Race Report: The Eggnog Jog

Checking out the hills at the Eggnog Jog.

The Eggnog Jog may sound like a friendly race but it is on an unforgiving course.  After a quick downhill first mile, you spend the next 5-6 kilometres climbing hills until the roads flatten and you can finally cruise along a downward slope into the finish.  It’s the kind of route that leaves you thinking “never again.”

I’ve raced this  course 4 or 5 times and each time I do, I finish thinking “never again”.  Yesterday was no different.  In fact, yesterday, I realized how much the race is like delivering a baby.  Even though I always complain about how much the course hurt, the memories of that pain somehow subside, I end up registering again and the cycle repeats itself.

There are many reasons that I like the Eggnog Jog.  As much as I hate to admit it, I do like hills; I would far rather push myself up and down a hill than do speedwork running around an oval.  Also, being an early December race, unpredictable weather can also be challenging; this race tends to fall on one of the first really cold days that winter bring and, as expected, Sunday was cold.  We started to feel the chilling effects of the Alberta clipper and, in Georgetown, we also had the first snow of the season, which just happened to arrive about 20 minutes into the race, resulting in some slippery road surfaces.  Lastly, with local triathlons, duathlons, and marathons finished for 2017, this race can draw some strong competition.  Sure enough, the competition arrived.

Meet Lynn Bourque, another masters runner who is also my age.   We met years ago as competitors but have become friends, dubbing ourselves Betty and Veronica.  This fall, we both raced the Oakville 10K together, finishing 0.9 seconds apart.  At the Hamilton Road2Hope Half-marathon, we started in a downpour so we decided to work together; within the first kilometre, I watched Lynn pull ahead of me and it wasn’t long before she was out of sight.  I was excited to see her in Georgetown, but I was also nervous about potentially jostling with her for position over a few kilometres of hills.

I took the start of the race conservatively as I knew the hills were waiting near the 3K mark to test me for the next 5-6 kilometres.  During the fast downhill start, I watched many women, including Lynn, push ahead of me.  As much as I wanted to keep up, and I knew that I could for a while, I knew that the smarter thing to do was hold back so that I had more to push myself up the hills when I needed to.    By 5K, I had caught up to all of the women who had passed me at the start, and I spent the last half of the race trying to stay ahead of one.  I turned my pace up a few notches when we finally hit the flats, and it became a game of catch and release until the last two kilometres, when she pulled ahead enough to gain 27 seconds by the finish.  I was quite happy to learn later that she was 20-24, less than of half my age!

50-54 Age Group Winners!

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 50:53, which gave me an average pace of 4:43 per kilometre (remember, it is a 10.8K course), a 7th place finish on the female side and a first place 40+ finish for women.  Even though my time was about 90 seconds slower than it was two years ago, I am really happy with my result as this fall has been about running, racing and having fun.  If I can do that and still run relatively well, I’m doing something right.  This makes it easy to finish 2017 with some big hairy goals for 2018 – but I’m not ready to verbalize those just yet.


A Teachable Moment

Betty and Veronica2One of my students’ favorite times of the week is the visit to the school library.  It gives them a chance to get out of their chairs, roam around shelves full of books and pick two – one in English and one in French – that they can read for the next week.  I love it because it gives me a chance to see them get excited about books.

Today, one girl brought “Betty and Veronica” to the circulation desk to sign out.  I took it from her, exclaiming, “Ooooh, Betty and Veronica!”  She and the librarian both looked at me, expecting me to tell some story about how I loved to read Betty and Veronica when I was in school.  “Did you watch any of the PanAm Games?”

The girl was confused by my question.  “Ah…no…”

“Do you ever follow Canadian track?”  She shook her head again.  “Well, let me tell you about Betty and Veronica.”

Betty and Veronica1
Photo credit: Canadian Running Magazine

I proceeded to tell about Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak, two of Canada’s top distance runners, to a blank look.  I bragged about how well they ran at the PanAm Games and how they helped to put Canadian female runners on the international scene.  I talked about Lanni’s marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about Natasha’s 10K record.  “They train together, they are both sponsored by Asics, they race against each other…they’re frenemies.”

Her face lit up; frenemies was something she understood.  Excited by her now mild interest,  I couldn’t stop myself.  I quickly pulled up a picture of the two of them on the computer and gave her more.   “And look!  One is blond; the other is a brunette.  They’ve been nicknamed Betty and Veronica on the running scene.”  And I held up her comic book.  “See.”

Poor kid.  Speechless by my on-the-spot lesson on Canada’s female distance runners, she took her book and sat down to read it.  That was all she wanted to do.

Me?  I had a great time sneaking in a lesson on how to connect what we read to the real world or, in this case, how we connect the world to what we read.  Most of all, though, I had a great time sharing the story of the real Betty and Veronica.