Last night I participated in Toronto’s A Midsummer Nights Run 15k race! This was not only my first time participating in this race but also my first endurance run!
This race happens twice a year, once in August and once in winter (aptly named A Midwinter Days Run). This is a night race that starts just on the lakeshore in Toronto and heads down to Tommy Thompson Park, loops around the lighthouse and back home again. This race has two distance options: a 15k and a 30k. I had never been to this area of the city before even though I live REALLY close to it (which was one of the reasons why I decided to participate).
They themed the race to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and encourage people to dress up in faerie type outfits. I really wanted to but, admittedly, I was too lazy to hit up the dollar store this week…maybe next year though!
I must say, I was pretty excited about it although I had sort of forgotten about it until the middle of last week when I remembered that I needed to pick up my race kit (I hate picking up race kits the day of).
The race “kit” only consisted of one item: a New Balance long-sleeved zip-up hoodie, gender specific (womens with pink script and the men with white). And I must say that I LOVE it! Everyone pre-race was absolutely raving about it. It’s technical (so you can wear it while exercising – it absorbs moisture away from your body) and really quite warm and totally comfy. I can definitely see me running in this come chilly November (and most definitely see me lounging in it). I have fallen in love with New Balance gear this year! They have such comfortable clothing and the fit can’t be beat! They’re not skin tight like a lot of other athletic clothing companies, they really allow for breathing room (and no, I did not get paid to say that but New Balance, if you’re listening…).
I’ve noticed that a lot of race kits this year are pretty bland consisting more of race advertisements than swag so I appreciated the team of A Midsummer Nights Run focusing on quality instead of quantity.
Other swag included a 500ml stainless steel water bottle from Planet Forward that was given to us, filled with water, after we crossed the finish line. We also got the best medal! Keep reading for details!
I haven’t done an evening race in about a year and even the first one happened after work and it was a 5k which I was used to at that point and not a lot of prep needed to happen. So first thing yesterday morning I made sure to start hydrating and I waited until about 2pm to have a nice big lunch. I brought out the traditional pasta with a great veggie sauce containing zucchini, eggplant, red onion, red pepper, tofu, garlic and a healthy dash of smoked paprika.
This was also going to be my second race without Alan (he missed my very first race because, well, we hadn’t met yet) so I needed to make sure I had everything I needed. I grabbed my backpack and then overcompensated for the fact that I didn’t have my BagBoy with me. I packed an extra change of clothes, including socks (it was raining out by that time), flipflops, my umbrella, a first-aid kit, my camera, Garmin, iPod, hat, deodorant, baby wipes, bottle of water, CamelBak filled with ice water cut with Grape G2 Gatorade and more water, gels, my phone, wallet and beauty case.
I brought far too much stuff. I never bring that much stuff but I was at a loss without Alan it seems! LOL
I headed out to meet my friend Mandy at the station for 5:15pm and we both headed down to the shuttle area where we were whisked away to the start line on a school bus (that was decorated! I never got to decorate the school bus! If we did we’d get in trouble!!!). By this time both Mandy and I were getting the pre-race jitters. This was the first endurance run for both of us!
I munched on a sandwich made with sandwich thins, coconut butter and dark chocolate dreams peanut butter while Mandy changed!
We took some photos (Mandy looks so cute in her Tinkerbell costume!!!), checked our bags and made the line to the port-a-potties. The one complaint I’ll make is that, for some reason, they decided to have mens and women’s only port-a-potties! Totally not fair! We didn’t even realize there were signs on the doors until we got closer in line but no one seemed to realize or heed them and so I went in the supposed “mens only” one!
I have to say that it seemed to be a pretty long race, mentally. For some reason I kept checking my Garmin every few minutes for the first 3-4k and thinking it was taking forever! But I soon found my groove and figured I should check out the scenery in the park as it was my first time! Tommy Thompson park stretches out over Lake Ontario in the shape of a lopsided Lifesaver lollipop (What?! It’s the only thing I could think of!). There’s a giant circle of lake in the middle of the park so you end up running around it in a loop. The good news is that it makes for a really nice running/walking/cycling destination. The bad news is that I wouldn’t go there for “beach life”. I don’t think there’s a beach on it at all and it’s right beside Ashbridges Bay which is also known as “Assbridges Bay” as the sewage treatment plant is also in this area! In the middle of the summer it can turn pretty ripe. Thankfully it was a cool, cloudy, still, evening so the smell wasn’t really noticeable. I hear, however, that the Acura Toronto 10 Miler that’s held in July is pretty rank as it also heads out that way in the early morning hours!
But it was a nice, flat run. It was also nice and quiet so it made for the perfect setting for a reflective race. It still felt like it took forever and even for the first little while I was unsure of how I wanted to run the race. I decided to register for the race because I thought that it would be a nice break in my half training and give me a bit of a time base on when I might finish my half. But because I ran 15k three weeks ago this week was also my “active rest week” so I was thinking of just treating it as a training run.
For the first 9k I was going at my typical long run pace (about a 7:30/km) and that’s when I made the decision that I paid good money for this race and what’s the point in racing if I don’t push myself a little? So I decided that for the final 5k I would try and push my pace a bit at a time.
Unfortunately, my tummy started acting up around that time so I was also contemplating a pit stop to use the bathroom! I kept throwing the idea around (as it wasn’t quite an emergency yet) but I also didn’t want to lose any time. So it was quite a confrontation between my stubborn side and my practical side. In the end, my stubborn side won out as I was nearing 2k to the end and kept reminding myself that port-a-potties awaited at the finish line and the faster I could get to the finish line, the faster I could get to the bathroom!
By this time the rain started again lightly but it was nice and refreshing although it started to make the roads a bit slippery. When I got to about 300m to the end, and just before I was to turn the corner towards the finish line I let ‘er rip and gave it all I got and this is when, my friends, I get sappy. I ALWAYS start choking up when I see the finish line. Last night was my 8th race and in all of them I do this and I can’t stop it! It just always amazes me that I’m actually participating in something I never thought I’d ever do. I’m always reminded of the person I used to be and the person I am today and the strides (literally and figuratively) I’ve taken to get to where I am today. Of course, it’s never good to start crying while you’re trying to run as fast as possible because it mucks up your breathing strategy!!! So I had my moment and then pushed it to the end and over the finish line in 1 hour, 51 minutes, 18 seconds!
My Garmin clocked me at 14.99km, I think I stopped it at the wrong mat but it doesn’t really make a difference. My official time was something like 1:51:20 so really, who cares?! I’m not really a “time” person. 15k is still 15k regardless of how long it took a person!
As soon as I crossed the finish line I was given a water bottle, had my chip taken and then given the best medal! Look at this baby! How beautiful is that?! And it’s HUGE! It’s about the size of my hand and must weigh at least 1.5lbs!
Mandy also did awesome! She thought she’d come in a lot later than she did. She came cruising across the finish line only ten minutes after I finished! Amazing!!!
Mandy and I ended up splitting a taxi home. We originally planned to go out for dinner but neither of us felt like eating at all so we just headed home instead.
All in all I really enjoyed this race. There was a festiveness about it (well, it’s hard not to when everyone’s walking around wearing faerie wings), the course was flat, there were aid stations every 3km and I even scored a great New Balance running top for only $5 afterwards! I know I said that I wasn’t going to do any races during the school year but I may make an exception for A Midwinters Day Run…