36k for Clean Water

Yesterday I turned 36, and to fulfill my promise, I ran 36km for charity: water .  Earlier this year we were able to pull together enough money to provide clean water for 38 people.  The goal was 36, so 38 is even better and I am quite happy about that.  We raised the money, now I needed to come through on my promise.

So that left me with my 36th birthday party; me running around Edmonton for 36km.  Here is the review of this experience.

Feeling good after the run. In chinese, 6 with your hands is like “hang loose”.

I parked my car at the park at the end of Groat Road around 9am.  I had a hatchback full of water, raisins, Gatorade, bananas, jam sandwiches, and gummy worms.  These choices were a mix of a variety of sources of advice of what to eat to help maintain energy over this sort of distance.  Before yesterday, the furthest I had every ran was 32 km.  I try to not take an extra 4 km lightly, as silly and easy as 4km might seem, so I wanted to add some more calories that I could digest easily.  I hold a small amount of shame in the fact that most of these items are pure sugar.  I’ll get to how it all played out a little later.

I wore a hat, sunscreen, Mizuno shoes, my Garmin watch, Value Village shorts, and my shirt from my Montreal half marathon.  I strapped on a belt with 2 small bottles of fluid, and an even smaller pouch for my car key, a Lara bar, and a few gummy worms.

And I was off.

I decided to do a bit of a loop, all the way down River Valley Road, across the LRT bridge, through to the Kinsmen Pool, and back.  It was a loop just under 4 miles.  I found that returning to the car every 40 minutes or so was essential.  Without my stash of fluids and food, I would have been hurting for sure.

A couple of notes on the first 31km:

• First of all, that belt thing is awful.  It needs to stay strapped tight so that it doesn’t bounce around, so with that I felt a bit uncomfortable around the waist for most of the morning.  Tolerable discomfort, but discomfort nonetheless.  Next time I would probably go with one of those vests that hold water bottles.

• Other than the belt, I felt great.  It was a beautiful day, the birds were chirping, and a bunch of other runners were out there.  I’m used to running on a country road by myself, so it was a nice change-up.

• My course was really flat, which was on purpose.  I think that really helped me keep a steady pace.  Circling up the path on the bridge got more and more difficult as time went on.

• I actually had great times all the way up to 31k.  I was aiming for around 10 minutes a mile, and at mile 16 I was actually still pulling off 9:10 per mile!  I felt good, I felt strong… I still had over 6 miles to go.

• I was 2 miles away from my car when I ran out of water.  Bone head move.  My only hope was making it over to The Kinsmen before I started to feel it.  Well, crossing the bridge, I felt it.  I slogged towards the Kinsmen, dry mouth and empty bottles, when a miracle happened.  I found a public bathroom.  Inside, I found the coldest water ever!  It felt so good!  It was so refreshing, and I fell like it was a big reason why I stayed positive during the coming trails.

Sitting on the curb next to Kinsmen Pool evaluating my life choices.

I hit a pretty good wall.  Or, as the author of a recent article I read put it, I ‘bonked’.  My lungs felt great, my stomach felt amazing.  My legs?  Like they were ready to rot and fall off.  At this point, I still had 5k to go.

Why did I hit a wall?

I have a few theories:

  1.  I ran out of water.  By the time you realize that you’ve run out of water, it’s too late to turn the ship around.  I was dehydrated for sure, and that cost me.  I tried eating a granola bar and just the thought of it made me want to barf.  So mental note:  when dehydrated, do not try to quench your thirst with a granola bar.
  2. I ran out of sugar.  I thought I had enough raisins and Gatorade for the loop, but then I realized that I forgot to put any raisins in my pouch at all!  Bone head.
  3. I was munching on sugars.  Too much sugar?  Not enough?  More healthy stuff?  I’m kind of lost in how to measure it all, and I’ll need to look into organizing my in-run nutrition before my next race.
  4. I started too fast.  That 9 minute pace was too good to be true and I paid for it in the end.

So I slugged it out with pain.  My legs wobbled back and forth for a minute of running, then I would walk for 2, then run one more, then walk two, and so on.  I prayed for strength.  Still, it was tough sledding, for sure.

Eventually, I made it through that routine until the last mile, when I was determined to run until the finish.  I am happy to say that I did it.  22.4 miles, or 36km.  Time of 3:56.

My finish time was a disappointment.  Again, I need to keep it around 10 minutes for the first 15 miles, then that should help me in the end.

The irony of running out of water is that I was doing a charity run for people who needed water.  Believe me, this was not lost on me.  I did not find it funny at the time, but looking back on it, it was a good thing to go through.

When I got home I told Barbara that it’s going to be tough to do this when I’m 72.  72km seems like a lot, anyway;)

About The Author


Trying to share good words within a world of noise. Introverted, but I need people.


  1. Lois | 23rd May 17

    What a great journey and challenge! We’re SO very proud of you!
    💓 Dad & Mom

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