Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest Post: Toronto Yonge St. 10K Race Report

This week's post comes courtesy of my sister, Rachael, who ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10K last Sunday... I will not comment on her crushing my own 10K PR...

Package pick-up
When I arrived at the hotel, there were plenty of well-informed volunteers to direct traffic up to the second floor conference room.  When I got to that room, the lines for the kits were tangled up with the lines to pick up the race shirts, but no sooner had I noticed this, a volunteer was there directing traffic and separating the lines and getting everyone sorted out. Easy as pie. I got my kit and I got one of the special bibs the race organizers had done up for Runners United for Boston for us to wear on our backs, and got it all done within my lunch hour.
Race Day
Let me start off by saying I like to run in costume. I ran my first two races in regular clothes and my third one in costume, and I’ll probably wear costumes from now on. I’m a nerd, and it adds some fun to the day, along with a little extra energy from the spectators. I chose She-Hulk for this race. OK, so she’s not a very well-known character so nobody knew who I was supposed to be. I had thought that at least the green skin and purple shorts would have at least been a clue. Comic book civilians. 
Anyway, my hair took way longer and was way less thoroughly green than I’d hoped for. And I spent so much time on it that I got a late start on the day and ended up running out the front door in a panic to try to catch public transit to the start line. Got a block and a half from the house and realized that I’d left my camera at home, and absolutely did not have time to go back for it, so there are no race photos for me. Boo.
Met another runner at the bus stop and we had a nice chat on the way up. There were actually quite a few people on that bus carrying their Yonge Street 10K bag-check bags.
Speaking of bag-check, this was such an easy and organized bag check! Each set of race bib numbers had their own table and I was in an out of the bag check in a pop, after a brief debate with myself about whether or not I would keep my jacket with me or check it in my bag.
Race day was cold. It was only 3 degrees out (35 if you speak Fahrenheit). But I checked my jacket anyway. For a while it was OK, I found a spot in the sun and out of the wind to wait until I had to go into my corral. Then it was time for all the runners to go into their corrals and get the race started.
I’m not a fast runner so I was in the very last corral, quite a distance from the start line. I heard some loudspeaker announcements way in the distance, but nobody way back in Purple Corral could really hear what was going on. Which is too bad, because I think they were making some speeches and having a moment of silence for Boston. But then it was time for the elite runners in the Red corral to start running, and for us to wait for 20 minutes until it was our turn to run. 
So I spent 20 minutes hopping back and forth and stretching and generally trying to keep warm. My Garmin kept going into standby mode, so when the corral ahead of ours started, I started my timer in “warmup” mode. Finally, it was our turn to run, and we were off!
The Yonge Street 10K is a really fast course, mostly all downhill (the number of people who said “it’s all downhill from here” was amusing, if repetitive). So once I started moving my Garmin started chirping at me to slow down.  I thought about it for a second or two and decided to ignore it, even though the pace was set a little faster than what I’d been comfortably able to maintain in my training runs, and just listen to my body and let the Garmin tell me when my run/walk interval changes were. I ended up slowing down a little bit after the first 20 minutes, but not too much.
So I ran, and I counted my “in-two-three, out-two-three” breathing. And focused on keeping my legs relaxed and my toes flat. And I ran. And I waved back at cheering people, and made “Hulk Smash!” faces for the photographers.
And pretty soon I didn’t notice the cold any more. 
There were a bunch of people with happy cheerful signs on the bridge over Yonge Street near Mt Pleasant, and they waved and cheered us all on, and then we were at the 4K water station with lots of cheerful volunteers all bundled up and handing out water and Gatorade. 
Before I knew it we were cruising past the half-way point at Yonge & Bloor and the first of the four entertainment centres on the route (the other three were at intersections where we had to turn, at Yonge & Richmond, at Richmond and Peter, and at Front & Bathurst). Kudos to all the entertainers for hanging in there on a cold day and keeping our spirits up!
I noticed the clock tower at Yonge & College and thought it was odd, because according to that I had done 6 km in a little over a half hour. 
Then it was time for the 7km water stop with another group of happy volunteers, some of whom couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old. Thanks for volunteering, kids! I was happy to have some Gatorade by then, and a little pause. I’d been sick and coughing non-stop for a couple of weeks before the race and my chest was starting to hurt.
Most of the way down Yonge Street there were four or five people that I would pass while they were on a walk break, and they would pass me while I was on one.
When I hit the 8 km mark, I still had energy, and started speeding up. Not a lot, but I was cruising along and passing more people than passed me. I just kept running, and even skipped a few of my walk breaks between the 8th and 9th kilometer.
My training runs have mostly involved at least some hill work, and one of my regular routes has a pretty significant incline at about mile 4 or 5. So when I heard some of the other runners talking before the race about the “killer hill” near the finish line, I was ready for it. Then I was cruising along, and heard the runners around (and now behind) me talking about how hard the hill was. We were on the incline, and I didn’t even know it. 
Then it was the finish chute, along Fort York Blvd. And I just poured it all in and ran. My chest hurt, and I just growled “Grahr!” (I was in character, ok?) and kept running. I saw people ahead of me. I caught up with them. I passed them.  I saw the finish line timer, and the clock said that it was an hour and a half, gun time, so I was pretty sure I’d set a new PR. I crossed the finish line with one hand over my heart for Boston, and one in the air for me.
Then I chugged along to the exit, and remembered my Garmin was still going. So I stopped the timer and was all “Yah! 1:16 No, wait… I started my Garmin five minutes before I started running. Wait, what?”
I went over to the very clearly-marked bag check area where all the bags were on school busses with bib number signs in the windows. I went up to the window with my bib number range on it, and got my checked bag, easy peasy in and out in a pop again. Which was good because by now I was starting to notice the cold and I was happy to have my jacket back.
There was lots and lots of food, the usual stuff, bagels and bananas and apples, and cookies. I ate up my food and wandered around for a while. I found where the race results were posted, but I couldn’t find my time. I started with the slowest times, and checked all the names with times over 1:12 because I couldn’t have gone faster than that, right?
Except I did. When I got home , I looked up my chip time and I’d done the race in 1:09. I’d beat my previous record (which was from a test run of the approximately same route a couple of weeks earlier) by 11 minutes. I had to do the math twice, because I didn’t believe it. 
Hulk Smash P.R.
I would totally do this race again. And next time, I won’t be in the very last corral.

Hulk smash PR.
Also, isn't Scooter cute?

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