By Alison Conway
Last Sunday, I ran my first Half Marathon in thirty-nine months. I was very, very nervous: it had been a long time since I tried to hold any kind of race pace for more than 10 km. I decided I would put my trust in the Pace Rabbits holding the 1:50 sign. Usually I’m not a fan—I don’t like the crowd around the Rabbits and want my watch to set the pace, not theirs. But this time out, I wanted to avoid looking at my watch, to run by feel and just hold steady.
Immediately, I liked my Rabbits. They made the pace feel effortless and the woman’s strong legs had an easy cadence. They were great on the hills—“We’re going to run this together”—and good at negotiating water stations. They didn’t talk too much. I kept my eye on the dark pony tail in front of me and remembered to breath. I thought about how the race might feel for the Rabbits. Presumably, the pace was not demanding for them, but they had to hold those signs and check the times written on their arms and compare their watches while making encouraging noises to the small pack behind them. They had given up a race day of their own to make someone else’s day better.
After the race, I thanked them. And then I suddenly realized that I knew the woman from Before Times. Before Covid cancelled Boston, before an injury robbed me of hope, for a while, and eighteen months of running, there had been a woman at races in Kelowna who ran ahead of me. I had tried to catch her but never could. She was training as a massage therapist and spent two years in my valley before returning to her home town. We had talked. And now, here she was: Jamie Komadina.
To say that it felt miraculous to have the past meet the present on the streets of Vancouver is to understate how comforted I was to see Jamie’s face again. She told me about her recent Boston marathon odyssey l (travel horrors, a sudden flu, and the miracle of making it to the start line) and how she hoped to run it again. “Boston 2025!” And there it was: the future. With strong legs and an easy cadence.
We all should have a Pace Rabbit in our lives. Someone who makes the hard things easier, who gives up time in the limelight so that others can have theirs. Someone who opens the door to the future and says, “Look!”
We all should have a Pace Rabbit in our lives, so that we can learn to be one in turn.
Alison Conway works and runs in Kelowna, BC.