“The course of true love never did run smooth”.
-A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act I, Scene I)
Running is just like being in a relationship. It is demanding (you are never satisfied with the last race). It is selfish (your body doesn’t get time off). It is passionate (who doesn’t adore the glory of the finish line?). It is dependable (your shoes are always there to pound the pavement). And, it is unconditional (once my mind is willing, my body is ready).
“I’ll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes”. And, just like Puck describes the swiftness of his journey to fetch the magical flower, my own journey around Toronto Island at a Midsummer Night’s Run was, if not as swift, certainly as magical.
And, like any race, after the miles have been run and the necessary training has been put in, it amazes me that something still can go wrong. Jodi and I absolutely crack each other up when we reflect on our countless mishaps and when I say “our”, I mean “mine.” For example, when “they” say to race in what you train in – do it. Shorts that unexpectedly ride up or shirts that suddenly roll up not only cost priceless seconds while you correct them, but can also give your fellow runners a show that shouldn’t be seen! When “they” say not to use too much Bodyglide, listen! The result, as I have learned, can turn capris into bike shorts. But, somehow, with a little pixie dust, we always manage to have a memorable race and this was no exception.
Like most moms I know, running a smooth operation involving toddlers and young children often means laying out clothes the night before. You can just imagine my kitchen island as I had neatly organized all my necessary running gear. Learning from past race mistakes, we were going to get to the race with lots of time to spare and I wasn’t going to forget a thing!
We made it out the door and hit the road. We made great time, checked our luggage at the hotel, picked up our race kits and met our friend Laural for a pre-race meal before rushing back to get race ready at the hotel (thank you Novotel Toronto for checking us in early…thank you Jodi for not taking no for an answer!). Everything was going great. So, it came as a huge shock when I suddenly realized I had forgotten one of the most important running items a woman needs. Say it with me: the sports bra. I yelled from the bathroom to let my BRFs know that I was in crisis! And, just as I was about to cry, I heard a shriek from Jodi. Little did I know that our relationship was about to hit a whole new level of intimacy. She had miraculously packed an extra sports bra. She never does this. It was clearly pixie dust at work and the day was saved! Lesson learned: make a list, check it twice, pack the gear, check it twice. Repeat.
So with the tatas in place and dressed in sparkle, we began the journey to the island. We were pleasantly surprised to discover door to door bus service from our hotel to the ferry dock. The three of us thoroughly enjoyed our voyage over to the start line. Looking around at all the runners dressed in tutus, wings and ivy, we felt at home. We like to race, sure, but we like to do it in style! This was our kind of race. For the first time, we felt a bit under dressed in the sea of mythical creatures! But, we have also battled “tutu poo” and knew that our swift sparkle skirts, streamlined tanks and shwings would serve us well. It was a hot and humid day on the Island and our 15K started at 5:45pm with the sun still mercilessly shining down. We wanted to look cute, but be dressed to not only survive the race, but THRIVE.
Once on the Island, the volunteers in bright yellow were easy to spot and very helpful. We took in the scenery as we walked a fair bit to the starting area. There, after having fun posing as pixies, the transformation of getting race ready began. A last minute bathroom break catapulted us into a bit of a frenzy (Jodi was ready to join the Men’s line which may have caused a stir!), but we were able to take care of business and still have time to fill our bottles up with cold water – a bonus. So, we made it to the start line and found it to be super crowded – not a bonus. If I do have a critique of the race, it is at this point. Over 2,000 runners were present and we were all crammed together which caused quite a bottleneck to even make it over the start line and to then find your pace. On the up side, it was chip timed and the course was certified for the 15K distance, unlike the 5K course which was apparently over 6K. (Oh no – this brought back painful memories of my last bad relationship with the Nike app that always lied to me and made me think I was running an Olympic pace! What a downer when I first laced up to race and got a rude awakening). Anyway: sending runners off in waves would easily fix this concern.
I quickly lost my fellow pixies in the sea of mythical creatures. I quickly fell into my groove of running intervals and I kept reminding myself to “love the minute that I am in”. We realized after that Jodi had a similar mantra during her race: “Run the kilometre you are in.” It worked for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed every respective minute and kilometre! This race boasted the most variety of terrain yet from the pavement, sandy loops near the beaches, the challenge of the wooden boardwalk that required so much of my attention to stay upright, and then a sprint to the finish through the grass. Equally diverse was the view. Running around Toronto Island was glorious even though it was unquestionably hotter than hot and not quite as dark as I thought it would be. Other than running in Disney, this race had the best views yet: parks, beaches, lapping waves, and the setting sun. I most appreciated the beautiful Toronto cityscape.
Jodi and I also got to pass each other at one point and we always love when that happens in a race. It is a boost – I saw her coming and knew from the fist pump as she passed that she was having an awesome race. This held up for her throughout the whole dang course and she needed a good race after a bumpy half-marathon earlier this spring. She’s back, baby!
The volunteers in their bright yellow shirts were extremely helpful and encouraging, especially at the points where the 15K and 30K runners went on different paths. Equally outgoing and supportive was the running community. It is funny as an interval runner that eventually you end up running in sync with fellow racers – back and forth. “Susan” was my mid-point in this race. I was also overwhelmed with encouragement from runners like Jodi’s colleague, Begona, who shouted on praise as I made my final dash to the finish line. Runners, from my experience, are really great people!
Crossing the finish line was bitter-sweet. This was my last long race before the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon. We’ve got lots of other races coming up, but none as long for me as this 15K. Consistency has been conquered and my weekly runs with my running group have paid off. I was proud of my accomplishment. And I was proud of Jodi for running that course so well, staying so strong and positive, and basically kicking butt. And Laural, who had taken a break over the summer, stepped up and ran a great race too. But most of all, we just had so much FUN.
But running is ruthless and I have just one more story to tell. When “they” say lube your feet – listen! My obscene blisters (think: bloody socks) were more than adequately dealt with at the medic tent. I was politely advised to lube generously with Bodyglide on my next long run. Whew! My heart was pounding as I thought the medic was going to say get new shoes. That would not have been good news as I have just been recently reconnected with my Asics Gel Nimbus 14 in pretty pink. So my feet were fine but then we took some impromptu jumping pictures (thanks to a fellow runner) and my back did not agree that it was a good idea. Funny idea, yes. Good idea, no.
After hobbling into the After Party, I will always remember chowing down on that chicken burger and mashed potatoes with a beer and thinking that it actually tasted like the best meal that I ever have had. And yes, a wonderful evening of racing was put to the test waiting for the ferry, but waiting for what seemed like hours just to get onto that crowded ferry and then stumbling off in a sea of runners all in search of chocolate milk is all part of this tale. Although we were utterly spent, you would never know it from the smile on our faces. I guess, in the end, we are people who see the glass as half full – life is just too darn short to complain. Every adventure is what you make it! And these 2 princesses on the run always make it sparkly, shiny and fun! The memories made will never be forgotten. And forevermore, “I am that merry wanderer of the night”.