Today was a very good day.
I woke at 6 AM to the easy strains of my cellphone’s alarm and the cool darkness of an early east coast autumn.
Rufus and Simon – my mum’s two ragdoll cats – skittered into my room, eager to investigate my pre-dawn activities. Simon jumped on the bed and looked at me, his amber eyes still. Rufus mewled, rubbing his head against my leg.
I had laid out my race gear the night before – shirt, shorts, socks, bra, all stacked neatly on the chair in my bedroom. As I crept downstairs, I was careful to avoid the creakiest stair. I made it to the spare bathroom on tiptoe, where I brushed my teeth and washed my face. The last thing I wanted to do was wake my mum as I prepared for the day.
I am particular about my pre-race routine.
Clothing, face, hair, coffee, food, water.
It doesn’t matter how far or important the race – I find great comfort in this ritual.
Together with my cousin David – who was also running the race – I ate a bagel with peanut butter and watched as the rising sun softly kissed our backyard trees, leaving their leaves aglow in a golden green.
When mum woke she joined us, and we sat and joked about all-natural nut butters.
Before we left, she took this great photo of Dave and I:
As we drove out to the Musquodoboit Trailway, we listened to the CBC and shared with each other our favourite programs and hosts. We’re both big fans of As It Happens, This Is That, The Current and Day Six.
When we arrived, we picked up Dave’s race bib at the registration desk. Although the start line was splashed with sunshine, a tricky wind immediately cut through any lingering warmth we had carried with us from Dave’s truck.
For half an hour we joked and laughed and sipped water and used the porta-potties for the last time.
When the starting gun sounded, my feet were halfway numb.
I am always afraid of going out to fast. Time and again my need for speed has proven to be my Achilles’ heel, but today I decided to go for it.
And I’m glad that I did.
I ran a personal best of 41:03. I was the first woman and sixth overall.
I love running.
I love running purely and truly, and have written at length about this love.
But I also love to see others learn to love to run.
I love to see someone cross the finish line for the first time. See them marvel at their strength. Their resilience.
Revel in the depth of their heart.
In a brief moment, they are unrivaled amazement and awe.
Today was Dave’s first race, and he was extraordinary. When he first signed up he made a goal of finishing in less than one hour. He smashed that, completing the course in 58:18.
He told me prior to the start that he didn’t intend on doing any more races. This was pure bucket-list.
Less than one hour later?
I believe his words were something along the lines of, “I cannot wait to do that again.”
Before heading home to Halifax, we stopped at Martinique Beach.
Today, this stretch of the eastern shore seemed to burn extra bright.
A horizon of the sweetest blue, speckled with fat clouds. The brilliant sun.
White sand. Dunes that danced.
A fall air that burned our lungs and stung our cheeks.
And in that moment, I forgot everything: I forgot uncertainty and fear. I forgot that life can be unfairly underpinned by sickness and a suffocating sense of helplessness.
I forgot distance and longing.
I felt the sun.
And I thought: I cannot wait to do this again.