The breeze coming through the living room window seemed a lot cooler than the forecasted 10 degrees. I hemmed and hawed about what to wear. After 13 years of running, I still struggle with this. I really didn't feel like racing. It was grey, rainy and windy. Not exactly the kind of weather I want to run in. But I talked a friend into racing so I figured I'd better go.
I packed my bag with some warm post race clothes and grabbed my Running Free vest as an afterthought and stuffed it into my bag. I headed out the door into the rain. Yuck. Did my usual double check in the car before I left.
The rain seemed to get heavier and heavier as I drove west towards Port Credit. I knew that racing down by the lake it was going to seem a whole lot colder. Sure enough when I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, I almost immediately started shivering. Awesome. Good thing I brought a few layers.
The registration process was slow but they were allowing folks to register race morning so that held things up a bit. This was a really small grass roots race so I didn't expect it to be a super slick production. The volunteers were all very friendly. There was a small tent with timing mats and a clock which was the start and finish line. Other than that, there was NO indication of where the route went. I had checked online and there was no course map. Very frustrating.
I went and did a little warm up run with my friend Kiki and we made it back with 5 minutes to spare. I peeled off a layer and pinned my number on, grabbed my ipod and kissed Gary goodbye. I was still trying to get myself organized at the start line. I could barely hear the race marshall talking. I heard something about a cyclist leading people which was enough info for me. The next thing I know, someone yelled go and we were off. MY watch didn't start right away so I had to hit it twice to get it going. I was near the back of the pack so I spent the first couple of km dodging people. I tried to keep my friend Rooster (Glenn) in my sights. He's pretty speedy so I figured if I could hang on to him I'd be good. I passed a couple of women and then another couple. At that point I thought I was the lead woman. My friend Linnea caught up to me after our little meander around the point and back and she passed me. I caught her again as we crested a small hill. She told me that there was another girl ahead of me. Really? Interesting.
I chugged along, glad for the fact that I wore my vest. The rain was never terribly heavy but it was constant. My feet were soaked by 3km in. Gross. I gave up dodging puddles and just ran through them. I picked off a few young bucks that thought they were all that. I don't know if they were too pleased about being passed by a chick, especially an "old" one, since they surged right past me shortly after I passed them. But they couldn't hold the pace so I caught them again. Choke on my dust.
There were no course markers at all along the course so I had no clue how far I had run until I hit the one and only water station. As I passed I heard the guy yell "5km". Ok. I checked my watch: 21:18. Certainly not anywhere close to my 5km PB but not bad. I started doing the math in my head. I knew I had gone out too fast so I figured I'd definitely slow down by 10km. I figured if I could manage to do each 5km segment in 22 minutes or so I'd be around 1:05. Perfect. The course ran through the bike path I always train on so I was able to totally let loose, knowing exactly what to expect at each turn. The turnaround point was at the driveway to Marie Curtis park. I finally got to see the girl in front of me. She wasn't too far ahead. Excellent. Target acquired.
I could still see Rooster as well so all was going according to plan. I figured the turnaround point was probably 7.5km in so I thought I was halfway done. I don't know why but I figured it was an out and back. That would have made the most sense. Had I been paying attention to the time on my watch, I would have realized that it was really only about 6km. I pushed along, grabbing a water as I passed the aid station again. I took in half a Roctane as my legs were really starting to feel it. I was going to save the other half for 45 minutes in, which if my calculations were correct, would mean I'd have another 20 minutes left. That would be just enough to get me through.
We came along the path towards Hydro road and I was on auto pilot. I could still see the lead girl in front of me. I didn't seem to be closing the gap. Push harder. Crossed Hydro road and headed back towards Lakefront Promenade. As we crossed Hydro Road, I caught a glimpse of the lead girl. Ohhh, not too far off now. I looked at my watch and thought Holy Smokes, we're not far from the finish line and it's not even 45 minutes in. Hmmm.....I wonder if we do another loop of the point, I hope so, cause I'm closin' in. As we made our way towards the road where we turned down to finish, I saw the bike marshall riding towards us. What??? Oh God, please don't tell me we have to go BACK out again?? We were directed to go right so I figured we were heading back out to do a loop around the point. I now had a clear view of the girl in front of me. The gap seemed to be closing. Sweet. As we entered the path on the point, Rooster really started to close the gap on the lead girl. I wasn't far behind him. He caught her and passed her. I was about 100m behind him. I started to push it. She looked back and saw me but I don't think she had much in the tank. I pushed harder to try and close the gap as we rounded the bend, I was just off her shoulder. I thought about staying there for a bit but opted not to. I didn't want to lose Rooster. I passed the girl and took the women's lead. The second half of the Roctane had hit my system and I was feeling good. I was definitely working hard.
We made our way back along the path and had to head back out towards Lakefront Promenade. I was hoping the turnaround was there but as I got closer I didn't see anyone standing there. Crap. Don't tell me we have to go all the way back out to Hydro Road?? I was starting to get a bit cranky. My legs were really starting to hurt. I had managed to catch up to Rooster and was running right behind him. I didn't want to push myself too much harder as I had no idea where we were supposed to turn around. I hung out behind him and then he started to pull away a bit. I didn't have anything. We got towards Hydro Road, crossed it again when I saw 2 guys standing by the side of the path a little further up. At LAST! I hit the final turn around and knew that I had less than 10 minutes left. I glanced at my watch and figured there was a really good chance that I'd break 1:05 if I could hang on to my current pace. I saw the girl I passed coming up to the turn around. I had put a decent gap on her but I wasn't about to ease up. As we came back across Lakefront Promenade, I started to pick up the pace. I actually started to close in on Rooster. I caught a young guy on the path on the way back. I passed him like he was standing still. I could see Rooster about 150m in front of me. He had the afterburners on. Cripes. I crossed the road and busted my butt towards the finish line. I saw Gary sitting in the car with the window down, taking pictures. I waved and powered my way to the finish line. I glanced at the clock as I crossed the line: 1:04: something. ohhhh yeahhhhh!!! A new PB for 15km.
Not only did I take 8 minutes off my previous 15km time, I ended up with the women's overall win. That's the icing on the cake for me! Not a bad way to cap off an amazing season of racing.
Now it's time to me to chill out, enjoy the holidays and perhaps start formulating a plan for next year.