A long hard run to the finish

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s interacted with me over the past five years that as there was a marathon happening in Toronto on Sunday, I was racing on Sunday. Although not in the marathon. This time around I decided to be only half crazy, and ran the half.

Herein lies an account of my day at the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. And what a beautiful day it was.

First, I woke up early to discover that, despite a dreary and rainy Saturday, Sunday had dawned a clear day. Freezing cold, yes. But clear, and dry. The day was off to a good start. A mug of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal later, I stumbled into my running clothes and shoes, pinned my race number to my shirt, filled my water bottles with water and magical energy gels, slung my bag of miscellaneous race day gear on my back, and was off.

Before heading to the start line, I met up with a group of the lovely running friends I’ve made since moving to Toronto. It’s groups like these that turn a love of running into a passion for running – the sport would not be nearly so good without the community that surrounds it.

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Notice we’re all sporting our ‘pre-race chic’ style: throwaway layers abound.

After getting all of our extra gear checked in with race volunteers, last pre-race pit stops, a small eternity of bouncing around and trying to keep ourselves warm on a very cold morning, and no small amount of photo shoots of varying degrees of silliness, we eventually made our way over to the starting corrals. I must say that the morning of that race was probably one of the coldest, funniest, and most positive pre-race experiences I’ve had so far.

Once in the corral, overall excitement began to mount. With only a few moments to go, I ditched my extra sweater at the side of the road and tried to take calming breaths while also bouncing energetically and trying to keep my blood moving in order to keep warm. Results of this activity were mixed, but it certainly passed the time.

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Though I had willingly cast aside the sweater, I would refuse to part with my gloves until somewhere between the 3rd and 4th km of the race.

A few minutes after that, we were off.

Some of my impressions from the race:

  • Being impressed by a few runners in fairly involved Halloween costumes. Special kudos to the gentleman dressed as a giant carrying a tiny person in a cage. I spent the better part of a kilometer trying to figure out how his costume worked.
  • Catching a glimpse of the elite marathon runners as they flew past with their bike escort along Lakeshore Road. It’s amazing to think they were running literally twice my speed, for twice the distance. Amazing, and humbling.
  • The shocked moments when I’d forgotten my name was written on my race bib and couldn’t figure out how perfect strangers were able to cheer me on by name.
  • All the spectators with amusing and interesting signs. Honourable mentions include: “I’m proud of you, perfect stranger!”, “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking ass!”, “Keep running, people are watching”, “You’re running faster than the TTC!” and “You’re running this city better than Rob Ford”.
  • As with all races, that moment when the finish line came into view.

My final time: 2:01:49.

It was a hard finish for me this time around. The cross-country move and beginning law school definitely threw my training off track, but I had decided to push for a finishing time of 2 hours anyway. I was exhausted and struggling to keep my feet under me and moving forward by the end. Physically, I was absolutely depleted. I don’t think I could have run any faster in those last 500m if my life had depended on it.

That being said, reaching the finish was no less wonderful for it. The finishing line crowds in Toronto are enormous, and deafening, and those spectators reminded me that what I had just accomplished was no less a victory for having taken slightly longer than planned. Besides, there will always be other races.

The rest of the day was devoted to recovering and celebrating. Which is the only appropriate way to spend the rest of the day after a race. Preferably with other runners.

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If the defining articles of pre-race chic are throwaway sweaters and garbage bags, then post-race chic consists of foil capes and medals.

So when all was said and done, I ended the day feeling pretty pleased with myself. Not to mention pretty excited to add a couple of new mementos to my race memorabilia collection.

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This particular race medal is one of my favourites so far. It’s simply beautiful.

Oh, and regarding what I wrote above about there always being other races? Well, let’s just say that I’ll be conquering a new city by the end of March…

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Registered and ready to run!

 

 

 

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