“he’s just run himself a race is all”

The above is a quote from the book, “Once a Runner”, by John L Parker Jr., where Mizner answers Andrea’s  question, “Was he alright”, as Cassidy is lying hacking in the fetal position after a cross country race.
The Sunday Manitoba Marathon relay was a race for me.Here are my numbers. I ran the 2nd leg , 4.72 miles in 31m04s, a 6m35s average pace. Here is my story in five parts.

PART 1 My neighbor Russ was running the same leg as me on a coed team and I was running in the opens men’s category for my office team. We were driven to our relay point by Russ’s wife Susie. The race started at 7:00 am just as we arrived at our check point. We ran a warm-up mile and a half backward on the course. As we were running a few spectators clapped for us, until we explained that we were in the relay and just warming up. Back at the check point 7:15 am, Russ went off in search of the port-a-potties while I ran some sprints. In between I chatted with the Shriner’s on their motorcycles, who were concerned I would wear myself out before the race.  First through the checkpoint were two men then a woman on wheel chairs with lots of cheering from the relay runners waiting for their partners  to come through. The first runners through at 7:29am  were a Kenyan followed by Brian (my team mate’s twin brother) and another runner.  Jeremy (Brian’s twin) my teammate came through at 7:30am.

Jeremy 1st leg

Part 2 The hand off went smoothly and the crowd went wild. Jeremy telling me to watch my pace as we were at a 6:00 m/mile. I said I was going to feed off the crowd while it lasted, which was for a block. I remembered to start my watch within the relay zone and kept Jeremy in sight until he turned off onto Pembina. I recall a few people cheering,  “go David” as I passed but was not able to recognize anyone as I was focused on the task at hand. When I turned unto Pembina the front runners were not in sight. At the Jubilee overpass, where the half marathon and full marathon course splits it was a bit confusing as there was not a traffic marshal nearby.  I saw one in the distance and pointed left as I asked “Full Marathon this way?”  With a head shake as a reply I headed up the overpass. I was escorted over the overpass by an official on a bicycle, who apologized to me as he explained “the truck was late”. I had no idea what he was talking about thinking maybe the traffic marshal for the split between the courses was late. After the overpass, we run along Pembina and turnoff onto Harrow Street. At the first aid station they are still setting up. One person offers me water, I decline thinking I don’t need any I’m just running a short race today.  Half way down Harrow St before we turn onto Guelph St I hear a vehicle behind me.  It’s supposed to be a closed course but there are always idiots out there, so I turn to see who’s coming and If I need to get out of the way as I’m running the centerline of  the street.  It turns out to be an official pace truck with a clock on the back clicking away with the race time on it. (41 minutes plus some seconds.) This is distracting as watching the seconds go by makes the time seem longer.  Then a runner comes by in the curb lane and starts talking to me. I can’t make out much of what he is saying as he is running a 5:30 pace to my 6:30 pace and has a heavy Kenyan accent. What I do make out didn’t make sense as I hear him say something about 1.8.  he turned out to be the same Kenyan that came through the relay exchange first, except I didn’t know that. I thought the pace truck was for a 2nd group of runners. I find out later that the pace truck got distracted by an ambulance coming and went over the overpass the wrong way with the lead runner following. They then went over the overpass the right way adding an extra kilometer or so to his race. The 1.8 may have been that he ran an extra 1.8 kilometers. The pace truck and Kenyan running effortlessly pull away prior to me turning onto Guelph Street and the clock reaching  42 minutes. Guelph Street is nicer with the Elm trees in the residential area providing some shade from the sun which was starting to heat up. The crowds are starting to get thicker. I hear clapping behind me realizing that I may be passed again.

On Guelph Street, in 2nd place

PART 3 I turn onto Wellington Crescent ,  which is one mile to the end of the block where I live.  Knowing my family will be there I pick up the pace. (more like maintain the pace) I hear Susie call my name, I’m confused as I’m not at Brock Street yet or am I? No she had walked up the street a few blocks. The crowd is thicker now. A guy is singing karaoke. He is so bad, he is good. It is a nice distraction as I’m starting to heat up.  The clapping behind me is getting closer. I reach Brock Street where My wife Margot, daughter Lissi and neighbours  are cheering.  Margot yells “just one runner ahead”.  I hear runners coming to pass me and I give my usual, “good job guys” and look  as Mike Booth (4 time Manitoba marathon winner) and another runner pass me. This means that for the first third of my leg of the race I was the lead runner in the Marathon and for the next  third I was 2nd.

PART 4 At Brock Street there is just over a mile left in my leg of the race. I don’t remember much of this part of the race. I’m in survival mode. I think I was passed again, but don’t remember.  At the end of Wellington is a S-curve before the finish at the Rady Centre.  I rely on motivational talks in my head to carry me through. Talking with family members that are watching from above, with me saying “here we are again”. It helps. Then at the first part of the curve a bag pipe band starts up. They are awesome. A sign posted with, “500 meters to the exchange”.  I try and pick up the pace, see the crowds of relay runners and spectators around the 2nd curve,  and they carry me to the finish.

Rauf, 3rd leg

PART 5 I’m looking for Rauf to hand off the chip to. I don’t see him, so I call out his name and he just appears all smiles and fresh.  I hand him the chip and wish him luck.  I did have a thought the day before to run with him into the park.  Instead I collapse at the side of the road wretching with dry heaves in the fetal position, trying to get some air into my lungs. I’m sensing people around me but they don’t want to get to close with all the noises I was making. I was waiting for someone to ask if I was alright. My reply would have been, yeah, I just run myself a race is all.   After a short while that seemed like forever, I get up with my fingers tingling. A sign of dehydration.  I walk over to the aid station and replenish my liquids with water and Gatorade. I walk for a while and chat with a woman who will be running the 3rd leg. I realize I don’t know her and wish her luck.  I run towards the park for my cool-down run.  People are cheering for me so I go onto the side walk. I stop at the cross at the entrance to the park and pay my respects to JBT and turnaround to run back home. At the exchange I meet up with Russ who had just finished and we run back home to cool down. Our families and neighbours are cheering others on as we get caught up on the race.

Bert, 4th Leg

Our team came in 9th in the open division.  Brian came 1st and Jeremy came in 4th in the half marathon. Philip Samoei (the Kenyan) won the marathon and Mike Booth came in 4th.  Russ’s coed team came in 1st in the coed division and my other neighbor Mark’s high school team came in 1st of all the relay teams. A good day for the racers from Brock Street. (photo credits Ramli Halim)

John, 5th leg