February 20, 2009

My First Ever Race, 'The Tele Ten'

K, this was initially supposed to be a blog about my new favorite shoes, but I just found out something absolutely HUGE five minutes ago,

MY DAD IS FLYING OUT TO HELP SUPPORT ME DURING WESTERN STATES!!!


I love my folks dearly and it's never been easy living in B.C. while my family is almost 8,000km away in Newfoundland. Flights home are rare and expensive, and in the thirteen years since I've left home, I have only managed an average return trip once every eighteen months. A lot happens in a year and a half, especially when I have a thirteen year old niece who grows like a weed. In those thirteen years my parents have only managed a trip out West once, and I was living in Banff, Alberta at the time. This is truly a THRILL for me to now know that my Dad will be there cheering me on and helping to dull the pain as the miles add up on June 27th!

Quick story...there's always a story...When I was seventeen I started hitting the gym and managed to loose twenty pounds of fat and put on a few pounds of muscle (I later located all of that lost fat and more during my party years in Banff a few years later of course). There is a local road race in St. John's called 'The Tele Ten', now in its 81st year! I was feeling fit and decided to sign up for the event. I had never run. I told myself I would train for the race. I ran once and decided that I didn't like running so simply kept hitting the gym instead. The night before the race I started freaking out and decided on a whim to run laps at the local indoor track. I looped for 45m before I was convinced that I'd be fine in the following days race.

7:45am the following morning. Random stranger to me,

"So what's your P.R.?"

"P who?"

"Your best time?"

"Oh, umm, never run before."

"First ever race?"

"Yup."

"Ten miles is a good start!"

"No, I'm only here for the ten k."

"There is no ten k, it ten miles!"

As I started to freak out,
"Ummm, no, no, no, this is Nfld, we do kms, this is a ten km race...right?"

"Nope ten miles my friend."

"Well HOW MANY kilometers is that?!!!"

"Sixteen."

"Six-who...are you FREAKIN SERIOUS!!"

And with that I began my first ever running experience. I made it all of one full km before I got a stitch so bad that I could not breath. I started to walk but it didn't subside. I had to come to a full halt in the middle of the road. I had blazed off the starting line, and was now acting like a giant 'road cone' as people peeled around both sides of me. The occasional runner offered words of support,

"C'mon, get your feet moving again. You can do it."

If I could have mustered up enough air to breath I would have repeated every known profanity in my then seventeen years of existence.

I didn't know what to do, I most certainly did not think that I had any chance of completing this damn thing, and I was trying to look for the quickest way to disappear off of the face of the earth. When I looked up, all I saw was my Dad running towards me. I was only expecting him to be at the finish line. I know that he most certainly was not embarrassed for me, but that's all I felt at that moment. I had told plenty of people that I was 'running' this 'race', as had my Father. I managed to finally suck down enough air to again stand upright, and I immediately started slowly moving my feet again. My Dad had a water bottle in his hand and simply told me to "drink"!

The course was marked at each km and my body slowly accepted the torture I was forcing upon it. I don't think I even noticed an aid station, mostly because I had my very own rolling aid station. Every time that the road started to beat me down and make me question my own ability to finish, my Dad would magically appear from the side of the road, bottle in hand, and then match me stride for stride.

"Drink!"

I honestly don't think I could have made it through the race without his constant and selfless support. I vividly remember that there were no course markings for kms fourteen and fifteen. Having never run before I had no idea at the distance we were covering and my mind was freaking out, 'this is the longest kilometer in the history of mankind!!'

I was in a pack of runners, and I knew nothing about the sixteen km course except where it finished. As I looked up I saw what appeared to be the last turn on the course,

"Is that?"

Six people in unison,

"Yeeeesss"

And with that I was off! I sprinted the last five hundred meters to the line like my own ass was on fire. More than anything I just wanted the pain to end and I thought crossing the finish line would accomplish this...umm, yeah, I couldn't walk straight for a week afterwards and not five minutes after I finished my legs cramped up so bad that I very literally fell over and was on the verge of tears!

My Dad had been there cheering me in, and he embraced me in congratulations as I had completed my first...and then I thought, last...ever running event...oh how a persons perspective can change throughout their life!!

If I remember correctly my finish time was 1h12m38s...I'd be interested to confirm that but I can't find any evidence of it online...I'm pretty sure it's burned into my brain pretty accurately though.

It was four more years before I even attempted running again, and ten before I started taking it seriously, but honestly, all I remember from that day is the bond that I shared with my Father. On June 27th 2009, fourteen years and eleven months almost to the day, we get to do it all over again!! This time however, I actually know the distance going into the race...funny how ten miles once scared me!

I love ya Dad, and I couldn't be more thankful to have you sharing in my first ever Western States experience. I'm already counting down the days...just remember one thing Dad...don't let me forget to drink!

GR

6 comments:

Heather said...

awww, what a nice blog...and nice dad! I hear ya, my husband ran the track ONCE about 10 yrs ago and whined about hating running. Now HE is the one loving 20+ mile runs. What gets us here when others quit? Its probably something dysfunctional. Don't care cuz we are all enjoying the journey-especially you!

mo said...

That is a very touching story :) How wonderful that he will be at western.

I have been thinking of switching my garmin to kms so it looks like I've been running longer. You Canadians have the right idea!

René Jeninga said...

I still don't know what your favorite new shoes are...Just kidding! Great that your dad is comming to support you!

garobbins said...

Very, VERY, exciting indeed!

I hear ya, 160km does sound WAY cooler than 100 miles.

HAHA, fav shoes are coming soon, figured I should actually run in them before talking them through the roof!
GR

Aaron said...

Sweet story Mr. Robbins.

garobbins said...

Thank you Mr. Heidt, and I look forward to leading you in a friendly trail tour of Lynn Valley in a few weeks time!
GR