Reflections of a First Race By: Margie

What should I wear? How early should I get there? How will I pace myself? So many questions as I prepare myself for my first race, Harry’s 8K at High Park. I arrive on scene to find people everywhere, heading toward the corrals, checking bags, lined up for the portables.  My eyes scan the crowd for members of TPW. I feel momentarily lonely. I miss the camaraderie of my group. But then I realize that walking is also for the self. Self-confidence. Self-awareness. In the end each person must “walk the distance? as an individual. So I find my way to my corral and eagerly join the hundreds of other people waiting to start.
Suddenly we’re off! We surge through the starting gate! Everyone around me is running, flowing past me both right and left, boxing me in. I am tempted to get swept up in the momentum, but I remember my commitment is to walking, not running, so I resist.  Soon they are far ahead, a bobbing, weaving collage of colliding but united colours against black pavement, an abstract painting in party mode. They turn a corner and are suddenly gone.
Momentarily alone on the path, I feel the music of the bands, first ahead, then receding as I leave them behind. I hear Sue et al cheering and waving from the sidelines. Then Phyllis and eventually Lee.  All is motivation and energy. I am now overtaking some of the runners who passed me earlier. Suddenly we participants are all asked to move over for those who are “doubling back?.  How did they get so far so quickly? I experience a pang of jealousy. Never mind, I tell myself. Let it go. Stay focused.
A momentary pause at Grenadier Pond as I approach an inviting bench facing the sparkling water. Don’t stop. Keep going. I am tired now, but manage to catch up to Sherry and Mary. We laugh and exchange hello’s. We reach the 7k mark and I am dreading what I know lies ahead. The path inclines upward, first gently, and then suddenly there it is before me – the hill – looming as steep and forbidding as a mountain. Sherry and Mary shift into high gear, making it look easy. I fall behind. I have lost my energy and stability. I’m hunched forward, barely lifting my feet as I stumble onward. I have not paced myself properly. I don’t have anything left. But wait! The volunteers ahead have noticed my faltering. “You can do it!? they cry. “Come on,? they shout, “You are almost there!?  They hold out their arms for high-fives. Pride takes over. I do not want to disappoint them – or myself.  I can – must – do this. I stand tall, lift my feet and position my arms for momentum. The volunteers burst into wild cheers and applause as I stride through them. What a glorious moment. I reach the summit, turn right, and there it is – the finish line. I push through, exhausted and exhilarated. I am grinning as Sherry, Mary and I collect our medals. I grin again as we pose for a picture. I did it! I can’t wait to do it again!
Mary, Sherry and Margie – with hats and medals

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