The race was started at noon, so we were able to sleep in and take our time getting to the headquarters at the YMCA. We were able to pick up our bibs/chips/mittens on race morning and stay warm inside the YMCA until the start. We also had access to the washrooms, showers and locker rooms.
J and I had decided to have some fun and wear our costumes from our Christmas Runch a couple weeks ago. We got ready in the gymnasium and got a few interesting looks (as well as some compliments!) once we were all geared up.
We ended up bumping into our ultra-running friend M (who had run a casual 50K training run on Friday) and posed for a quick pic before heading outside.
The three of use decided to head out for a warm-up run, mainly to pass the time before the start. We didn't record it, but I'm guessing we ran about 2 mi/3KM before lining up with a few minutes to spare.
I was planning to stick with Juliana and didn't have any time goals for myself this time around. It's always a nice feeling to line up for a race without any nerves! Without too much hoopla, we were off.
I snapped this pic of a guy dressed as a Christmas tree as we climbed the initial hill from the start.
For the first couple of miles we ran through a commercial area, gradually making our way toward the lake. The next three miles were along the paved waterfront trail, passing the marinas and a few parks. It was definitely the nicest part of the route and we were taking in the scenery and chatting away as the miles ticked by.
I made an effort to stay half a step behind Juliana and let her set the pace for the first half. We stopped for short walks at each of the three water stations.
At was busting to use the washroom so I sent Juliana on her way and zipped into a port-o-potty when I finally saw one around mile 4-ish. I had so many layers on the bottom (running tights, red/green tights, running skirt, festive skirt) that I got myself into quite a mess as I tried to hustle in and out. I would spend the remainder of the race resisting the urge to adjust myself.
Once I was back on the trail, I ran like hell to catch Juliana. She was soon in my sights but I knew she was motoring and I was running close to 5K pace in order to close the gap. I logged a 4:34 kilometre here and finally caught up.
We crossed the half way mat in 43:59.
After leaving the waterfront trail, we faced a long, gradual and winding climb as we made our way toward the Chedoke Golf Course. We caught up to M around this time and I ran ahead to snap a pic.
Next up was a short and steep climb up the escarpment. I remember this hill killing me in 2008, but I felt comfortable all the way up this time. Juliana and M probably wanted to kick my ass, but I tried not to be too obnoxious about it. ;) I snapped these pictures from (near) the top of the climb. Juliana is looking a little worn out, but hanging in there.
From here, I knew I'd have to give her a little bit of a pull to the finish. We had about 3 miles to go so tried to stay a couple steps ahead and tug her along.
M had pulled ahead, but we managed to catch her again. We headed onto a dirt trail for about a mile, all downhill. It felt great cruising down, although we did see one guy take a major spill just ahead of us. (He was okay.)
We were soon back on the roads and passed the 8-mile marker. Neither M nor J seemed particularly enthused when I called out "2 miles to go!" over my shoulder. I stayed a few steps ahead, making sure I could hear them behind me, and plugged along toward the finish.
The majority of these final miles were downhill, which was a nice treat. Our pace was strong and pretty soon I called out "1 mile to go!"
We started seeing runners who had obviously already finished, and got some encouragement as we continued along the streets to the finish. I remember someone saying "Just three more turns and you're there!" (Better than the usual "It's just around the corner.")
Juliana took off like a rocket as soon as the finish was in sight, and we finished with identical chip times of 1:28:05. Juliana worked hard and pulled off a great time. I had a lot of fun, enjoyed the race and out in a solid run feeling comfortable throughout. Not a bad way to spend Boxing Day!
20th race of 2010!