Monday, May 31, 2010
<-- (me before the race began)
All the runners stand in the corral, their numbers pinned to their shirts, their shoelaces tied up tightly. Some have music playing in their ears - in just a few minutes the bell will sound and they will all begin to run.
Me? I'm dancing in my shoes, unable to contain the excitement, the nervousness I feel, knowing that in the next few moments I will begin something I've been waiting in anticipation for since the beginning of the year: a half-marathon.
9:00 a.m. hits the clock and everyone runs. I say to Ben, "I can't believe we're actually doing this," and then we smile at each other.
Off I go, music playing. The first song pumps me up as I run up the hill, along with 10,900 other athletes, and past the Parliament buildings. Everyone is amped, the first few kilometers are the fastest, adrenaline pumping and a burst of energy that you never expected you'd have, knowing you still have 21 kilometres to go.
We run over the Portage Bridge into Gatineau, Quebec, and already people are stopping along the side of the road, on the pathways and sidewalks, to cheer everyone on. The first part of the course is a bit hilly - weaving in a tiny neighbourhood in Gatineau, I notice an old lady standing outside her house in her apron watching all of the runners race by. She must be wondering, "Why are these people doing this?" And I'm sure many people wonder that - I did when I first contemplated doing the run.
I make my way through Quebec, and the crowd gets bigger - a lady is holding a sign that reads, Toenails are for sissies! and I know exactly what she means. I dropped a plate on my big toe a few days before the race... it's certain to either fall off or continue to cause a lot of pain after the race yesterday.
It was so amazing, to turn around and look at all the people behind me, in front of me, running as hard as I am, if not harder, all heading to the same destination for - as I'm assuming - the same reason. To finish something, to complete a goal that is not easily attained. And they were of all sizes and shapes: tall and lean, short and round, big and small, black and white... but it didn't matter.
Heading back into Ottawa on another bridge, the runners were all in tandem, one after the other, supporting one another. A man behind me tripped on my foot while running. He was a big man. He fell onto the pavement. And I turned around to watch him get right back up and keep running. It wasn't his or my fault, it just happened. But he got up. And that was amazing to see.
Onto Wellington St. (a main street downtown) there were people lining the race pathway and cheering, holding out their hands for high-fives from the runners. It gave me such a boost in energy that I kept going. Signs reading, Runners, you're heros today and The miracle isn't that you finished, the miracle is that you had the courage to start. The support was incredible.
When I made it to the 12 km mark, I nearly died. Not out of exhaustion. Out of pride - that was the furthest I had ever run in training, and I had never gone any further. I had never succeeded in running 12 km without stopping to rest at least a few times. But on the run, I didn't stop. And then I reached 13 km, and 15 km, and I couldn't believe my body was still moving, still running and my heart still pumping.
The last 3 km was the hardest. I had stopped running and walked for a moment to drink water/gatorade at a drinking station, and my legs began to hurt immediately. My knees, my feet, my hips, my joints, everything I hadn't felt because I was running I could suddenly feel. I knew that if I stopped again, I wouldn't be able to start. So I didn't stop again. I kept a steady pace and even though I wanted to give up and lie on the grass, I didn't.
And I crossed the finish at 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 57 seconds. I competed against myself, against my head saying I couldn't do it, against my body telling me to stop, and I finished. It was truly amazing.
(Finished! We each got a medal and the satisfaction of running 21 km!) --->
This half-marathon was... unbelievable. I am not sure that my trying to explain will even do justice to what it is that I felt during the run. Excitement, pride, nervousness, fatigue, adrenaline, happiness, exhaustion... all of it. I had goosebumps throughout the race, because I actually committed to it, for myself. You should try it.
"I have met my hero, and she is me."
Saturday, May 29, 2010
List of songs I'm going to be running to for: 21 km, 13 miles, 21,000 metres, 68,897 feet. Tomorrow. My heart will never have pumped so fast for so long in my life. It's kind of... dangerously exciting.
