My First Half Marathon: Epilogue

(Continued From)


 I was tired. I could not have ran another meter. Luckily, I felt like I could still walk at a decent pace. Which was good because I was about twelve kilometers from home. I walked for a bit. Then was forced off the trail by some running groups. I thought they were a bunch of jerks because they couldn’t share the trail and were running three abreast. Two separate groups did the exact same thing. I wanted to yell at them, “Hey! I just ran a half marathon! Give me some respect!” I had ascended. I was in a new class of runner. I was no longer the kind that just runs fives and tens. I could go further now. The next distance goal would be a full marathon. My head kind of spun upon that realization.

 About two kilometers after I stopped, I came across the trailhead that I passed long ago, around kilometer six. I hung a right and headed west. I saw a sign that said Gilmore Station was seven kilometers away. I changed albums. I couldn’t listen to Mastodon’s Blood Mountain anymore. Although fitting for this run, three times was enough. Before I switched, I finished the album’s last song. The one where the hero has perished after battle and ascends into the afterlife. That is the way I have always interpreted it anyway.

 I finished the rest of my water. I called my wife and asked her for a ride. Of course she agreed and we decided to meet near the skytrain.  A cold front was moving in and the wind was blowing. I was growing cold quickly. Cotton mouth was setting in.

 When I finally got to the pick up spot, I was thirsty, cold, and smelled horrendous. I was also bleeding because I had finally pulled the thorns out of my hand. The blowing wind had covered my dried sweat sticky skin with dirt.

 I stood there, watching some radio station put on bean bag throwing contest. I thought about wandering over there and giving it a try. I felt like I could do anything. I had a good sense that I could win whatever it was they were giving away. I had ran a half marathon, I could throw a bean bag like a muth. The wind shifted and I was reminded of how bad I smelled. I decided not to after all.

 My wife showed up and I got in the car. I remarked on how bad I smelled. In a, I wasn’t going to say anything tone, she requested I roll down my window. She had brought along a Clif Bar. It was the one of the best things I had ever tasted.

My First Half Marathon: Soul Crushing Hope

(Concluded From)

 So there I was on the border of New Westminster and Coquitlam. About sixteen kilometers from home. At this point, I thought that I may be closer to Krispy Kreme than to my house. I have to admit, that sounded like a delicious finish line and I thought longer than I should have about telling my wife to meet me there. In all seriousness though, as far as distance was concerned, this was my halfway point. As far as my body was concerned, it felt like we had about another six left.

 As dour as that sounds, I was positive I was heading north. For the first time in almost an hour, I knew exactly where I was. I passed an older woman. There was a look of “Where the hell did he come from?” on her face. She was nice though and we exchanged salutations as I passed. Heading out this far was worth that one exchange. If nothing else, she restored my faith in humanity. I had hope, bleak as it was, impossible as the odds seemed. Soul crushing hope.

 Across the street, I saw a sign for the Central Valley Greenway. A few  meters ahead I came across what I assumed was the westbound route. There were no signs though. Why would there be any? I hadn’t seen a map for such a long time that it stood to reason that there would be no signs. Hesitantly, I stepped onto the trail. Hoping that this wasn’t one more wrong turn. I started the trek home.

I had a long way to go. I knew I wasn’t going to run it all, but I knew I was going to run a half marathon. I called my wife and let her know that I was going to be a bit longer. I could tell she was worried about me. Especially when I told her how far east I had gone. My doubts began to ease. This had to be the correct trail. It was well maintained, wide and flat. I even passed an oncoming runner that I had passed by at kilometer five. I knew I had to be heading the right way.

 For the most part, these last five kilometers were mostly a blur. As I said, the trail was flat. Pretty much just straight running. I also think I started to block out parts. My water was beginning to run low. My thighs were beginning to ache. Luckily, I was able to work that feeling out. Only a few more kilometers remained.

