The Eggnog Jog is a popular race which runs out of the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, just north west of Toronto. It is 10.8K, is unusual distance but the country roads in the area make a 10K route difficult unless it is an out and back course. Regardless, the race draws over 600 participants; every year, it sells out so my husband and I registered early for it. This was my first race after the Chicago Marathon and the mid-December date gave me enough time to recover and work on regaining my speed.
Since the beginning of November, I spent my Saturday mornings focusing on speed work. Knowing that the course has a challenging elevation, I incorporated hill training, mile repeats, and shorter intervals in those workouts as I could do them in daylight. On the other running days of the week, I tempoed, did a long run (with my longest run at 17K) and just ran for the love of it. I headed back to the yoga studio on Friday nights (and, by the way, yoga on Friday followed by speedwork on Saturday makes for tired abs on Sunday morning). Everything felt right. I was ready and, hopefully, going to race a sub-50 minute race.
Dave likes this race because of the later start (10:30 a.m.). I like it for the challenge. The elevation drops about 100 metres over the first 2K and then climbs over 120 metres for the next 5-6K; the finish is a fast 400 metre downhill.
One of the biggest challenges that morning was deciding what to wear. I had my LVA singlet, Saucony Sayonaras, and Sweaty band – but did I need one layer or two; tights, capris or a running skirt? It poured in the morning and temperatures were hovering over 0 degrees at the start, so I opted for a t-shirt with my Running Skirt long sleeve and my tights. I was worried about being over-dressed but, as it turned out, my gear was perfect for the day.
Despite the training I had done, when I started the race, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had 3 goals: to run as fast as I could, watch my pacing and try not to let any women pass me. I took the first 2K conservatively as I knew that I had to start an evil climb right after. In those first kilometres, I heard a woman talking to a man – something about keeping up – and picked up my pace enough to open a bit of a gap. From that point on, I didn’t hear her again.
Once I got to 3K, I started to play cat and mouse with a few men. They would run ahead of me, I would pass them, they would work to pass me again….It became a vicious cycle. At 7K, another male runner caught up to us and, then, another at 8K. I tried to stay with them but they were both stronger than I was – and finished less than a minute of me. Once I got to 9K, I turned on what power I had left and gave myself another boost at 10K.
As I made the last turn towards the 400 metre finish, I focussed on stretching out my legs, which was tough to do when my quads were still burning from the rolling hills. I saw the clock read 48:something and gave it everything I had to finish in 49:12. About 20 seconds later, another woman ran in and called me a “powerhouse.” Never in my entire life have I been called a powerhouse; it felt great.
I had no idea where I was in the final standings. I felt that I was close to the top but, as I didn’t see any women ahead of me, I didn’t know if I was chasing 2 or 3 or more. I was thrilled when I found out that I finished Third Overall. It was a great way to end the season.
This course was tough and I promised my husband that I would do my cooldown by running back out so that I could cheer him in. I tried to convince a few other runners who finished ahead of me to jog with me and they looked at me as though I had horns coming out or my head. So off I went on my own; the things we do for love. I found Dave around the 9K mark and ran with him until we neared the finish line, when I let him close his race alone.
Both Dave and I got what we wanted out of the Eggnog Jog. Dave wanted a goal race, a chance to push himself to run the 10.8K distance regardless of the time it took. Me, I wanted a goal of running a sub-50 and I got that. Best of all, though, was the chance we had to race together.