Given there was a continous drizzle during the inaugural year and gail-force winds that forced postponement and a course change during the second year, this year’s overcast skies (for the first two hours) were a welcome sight….!
Since Halifax is a “home city,” I was able to attend the Friendship Run on Friday night. John Stanton (The Running Room founder) has 60 marathons under his belt and thus can motivate, inspire, and jest about the training and racing experience with credibility. It did not, unfortunately, make me feel less of a fraud. I was to pace at 2:45 and that was much slower than my personal worst – I volunteered in order to be involved in the event… that my registration fee was waived is just a bonus….
I started feeling the weight of my role as John lauded the pace bunnies and drew attention to us. He talked of how the run is not a test (since you have hundreds of miles of training) but a celebration of your ability. He told us to trust the training. I neither felt like celebrating nor trusted my meager training….
To wit, the Bluenose was very, very good. We started out circling historic Citadel Hill before turning onto the McDonald Bridge. A majestic suspension bridge, it is even more breathtaking when you are on foot and it is shrouded in fog. Across the harbour, after some road-running, we entered Shubie Park, an intimate trail that is a welcome reprieve from the streets. A little city running follows alongside Banook – site of world-class rowing races – and Sullivan’s Pond and we are soon distracted by notorious Maple Street (renamed Giv’er Hill on Bluenose days) – a steep half-kilometer incline. Back over the bridge and through the colourful neighbourhood along Brunswick where by 11 a.m. they have come out, blasting some hip-hop, and casting a lazy eye on the runners tracking through their neighbourhood.
As a pacer, I was by no means trying to set any personal records and instead let the new sensations of being a volunteer wash over me… like…
* I created a pace that doesn’t traditionally exist – 2:30 and “To Complete” exist – but I noted to the organizers how there was a 2:45 at the Calgary Marathon (website), so they let me do that pace.
* People run away from the 2:45 bunny – it is much more acceptable to do a 2:30 half. 2:45 is like some kind of lower bound they don’t want to touch. You can speed-walk a half in 2:45.
* Little kids get excited for the bunny ears.
* I might have induced dumber dogs to bark at me… going nuts at the ears.
* Some people were confused if I was pacing a 2:45 half or full – full, ha.
* Bunny ears elicited the focus of more photographers than usual. ;)
* They also get noticed by race announcers who broadcasted the arrived of each bunny approaching the finish line.
Here are my final stats (accessible at Sportstats.ca) —
1,281 of 1,418 finishers
2:40:01.9 Gun Time
2:38:09.3 Chip Time
707 of 815 Women entrants
450 of 475 “Open Women” entrants
(I filled out a paper registration form and someone else did the online registration. Somewhere along the way, I got registered as a man!!)