Sunday, August 11, 2013

First 12k run in Calgary: Lost key, found key, fortuitous fountain and an inauspicious finish

So there I was, just over a third of the way through my 12k long slow distance, and although it was a hot day by Calgary standards (23C) I was managing and I could see the finish in sight. With just 7k to go, I started planning my run back from 130th Street - a dash through the fountain I'd stopped at on my way to wet my hat and shoes, a stop at the convenience store for a drink at 7-8k, a loop around the lake and then home.


Or so I thought. Stopping at a set of streetlights to grab some much-needed relief from the sun in the shade of a few trees, I took a quick scan of how I was feeling (not bad) and checked that my house key was in my wrist wallet.

But it wasn't. My ID and debit were there, but the key, which I'd hastily tucked in the band after locking the front door, was missing. And I had absolutely no idea where in the last 3.5 kms I'd dropped it. I'd been wearing my headphones and listening to music, so hadn't even heard any indication of a key hitting the ground.

"Shoot!" I uttered (or a variation starting with those two letters). Hubby was at work and not likely able to pause to send a taxi with the key (plus this wasn't the first time I'd lost a key, so I was loath to admit it to him). He wasn't likely to be home until another seven or eight hours, and here I was, a hot mess, locked out of our house in a city where we have yet to meet our neighbours or make many friends.

I briefly debated trying to climb to the second story of our house and trying to pull the window screen off, but our ladder was locked in the garage, and I didn't have that key either.

Well, there was nothing to it but to turn around and scan the ground meticulously for anything shiny, no matter how many weird glances I got, and pray to the universe that either nobody would be interested in a nondescript key, or that the key hadn't flown into a bush or tall grasses by the side of the path.

In an effort to be even more meticulous, I walked rather than ran, taking my time and literally sending a prayer out to the universe to please let me find my key - and to let it manifest itself to me.

On and on I walked, stopping at every glimmer of shiny candy wrapper or plastic on the path or in the grass.

...and found...

And then, just as I yelled yet another plea to the skies, there it was - a glint on the sidewalk. Not believing my eyes but at the same time believing that the universe had heard me, I picked it up, uttered a thank you...And determined that there was no way that I was stopping today after this mini miracle - no matter how hot or tired I might get.

Thankful for little miracles

Now, I'm not an overly religious gal. I'd probably define myself as agnostic. But whether or not this was a miracle, it reminded me of something I'd heard a yoga instructor say once, and what John Stanton had said when he'd visited Halifax for Bluenose 2013: treat every day, every step, every pose as a miracle. We should be so grateful to have our health - to be able to run, stretch, breathe and be. And if I'm hot or tired or in pain, well that's just a reminder that not only am I lucky enough to be able to run, but to be here yet another day.

With that in mind, I turned back to where I had been running, and kept going. By around 6-7k, I was back at the fountain I'd stopped at on my way there. Little kids were screaming and yelping in joy as they dashed in and out of the spray and tossed beach balls. Feeling like a bit of a kid myself, I strode right in to the water, soaking my shoes and taking in the spray full-on. I soaked my hat, then kept going, leaving a trail of soggy shoe prints in my wake.

As planned, I soon reached High Street, where I purchased some gummies and a drink, then kept going for the last stretch of my run.

There's nothing quite like running

And that last stretch, from 8.5-12k, was a toughie. I haven't been running religiously, having been doing a lot of cross-training instead, including biking, yoga, strength, dance and lots of walking - everywhere. Seriously, since moving to Calgary I may have driven two or three times. In fact our town and this city seem to inspire an active lifestyle - I've never heard hubby ask to go on a walk, let alone a bike ride, until we moved here.

But going on a run even when you've been fairly active is a good reminder that running using a bunch of different muscles that you don't use any other time.

Mind over matter, or matter over mind?

But rounding a bend by the lake, where ducks floated peaceably in the still water, I reminded myself again of just how lucky I was to be healthy and able to run and enjoy the day, and focused on mind over matter. Although my pace was slower, my legs felt lighter with these thoughts.

I rounded the bend onto our treed street, drinking in the shade and telling myself I was just hundreds of metres away.

And then stumbled, tripped and rolled, scraping my hand, knee and leg just 400 metres from home. It hurt as it always does, but I still chuckled at this inauspicious ending. It was also a good reminder that when I'm feeling tired, I need to remember to lift my feet and stop dragging them.

Also, no matter how much mind over matter you practice, sometimes matter just gets the better of you.

I got up, inhaled deeply through the pain, then kept on going to finish those last 400 metres and finish the run.

New race goals

Despite the fall, I'm pleased to be back out there, clocking the miles on my legs. I've been managing about two to three runs a week, but then there's all the cross-training (and the biking! Calgary has so many bike trails and places to explore, that I bought my first bike in 18 years and have been biking everywhere).

My goal is to keep clocking the kilometres with the goal of a fall half marathon - my first in Calgary. I've been trying to get some speed training in from time to time but am understandably slower, both because I'm not training as intensely but also because of the altitude. But my focus is different - when I stand at that start line this fall, my goal will be to run through a new course and experience racing in a new province and a new city and just soak in the experience.

At some point, I want to find and join a run club in Calgary - I've been missing the community aspect of running. But in the meantime, I'll focus on getting out there a few times a week and stretching my legs, clocking the kilometres. And who knows - with all the biking I've been doing, a triathlon may even be in my sights at some point too.

So hooray for good runs, healthy lifestyles and new goals!

Hope your training's also going well, fellow runners!

Signing out from Cow Town,


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