21 km of The Big Land: My First Half Marathon

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Since I started running, almost 10 years ago while on the swim team during high school, I was never fully committed. I’d go through bursts of running 3-4 days a week, building up endurance and then lose interest for months, usually during the winter months. Towards the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to become a stronger runner and that I wanted to train for a half-marathon. At that point I was in my “not-overly-interested” phases, so I joined a gym so I could train during the cold winter evenings and know that I was paying to work out to help motivate me.

At the same time, my Dad was just starting to take up running as well, so I suggested to both run the Trapline Half Marathon the following fall. We both stuck to our goal, trained hard all spring and summer and last week we ran our first 21 km race!

It was a cold and crisp day, which is only what you’d expect in Labrador, and a perfect day for a run. The first half of the race is outside of town on a long stretch of road surrounded by nature. It got pretty quiet on that first 10 km, so Dad and I stuck together to help keep each other on pace and stay motivated. Running the Trapline was so different from other races that I’ve done where there are people on the sidelines cheering you on the whole way. For most of the Trapline it’s just you and the sound of your feet hitting the pavement. It’s a great time to focus and not let the hype of doing a big race get into your head.

After the first 10 km I decided to run ahead and see if I could catch up to a few people that passed us earlier in the run. For about a kilometre there was literally nobody around me and I wondered how far ahead of me the other runners actually were.

Finally, as I started up the last hill I started to see some of the 10 km runners that had started earlier. Seeing other people and finally coming back into town after running 12 km through the sticks really helped motivate me.

Because I took the first 11 km a bit slower than my typical pace, I felt like I had a lot leftover for the second half. The terrain was completely flat, so it wasn’t hard to stay fast. Once I got into down there was a little bit more excitement with volunteers and other supporters on the road to cheer you on. At the mark for the last 3 kms there was even a family with a bongo drum and a toy accordion cheering everyone on. I even caught up to and passed some of the people that had passed us earlier on.

 

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The race finished at Kinsmen Park, and the above photo is me coming down the home stretch to the finish line. I was ecstatic to see my sister and friends right at the turn-off to the finish line, although they didn’t recognize me right away because I had a hat on, and I had to wave and shout at them to get them to realize it was me.

I was hoping to run between a 2:05 and a 2:15 and I ended up finishing at 2:13 – not bad! I also knew that I could have done the first half of the race a little faster, so I feel confident that my next race could be 2:00 or 2:05.

 

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After I finished and got something to drink it wasn’t long before Dad turned up, finishing with 2:28, and reaching his goal of doing the race in under two and a half hours. The post-race event featured traditional Labradorian theme foods like toutons, pea soup, and moose stew but unfortunately my stomach just wasn’t up for very much! I had two toutons and some water after spending a few minutes in the stretching tent to cool down a little bit.

Overall, it was an awesome day. The weather was perfect, the race went incredibly smoothly, the volunteers were outstanding, and the post-race food was great (and free for everyone – not just runners!) I was so impressed by the amazing job the running club in Goose Bay did for organizing the event. For a small town to completely sell out a race of 300 participants is a great accomplishment for the community!

I took the past week off from running to recover a little bit, but I’m already excited to begin training again for my next half marathon (and possibly a triathlon in the future? We’ll see!).

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