PUCK, A Midsummer Night's Dream
What a race! WHAT A RACE!!!
I have run two 30k races this year and they are both so unique and so worth contemplating if you are looking for a longer race or a stepping stone to a marathon.
PRE RACEI had no idea how to tackle this race as the longest I had ever run at night before this was 16k after work and I had stomach problems and was sick after. I did this last summer and I've run a lot longer since then including the marathon. Saturday was a busy day as my husband had to work and Alasdair had his baseball champ day. Thank goodness that my parents were able to help out and my mum watched Fergus while dad and I took AlMac to baseball and then dad stayed for the end while I headed to Toronto.
On the way down to the Canada Post building, I ate a bagel with peanut butter and finished up my water bottle. I had been drinking regularly throughout the day, but wanted to ease off around 4pm as I didn't want to have to pee like at Around the Bay. I got to the parking, got on a shuttle bus and was at the start line with 1.5 hrs until the race start. The bag check wasn't even open yet.
I snagged a spot on the grass in the shade and waited. Eventually, I did the usual: peeing, bag checking,
1-10K. WHAT'S OUR PACE? WHO'S DOING THE MENTAL MATH?
With about 5 minutes to the race start, I loudly suggested to our pacer that we may want to line up and our group of about 8 moved to the line. All was good as we were right with the 3hr 10/1 pacer as well. The gun went and we were off. The first bit of the run was the usual - we got around slower people and chatted with the group a bit. Paul explained that he wanted to walk through each water station to get a good drink and that he'd be taking photos for his running scrapbook ("Not that I scrapbook. Not that there is anything wrong with that."). He was a pretty funny dude and mentioned that he usually paced people to BQ's. I'm not sure if this was his first official pacing gig, but it was his first time at the MidSummer Night's Race, which I think was a mistake as he did complain about the boring route (and this part was) and the slow pace (hey, you get what you sign up for). As we passed the first KM marker, Paul actually asked what our pace should be and then told us that 6min/km was easy for mental math to see if we were on pace (6Xkm= total time). Sam chimed right up and said, "Perfect, Nicole loves mental math, so she can do it." I looked at my pace band and thought - or I can just use this thing. All of our watches were chiming KMs about 200 metres before the route markers and a lady in our group said it was the same last year and it would make itself up eventually (which was a fun, end of race surprise - but I foreshadow - something the Bard was great at, BTW). At 8k I wondered aloud about taking my planned gel, and Paul offered some great wisdom: "You should take it based on effort, not time or distance." I agreed with this and evaluated that I would need to take the gel now, so I dug it out of my spibelt and swallowed some Lemon Sublime. I had yet to think about putting on my music despite the drudgery that was the view from Commissioners Street.
KM1-10: 5:51-5:44-5:54-6:18-5:55-5:52-6:00-6:28 (gu)-5:57-6:09, split: 1:00:08, pace band (do I really need to?) 1:00:00 (okay Paul, you're not fired yet)
11-20K. I NEED A PORT-A-POTTY. TO THE RIGHT. RIGHT! WHAT A VIEW!
As we headed out to the spit and into Tommy Thompson Park, I started to feel not good. The GU was sitting in my stomach and well, it seemed that it was going to work its way back out as well (TMI? Meh, its running - shit happens). I spotted a port-a-potty and took off to get some relief. So I went in and realized that my stomach was offering me a huge false alarm (yay!) and got the heck out of there ASAP, booking it with crazy speeds (at one point my watch said 4:23 pace) to catch up with the group who had slowed down a bit for me (shucks, thanks guys!). This ended up being my fastest split! This was my favorite part of the race scenery wise. TTP is just beautiful with the long grasses, the views of the lake and the city and the lighthouse at the turn around. I also got a chance to see the manager of my running room, Ben who was running the 15k and I shouted out to him. I got a great chance to chat with a man in our pace group named Neil who was an ultra runner pacing slower to get used to it for longer runs. This was also my least favorite part of the race because of the 15k walkers. Now, I have no problem with a race that includes walkers, especially a charity race raising money for important things like kids hospitals. The problem I have is with race etiquette. You have to get to the RIGHT when the runners are coming up behind you. That's the hand that DOESN'T make the "L" with your index finger and thumb. There was some effort getting around people here which, combined with my stomach tomfoolery didn't make for best feelings. I did enjoy the barbs being traded between our pacer and the 10/1 pacer every time they passed us. Each group was having a good time still and laughing along with the pacers. This was good as this part of the course had every kind of terrain and though beautiful felt long (though not as long as the last 10k!).
Oh hai walker who knows her right from left! Also, hello CN Tower view!
