Well, it was a bit of a last minute decision, but I ended up racing a 5k road race on Sunday. My week of training was proceeding as usual (with the added hiccup or two, but more on that later…) until Friday, at which point my teammate Maggie Hutton informed me of the Markham Women’s 5k, a road race that would be taking place in my own proverbial backyard. Actually, it was in Unionville, Markham’s rich neighbour that has a bigger and nicer house as well as a pool in the backyard. This particular part of Unionville has a high performance athletic school with a brand-new rubberized track. But Sunday’s race was to be contested on the roads, rather than this fresh 400m oval of efficient running surface. Maggie, just off a rookie year at Queen’s (during which she helped the cross country team to a third place finish at the OUA championships, its best placing since the legendary Beth Wightman years), was planning on running this race and was looking for the other half of her potential friend/friend team. Though it wasn’t the mother/daughter team that would be fitting for a race held on Mothers’ Day, Maggie and I still made a formidable team.
I hadn’t planned on racing that weekend, in large part because I hadn’t heard about that particular race until Maggie suggested it. But the race was a welcome addition to my schedule. I wanted to get a solid effort in during the weekend because my training during the week hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped. I was happy with my tempo run on Tuesday, but I failed to even get out the door for a run on Thursday, never mind put in a decent workout. The culprit was a new medication that my doctor had prescribed. Unfortunately, one of the side effects was drowsiness, and only 12.5 mgs of the stuff managed to knock me out for ten hours (plus the four hours I napped during the day). I dragged myself to work for an evening shift, and sadly that was the only productive thing I could manage all day. The point of this boring story is that I only managed one workout all week, so I wanted to get a hard effort in. A race would force me to do it.
Sunday morning brought some strange weather. It was cold, windy, and snowing slightly. I actually had to scrape ice off of the car before I made my way over to the race site. Nevertheless, the race had a huge turnout. I met up with Maggie to register as a team. Sadly, my suggestion that we combine our last names to create the excellent team name “Sexhut” was rejected. But we were both wearing Queen’s shirts, so we called ourselves the “Golden Girls.” We did a nice warm up before the race, but once I was out on the start line in shorts, I was freezing once again. Needless to say, we were pretty anxious for the race to start so that we could get warm again.
Maggie and I took the lead in the first kilometre, running side by side. I had the split at about 4 minutes flat, but unfortunately I can’t be sure because many of the markers were way off (for example, I ran the 3rd km in 5 minutes, and the final km in 2:55, which tells me the signs definitely weren’t in the right places). I was feeling pretty comfortable, and talked and joked a bit with Maggie every once and a while. I’m not sure that Maggie appreciated this, so I decided to pick it up and stop annoying her. I picked up the pace after the 1km mark and tried to maintain the effort for the rest of the race. The course was out-and-back, and I struggled a bit running into a headwind on the way out, so the turnaround point was a nice relief. On the way back, I was running all alone, but I had the cheers of volunteers and racers going the opposite direction to motivate me. I crossed the line in 18:09.60. Since it was a women-only race, I had the unique experience of breaking the tape at the finish line. Unfortunately, the little girl holding one end of the tape forgot to let go. As you can see in the pictures of the event, I’m laughing as I’m running through the finish and slowing down in an attempt to avoid tripping over the thing. I went to put on more clothing almost immediately. And of course, Maggie and I had to get a picture with the Boston Pizza mascot…whatever he is.
Despite the cold, this was a fun race. I honestly expected your typical unofficial fun run, but this race had chip timing, photography, the street completely closed off, and even had Olympic announcer Rod Black of CTV/TSN calling out the name of each finisher. Oh, and there was Starbucks coffee at the post-race food table, which is always a winner with me. The event raised over $20,000, which will be put towards the construction of a school residence for women in Tanzania. I was pleased with my effort on Sunday and happy to be a part of such a great event.