Sunday, October 16, 2016

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon 2016 Race Report

Running happy at mile 7-ish with Jeannine.
Photo credit Fern Berard
"Good-morning, and welcome to race day..." the 5:00 AM cheery email from our much loved race director Jonathan Torchia.  I smiled through groggy eyes and thought "does this man ever sleep?" and stepped into the hot shower.

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

The 5th annual WFPS half marathon (5km 10km) has set a new standard for Winnipeg road races. Jonathan and crew ditched the old blueprints and built a race from the ground up. This race, this event, this spectacular happening, helped make today a memory.

A memory of smiles and cheers, and sweat and humanity.  A memory of laughter and camaraderie. A memory of tears and hurt, and pain, and happiness.  A memory of success and disappointment. A memory of hot coffee and Johnny Sticky buns. A memory of Ted Swain, Joanne Schiewe, and Barry Gordon. A memory of port-a-potty (knees held tight) line-ups. A memory of all things beautiful, all people moving, all people running. A memory positive energy within in a misogynistic era of Trump hatefulness.

Thanks be to this memory of positive energy.

This memory will sustain us as we travel through this cataclysmic time event called life.

Some whine and complain and follow a path of desolation while we run and hoot and holler.

We are the lucky ones.

Life is complicated, running is simple.

I'm sorry for being so rosy and all-blush. I've been accused of going through life with rose coloured glasses many times and admittedly it's curse and a weakness. However, I've come to understand in my 6th decade that it is a virtue and a strength.

I had the distinct honour of pacing the 2 hour group with my friend Paul. Paul ran with 10/1 walk breaks and I paced the 2 hour continuous run. We were simply magical in out timing. I passed him on his walk breaks and he passed me moments later. This leap frog continued 13 times to the finish line. We accommodated the diversity of the group and we crossed the finish line within seconds of one another.  There is no first, there is only together.

Life is complicated, running is simple.
Two of my favourite runners, Connie and Darcie (aka Death Star).
Photo credit Facebook image
There were a number of amazing water stations but mile 8 and 12 stand out for their sheer energy. The volunteers were completely extraordinary.  The noise and smiles and cheers were intoxicating and flooded the brain with oxygen and endorphins. We surge forward on fresh legs with strength and fluidity (is that a word?).

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

Junel Malapad and See Mike Run
photos credit Junel selfie
My friends sustain me and give meaning to life.  Junel, ever present with a camera and warmth, snaps a quick selfie  and captures a sliver of life... like water through our hands, a sliver of life.... all gone but the memory.

"I do not want to See Mike Run" says a pesky Tim and then adds with a wink, "for the best running friend ever" and we laugh as children at recess.

A stranger, a young woman, ran by my side for 13.1 miles depending on me to deliver a sub-two hour pace.  We soared over the magic line at 1:59:44. We hugged at the finish line as old friends, and yet I do not know her name.  A man my age sought me out and thanked me for my pace and we hugged as brothers.  The countless high-fives and hugs, and smiles make me whole.

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

Let me tell you a secret, but don't tell Jonathan.  Four years ago I received a phone call from Jonathan.  He told me that, due to logistics, he had to change the date of the WFPS to the same weekend as Ted's Run for Literacy. He apologized profusely and was genuinely concerned how this conflict would impact TRL.  He cared enough to call and discuss options and offer solutions when many would not have extended the same courtesy.  I respected his integrity and sincerity then as I do now.  Ted's Run for Literacy is a teeny event compared to the WFPS and yet he was concerned with our bottom line.  That my friends is the definition of integrity.

So my friends, be it known how I love you all.  You bring me joy. You make me whole. You are my people.

Next time our paths cross yell out "I do not want to See Mike Run" and I will laugh.

It's a good day to be alive.