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19 2013

Why I’m Running My First Marathon

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

I finally made the decision to run the full Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) this October. I’ve enjoyed running for years now, with little intention of going the full marathon distance. In fact, a few years ago I would have said that’s crazy if you asked me. But recently a bunch of things seemed to be pointing me in the direction of making the leap to the marathon. For one thing, I’ve run four half marathons, including three Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon halfs, and most recently the 30k 2013 Around the Bay (ATB) road race in Hamilton. I’m getting pretty close to the full distance now, so why not go all the way? I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been ever been in. Marathons are one of those bucket list life events. If I’m ever going to do it, now is the time (while I still can). You never know when an injury or some unexpected life event might pop up. Best to take advantage of my fitness now! But mostly, I’m doing it for Boston. Marathons embody the best in people. Just being near the atmosphere of a race makes you want to be part of it. I love the energy and anticipation of the start line; how spectators cheer, not just for their loved ones, but every runner; the encouragement other runners give you when you are struggling through late race kilometres. This last one really hit home to me at the ATB race in March. I’ve read a lot about “hitting the wall.” Until ATB, I’d never experienced it (turns out it’s not just about being really, really tired). By about kilometre 25 I began feeling pain in both my quads and calves. I ran (and walked) on, determined to finish, adjusting my stride and running on the outside of my feet just to prevent muscles giving out on me. In the final stretch, winding beside Copps Coliseum, my right calf finally seized up completely. Less than 200 metres from the finish. I was agonizingly close, but I couldn’t put any weight on it my leg, and the pain was intense. I leaned on the crowd barrier, trying to stretch it out and get it to unclench. Spectators and runners who had already finished yelled encouragement and pounded on my shoulders, yelling “the finish line is right there! Stretch that thing out. Get going!” Finally, I managed to loosen it just enough to move again. I still couldn’t put weight on it, but I was able to limp that final 200 metres around the back of Copps, down the short hill to the back entrance and finally across one of the coolest finish lines in racing. That added bit of encouragement from the crowd really helped. That’s what running is about. Community, spirit, cooperation, and strength. It wasn’t just the city of Boston that was attacked April 25. It was the entire community of runners and the human spirit the marathon itself is all about. Running the STWM is, in my small way, a way of showing solidarity with the community of runners and all those who were directly impacted by the Boston bombings. And to show my defiance to the bombers; that their actions will never stop us from pushing the bounds of what we are all capable of as individuals and together. It’s the best way I know how to stand side by side with those affected. By Michael Oliphant, Director of Public Affairs

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