 One of the spots that does stand out is when I ran passed Cariboo Dam. It was at this point that I realized that somewhere around the twelfth kilometer I had seen a sign for the same dam. I could have taken a shortcut and skipped the whole Crack of Doom Trail. Also at this point, I could have been about five kilometers closer to home.

 I should also mention that there had been a race or clinic around much of my route. I finally came across a water table. I stopped for a moment to talk to the people working it. I wanted to ensure I was heading the right direction. As they offered me water, they said I was. For some reason I turned down the water. I was low, but I had enough. Plus I told them, “I wasn’t part of their thing.” Part of me wanted to finish with “I am almost done running a half marathon.” However, that seemed like too much energy. Mostly I just didn’t want to take water because I had given them no money. I thanked them and headed on.

 I came across several  more maps. I paused at each and every single one to make sure I wasn’t lost again. There was some bad news. I wasn’t lost, but I wasn’t nearly as far ahead as I thought I was. That is some morale shattering shit. One foot in front of  the other. I was almost done.

 When the voice on my phone said twenty kilometers, I knew it was time to make sure of one last thing. Just how long is a half marathon in kilometers? Some will say twenty one, but this is rounding down. I wanted to be bang on. I wanted the honor of saying I had done a half. I wanted Strava to send me an email letting me know I could buy a T-shirt. I had come all this way, it would be terrible to stop early. While I had thought of running twenty two kilometers, my cramping thighs were telling me otherwise.

 I slipped my phone off of my arm and started browsing the internet. Twenty one point one was the answer and my goal. Twenty one kilometers came the voice. One foot in front of the other, I told myself. Just one more block. That was it. Less than a minute left. Twenty one point one was announced. I stopped immediately. Moving time 1:53:15. Elapsed time 2:04:10 AVP 5:22.



My First Half Marathon: The Crack of Doom

(Continued From)

One should only run away from a landmark or city when they are certain they haven’t already passed it. In this case I had already passed Gaglardi and the route I was on was leading me directly to New Westminster. Which I knew could be an outcome, but hoped otherwise.

The trees were tall and the trail was narrow as a rail. There were several technical spots. Hopping over fallen trees from the recent windstorm was fun the first couple of times. Having to come to a complete stop and step over others that were surrounded by entangled roots was not. I ran through a spider web. One of those webs with the spider in the center. The kind that can only be seen within three inches of crashing through it. I felt bad for the spider as I checked over myself the best I could.

My phone was lost. In fact there is no data for my fourteenth kilometer. I ran the entire time, except that whole  root system thing. Which was better traversed at a walking pace. I was back to running right after though. You will just have to take my word for it.

I have tried to retrace my route. To see how much more I ran. My phone seems to have paused, yet I ran a full half which means I must have ran more. However, I can’t even find this trail on all the maps. This is such an exclusive trial that google maps doesn’t even know it exists and I have only seen it on openstreet maps. Basically, I can’t retrace it with my route editor.

It went on for what seemed like forever, I have no idea where I was. I ran through two more big ass, spider inhabited, webs. I scratched my hand on some thorny vine plant thing that would have whacked me in the face otherwise. My left earbud quit working. I almost rolled an ankle. At some point, I just started screaming one continuous eff bomb. I had no idea where I was. I had no idea how many spiders I had on me. I had no idea if that plant was bad news or not, I assumed it wasn’t.

Then all of a sudden, it was over. The trail, which I have dubbed The Crack of Doom had ended. I quit screaming and stepped out of the trees and onto the street. I can’t remember what was to my left, but I think it was the highway. I headed right toward some houses. Which was the first correct turn I had made in about an hour. Two blocks or so after I saw another major road.

It looked familiar. So familiar, that it gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. Something about the trees and concrete barriers. I recognized this road. “No fucking way.” I mumbled as I stepped out onto Columbia street and the voice on my phone said fifteen kilometers. I hadn’t been heading home, I had been heading the exact opposite direction. I was in New Westminster, but at least I knew where I was. I headed north toward the Welcome to Coquitlam sign and hopefully the Central Valley Greenway.


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.