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.

(Epilogue)

 

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