So there’s a Greek, a Scot, a Brit and a couple of Canadians….
Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?
Well, it was no joke. This run was serious from the get-go.
Bloody Halifax and its hills and its runners – nothing’s easy about this place.
I showed up Tuesday night for the Halifax Running Club’s regular semi-weekly jaunt.
That was my first mistake.
Who’s there? Well Nick, of course.
Now you might remember Nick from my recent post, In which I add endurance.
Nick is the one who sadistically kept notching up the pace, while controlling his breathing so that essentially you don’t hear a thing.
What you do hear is the Ah-HAH, Ah-HAH of your own breath – but from Nick, nothing.
So, it’s Tuesday, and there’s Nick and another skinny guy – like that’s good news – this Scot named Kevin, whose accent is so thick I can only understand every 18th word – not that it matters, because I don’t have the breath to reply to him, anyway.
But like Nick, Kevin is a nice guy. Oh, he’ll chat your ear off while you’re trying to pull the final vestiges of breath from the deep recesses of your lungs. Kevin owns a 2:43 marathon time, among the 75 he’s run. More to the point, he’s tough as nails, but only shows it in the run.
Joining us is Ian Blokland. More good news! Ian is visiting from out west. He’s run marathons in the low 2:20s before and – surprise! – loves to gab while he runs.
Oh, and Frank is back.
You might recall Frank.
In my post on returning to Halifax and running, Frank crushed me and then gleefully boasted about it after.
And now here he is, energetic and fresh despite having run a half-marathon two days earlier and shaving seven minutes off his PB.
Did I mention that all day it’d been pouring off and on, sort of like someone would flick and the switch and – bang! – water would smash down from the sky and soak everyone and everything.
It began innocently enough.
We left the Tim Hortons on Barrington in Halifax’s South End and started up Inglis, an immediate sharp hill.
Right away I was uncomfortable, but for some reason I was up front with Nick, and damned if I was going to show any pain. I gritted my teeth and made small talk. Very small talk. Actually, sort of teeny-tiny talk, like, monosyllables and grunts.
We run over to Beaufort St. “There’s some rolling hills coming up,” Nick unnecessarily warns me.
I step up the pace.
Beaufort merges into Oxford St, a long, very long, gradual uphill, with a bit of a tilt at the start. Ron, another runner, pulls up. I push – hard. He stays even. I push harder. He’s gone. Nick isn’t. He’s with me, and I can hear the others breathing – oh, hell no – talking, behind me.
We keep hitting traffic lights running up Oxford. Nick complains how hard it is to stop and start. I know what he means, but I don’t say a word. Suffer, Nick, suffer.
Who am I kidding? We haven’t hit five km yet and I’m the one suffering. But I’m still up in front.
We finally hit the North End and head over to Agricola Street, before getting ready to head back down.
At some point Ian comments what a hardcore group this is; he’s not talking about the running, but rather the fact that we’ll lunge out across red lights, narrowly avoiding horrible accidents, all in the name of keeping the pace.
The pace. The pace is what you’d call rich. My lungs are taxed. My legs screaming for relief.
I’m having a hell of a time.
I’m loosening up, relaxing and beginning to enjoy this.
We hit Brunswick Street and someone yells, “Your favourite street, Charles,” a reference to my post on endurance, in which that street went on forever and into the future.
Today is different though. I’m enjoying this.
The rain starts to pound down.
We fly down the street, on the home stretch now.
I know that at least three runners in the group could drop me if they wanted, but I don’t care. I’m happy with this one. I’ve suffered; we had fun. We ran our faces off.
I’m ready to do it all over again.