Around the Bay – The Run and the Art

ATB print

As many of you know, I ran Around the Bay 30km road race as a training run for the Mudcat Marathon that I had planned to be participating in tomorrow…the day before Mother’s Day.  This was to be my second full marathon, and this time I have completed most of the recommended training, although I have also been battling an injury.  Due to the injury, and the missed runs or had lesser quality runs for fear of worsening the injury, I have decided to drop down and run the half marathon instead.  This was a difficult decision, as I was looking forward to running a full marathon surrounded by my friends and running family.  I am looking forward to the small town feeling, the time in my own head, as well as knowing I can do this.

What many don’t know is that this journey began at Around the Bay, last year, 2017.

In March of 2017, I ran a 2 person relay in Around the Bay…running 15km, as a training race for my first half marathon.  It is amazing having such an iconic run, being the oldest road race in North America, in my hometown.  What I hadn’t experienced until this race, was the strong sense of community among runners.  I was (and still am) a member of the Stoney Creek Run Club, and have made many friends there.  I have always felt supported and encouraged.  But it was at this run, as I waited at the finish line and cheered for people coming in, that I truly felt the emotion and sense of family.  I was so excited for and proud of the people that had completed this amazing feat.  30km sounded out of reach to me at that time.  But seeing some of the members of my run club coming in toward the end of the race, showed me that it really is about completing the run, and not about time.  And since time doesn’t really matter, maybe, just maybe, I too could do this.

This was reinforced at the inaugural Mudcat Marathon in May of 2017.  Some of the people that had moved me at Around the Bay, were truly inspiring as I watched them cross the finish line of their first full marathon!  They did it!  Slow and steady!  What struck me the most, and I know this sounds odd, was that they were in obvious pain and discomfort in the end.  But the did it…they ran the finish line.  These ladies gave me permission to struggle in my runs.  They showed me that running isn’t easy, and that I don’t have to look and feel fresh and strong all of the time, especially after a marathon.  They showed me that it is ok to feel pain, and want to quit, and yet that it is possible to keep going.  That it is worth continuing to move forward, one step at a time.  Marathon’s aren’t pretty.  They are hard.  The distance must be respected or it will beat you.  That day, these ladies beat the marathon. 42.2km…taken down.  The sense of accomplishment, the pride, the empowerment, every emotion could be felt after that run.  These ladies became my heroes.

And it was then that I decided that I would train for a marathon, and do the full Around the Bay.  And it was this experience of being surrounded by my running family that lead me to the Mudcat Marathon.  This was intended to be my first marathon, but some amazing circumstances came up and the stars aligned and I ran in the New York City Marathon in November 2017.  I trained and travelled on my own, but it was my running family that got me through.  I drew strength and confidence from their encouraging words, and I kept their successes close to my heart for inspiration.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect, I just needed to keep moving forward.

But there is no point in hurting myself.  I have many other plans for runs and experiences this summer, that I need and want to be strong and healthy for.  So although I was feeling a bit defeated, like I had failed my training, I know that a part of being a good athlete is being smart, and knowing when to push through and when to pull back and listen to your body.  My body has been screaming slow down for months.  It’s about time I listened before it forces me to stop entirely.

This print was a gift for registering for the 125th anniversary Around the Bay road race, in 2019.  It was painted by Dylan Swan, a local artist who created a painting at every kilometer of this iconic race.  I absolutely LOVE this print.  The colours, the movement in the brush strokes, the painterly effect, and the comforting feeling of  familiarity and home.  I run this area by the bridges often.  And marking the 15km mark, the half way point of the race, means so much more to me now having completed it.  By this point I felt strong and wonderful.  I felt like I had this race under control.  Little did I know that after 8 more kms, I would fall into self doubt, but that’s another story.  I did finish, and this point was monumental.

So I framed this print and have it hanging in my living room…To remind me of my strength and resilience.  And to remind me that inspiration is all around me.  I run and I paint for the same reason…self care.  What better way to bring it all together than with a painting of a run?!

Do you find you are drawn to artists and styles similar to your own or very different?  I LOVE this style, and aspire to paint more loosely like this, using colour and brush stroke to portray emotion.  I am learning and practicing.  And this print makes me happy on so many levels.

Cheers!  Wish me luck for tomorrow!

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