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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Midsummer Night's Run - 30k, 3 hour pacer race report

On Saturday, August 17, 2013 I had the privilege of being the 3 hour continuous pacer for the 30k race at the annual Midsummer Night's Run. Normally, this race takes place on the streets of Toronto and out to the eastern Beaches and the Leslie Street spit. However this year, due to construction, the race was moved to the Toronto Islands. I was very excited to run this race for this reason and of course because it would be my first time as a pacer. I was worried about the actual course as it would also be my first time running a loop course, but that didn't end up being a problem. I actually didn't mind the loop part of the course at all. The terrain? That's a different story.


Emma was kind enough to volunteer to drive Sam and myself down to Toronto. Both girls were running the 15k race (go read their race recaps. Hysterical!) but were fine to wait around for me to be finished. We met at Bronte Go station and quickly got downtown and found parking. Thank goodness my old work is literally across the street from the ferry terminal because I knew where we were going. We got on the ferry, chatted with some other runners ("Oh. Well. Pacing a 3hr, 30k is respectable. I... guess..." and "I'm not running Scotia this year. Last year it was my worst marathon ever! I mean, I think I ran it in about four hours.") before landing on the Island and making our way to the DailyMile meet up spot. We were right on time: 4pm. Unfortunately, I think we were some of the only people who heeded the race director's advice to get to the ferries early because only Heather and Roxane met up with us. Heather found the ferry okay; a better alternative to canoeing over as one of her running buddies suggested (I wonder if she regretted that decision later!). I fussed with my tutu and headband and then we lined up again for a final bathroom break, and bag check. With 20 minutes to race time, I was ready!

I lined up with the other 3hr pacer, who was doing 10/1s, answered some questions and .... we were off!

1-10km. I've gotta take this shtict on tour!

Normally, I refer back to the course maps when I write my race reports to pick out key moments. Let's just say that I still can't make heads nor tails of this map, so this recap may be a bit different. Witness:

So anyway, we started out and... hit a water station. Which was odd, but hey! Whatever! Then we ran for about 1-2k and looped back on ourselves. Hmmm. This route is weird. And I'm running too fast. 

Crap. KM 1 - 5:41. Slow it down, macnic. You're not racing.

In order to collect myself and to slow down, I began to talk. I introduced myself to those running with me, told the group this was my 17th or 18th race (um, I just counted. It was my 29th race. Hah) and that I was hoping for a +/-10s race based on my results from last year (failing to mention, that I was NOT the pacer last year). Then, I told them my strategy of slowing/walking through stations as I had no water on me and encouraged them to do the same and catch me back up as needed. 

Then the one-liners started. 

As the shirtless leaders flew past us on the out and back: I encouraged all of my boyfriends to go shirtless today

As the sports-bra clad lead ladies raced by: Of course I had to lend my abs to help those lead ladies. I'm nice like that.

Clothing optional beach: For after the beer tent.

We'd run by island-goers who were confused or gob-smacked by the group of runners and I'd yell at them: I know! WORST. PARADE. EVER!!!

Anyway, my group was eating it up and I was having fun as well. I felt like Jerry Lewis at a Paris concert hall. My paces settled down and I had a nice group with me.

Then we hit the boardwalk. 

Well, if you ran this or the 15k race you know about it. If you're going to run the Longboat 10k, have fun! Its a rickety old wooden boardwalk (with a lovely and breezy view) and it was hard to stay consistent on it. Then I noticed the 26k sign and realized we'd be back again later in the race (at least once). Oh well, off the boardwalk, through some pavement, directed onto a grass field (at which point, I thought "Holy crap they weren't lying about this varied terrain claim.") and on to a water station where I too my first gel around 10k (I guess).

5:41-5:58-6:00-5:59-6:02-5:57-5:57-6:03-6:06 (must be the GU)-6:01 First 10k: 59:44. Pretty damn close to where I wanted to be that's for sure!

KM 11-20k. Oh Good. Let's run that again!

So around this time I realized that the kilometer markers were completely out of whack with my Garmin. I was about 200m off the markers. No problem, I thought to myself, I'll just keep to my watch and ensure I keep the KMs consistent. The same thing happened last year so they should sort out eventually.