1. The Aviator - K-OS
2. Romantic Rights - Death From Above 1979
3. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
4. D.O.A. - Jay-Z
5. Needy Girl - Chromeo
6. Ares - Bloc Party
7. I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
8. Rockstar 101 - Rihanna
9. Pumpkin Soup - Kate Nash
10. Sweet Dreams - Beyonce
11. Keep the Car Running - The Arcade Fire
12. Runaway - Janet Jackson
13. Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
14. Little Secrets - Passion Pit
15. Run this town - Jay-Z
16. You've got the love - Florence and the Machine
17. The Con - Tegan and Sara
18. Sweetness - Jimmy Eat World
19. Foundations - Kate Nash
20. Tik Tok - KeSha
21. Day 'N' Nite (Crookers Remix) - KiD CuDi
22. Fried My Little Brains - The Kills
23. Feel it in My Bones (Tiesto remix) - Tegan and Sara
24. Breakin' Dishes - Rihanna
25. Heartbeats - The Knife
26. Can't Get You Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
27. Lovegame - Lady GaGa
28. Another Runaway - Ladyhawke
29. Valerie - Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
30. The Way you Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
31. Cult Logic - Miike Snow
32. Do it - Nelly Furtado
33. Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
34. Back in your Head - Tegan and Sara
35. You and Your Hand - Pink
36. Breath and Stop - Qtip
37. Rude Boy - Rihanna
38. Rising Down (Feat. Mos Def) - The Roots
39. Telephone - Lady GaGa & Beyonce
40. Gimme Sympathy - Metric
41. Brother Down - Sam Roberts
42. Way I Are (feat. Keri Hilson) - Timbaland
43. Sexy Bitch - David Guetta feat. Akon
2.6 hours of songs, to run. Feeling excited, confident, and anxious.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
In four days I have to run 21 km across the capital city and across a finish line, to get a medal around my neck.
But training has been lackluster, weak, slow, short. The furthest I've ran is 12 km, and it was a struggle. And such a situation leads me with a lack of confidence, an uncertainty, as to whether or not I'm going to be able to do it.
I want that medal. More than anything. I want to sweat so much I'm drenched, and I want to cross that finish line. For myself.
Is it really mind over matter? Can I convince myself I'm going to do it, going to accomplish this huge hurdle I've been 'training' for, hoping for. I do not know.
Words of encouragement. Are needed.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
The story follows a poor Irish family during times of the Second World War in Ireland, so poor that they sleep in the same bed, or on the floor by the fire, and during the day steal fish n' chips thrown on the road by drunken men the night before.
I enjoyed reading it. The style of the book was written as though Frank were writing it when he was nine, 10, 11 years old, and gives a first-hand perception of trying and eventually succeeding to escape poverty.
I caught myself laughing out loud at certain parts, as Frank - growing out of adolescence - called sex 'the excitement'.
But the book wasn't a happy book. There may have been cheerful moments, when Frank and his brothers Malachy and Michael played, found bread and had a 'feast'. But much of the book left me heavyhearted - I was unaware of just how much poverty, how much hunger existed in Ireland, and my guess is that many still have no idea. Ireland was (is) cold, wet, and living directly next to the communal lavatory in Limerick is surely far from paradise.
And an interesting point: towards the end of the book, Frank is working for a magazine distributing company and one day is asked to gather as many magazines from shop owners as he can. Why? To rip out page 16 that encourages birth control. Ironically, Frank's mother has had seven children, one after the other, and three of whom have died due to hunger/consumption/disease. The government at the time made birth control illegal. It's just interesting to see how different the times - even of 50 years ago - were than they are today.
My favourite part of the book, however, is as Frank goes to school. He encounters one teacher that, despite flappy shoes, dirty stocking, hungry bellies, does not judge the poor kids of Limerick, Frank included.
The teacher says, "You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else, but you can't make up an empty mind. Stock your mind. Stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it... you might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace."
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
My hands are covered in dust after sifting through old books at this dingy, crowded bookstore in downtown Ottawa.
The moment I walked in I knew it was trouble. Books piled up around your feet, East of Eden mixed with Harry Potter mixed with books no one has ever heard of before. But I couldn't help myself.
This store had books stacked outside too - $1 for each book - and a box full of free magazines.
Such is what attracted me in the first place.
