of that luscious green, the wide open spaces, the breathtaking beauty of the flowers and the river, serves to slow my heartbeat and appreciate the world around me.

I walk for a while, and then sit on a rock close to the park entrance. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun. Gradually, I feel myself coming to life, like a flower receiving water after a drought. I open my eyes and see a man walking towards me.

I wonder if I know him, and squint to get a better look in the sunlight. No, I’ve never seen him before, and yet he is walking in my direction with definite purpose, smiling broadly as he makes eye contact with me. He is holding a bunch of flowers.

Odd. I wonder if he has mistaken me for somebody else.

He reaches me and sits down on the rock beside me. He looks into my eyes, pauses, and then says, “You have beautiful eyes.” He hands me the flowers and tells me his name. I hear the sound of my own name coming from my lips, but I am not aware of having spoken.

In an instant, Barry and everything to do with him has faded into complete insignificance. None of that matters anymore.

I am staring at this man in wonderment, this man who is a stranger and yet somehow, not a stranger at all.

We stand up, and arm in arm, we start walking.

Both of us somehow know that we are walking, together, to our future.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eleasa/2734011065)