Well, I did it. A month ago today, I completed my first pacing experience and just like all of my other running adventures, it was magical.
When I got the word in January that my huge goal crush of being a Pace Beaver for lululemon’s Seawheeze was actually coming true, I was so excited I jumped so high off the couch I almost hit the ceiling. It was one of those, “the universe has come together again” moments, and I will never forget it, but, I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t nervous for this amazing opportunity because to say I was nervous is an understatement. I thought about avoiding telling you all that, but I am continuously learning and honestly believe that there is beauty in every emotion, so no omissions.
When I look back on it, as always, I was nervous for no good reason. From the moment I met the other pacers, to the moment I crossed the finish line, it was an incredible experience filled with a lot of love and connection.
Let me first say that the group of people that comprise the pace beavers are the most energetic group of people I have ever met. I should have known since I am already friends with one of them, and she fits the bill. It’s pretty standard that runners in general are known for being the happiest people on the planet, but these amazing people are the movers and the shakers; and rightfully so, they help people reach personal bests! It’s this kind of energy that is infectious and after meeting them, I felt like I was in good company, plus, if there’s one thing I am good at, it’s bringing out the happiness in others while running.
The morning of the race, I was so nervous I cried. I know, I KNOW, totally not something to cry about, but I was full of so many emotions that those tears were more of a calming mechanism. It also didn’t help that I was “running” late because – GPS. Enough said. But really, it was the thought of letting someone else down that was really scary, but as the race happened, the exact opposite happened.
Within the first 2km I met a girl named Andie who was basically the funniest, most outgoing girl I have ever met besides myself. We stuck together for a while until nature called and Andie had to make a stop. Don’t worry, we totally met up after the race, and we’re totally Facebook friends now. Andie, this is my shout out to you girl! I’m still super proud of you for crushing a personal best on race day, and super honoured to have become friends with you while on this adventure.
Shortly after I met Andie, I met another girl whose name just happened to be Alex. I think I can safely say now that I collect them. It’s like all of us Alex’s just find each other. Anyway, Seawheeze was Alex’s first race ever, so it was a whole lot of fun running and cheering her on to the finish. She even became friends with Andie! Alex, you deserve some serious props for doing a half marathon for your very first race! I was torn between calling you crazy and amazing all at the same time so we’ll go with craze-mazing. I never got a chance to connect with you post race, but it was so awesome to have you run with me, and I really hope you continue to run.
In addition to these lovely ladies, there were countless other women who I exchanged stories and high fives with throughout the course, but the group that really touched my heart was a large family spanning from all over Canada – The McCulloughs. This tribe was racing together and helping one of their family members in particular cross the finish line. This special lady was determined to finish, disability and all, but I could tell they needed a little extra boost.
Normally the last 3km’s of a race are the toughest. You just want to be at the finish with your medal around your neck, but this time around, the last 3km’s were nothing but pure entertainment thanks to the fun spirit of this family. We were cracking jokes, singing, dancing, and encouraging each other along. Before I knew it, I was cheering them into the finish as if only a few minutes had passed, but those last few moments were precious. Seeing her cross the finish, hand in hand with her family still brings tears to my eyes. And those finish line hugs? BEST FEELING EVER.
I’d like to say that it was me that inspired them, but the reality is, they inspired me. They reminded me that if you believe it, you’ll achieve it, obstacles and all, but more importantly, they reminded me of what running is all about – the human spirit.
I feel so grateful and so blessed to have been given the opportunity to participate in this experience, and I am not sure if any amount of words will truly express how thankful I am, but I can say that actions speak louder than words and I can say that I would happily pace this race forever if it was possible. There is just something magical about giving back to this amazing community. That being said, we’ll have to see if the universe strikes again and grants me another shot.
However, I’ve still got a few goals left for 2015. One in particular involves me focusing more on myself and honing in on the basics of running again. A back to school special so to speak (oh, how fitting!).
In the beginning my goals were simply to finish each race upright and smiling, and in the process I fell in love with with this sport. Because of that, it’s time to push my limits. It’s time to break my boundaries and it’s time to get faster, better, and stronger. It’s time to test my human spirit.
So, STWM 5k, I’m coming for you and I’m chasing a 35 minute finish time. I’ll be seeing you October 18th at the finish. I’ll be the girl with the biggest smile en route.