We Gave’r at the 2013 Bluenose Marathon!

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! šŸ™‚ 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!

The McRunners speed through the city

The McRunners speed through the city

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I think Alex was the motivator for the group!

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Nearing the finish – love that Sarah’s sweater is now open to show her bib and Evan is wearing Olivia’s sweater around his waist!

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The McRunners, together to the finish!

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 removeĀ  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.

Uncle Darce and Seamus were a team!

Uncle Darce and Seamus were a team!

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Phinn gets ready to take us to “The Pit”.

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A fun way to spend the afternoon.

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Mike & D’Arcy discuss marathons, boats, and renewable energy.

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Fun for the cousins!

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Olivia gets a lift from cousin Mike.

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A springtime walk, home through the woods. We only lost three of the city-kids for a short period of time…

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Warming up together by the fire when we got back to the house.

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Sarah makes a new friend.

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”!Ā  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.Ā  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?!)Ā  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!Ā  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… šŸ˜‰ 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.

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Waiting for the gun to start the Full Marathon

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D’Arcy & our nephew Ryan discuss who will be faster than whom. Maybe Ryan could have piggybacked D’Arcy for part of it…

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Kim & Anne, ready to run 10km together.

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D’Arcy and his sister Erin with their half-marathon finisher medals. Thank you Erin for all your support and for coaching D’Arcy through it!

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The McRunners, happy to be finished!

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Our yearly photo with Myles – another part of the tradition!

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We had to take one more to make sure Aunt Erin was in the photo too!

After the race, we took the girls to Woozles Bookstore – a favourite – which Sarah reported was the best part of the weekend. šŸ™‚ 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!

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

Bluenose Marathon 2012

What a weekend! This was our fourth year participating in the ScotiaBank Bluenose Marathon (fifth for Evan) which takes place in Halifax each year on the long weekend in May. By all accounts, this was the best weather we’ve ever had! Last year was freezing, and 2010 was sunny, but cooler. Ā In 2009, we had drizzle along the whole course.

This year, because we are bogged down in renovations, we made a flying trip down-and-back from Truro to run in the Bluenose. The boys chose not to participate in the youth run this year and just ran the timed 5k. We had made arrangements to have a sleepover with D’Arcy’s parents at their condo. We had stayed there last year, but they were away on a cruise, so this was the first time our kids had a sleepover with their McDonah grandparents.

We left the house mid-afternoon, and picked up our race kits at the Halifax Metro Centre. We LOVED this year’s purple “I RUN THIS TOWN” race shirts! We explored the expo a bit, then went to Woozles Book Store to pick up the 2013 set of “Battle of the Books” books for the Elementary School. Ā We stopped at the grocery store so we could pick up some safe snacks to send to the race in the morning with Olivia. (She has peanut/treenut/egg/soy allergies.) As I was walking down one of the aisles, I did a double take as I recognized one of my best friends from high-school, whom I had not seen in about 12 years! We had a great time catching up!

We arrived at D’Arcy’s parents’ place at suppertime and got settled in. Grandma had made a wonderful, safe, roast-pork dinner, and two of D’Arcy’s sisters & a niece joined us for awhile. After supper, we chatted and got ready for the race, making pom-poms for the girls, signing up for race alerts, and filling out the medical information on our bibs – just in case.

We had an early night, and I should have taken some photos of the unconventional sleeping arrangements – Olivia in a sleeping bag under the dining room table, Alex on an easy chair in the den, and Sarah & Evan in the living room. He was sleeping on the couch, and she was in a sleeping bag on the floor beside him. When I went in to check on them, I found Sarah asleep, with her leg up on the couch and her foot touching Evan’s – just to make sure he was there! šŸ™‚

We were registered for the 5k this year, as none of us has been training seriously. D’Arcy had hopes of running the half marathon this year, but injured a muscle in his leg back in March and has been having trouble running. We had breakfast and walked up to the start of the race. Sarah & Olivia stayed with D’Arcy’s parents while they waited for Aunt Erin to pick them up to take them to their “Cheer station”.