KM 11-20: 5:54-5:20 (potty sprint)-6:14-5:56-6:03-6:28 (gu)-6:03-5:57-5:52-5:55, split: 59:42, total: 1:59:50, pace band (really?): 2:00:00
21-30 (POINT TWO)K: UGG. UGG. UGG. WE'RE TURNING NOW, RIGHT? NOW? NOW?
From 20-21.1k, I just concentrated on getting to the half marathon point. I just wanted to get there. We were still 200 metres off of the KM markers so we ran over the mat after my watch clicked over, but my split was 2:06:13 which was 13 seconds off. We were still running very well. This part of the race pretty much went downhill for me. My stomach. My legs. Dry mouth. I could smell myself. THE WALKERS! Then we're on a road and I'm thinking that we are close to the end, but I had forgotten about Ashbridge's Bay Park. Before we hit the park, around 22k, I got stabbed in the stomach. There is no other way to describe the pain I had from the stitch that hit the front right side of my stomach. AWESOME. I tried to run though it and breath, but I had to stop dead. I dealt with it via controlled breathing and continued on, chasing down my group for a second time, heading into ABB. I took my last GU at 24k and said, "C'mon caffeine Gu, do your job!" which made some ladies around me laugh. It was a nice, scenic part of the run, but those people BBQing and drinking beer were killer. MMM BBQ and Beer. At one point some dudes held out a bottle to Paul and I absolutely thought he was going to take a drink. He didn't, "I only drink from un-opened bottles." There was a family watching the run and a lady was cheering and offering hi-fives. Of course I slapped her palm! Woo! I felt like shit, I stunk, but man, I was racing! At this point I had lost Paul; our pacer who lost his Garmin and decided that he'd push the pace a bit to get us to the end. I also lost Sam which sucked because knowing what I know now, we could have stuck together and I'm positive I could have gotten her in at 3hrs. When my watch clicked over to 26k, I looked ahead to see the marker. I didn't. Not yet. Not now even. Oh, there it was. And my watch was at 26.45k. AWESOME, now we are that far off. From this point on, I found it hard to focus in front of me as it was getting dark. I was determined to finish at three hours and knew that I was fine and I just didn't let myself slow down at all. I used all of my mental reserve to keep pushing those sub 6 minute KMs. You've finished a marathon, 4k is nothing, look there's a dude with a medal - you're that close! I debated putting my music on at this point but didn't want to lose time trying to figure it out, so I didn't bother. Oddly, not having music wasn't a big deal even though I was alone in the crowd of runners. I kept waiting for the final turn. Surely it was now. Okay, now? Now? Don't get me wrong, I felt badly, but not too bad:
Ohmigwad, I'm almost done. See this okay sign? Its lies, all lies!
Finally, I'm back on Commissioners and finishers are cheering and letting us know we're at the end. THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS. As I'm rounding the corner to the finish a dude comes blasting by me on my left, and I realize that I should sprint. That it is the end. That that arch is the 30k mark. Then I though, "I should put my hands up. Yep. Put them up. Up."
Willing my hands in the air. My hands are saying, "Are you effing with us?"
And then, I'm done. And dead. And perfectly on pace and on plan:
KM 21-30.2: 5:54-6:02 (stabbing)-5:45-6:05 (gu)-5:37-5:42-5:46-6:05-5:41-5:37-0:56 (last 224m, 4:10 pace), split: 59:10, time (per garmin which paused during my potty and stabbing) 2:59:00, pace band (playing along, right?): 3:00:00. Have I mentioned that this is my first negative split race, like ever?
Our pacer finished in 2:59:11 official, 2:58:46 chip. I think he did a great job. He was funny (to me), even if he complained a bit and he got us to within 7k with every chance of continuing to our goal (and I hit mine). The only thing I would recommend to any pacer is to know the route just so that you can help your group with what to expect.
I got through the medals, food (we got reusable water bottles which was cool) and bag check and stretched a bit. I saw my cousin Jodi's good friend, Darren win third place overall for the 15k race and said hi to him. Then I hobbled to the bus, hobbled to my car, stretched some more and drove home in a bit of a haze. While driving I ate my bagel and banana and when I got home I ate a Greek yogurt. I went to bed around 10:45 after a shower and I woke up around 12:30am to take two Advil for the pain in my legs that wouldn't let me sleep (I should have drank more water, but couldn't stomach it). The next day we had Fergus' birthday party and we went to a community pool which I think helped to recover my legs further.
So, would I run this race again? Yes I would. I want the pin. I want to race it harder. I'd love to run it with friends. Until then:
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
JULIET, Romeo and Juliet