I spent a lot of time doing this: 

I really didn't want to mess anyone's race up. I also spent a lot of time watching other runners, waving at my friends (Sam, Emma, KennyMarlene, Heather) and all of the other pacers: You've got a good lookin' group there 2:45! We looped through the start again where that early water table started to make sense and I chatted away with the members of my group. There was a couple who were running together with the man obviously pacing the woman. I'm not sure he realizes how good he made me feel when he kept telling his partner, "Just ease in here. Stay with her. She's running a perfect pace." There were a set of friends with the one girl pacing the other which was lovely. There was Erika who was using this race as a test of consistent pacing to test her goals for her upcoming marathon in October (on her son's second birthday!). We had a good group.

And all of a sudden, it was getting bigger.

Take that Jerry Lewis.

OH. Its the run/walk pacer! Where the heck did you come from? I thought you were ahead of me!

Nope, the plan all along was to tuck in behind you.

Hm. CRAP. Watch the pace! You're not running with him, Nicole!!!

So, its hot at this point and I start to take water and dump it down my back which felt amazing. Because I'm running slowly through the water stations, I'm squeezing cups and drinking on the run which is working okay. Except for the time when I ended up with a shot of water to the eye. Or when I swallowed my gum (no worries, I got it back up!). This part is a bit busy what with people and quad bikes and kids and the beach and didn't we see those volunteers before? They L-O-V-E my costume (Like. OMG! It matches your shoes!!!). Wait. This is the fricking boardwalk. Arrrggg!

Of course, I'm all, woo-hoo! Look at that view, group! Feel that lovely breeze (which is like a hurricane wind trying to turn my pacer sign into a fricken sail!). Watch the footing and let's keep on. (Oh look at that 26k sign. We get to do this. AGAIN!!!!). Over the grass, past the fountain and back around toward the start for the final 10k.

5:59-5:50-6:05-5:55-6:01-5:53-5:51-6:00-5:58-6:03 (GU). Total for the 10k: 59:35 (uh, negative split?! Time bank?!), total for the 20k: 1:59:20. Not too unreasonable.

21-30k. That beeping watch blows. WHERE is the 29k sign?!?

So, we loop around and I've still got my 5 or 6 people with me. Things are going well. I realize that I haven't been very chatty lately so I mention how much I'm looking forward to the boardwalk section again. My group generally agree that that part is stupid. (Stupid is a key word in both Emma's and Sam's recaps. Please go read them. So funny). So, we're ready for the stupid boardwalk again. In the meantime, we hit the half marathon point which makes everyone a little lighter because hey! 9k to go! and I start to hear people coming up behind me mentioning that "Its the three hour pacer! Okay! no more than 54 minutes left."  Which seems hella long to me, but whatever this is what I signed up for. A slow, even race. To lead people via the power of the sparkle tutu and the silly one-liners. To... what the eff is up with that person's crazy, random watch updates!?!. My God that beeping is soooo annoying. God. What pace are we at anyway?

Laps almost full. Clear history or your race will self-destruct bringing these innocent people with you.


Now, I almost ALWAYS clear my watch before any big race. Well, not for this race. Oh no! I mean its not as if I had been having freaking nightmares about a watch malfunction. Nope. 

Okay, I've done this before. I can adjust my watch, run at a 6min km and hold the pacer sigh. Pshaw! Should I knit you a sweater at the same time? I mean, make it a challenge, eh? Okay, so its this? No. Oh, maybe if I hit lap. Nope. CRAP! I just lapped not at a kilometer (I always run races on auto lap). Bah. Think, Revoy, think!!! 

Finally I remember how to delete things, delete everything but one month and carry on. I figure the markers are so messed up anyway, it doesn't really matter and my watch will still autolap every KM showing my pace. I hit autolap on the next KM sign I see to set it straight that way at least (or so I think).

Then, we're back on the boardwalk (Under the boardwalk/ We'll be having some fun! Under the boardwalk/ We'll be falling in love!). Ugg. Fricken sign-sail. People offer to hold the sign for me, but I very honestly say that I'm determined to hold it the whole race after this long. Its a pride thing. My group gets it. They're good eggs. We see a lady fall and get up in front of us, but she carries on and is okay. After the boardwalk, I tell the grass director volunteer that I hope to never see him again unless its in the beer tent and he totally gets where I'm coming from.

Okay people! I say, Grass, path, fountain. FINISH! Let's do this!

