It took us an hour or so to get to the site and we found some close and cheap parking. After making a quick pit stop and assessing the weather (COLD! it was about -10C/14F at this point), we bundled up for to run a few miles before the race. We just ran a simple out-and-back that conveniently included one more pit stop so we could avoid the crazy lines at Copps Coliseum (race HQ).
Thankfully it seemed to warm-up considerably and it was turning out to be a beautiful sunny morning. We made a quick wardrobe change at the car and headed to the Coliseum. I was able to meet up with Quinton and it was awesome to catch-up briefly and exchange some good lucks. Q went on to kill it, so make sure you check out his report if you haven't already. (Unfortunately I failed to take a picture! Boo!)
I did take a pic of the finishing area inside the Coliseum.
Pretty soon it was time to meet Juliana and I quickly realized that we had not decided on a very wise meeting place. It was so crowded and impossible to find anyone. I sent hubs on his way and continued scouring the crowds. I waited as long as I could before I had to join the sea of runners heading to the starting line. I managed to bump into a bunch of others from my training group and my first question was: "Has anyone seen Juliana?" Most of them had seen her earlier, but no such luck in tracking her down. I stuck with my friends and was relieved that at least I knew I would have some company.
We snapped some pics amidst the crowds while waiting for the start.
Finally, we were off! Without making an official decision as to who I would run with, I settled in with my friends W and G. We had started as a larger group, but quickly separated in the masses of people. It was extremely crowded (which I remembered from last year) so we were doing quite a bit of weaving as W and G tried to find their pace. We were taking one-minute walk breaks every 15, at this point. We leap-frogged with several others from our group along the way and it was fun seeing everyone. I took advantage of having my camera and snapped their photos when I could.
The majority of the first half looked like this:
With the sun beaming down on us, it was heating up fast. There were articles of clothing strewn all over the road and I was really glad to have ditched a layer at the last minute, but I was still very warm.
G continued to struggle but we were working our way through the miles. I was more thirsty than usual and going through water like crazy, so at each aid station I would run ahead to get her a refill and fruit when it was available. It felt good to have a mission!
I knew the toughest part of the course was coming and G was slowing down, but she hung in there and we tackled on kilometre at a time.
The biggest hills comes around 26K and the race is pretty famous for it. This guy is there every year dancing, high-fiving and blasting Queen at the base of the hill.
At the top of the hill, the grim reapers await, right alongside the cemetery. (How appropriate!) The one in front claimed that she doesn't show up in pictures. ;)
After that, we just had a few K to go and it was all flat or gradually downhill. G was pushing as hard as she could to keep going, even though she was not feeling well at all. She was having hot and cold flashes at this point, so I gently asked her not to pass out so I wouldn't have to carry her the rest of the way. I was counting down the K's and telling her "just 15 more minutes and you get to stop!" I don't know if I was helping or not, but I have definitely been there and I know it would have sucked more to be alone.
She hung in there and pretty soon we made the turn back into the Coliseum for the big finish.
Chip time: 2:55:44.9
128/192 M25-29 (oops, apparently I registered myself as a man)
After collecting medals & food, I started making my way upstairs to the Coliseum seating area where hubs and I had agreed to meet. The place is a zoo so it was a good thing we had decided on a very specific spot. On the way up the escalator, I randomly bumped into Alex who I have not seen in forever! After squealing like little girls and sharing a hug, it was great to catch up for a few minutes.
Still no luck in meeting Laura, even though we are always at the same races. She's like Polkaroo.
We had a great showing from my training group, with several PRs and strong races. I was admittedly jealous seeing everyone's excellent results, but it was very rewarding to see my friends reaching their goals. I ran very comfortably, had a lot of fun and racked up some quality time on my feet - exactly what I set out to achieve.
But next year? This course is mine!