The TL;DR read recap: I crushed it.
The longer recap:
A Midsummer Night’s Run was back on the Spit this year, but with a few changes: we ran to Cherry, along the Martin Goodman trail, and then out on the Spit.
I picked up my race kit around 10am and then went out for breakfast. My stomach wasn’t in love with this idea for the first few hours post-brunch, but it settled down eventually. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and freaking out. I ate again at 2pm (granola, fruit and yogurt) and again at 4:30 (bread, peanut butter and banana).
All day Saturday, it threatened to rain. And for the hour before the race, it did indeed rain. It eventually stopped, though – and then it didn’t rain again for the rest of the night, making it pretty excellent racing conditions. Because of the rain, I didn’t leave the house until 5:15, wanting to stay dry for as long as possible. I arrived at 5:30, stretched, walked around and used the bathroom one final time. Then I headed to the start – where I ran into my pal Ron. The start was CROWDED. Neither of us heard the starting horn. All of a sudden we were off!
I had a hard time jostling for position and getting my pace down, there were so many people and the course was so crowded. It got a little better on Commissioners, but there were a few road dividers that has us squeezed together. I ran as far outside as a I could in order to get closer to the 1:30 bunny, to get ahead of her. I had a race plan, but it all came down to beating the 1:30 bunny. Cherry was the same way – we only had one lane of traffic and it was barely enough. By kilometre 3, I had settled into a pace. There wasn’t any room to move, really, but I felt comfortable and there was enough space to breathe. I checked my watched every few minutes and as long as I saw 5:3X or 5:4X I wasn’t going to worry. 5:2X meant slow down. 5:5X meant speed up. Easy. I took water at the first station, but didn’t stop running. It was too early on the route, and a walking break wasn’t really safe, with the crowds.
Running along the Martin Goodman Trail had its pros and cons. It was so green and lush that it truly felt like running through a forest (“Through the forest I have gone..”) But it was, again, crowded. It was hard to dodge puddles or people taking walking breaks without bumping into another runner. The crowd opened up once we got out of the forest and on Unwin.
I ended up being paced by a woman from about kilometres 3-6. Or I paced her, I couldn’t tell. We ran side by side, silently, for about 15 minutes. I finally lost her at the second water station. I did stop this time, and spent an extra minute taking off my long-sleeved shirt. From here on out, the water stations were 3km apart, so I decided that I’d take my walk breaks then. I still felt good at the turn around, I could feel myself getting tired, but I could sustain the current place.
I like out and backs, because I like looking at all the runners, trying to find people I know and drawing strength from other runners.
At kilometre 10, I got a stitch in my side and my knee started to bug. It wasn’t quite pain, just a twinge cautioning me to slow down. Since this is the knee that gave me grief during the Ottawa marathon, I started to worry. I did slow down a bit. In fact, I took a wee walking break at the 11km mark, just before the final water station. But then the 30km winner was about to pass me, and I was asked to move to the side. He ran by me and I felt like a giant chump. I picked it up – and then saw the 1:25 bunny right ahead of me. She was within reach if I kept my pace. I took water at the last station, walked for a bit to drink it properly, and then decided I was going to pass the 1:25 bunny.
I passed her with 2k left.
I felt like I had it in me to pick it up, but there weren’t any road markers after the 13k marker, so I wasn’t entirely sure where I was. I decided to stick to my current pace and then just sprint to the finish line once we turned the corner. That last stretch lasted forever – it felt so much longer than I ever remember. We finally made it, I sprinted as hard as I could to the mat. My watch said 1:25:01. It felt possible I broke 1:25 with my official time – which was much faster than I expected.
Official time: 1:24:41.
This was my most consistent race, pacing wise, ever. And I PRed by 6 minutes, the last time I ran this race my time was 1:30 and change.
This race was excellent positive reinforcement, reminding me the importance of having realistic goals, a solid racing plan and how important it is to not go out too fast. I’ve really struggled with the mental game during this training cycle, trying to find purpose and positivity in running another marathon. This race was a step in the right direction.