We walked up to the start and warmed up with the marathon runners, who started their race ten minutes before we did. Evan grabbed a clapper to run with. We made sure that we knew where to meet after it was over and we were off! Evan shot away from us right away while Alex ran with us for over a kilometre. We told him he could run ahead if he wanted to, so he did. I was pleased with how good the run felt, especially considering the little bit of training I’d done. (To be clear, although I haven’t beenĀ consistentlyĀ “running”, I do walk, and am usually on the move. We don’t spend much time sitting around so it isn’t that I’m totally out of shape…) D’Arcy & I ran together until we got to Citadel Hill. I knew I couldn’t run up that hill, so walked it quickly. I have asthma, and could feel my breathing getting quite tight. D’Arcy waited for me at the top, and stayed with me until my wheezing subsided and I was running again.

One of my favourite things about the new course was running Citadel Hill. Although it was a daunting task to run up, the views were beautiful, and seeing the route lined with Highlanders in full costume, high-fiving runners as they passed by, Ā had this tourism junkie a bit emotional! Nice touch!!

I joked with a man who had stopped to walk, asking if he thought we’d be disqualified if we rolled down the hill instead of running it? He giggled and I smiled. Once the Citadel was conquered, the race was almost over. Ā As we ran down the hill past Centennial Pool to the finish, I spotted the 21km sign for the half-marathoners. I quipped to the girl running beside me, “21k, so that’s why I feel like this! We’re not doing so bad!” She laughed. The feeling ofĀ camaraderieĀ along the route is something really special. I really appreciated the people lining the streets, cheering the runners on! Two of my favourite signs were, “Run like you stole something!” and “Way to Go Random Stranger!”

I was fading by the time I got to that slight incline that leads to the finish, but pushed through. I heard D’Arcy & Evan cheering for me and spotted them at the line. We found Alex waiting by the medals for us, and we went into the Metro Centre. Evan was nowhere to be found, but we weren’t too concerned. We got some chocolate milk and a cookie, and chatted with some other runners. We looked up our finish times, and although none of us had a personal best, we were all pleased with our times:

Evan MCDONAH, Truro, 391/2002, TimeĀ 0:28:38.8, PaceĀ 5:44, Category M 15 and UnderĀ 58/100, GenderĀ 221/574

Alexander MCDONAH, Truro, 604/2002, TimeĀ 0:31:05.2, PaceĀ 6:14, Category M 15 and UnderĀ 68/100, GenderĀ 290/574

D’Arcy MCDONAH, Truro, 696/2002, TimeĀ 0:31:55.7, PaceĀ 6:24, Category M 40 – 49Ā 61/119, Gender 318/574

Anne MCDONAH, Ā Truro, 759/2002, TimeĀ 0:32:42.8, PaceĀ 6:33, Category F 30 – 39Ā 108/406, GenderĀ 423/1417

After a half an hour with no sign of Evan, we started to get slightly worried. After 45 minutes, we started looking for him.Ā Surprisingly, D’Arcy was more worried than I was. I knew that Evan knew where we were supposed to meet, and reminded myself that he had gone to Brazil without us! It turned out that he hadn’t realized that Alex had crossed the finish earlier, so he was still outside, waiting to cheer his brother on at the end! When it became apparent that the 5k runners were winding down, he came in and found us!

D’Arcy & Alex had massages, and then we walked to the Cheer Station for the marathoners to meet up with Erin, Sarah & Olivia. We stayed there until lunch time, cheering the runners on, passing out jelly beans, oranges, and wet sponges. It was a lot of fun!!

We went back to Grandma & Grandpa’s for lunch, then packed up and came home. I was exhausted and had a hard time keeping my eyes open, but went to sleep with a smile on my face.

It was a great weekend and a family “tradition” we plan to continue!

Grandpa, smiling at 7am, despite being invaded for the weekend!

Bluenose 2012 – runners & cheerleaders at 7am!

Just before the 5k start

Waiting for the race to begin!

Sarah, passing out jelly-beans to the half-marathon runners

D’Arcy & Olivia cheer on the marathon runners

The Halifax Running Club Cheer Station – handing out oranges, jelly beans, and wet sponges

Fun at the Cheer Station, D’Arcy’s cousin, Lynn on the right

Alex & Olivia hand out sponges to runners

The Halifax Running Club Cheer Station

D’Arcy’s sister, Erin, cheering on the marathon runners

Chatting with D’Arcy’s brother, Brian, a course marshall.

Evan & Olivia refreshing & encouraging runners.

To see our full gallery of photos, please click here.

To see all Bluenose Marathon Finish Results, please click here.