"I don't know what your reasons are for doing this, but our son died when he was 3 and a half of cancer, so thank you"
This exchange took place right as the race started, it shook me hard enough that I didn't even get a picture of Lexie taking off. I didn't even see the start, I was unsuccessful at fighting back the tears that came. Whatever anxiety I was feeling dissipated as I knew whatever pain I was in for that day would never compare to what she had been through. I didn't even remember her name, something I feel terrible for, but I know I'll never forget that exchange.
After I spent some time trying to negotiate that exchange in my head, it was time to get going. Jonelle and I wanted to be sure we got to the first exchange early enough to give Lexie directions and get the cheer train started. So we headed out of the starting area and started our long trip north to Blue Mountain. We passed the runners, and the excitement started. I could feel the energy and it was great. We stopped near the first exchange to give Lex the directions she needed and to cheer her on, it was good because we got to see her twice. She looked great
This is as good of a time as any to thank Jonelle. She gave up her whole Saturday (which is a big sacrifice for someone that works as hard as her) to support us. She provided us with all the help and encouragement we needed, she even took some video and pictures that I hope to share on here soon. So thanks, Jonelle, we couldn't have got to Blue, without you.
Lexie did a great job, and as we waited for her at the 50km mark, I was so proud of her, but also slightly jealous as she was now done this feat we had trained for, and I was staring down the barrel of it.
Because there was no exchange point at 50km, so we exchanged about 3km shy of one of the exchange points.
|Getting Ready to go. She looks great for a 50k finisher, no?|
My next leg was 7km, after which I was planning on meeting Lexie and Jonelle to replenish my water and grab some snickers (that's right, 50K run = lots of candy). This leg actually flew by, it was a little hilly, but the rain that plagued Lexie had stopped, I had hit my stride and I felt great. I was clicking off 10 minute miles with ease. Near the end of this leg some kind gentleman flew by me with some encouraging words like "We are are almost there" and"Only one more kilometre". I just played along, had to save my energy. I also saw the lady mentioned at the start of this post. She rolled down her window and yelled "You're KILLING it Leigh!" That put a smile on my face that took a while to wear off.
I hit the exchange, grabbed my new bottles and food, and bolted. Then it got fun. Compared to Lexie's legs, mine were all relatively flat. But this 9+ km leg was rated a 4/5 for difficulty. Which as it turned out, mother nature promptly bumped up to a 5/5. This leg was LONG and HILLY. Which was fine by me, because long was the name of the game that day. However, it was also during this leg that the temperature dropped 7-8 degrees and it was pouring a nice cold rain. Now as you already know, I'm not nearly as tough as Lexie, so this was difficult for me. Although the leg was difficult, I felt good throughout. At one point my hamstrings were doing some kind of cramp they never had before, which was scary for a minute but after about 10 minutes it stopped, and thankfully never returned. The last KM of this leg was mercifully a long downhill. The next transition was kind of funny, I had hit 20K and my legs were starting to feel it, but as I saw Lexie hobble across the road with my water I realized that I was a long way from sore. I grabbed my water and a PB&J sandwich and carried on my way to Stayner, where if you don't know, they make vinegar.
The next leg was perfect. It was all sorts of flat and the rain stopped about 10 minutes in. About half of the 6K took place on a trail in Stayner. It was during this leg that I passed a couple of people, which gave me a bit of a boost because I meant I must have still been running fairly strong. I also had a fun exchange with a guy right near the end of this leg. He ran by me, I smiled and said hi, then a look for recognition cross his face. "Are you running 2 legs?" he asked. "50K" I said. He responded with a quick "You're Crazy" and took off ahead of me. I laughed, I guess I was a little crazy. The leg finished at a school where a whole crew was waiting for me. Lucas, Cooper, Jonelle, Lexie, Oma, Grandpa, TJ, Lesley, Avery, Brooke, Jeremy, Eliza, Grace, and even my dogphew Henry. I was pleased to see them, but by then I had run 26K was getting tired and REALLY needed to pee, so I said a quick Hello and took off for the potty. I was looking forward to this exchange because it had been decided earlier that TJ, my brother-in-law would join me for the next 12K (which was actually longer) leg. Lesley had run with Lexie for a while so I was looking forward to the company.
|Heading to the potty!|
|Support Crew waiting for me at the exchange. Jonelle took the photo!|
|TJ and I on our way out|
|Don't get scared now!|
|The crew that ran me in for the last 100 metres|
|Get those Calories in!|
Now, one would think that after 44ish KM, 6 would seem like nothing, but I'll tell you what, those 6 were the hardest work I had ever done. The first 3 were a straight shot down a loooooong path. It seemed like forever by the time I had got the end of the path where the "Halfway" sign was. A nice volunteer was there and I blurted out "Is this really halfway?", he responded with a chipper "Yep, you are almost there!" I think we had our signals crossed because what I meant was "Are you $#@#ing serious, I still have THREE KILOMETRES TO GO!". The last three KM were on some familiar roads around Blue Mountain. I will save you the details, but the recurring theme of this part of the leg involved me turning a corner thinking it was the end, only to find something other than the finish line ahead. It was on this leg that I thought a lot about the exchange I had at the start line. I thought a lot about the pain that families go through losing a child. I thought a lot about Cooper and how lucky we are to have him healthy and with us. I knew the pain I was in was nothing compared to the pain people feel every day when they lose a child. I knew we were the lucky parents who took their boy home from Sick Kids, and the least we could do was give back.
I finally turned onto the road that leads into the Blue Mountain village. I could hear cheering and smell BBQ and knew I was near the end. I turned a corner and saw what I had been dreaming of for the last 49.6KM; Lexie standing on the road waiting to run with me to the finish. As I approached, she crossed the road and joined me and we headed for the finished line. I again fought the urge to ugly cry and instead asked Lexie somewhere between 100-200 times if we were "there yet". As a side note, as I approached her I also saw Jonelle running towards the village. It turns out I had surprised them and arrived a little earlier than anticipated. All turned out fine though, and as we approached the village, there was Grandpa with my boys. I was about to do it. I grabbed Lucas' hand and we ran the last 100 metres to the finish line. I was exhausted and sore, but it was a great feeling. Crossing that line was the culmination of a lot of things, and the feeling was surreal.
|Smiles of gratitude|
Still to come: Post Race party, Custom Tshirts, Thanks, and more!