On my way home from the Acura 5K in Toronto, I realized two things about my racing buddies: (1) they are all faster than I am; (2) they are all younger than I am; (3) most of them are men. I can easily handle the fact that I am the oldest (turning 48 next month) and I don’t mind being around men – even when they are sweaty and stinky. I do, though, have a problem being the slowest in the group.
Not today, though. After being off all summer and missing so many favorite races, I was thrilled to be at the start today. I had no goal as I really only had 2 runs to prep for this; chasing LI on his bike doesn’t really count as training. I hoped to finish under 22:30 and felt this was pretty realistic.
Shawn, who was set to run the 10 mile event, picked me up this morning at 7:00 and we headed into Toronto. After parking, we met Dynamo Delilah who was sure to have a strong 10 mile race but, somewhere between the bag check and porta-potties, we lost sight of her. Shawn and I, then, went through pre-race rituals in our own ways and warmed up together.
The warm-up made me nervous, which surprised me as it usually settles me before a race. This time, I was a bit worried that Gastroc wouldn’t appreciate a little extra pounding, even at a much slower pace. We ran for about 6 minutes, stretched and found our places in the yellow (not purple – yay!) corrals.
In front of me was a woman that I thought I recognized but I kept quiet. Instead, I stared at the back of her jogbra, held together in the middle by a safety pin. “Man, if that pops open” I thought. Eventually, I realized that I did know her; I spent 42 minutes chasing her down at the Oakville 10K last year, only to be passed by her in the last 50 metres. I hoped that she was running the 10 miler.
Yes, the 5K and 10 mile start was at the same time and I didn’t like that at all. For this race especially, I wanted space around me – and a closer distance to the start. As it turned out, it did take me 8 seconds to cross the line after the gun sounded; that time could have been cut in half if the 5K runners started first.
During the first mile, there were several spots where footing was poor due to the potholes and cracks in the road surfaces. I remembered my physiotherapist’s telling me to stay off trails and bumpy surfaces while I was building up again as they could be hard on my knee. Well, here, in the middle of a race, there wasn’t much I could do to change it. I simply tried to keep my eyes on what lay ahead.
While heading out, I had a few words of encouragement from Richard, who spotted me from behind. Well, I think it was Richard; I had to use the teacher eyes on the back of my head to see them but they were blocked by my swinging ponytail. Richard is another racing buddy from town and I hoped that he and Shawn would find each other to push each other along.
Two kilometers into the race, I started to worry. I hadn’t seen the lead runners turn around yet and I was starting to think that the course had changed. Perhaps there was a turn-off that I somehow missed. Then, I saw the lead bike approaching from a distance. Phew! On the way back in, a male runner passed me counting: 70, 71, 72…. It was Jimmy, a friend of Delilah’s, who can run 5K in 18 minutes flat. He came to run the first 2.5K with DD and, then, took off to get to another race that he was running later in the morning. At the finish, he told me that he was counting the number of people he passed in the last half of the race.
By 4K, I suddenly remembered how hard racing 5K can be. I started to feel my stomach burning but, oddly enough, my breathing was normal. Nothing was hurting, but I didn’t have the race legs that I needed to push any more. I finished as 16th female in 22:22 and came out on top with a first age group (and third master, which wasn’t recognized).
Shawn finished the 10 mile race in 69 minutes, followed by Delilah in 70, and Richard in 75. Shawn left to meet his wife and son; I stayed to catch up with Delilah.
And that’s when I saw another speedy gal that I hadn’t seen in months: Arma, 32 weeks pregnant, who ran the 10 miler in 90 minutes. We laughed that she has gained 30 pounds but still pulled on her racing flats to save a few ounces. What a gal!
After talking with Arma, Delilah and I headed towards Union Station so that I could catch the Go-train home. That’s when it hit me: I know some fast runners.
And, suddenly, I had the urge to brag that I spent the morning hanging out with some fast women. Do you think that sounds like the wrong thing to say in downtown Toronto? I don’t.