On Saturday I joined almost ten thousand other runners and took to the streets of Vancouver and the beautiful seawall in iconic Stanley park to run 21.1 km in Lululemon’s annual Seawheeze half marathon!!
This was my first half marathon and when I signed up almost a year ago I was pregnant but after missing out on registration the prior years (the race sells out in under 30 minutes) I figured I’d give it a shot. It was my most casual attempt at registering yet and I was shocked when I got in.
As many of you know my pregnancy was anything but text book! I suffered with Hypermeisis from start to finish. I couldn’t keep down any food, was hospitalized, hydrated and exhausted. After giving birth I hoped things would return to normal but they didn’t. In the weeks following birth I suffered with a retained placenta. Then my malnutrition issues surfaced. Since then I’ve focused on doing the best I can daily in terms of taking care of myself. It was all made harder last month when I suffered an early miscarriage. As Seawheeze crept closer and closer I considered pulling out because I was undertrained and my body was still suffering. Up until late Friday night I was still coming up with excuses about why I couldn’t do the race.
Kevin wasn’t about to let me back out easily. He insisted we take part in the activities that I had waited so long for.
My Seawheeze weekend started with dinner and drinks with some of my Lululemon friends in Mission. All of them multiple 1/2 marathon runners! They were extremely supportive and slightly threatening that I wasn’t backing out!
On Friday we spent the day in Vancouver at the runners expo. I got to meet a bunch of my lulu girls, shop, get temporary Lululemon tattoos, sample products, have an amazing dinner, hit Whole foods and generally soak in the atmosphere. I was pumped! However once I got home the fear and anxiety took over! I forced myself to set my alarm for 4 am! Lay out my race outfit and run swag, take some pictures and put my timing chip on my shoe before bed.
At 4 am Saturday morning I got up, got dressed, and ate. Before I could change my mind Kevin had me on my way to Vancouver. When we arrived at the convention center none of my friends were there and Kevin had to just drop me off because of Jacob was sleeping. I had a few minutes to soak it all in alone and give myself a little pep talk.
I was terrified. Before I knew it I was surrounded with other runners, excitement, and inspiration to do this. I hit the bathrooms one last time, warmed up, linked arms with Garett and headed for the start line.
The energy at the start line was amazing but I was still terrified! The terrified didn’t go away until I hit the via duct and the spin team was there cheering us on. At that point I started running with a stranger and we quickly became buddies! We stayed together until about km 15! The course was full of entertainment, support, and spectators. I didn’t take many photos for the first 15 Km’s because Tracy and I had a good pace going and were chatting a lot.
Hitting the halfway point when crossing back over the bridge was an amazing feeling. I started thinking about what I was really doing!!! Running a 1/2 marathon 6 months postpartum after an exhausting pregnancy all while having Lupus and being told “I shouldn’t run”!
Crossing into the Stanley park portion of the race signified less than 15 km to go!! It was also the most scenic portion of the course and for me proved to be the hardest and most intense!
Around kilometer 16 I hit the wall. My legs felt about a zillion pounds and I found myself walking when I should of been running. I could feel the two small blisters on my feet and hips were reminding me “Hey lady you have Lupus wtf are we doing?!?”. I tried to focus on my beautiful surrounding but at that point my brain had turned against me. I found the runners spaced out significantly at this point and the course almost felt isolated. Nothing beside me but rocks on one side and water on the other. Between kilometers 16-19 I had a full blown panic attack. I had to force myself to breath. I had to remind myself what I was doing and why I was doing it. I walked the final 6 kilometers. It killed my time but that doesn’t matter. I had no time goal. My only goal was crossing the finish line. Those last 6 kilometers found me constantly repeating to myself “just keep going”… I knew my baby and my husband were waiting for me at the finish line and those two things kept me moving. Kept me fighting through the pain. I’m not going to lie to you those last 6 kilometers felt like forever! In actuality there were a bit over an hour. Longest hour of my life!! I took a selfie around kilometer 17 to send to Kevin incase I died ! Around the same time Kevin sent me a photo of him and Jacob both smiling for me. When you’re that far in it really is the little things that keep you going! <a href="https://lifewiththemcgavins.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/20150819-124331-45811606.jpg">
Just keep going! It turned into my personal mantra and I’m fairly sure will stick with me the rest of my life. A moment on route that will also stick with me forever was seeing the blind runner and his guide runner.
In that moment I realized there was no excuse to not do this! To not finish! No excuse to not try everything and anything I want! If this man can get out there and run a half marathon blind I’m not about to let lupus slow me down!
Running across the finish line was indescribable. I vaguely recall someone putting my medal around my neck and handing me a hat, towel, water, Saje stuff. It was overwhelming. I don’t think I was even processing anything at that point. I remember kissing Jacob and Kevin before being surrounded by Michelle, Garett, Krista and Debra. I know there were tears. In true me fashion after a major/traumatic event (Yes running your first half is traumatic) I just wanted to go home. I skipped the runners brunch and headed straight for the truck!
Conquering a half marathon is something I’ve always wanted to do. Before my Lupus got bad I ran a lot more, I loved it. I still love it. It just hurts a lot. This was something I did for myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I did it by myself, for myself.