My First Half Marathon: There and to the Crack of Doom

This passed weekend, I ran my first half marathon. Not an actual organized race, just me and my prog metal albums. Well, one in particular because I didn’t want to fiddle around with such technological doo-daddery. In fact, I didn’t want to do much other than to put one foot in front of the other and keep running. Mostly because I was afraid that I would stop, even though I was enjoying myself. For about the first half, it was a “good run.” However the last half didn’t go as planned.

So the first seven kilometers were fairly non-eventful. However, I was entering some uncharted territory for me. Somewhere I had never ran before, Burnaby Lake. My usual routes had been getting a little tiresome. I had just ran them far too much and wanted to see something different. Also, I knew the area was fairly level. As I was planning on running about eighteen kilometers – which would be the furthest I had ever ran – I figured levelness would be a good idea. In the back of my head I had the notion I may be able to do a half, I figured I might as well set myself up for success.

As I exited the trail and entered the street, I ran passed the Central Valley Greenway trailhead that travels along the north side of the lake. I figured I would come back that way and just kept running down the street. Two trivial little sentences and one action. My fate was sealed, I was doomed. That one action is why this run is interesting. It is why there is a story to tell.

There was some lateral movement, chin up and push up bar trail I got on briefly. Which basically lead me in a high stepping circle. Back on the road I headed toward the highway. Nothing special, just couldn’t believe I had come down so far south. Around the nine kilometer mark, I entered the actual lake area. A nice lake view, mountains far to the north and trees everywhere I looked. I knew I should start heading home. After pausing at a map, I did so by taking the eastern route around the lake. I was feeling like eighteen kilometers was a short sale and wanted to run a half. My quick estimation was to take this loop and the Central Valley Greenway back to Gilmore and be done and ready for a decent walk home.

I headed east for about another three kilometers. During this time, I figured I should call my wife and let her know that I was heading back toward home and that I would be home in about forty minutes. Writing that seems like such an unrealistic estimate that I should have caught it. Maybe it was the sign that said Bear in Area that was distracting me. With my earbuds out, I was constantly surveying my surroundings. I wanted to be the first to know if a bear showed up. The trail wound to and fro. Sometimes it was firm dirt and at other times it was spongy. As if detritus was underneath. Those areas were comfortable to run over and a great sensation.

There were no maps along this stretch of trail. When it seemed the sun was over my shoulder I figured that I had finally turned more north. I did think to myself that it was getting closer to noon, but I was pretty sure I was heading the right way. Although, I couldn’t tell due to the huge trees that blocked my view of the mountains.

I saw some pavement ahead and picked up my pace, anxious to get off of the trail and head back home. When I stepped out, I realized that this wasn’t where I thought I was going to be at all. I had no idea how to get onto the Central Valley Greenway. In fact, there was a sign with directions to New Westminster and Hope. I saw an overpass for the highway and a sign for the Gaglardi exit. If I knew one thing, it was to run away from Gaglardi, to head the opposite way I was heading.

It was all uphill and I was between my thirteenth and fourteenth kilometer. I still wasn’t convinced I was actually heading the proper way at all. Then I saw a little unmaintained trail. You know that kind that mountain bikers and ne’er do wells traverse. It seemed to be going the way I wanted to go, so I took it. For the love of google, I didn’t know how wrong I was.


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