I only found two I liked: J.D. Salinger's A Farewell to Arms and the book to the movie I so often watched when I was younger, Billie Letts' Where the Heart Is. That's a lie... I found many I liked. I found a few on my book list (see right) but I decided, after serious thought, that I'd by the $1 book, a free 1982 Canadian Geographic magazine and the $5 Salinger book. The rest will have to come from eBay.
I love books. I love the smell. The dog-eared pages, but mostly I love how you can pull yourself out of your own world and dispense yourself into the book at hand.
Monday, May 17, 2010
There's some things people just don't say. Like, the unwritten rules of life. We all have been told, "Don't be rude" by our parents when we've said such certain things. Been told, "I didn't raise you that way." We know not to ask what people make in terms of money.
So then why do people assume that when it comes to the topic of weight, it's okay to make remarks? "You need to eat more." "You don't need to run, look at you." Or, "Make sure your mother feeds you when you get home."
It's not polite to comment on someone being fat. You don't say, "You've gained weight," or "Look at your gut, it's hanging over your pants." You simply don't, because every body is different and people's lifestyles are different, and while one may not agree with or have the same lifestyle, it's an unwritten rule. It's rude. It's inconsiderate.
Just as it's not polite to give subtle hints that 'you' think 'I' am too thin. How does me being smaller than you make it okay for you to comment on my weight? Even if it's an inconspicuous comment.
I am healthy. I am 130 pounds, a size 3-5 in pants, or a 26-27, I run at least three times a week. I also eat ice cream, almost every night. I never count calories, I eat a hearty breakfast of bananas, toast and peanut butter, I eat whenever I want, and I eat whatever I want.
I am NOT: anorexic, too skinny, thin, unhealthy, bulimic.
I run because it's healthy too, because it makes me feel good. Not because I'm trying to lose weight. And if most of 'those' people who make 'those' remarks knew anything about exercise, they'd understand that running builds muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Thus, I'm not at all concerned with my weight. I don't even have a scale. I never weigh myself.
I can deal with it for so long. I can shake it off, not let it bother me. I can pretend that this conversation of: "I'm running a half-marathon," "You don't need to do that, you're so skinny," doesn't bother me.
It does. It bothers me a lot. I shouldn't have to defend myself for being healthy, which I am. I shouldn't even have to blog about it.
Unwritten rules are not meant to only be followed under certain circumstances. Unless said person is unhealthy, bordering an illness, unwritten rules are rules. Common-sense rules. Common-decency rules.
So the next time 'you' think about commenting on someone's weight, whether it be fat or skinny or tall or short or black or white, think.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Well, I certainly have been neglecting my blog, among other things, for the last few weeks! That's terrible, really. How are all my hundreds of followers going to know what's going on in my life?
I'm in Ottawa. I was in Fernie. Then I was in Edmonton for an amazing, wonderful wedding. Now, I'm in Ottawa.
In my new... apartment! With my boyfriend. In my new apartment! How exciting! We are living in this building called The Stanley, an old brick building that sits with a lean. Literally. The doorframe to the kitchen is on a tilt, as is the rest of the place.
I'll take some pictures of the building and our apartment once I get it all set up!
Oh, and more importantly... I've now worked three days with Canadian Geographic Magazine. And it's been fabulous. I had my first blog post published on their website, have been updating their facebook page with unique stories, and cannot wait to see what I get to do next.
I even got to research old stories from rum runner days in Montreal and discovered a story about this family, the Bronfmans, who made big money selling liquor over the border.
Go here to see my blog about Dr. Seuss and his green thumb he had while writing his children's books. And please keep following for future updates!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Everything I remember about Fernie has nothing to do with what I experienced for the first time when I arrived home on Friday.
Usually, memories consist of playing in the snow, dancing at the bar, hiking in the mountains, and tubing down the river in the summer.
But on Friday, it was this: absolute quiet. And yesterday, it was absolute quiet. Today... absolute quiet.
Quiet is fantastic. I stepped out of my car, and there was not a single sound. Just silence. No cars on the road, not ambulances roaring by, no people yelling at one another across the street, no bus engines speeding past. No sound.
Except maybe, for red-winged black birds in the trees, and now, the sound of rain dripping from the roof.
Silence is golden.