This was to be my 1st time running the Good Friday Road Races 10-Miler, put on by the Burlington Runners Club, but I wondered whether my right hip flexor was going to hold up…
At 6:30 AM my alarm went off, and by 7:30 I’d eaten my oatmeal and banana and Alasdair and I were on our way to Aldershot High School. The forecast was for a sunny 7-9 degrees Celsius during the race, but first, the fog needed to clear! It was so nice to even think about racing in shorts!! After a very short drive (no race is closer to home than this one!), Alasdair dropped me off at the high school, then went to park at LaSalle Park not too far away – parking at the high school was reserved for race volunteers. There was also the option to park at the Aldershot GO station and take a shuttle bus to the race start. Because of a calf injury Alasdair wasn’t racing, but I waited for him to return to the high school so we could pick up our race kits together. In the meantime, I people watched. We got our race kits (bib with embedded timing chip, a GFRR-branded toque, leaflets advertising other races, and sample natural health products, which are illegal, but we don’t all know the ins and outs of the Food and Drugs Act!) and then had lots of time to people watch some more.
A 1k Bunny Hop (a run, not a hop!) was to start at 8:50 AM, so there were lots of little people around wearing bib #1, and quite a few kids and adults wearing bunny ears. We spotted our next door neighbour, who would be running with his dad, and one of my soccer teammates with her husband and 2 girls, who would also be running. They were also participating in the 5k, with him pacing her! We went out to watch the Bunny Hop, which had the kids starting in “waves”, the oldest ones first and parents pushing strollers last. There were even Easter bunnies handing out chocolate eggs before and during the race! I wish I could run as fast as the race’s unofficial winner – 3:15 or thereabouts. All the kids got medals at the finish line.
We went back inside so that I could use the bathroom again, but with only 3 toilets for all the women (and kids!) there, the line-up was long (this is my only complaint about the entire race experience – opening up a bathroom in another part of the school, or at the attached pool would help!). After my turn, I went back to the end of the line, knowing I’d have to go one more time! Thankfully, the timing worked well – after emptying a tiny pebble from my shoe (that would have been annoying for the race!), I headed right for the start line.
We watched the 5k race start at 9:30 AM, and then walked to the 10-miler start line (not too far away). It was here that I learned we’d be running 2 loops of a 5-mile (8k) route – if I knew that before this point, I had forgotten completely!
I was glad to have grabbed my sunglasses, because just before the race was to start, the clouds began to clear! Alasdair wished me well, moved off the road, and less than 3 minutes later the race was on!
The race started downhill, but it wasn’t long before we were on the rolling hills of Northshore Boulevard, which also make up part of the Around the Bay (30k) race route (which we couldn’t run this year because of basketball conflicts). I didn’t have a time goal for this race, because I knew the hills would be tough and I wasn’t sure what pace I could hold. I knew that finishing in 1:30 would be an excellent time for me.
As usual, I started off too fast, with my first km done in 5:19. There were not a lot of spectators out on the course cheering, but there were lots of enthusiastic volunteers. On the first loop, I dealt with some side stitches, but they were never too bad. Close to the Royal Botanical Gardens was this guy, who suggested it was so easy we might want to do 3 loops. (This picture appeared in the Hamilton Spectator after last weekend’s Around the Bay, which he ran in – apparently he makes his own costumes and wears a different one for each race he enters. I wonder why the word “costume” appears on the bottom of the picture… as if anyone wouldn’t know?!)
Near the end of the 1st loop, I decided to have some gatorade at an aid station, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the one artificial flavour I can’t stand – orange! I downed it anyway, as I walked for about 10 seconds or so. I finished the first loop in 46:39, or about 5:49/km. I was not looking forward to doing the hills again!
Because of the course layout, Alasdair was able to see me multiple times during the race, which was nice!
The 2nd loop was unremarkable, really. My pace was slowing, but as usual, my legs weren’t the limiting factor – it was my cardio. I forced a gel down, though really didn’t feel like having one – I knew the energy may come in handy towards the end of the race! I ran for a while beside a man and a woman, and chatted a bit with them. There was a heavily tattooed man ahead of me, who every once in a while was taking walking breaks. But he kept looking behind him, and every time I narrowed the gap and got close, he started running again! It was actually good motivation to try not to lose him. I grabbed another cup of gatorade at the same aid station as on the 1st loop, and walked for a few seconds while I drank it. This race had mile markers and km markers, but I mostly just listened to RunKeeper on my phone talking to me at every new km I reached.
In the last 100m of the race, I got a high five from a kid and an adult, and then ran down the hill to the finish line. In the end, I finished in 1:35:46, and my hip flexor didn’t bother me one bit (it had been giving me trouble in the last week or so). I was happy with my time. Because I’d never done this race before, it was an automatic PB for me! Just past the finish line, I received my medal and a bottle of water, and then I walked a bit while I waited for Alasdair to get back to the school.
We went inside, grabbed some food (including chocolate eggs – yum!, fruit, bagels and jam, cookies, bars of some sort, and awesome Oasis juice!), and were just in time for the awards ceremony.
The race winner finished in a blistering 58 minutes! The top woman finished in 63 minutes.
Later, when we were leaving the school, I looked for my results posted on a board, but not all results had been posted yet. I did find them on one of 3 iPads they had set up under a tent though. Neat!
I highly recommend this race – it’s got some challenging hills, and for the most part is along quiet side streets. Everything was well organized, from registration to email communication by the race organizers, to race kit pick-up. There were lots of volunteers on the course, and police where necessary to control traffic. I’ll be back!
Time: 1:35:46 (9:34 min/mile or 5:59 min/km)
Splits: 1st 8k – 46:39; 2nd 8k – 49:07
Overall place: 108/155
Gender place: 46/83
Age group place (women 40-49): 22/39