Picture a remote island surrounded by turquoise blue water, sandy beaches, palm trees and clear blue skies. Amazing, isn’t it? This is not the island race that I ran yesterday.
The island I ran on was Toronto Island, surrounded by grey water, an attempt at a beach, goose poo covered sidewalks and grasses, and with smoggy, overcast skies. But, it was still an island and the distance was 10K; so the race is appropriately named.
The boys and I were all set to be “ferried” to the island by one of Daddy’s boat-loving friends so we were set to leave the house at 6:30. However, the combination of a late night at work for his friend and the threat of rain resulted in his bailing on us at the last minute. So, we left the house a little later (today, I am really missing that extra 30 minutes of sleep that I could have had) and took the big ferry to across to Toronto’s Island.
If you hadn’t already figured out by the name, the race is a women’s only event, which can make the field either recreational, competitive or both. Last year’s field was not a competitive one; by last year’s results, I would have placed in the top 3. But, this is the second year; the race was established and it drew a more competitive group of female runners – like me. As I stood at the start line trying to size up my competition, I realized that there was a fairly large group of over 40 women who were obviously in better shape than I am; my aspirations suddenly changed to an age group award.
My friend, Delilah, was also running the 10k – her first in a while. I couldn’t help but wonder who she was going to be up against too. At the front, there was definitely more of a spread of runners under 40; some were obviously in their twenties, some definitely in their thirties and a handful who could be anywhere between 25 and 45. I hoped that she would be able to take home with an age group award.
The course was terrible. It was windy and humid, neither which could have been controlled by the race directors. But we ran for almost two kilometres on a boardwalk which was worn and had many loose planks. I had to run right in the middle of it to try to avoid each board lifting so much; otherwise, I could have propelled myself into the grey lake! Coming off the boardwalk, we ran past a mini-road crew who had just – the day before just – cemented the sidewalk we ran. Around the 8K mark, I ran into not one, not two, but three waves of gnats – YUCK!
As I neared the finish, I heard loud engines and wondered what could they be building that early on a Saturday morning, and I imagined seeing a construction crew next. The roaring got louder and I looked to my left to discover a rescue helicopter landing beside me! Seriously! Who, but me, could have a helicopter land beside them in a race? I was ready for the guys from Flashpoint to jump out and run with me to the finish. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
That was enough to pull my three boys and Delilah’s boyfriend from the finish to check out the big bird. Hubby yelled “two hundred” to me but I couldn’t hear anything else; did he really think I would hear anything with a helicopter right beside me and the finish line less than a kilometre away? Was I two hundredth? Really, was I that slow? Later, I found out he was telling me that I had one kilometre and two hundred metres left. Sure, I would have figured that out.
I crossed the finish line in 45:12, 16th overall with a solid third place age group award. What I found interesting was that 6 of the women ahead of me were over 40 (and one of them was over 50). I knew that masters field was a strong one.
After the race, Daddy and I walked with the boys to Centreville, the island’s amusement park. Between watching the race, running to the big orange bird and going to the park, Little Ironman had walked almost 5K by the time we headed back home. Well, maybe not 5K because it felt like I carried him for a couple of them!
Needless to say, we all slept well last night.