Some of you may know this, but I’m originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia and I like to visit home at least once a year if I can make it happen. I usually visit in the spring or during the holidays because that’s the way it works out, but I tell you, I would much rather visit in the summer. Halifax can’t be beat during the summer and early fall, so beautiful and festive – you really should visit if you can! So this year I booked my trip a few months ago for the May long weekend, but would you believe it took me till about 5 days before to realize that I would be home during the very popular Blue Nose Marathon?! I have no idea why it took me so long to clue in, but once I realized it, I had to sign up. I managed to squeeze in my registration on the last day online, grimacing a little about the cost of waiting until the last minute. I definitely like to register for races ahead of time to save $$ (for more races), but I just couldn’t miss this one in my home town!
I got to Halifax the Thursday before the race and did the usual – spent time with one of my good friends and checked out some familiar sites. I’ve always been a tourist in my own city and how can you not be when you’re right next to the ocean? Seriously, I could sit on the waterfront for hours just listening to the water and people watching.
Friday morning I got myself up and ready to go to the Expo. This is when I started to get really excited for my first race in my home town (I wasn’t a runner when I lived in Halifax). So many happy and excited runners wandering around the expo and I can’t forget to mention the awesome volunteers. There’s just something about Halifax, when I visit there from Toronto I really see how friendly Maritimers can be. I greatly enjoyed this expo and not just because I got to try some chocolate avocado mousse (SO GOOD). There were lots of vendor booths, food samples, and friendly people around to really make the experience enjoyable. I even got my picture taken with the race mascot! :D Packet pick up was a breeze and I was even able to exchange my t-shirt size easily. I don’t normally do that, but I really want to wear this shirt when I am out training in Toronto and Calgary.
The night before the race I probably didn’t really need to carb load, but my aunt made a huge bowl of delicious potato salad for our BBQ dinner so I pretty much ate all of it. It was for the greater good of running, you can’t blame me for that!
The morning of the race I got myself up nice and early and enjoyed my usual quiet ritual of getting ready and having breakfast. My grandparents did not get up at 6am to join me, but I can’t blame them… I may be a little running crazy. :) I had to hop on transit to make my way down to the ol’ Metro Centre (close to the start line), so I am very glad that transit fees were free if you showed your race bib. Such a nice bonus, really! Once I arrived, I did a little people watching and then I was able to check my bag easily before getting myself ready to head to the start line.
The morning was a little cool and it started to rain while we were waiting to take off at the start, but the atmosphere was fun and vibrant. People were laughing, chatting, and having a good time despite the little bit of rain. I really enjoyed this relaxed and fun vibe, which I normally don’t experience before races in Toronto (why is everyone so tense here? ;) ). Someone from GoodLife Fitness came out on the stage and even got us all dancing and jumping to the music to keep warm – so much fun! But then it was time to get serious, it was time to race my fellow Bluenosers to the finish… but ya know, still have fun and all that. ;)
The rain literally stopped as the race started and we were set off into the streets of downtown Halifax. I was amped up and really feeding off all of the excitement, so I took off ready to give it my best for this race. I’ll mention that I did not have my running watch with me, which I worried about at first but this actually became freeing as I tackled the kilometres feeling confident and strong. My biggest challenge was climbing up the MacDonald Bridge going back towards Halifax nearing the end of the race. I was a little tired and did have to walk for about 30 seconds, but after that it was ON. With no watch, plenty of hills, and my own determination I managed to come in with a 10K PB at 53:12!! I can’t express my excitement about this in the proper words. I felt strong for most of the race, I had a good stride going on, and the cheering crowds were the icing on the cake when it came to pushing me along. The support on the streets in Halifax and Dartmouth was amazing. I felt a new level of pride for my home town as everyone came together early on a cloudy Sunday morning to cheer on all these crazy runners. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun at a race. Star Wars Half was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about running in your home town that just makes your heart explode with pride and love.
After giving it my all, I was so happy to cross the finish line and then get my medal from a Twitter/Instagram friend (@crazymamaruns) that I had been wanting to meet. She was awesome and friendly to me in my post-race delirium, which I appreciated. When you go to races alone it’s nice to run into people you “know”. :)
After the race I went into the Metro Centre to get my food and bag and then I basically sat in the stands people watching for at least an hour. It was nice to see everyone so happy and congratulating each other, I just didn’t want to leave. I wanted to soak up as much of the race excitement that I could before heading home. I stretched. I enjoyed the music. And I basked in the camaraderie. Halifax, you made me feel at home again. What a great morning.
Once I finally left the Metro Centre and walked around downtown it was nice to see how many people were congratulating complete strangers, so of course I did that too. When I got on the bus to head home we were all acknowledging each other and having a quick chat about the morning too. Even the bus driver asked me about my race. Got to love that! The Maritime charm is still there if you allow yourself to see it. :)
Overall, I had a fantastic morning at the Blue Nose Marathon 10K and I certainly hope I will be back again. Most likely to take on the hilly half marathon, because the extra challenge will be fun, right? Thanks for a great race Blue Nose Marathon, this was one to be remembered.
A huge thank you to all the workers, police, volunteers, and vendors for putting on such an amazing race weekend in Halifax. And to the runners – you were all awesome!