In honor of Devon I decided to run the Prague 1/2 marathon. I decided in early February
that running, something I love, and in Prague for Devon, would be something I could feel good about in honoring his memory and the importance he had in my life. Although the course went through a lot of areas he and I never went together there were a lot of places that we did share time in, and running through these, Malstranska, the Jewish Quarter, along the Vltava river and being cheered on by our friends, was exactly what I wanted and turned out better than imagined.
Although the entire work week was sunny and warm, Saturday called for rain, wind and cooler temperatures. The rain came in the night and cooled the city down and the only poor weather I struggled with was the extreme wind by the river and running against it the last 8 or so kilometers.
The course started in the Jewish Quarter at Palach Square and went south along the river to Vyserhrad, the smaller version of the Prague castle and across to the Staropramin brewery, then up north passing below the castle and into the more industrial part of Prague. This was near to the finish and passed through the flood plane which was completely covered in the 2001 flood. A lot of the buildings haven't been fixed and were sort of an eery thing to see at the end when I was really struggling against the wind and dogging the runners who were stopping and the sky began to look ominous.
My good friends in Prague made me a sign that got laughs from more than one English speaker along the course. "Look at Carrie move that ASS, who knew she could run so FAST" They live near to the national theater which I passed by twice on my run, and they were an amazing support system. At the end they were front and center as I ran my last 20 yards to the finish line, and they brought along our French friends who were far more vocal and loud than a lot of the other supporters, or so it seemed to me. I was overjoyed at the welcome party they all created for me.
I ran the race alone, in part to honor Devon, and also to in some way have a connection to him. Although I ran alone, the city was quite alive and there was so much camaraderie throughout that I never felt lonely or sad that I wasn't running with someone.
A little more than half way through, as we ran over about a kilometer of cobblestones and I lost my rhythm I thought that I would just be lucky to finish. But suddenly, probably with the help of Devon, I regrouped, gave myself a pep talk, that this race wasn't for me but for him, and I picked up the pace and ended up running each 5k faster than the previous.
On my left hand I drew angel wings with Devon's name and on my right hand I wrote
"For: D.H." Whenever I was struggling I looked at these and got a boost and more motivation to run quicker. As it become apparent that I was going to make it the whole way, I decided to try and finish in under 2 hours. Which I did! With a time of 1 hour 58 minutes.
Some great things I saw along the way:
-the token pack of Kenyans already at 6km when I was just passing 1km. And they were all alone for at least 3 minutes.
-A woman holding up a sign with the extension hose of a vacuum cleaner
-A blind man running with a guide, tied together with a band around their hands
-two boys in full punk gear with Dr. Martin hightop shoes on, with "Punk's not dead" written on their calves