Ending on a Medium Note

I closed out a good season with a rather lackluster performance at the Athletics Ontario championships in Sudbury. While I hate to make excuses, there were several factors that made the season’s end less than spectacular. Let’s call it “providing context,” rather than “making excuses,” right?

I had planned to run the 5000m at the Athletics Ontario championships in order to qualify for Quest for Gold carding. Unfortunately, this year’s changes to the criteria mean that I can’t even apply for funding (I won’t go into the specifics). Still, I thought it was important to compete in the provincial championships, despite the meet being late in the season. Most senior women did not do the same. Indeed, the initial start lists showed four women in the 5000m, and two women in the 1500m. The decision was made to change the 5000m to a 3000m so that the junior and senior races could be combined. This was definitely for the best, since seven and a half laps against a bigger field is definitely preferable to Courtney Laurie and I grinding out twelve and a half laps on our own. The actual fields were even sparser than the start lists showed. Courtney and I were the only senior women in the 3000m, and the 1500m had one entry: me. Despite the lack of participation, I was rather excited to go to Sudbury. I would be travelling with the good folks from the London Runner Distance Club, for one thing. And besides, Sudbury is a pretty exciting place. It has a giant nickel, after all.

I decided that at this thinly populated competition would be the opportune time to try out my new pair of bumhuggers. This racing attire is absolutely necessary for fast women. However, to wear them, there are several prerequisites. One, the woman who wears them must actually be fast. Two, said woman must have sexy toned legs. And three, there must be no obvious tan lines on these legs. I fulfill none of these three requirements. But Courtney was wearing hers in the 3000m, so I decided I needed to step things up. As you will soon see, gentle reader, my bumhugger debut did not go as planned. They will be retired until next track season, at which point I will hopefully be faster, leaner, and more tanned.

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
or, the 3000m, in which our hero acts like a complete idiot:

The 3000m was a race in which my stubbornness was a liability, rather than the asset it usually is. I had it in my head that I wanted to run a fast time. However, it was humid and windy in Sudbury, and I was racing only one woman who didn’t care about the time and was going for the win. None of these are conditions in which one sets a personal best, yet instead of adjusting my strategy accordingly, I simply stuck to my original plan. As such, I led six laps of a seven-and-a-half lap race as if I were a pacer hired by Speed River to run ten minutes flat. Courtney Laurie, the only other senior in the race besides me, went past me with 600m to go, and I could not respond after taking the wind for six laps. I wanted to win the race, but I was not willing to run a smart tactical race to do so. After realizing that I couldn’t run away from the pack behind me, I should have slowed down to force another runner to take the lead. My tendency to be a stubborn racer backfired, as I didn’t want to run a slow pace and thus gave to reason for the women behind me to take over the lead. Perhaps some good came out of my stupidity, as Speed River runner Emily Driedger broke ten minutes in the 3000m for the first time. I ended up with a mediocre time for 9:53.09 and a second place result in a race of two people. I suppose I could be an optimist and say that this race was a learning experience, but in my current state of post-season listlessness, I’m more likely to describe it as a catastrophic defeat due to my own half-witted running.

“High coolers and gulp girls”
or, the 1500m, in which Leslie experiences the glory of outkicking juniors:

The 1500m on Sunday went slightly better than the 3000m the previous day. Again, I woke before my alarm and found that I couldn’t sleep despite it being 5:35 in the morning. This time, I drove to Tim Horton’s to make sure I got my extra-large English Breakfast tea. By the time we were at the track, the temperature wasn’t out of control, but it was very humid. On the upside, the wind was nowhere near as strong as it was on Saturday. Nevertheless, I wanted to be smart in my race and avoid spending the entire time leading the field. I was actually the only senior woman racing the 1500m, but I wanted to run a decent race and hopefully avoid getting beat by a junior. Steve told me not to lead the race before the 800m mark. So of course, I found myself in the lead once we were off the line and bunched up in a pack. I slowed right down, basically jogging the first hundred meters. Jamie Phelan, a fifteen-year-old phenom running for Laurel Creek, wouldn’t stand for this and took the lead. She picked up the pace significantly, as if trying to make up for the slow first hundred meters. I was labouring as I tried, without much success, to stay close to the pair of heels in front of me. My efforts failed, and I was left to wallow in the shame of a fifteen-year-old gapping me on the first lap while my legs felt tired from Saturday’s effort and the humidity make me feel like I was breathing through a straw. However, I was not about to give up easily. Our first lap was about a 73, and if I couldn’t hang on to that pace, what good was I? I spent the next lap closing the gap between Jamie and me, pulling the chase pack train in order to move up to the leader. By two laps to go, I had worked my way up. We went through the 800m mark in about 2:28. This only confirmed the fact that I wasn’t going to run fast, so I decided to stay behind Jamie until one lap to go. I may not run a fast time at this meet, but I wasn’t about to get outkicked by a bunch of juniors. As I crossed the finish line for the second-last time and the bell rang, I took the lead and started a long push to the finish. No one challenged me after I made this move, but I was nevertheless cautious, fearing that a certain girl from Laurel Creek would sneak past me in the final two hundred meters. Fortunately, this was not the case, so I wasn’t forced to find that extra gear (which I probably didn’t have, considering the conditions and the circumstances). My official time was 4:40.08. It would have been nice to have run under 4:40, but I suppose it doesn’t matter at this point in the season. I was simply happy to walk away with my life (and the win, of course) after an intense battle with some fierce juniors.

Sudbury: a “one-arch town.”

I spent the remainder of my time in Sudbury celebrating the season, then regretting my celebration of the season. A more minor indiscretion of mine was my visit to Deluxe Hamburgers, a fast food joint across from our hotel that had “the best fries in Sudbury.” The Deluxe Hamburgers logo sported a single golden arch, and the gentleman behind the counter assured us existed that “we were here before McDonald’s.” The burger and fries were tasty; definitely a cut above what the McDonald’s across the street had to offer. Perhaps they had the best fast food in Sudbury (unless Sudbury has a Harvey’s, of course). Not having eaten at every fast food place in Sudbury, I cannot provide a definitive conclusion on the matter.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

One might question the logic of travelling to Sudbury in order to essentially race one person. It is a fair point, though I must admit that I enjoyed the trip. I wasn’t very happy with my performances until Steve informed me that together, my performances of 9:53 and 4:40 are my best double ever. While this could be a nice transition into a lengthy paragraph of reflections upon my track season, I am reluctant to make this blog any longer. Perhaps another time. Instead, you should enjoy the official pump-up song for the weekend.

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