My man-woman couple are already ahead of me and I pass by the girls running together. The newer runner is walking but they claim they will catch us later. I know how she's feeling and begin to wonder how people ever pace marathons. I mean, I'm running fine, but my legs hurt and I'm tired. And hot. I can't imagine another 12k of consistency like this. Watching the watch is really mentally draining.

By 27k its just Erika and myself. I tell Erika that there are 18 minutes left. No problem! She's birthed a child! Our conversation goes like this:

Me: You can do it! You have a lovely, wonderful baby!
Erika: Well, he was only 7lbs!
Me: But you gave birth to him!
Erika: Not really, they took him out.
Me: Ya. Me too. Two C-sections.
Erika: But I did go through labour...
Me (FINALLY!!!!): That's right! You did that, what's less than 18 minutes?!?!
Erkia: I love you, Nicole. ... Don't tell my husband that.

And before we know it, we are at the 28k sign, so I hit lap again. Hmm. And there is Erika's husband taking her belt and I think how AMAZING she must feel to get rid of that. What a nice guy he is!!! I tell him that she loves me right now though! HA!

So I start to look for the 29k sign. I'm not sure exactly how this gig will end up by this point because of the watch malfunction so I try to stick with my 6min KM pace and Erika begins to pull away with her final kick. 

Good, no one is with me, I'll just kick it at 29k. I mean, I have enough legs and excitement to pull out close to a 5min kilometer. 

Where is that 29k marker?


Then, I'm running through a field with the general public and volunteers in yellow shirts making a kind of path. Hmm. Cross country. My watch clicks over to 30k (WHERE is the 29k marker!?!?!) and I'm so close to 3hours. I'm running hard at this point but not as hard as I could have. I keep it up though and see the end. I hear Emma, Sam and Patty (who came to watch) cheering and as I go by them I say, "UGGGG!!!" because I'm so pissed I missed the time perfectly. But the finish line brings out the best of course and I execute my plan, twice to ensure the photogs get to capture the moment:

I can't help but always be happy when I finish a race!

5:59-6:08 (watch PANIC!) -5:59-6:09-6:03-6:06-6:11-6:07 (what I hit at 28k, so 780m) -6:03-6:01-5:30 (last 540m per Garmin). 1:01:22. When I look at my Garmin, it says 30.25, 3:01:14.

 My chip time was 3:01:09. If there had been a 29k sign, my chip time would have been 3:00:XX. Oh well. I still think I did fine. All of my group (stalked them) got in under 3:01. My work here was done. But not before I show you my new favorite toy: The animated Gif:


Will I pace again? Um. Yeah. At the Milton Half Marathon on September 15, I will be the two hour continuous pacer. I'm hoping I can get my +/-10s there. 

Will I run this race again? You bet! I love it for the challenge the nighttime 30k brings. Would I run it again on the island? Hmmm. Maybe. It took us over an hour in line to get a ferry back across the lake and I didn't get home until just before midnight. Compare that to last year when I was home by 10:30. I think the organizers did their best, but they couldn't control the ferry the way they did the school bus shuttles.

Until next time, I'll leave you with the race quote of the year: 

Run not with your feet, but with your heart.

Thanks for reading!


  1. "You've got a good lookin' group there 2:45!"

    I resemble that remark! :D


    Great report.

  2. Great race report. Sounds like you were a great pacer. If you ever pace a race closer to the 7min/km range, I'm in!

  3. Congratulations Nicole you did awesome especially for your first pacing gig. Love the pics (as usual, you still have the best race photos). Will see you in Milton!!

  4. You did an amazing job (and your race photos are always just awesome - I thought I spotted a photographer early in the race and tried to go Nicole-style, but I guess that was just some guy with a camera, lol). congrats on a terrific first pacing gig! And you can ride with me anytime we are going to the same race.

  5. Congratulations Nicole! Master pacer and comedian all in one!

  6. Awesome!!! You are such an adorable pacer. Reading this felt like I was right there with you, laughing at the one-liners.

  7. Yay!! I'm so glad you had a great time and I think you did really well pacing! If people wanted to get under 3 hours they would have left you anyway :)

    Love your photos!

  8. Apart from the crap course I had a fun time as always with you! Congrats on a great pacing job!

  9. You are THE BEST! I can only dream of a pacer like you. Or maybe not, I'd be in stitches all the time, not good for running ;-) Way to go on a job well done!


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