Let me begin by making it clear that I (Anne) am a fair-weather runner in every sense of the word! However, one of our favourite family traditions takes place on the long weekend in May each year- The Bluenose Marathon in Halifax. This year was our sixth year attending, and fifth participating as a family.
Six years ago, when he was eight, Evan joined the running club at his school and got to go on a bus from Truro to Halifax to participate in the Youth Run portion of the marathon. He was hooked and so were we. D’Arcy had been a runner when we were first married and the boys were babies, but like many of us do with exercise, put it to the side when life got busy with other commitments. So when Evan announced he wanted to start running, and then Alex wanted to join him, we did what crazy parents do and joined them. Once I got started, I realized it wasn’t so bad and once you get through the first kilometre or two, it actually starts to feel good. (As long as where you’re running is flat.) I still will make any excuse not to go, but it’s a healthy, free activity that we can do together as a family.
This year, as I was registering us in February to take advantage of the early-bird registration rate (makes a BIG difference for a family of six) I registered D’Arcy first, and in doing so didn’t realize until after-the-fact that it automatically defaulted to the full marathon registration rather than the 10km race I was supposed to sign him up for! After I assured him that I had not recently taken out a new life insurance policy on him, he decided that he might as well train for the half-marathon. It’s been on his bucket list for awhile, and since he’s going to have a milestone birthday this year (ahem) he took it very seriously.
We left for Halifax directly after school on Friday. D’Arcy’s brother & his wife were away biking in Cape Breton this weekend so had offered us their house for the weekend. We can’t thank them enough! It was wonderful that we had comfortable sleeping arrangements and a full kitchen to use for meals, which are always tricky when traveling with food allergies. We picked up our race-kits at the Expo, got some groceries, then got settled in, making our plans and arrangements for the weekend.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, but cold. We entered into the mass of people at the Halifax Metro Centre to make sure the kids knew where to meet if they got separated. (We learned that lesson the hard way a few years ago!) We left the boys in charge of the girls at the start line, and D’Arcy & I went up the course to find a spot to cheer them on.
The Bluenose Youth Run is the largest youth run in Canada. This year there were over 4,000 participants! It was extra special for the girls to run the race for the first time with their brothers – holding hands throughout the entire 4.2km course! 🙂 The energy and excitement is hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it! I had worried that Sarah especially wouldn’t have a good time (did I mention it was bitterly cold?) and wouldn’t want to participate again, but even she had a huge smile each time we saw her!
After the race, we got ourselves together, packed up some food and went out to Mike & Emily’s to help with their boys and make them some supper. (For those who are new here, our niece Emily just had major surgery to remove tumors from her spine and neck.) It turned out that Emily wasn’t having a very good day, and was in the city having a procedure, so it turned out to be good timing that we were able to be there that particular day. We spent the afternoon with Mike and the boys: playing racing games, walking in the woods, and getting some laundry caught up.
For supper we had veggie pasta, Caesar salad, and a lemon pie so D’Arcy could “carb up”. Emily and her grandfather arrived home just in time to join us, but she was in a lot of pain. After supper, we quickly got some food into the freezer, did the dishes, and left them so they could all get to bed. (And so could we!)
We were up bright & early on Sunday morning to get ready for our big day! I don’t think D’Arcy or I slept particularly well, but as my running partner, Kim, told me – “as long as you rested your legs, you’ll be fine”! Evan & Alex were running the 5k which left right after the marathon runners, so we went up to the start line to watch. We met up with D’Arcy’s sister Erin, and nephew Ryan, who were also both running the half-marathon. We watched the boys start, then said good-bye to the half-marathon runners and went to the Metro Centre where the girls were going to wait to meet the boys. Because it was so cold, the girls were happy to watch the finish on the big screen inside.
Evan & Alex ran a good race, although Evan’s shoelace came untied and he ran the rest of the race with it like that rather than stopping to tie it. They had mixed reviews on their times. They both wanted to come in under 25 minutes, but Evan’s chip time was 0:25:29.5 and Alex’s was 0:26:33.1. Personally, I’d be happy to be able to run 5km at a 5 minute pace… When they finished, they came in to the Metro Centre to look after the girls while D’Arcy & I ran. Their race had started at 8:10, D’Arcy’s at 8:45, and mine at 9:00. It gave us lots of time to switch off.
I was running 10km with my childhood friend, Kim. Let’s just say that our training has included one walk together, and three runs separately – all spring! There may or may not have been some wine involved in our training as well. (It’s a carb, right?!) The most I’d run at once this year was 5k. I wasn’t quite sure how the run would go, and we hoped to finish in about an hour and ten minutes. We had a ball running together when I wasn’t panting for breath! We had already made a pact ahead of time to walk up the hills – there are some doozies on the course! I loved all the signs, the cheers, the kids who lined the course high-fiving and blowing bubbles, and the bands – yes, live bands – who were playing on different parts of the course. As we headed over the bridge, runners from the marathon, and then the first 10k runners started coming in the opposite direction. We yelled and cheered for each of them as they passed us. It was a great way to take my mind off the burning in my legs and my lungs! In the end, we finished with a time of 1:09:05.5. Kim’s time was two seconds faster than mine because she started to sprint at the end. Not bad for a couple of 40 year olds… 😉 Our goal for next year is to train and come in around an hour. Totally doable…
We met up with the kids who had been great while we were gone and started watching for D’Arcy to cross the finish. He and Erin completed their race with a time of 2:02:55. D’Arcy had hoped to finish in two hours. Our nephew Ryan? His time was 1:40:42. Show-off.
After the race, we took the girls to Woozles Bookstore – a favourite – which Sarah reported was the best part of the weekend. 🙂 We went back to Brian & Morag’s to do the laundry, change the beds, and pack up. A friend of ours had died, and the memorial service was being webcast, so we took the time to watch. Although we couldn’t get back to town in time to attend in person, it was wonderful to be able to be part of it from away. Olivia wasn’t feeling well and had developed a fever, so we stayed away from the new baby we wanted to go see and from any other people we wanted to visit. We got home in time to have some Chinese food for supper (since Olivia wasn’t eating anyway), then hung out quietly together until we all went to bed early.
Our tourist season starts in earnest today, and we have rooms booked every night this week. D’Arcy was up early to mow the lawn before the rain starts, and Alex has a full day of dress-rehearsal before his school’s production of “Annie” this coming weekend. Our lives tend to be busy, so I am happy that six years ago Evan suggested we start running and I reluctantly agreed to join him. Even though I can no longer keep up with my teenagers, it’s still an activity we can all do together as a family, and the short respite for us during the May long weekend keeps us refreshed for the season ahead!