Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Run 15k Race Report

Oooooh boy do I have a lot to say about this race. Yikes.

The good thing about this being an evening race was that I got a good night's sleep because I wasn't waking up every 5 minutes in a panic about sleeping through my alarm and missing the race start.

The bad thing was I spent the whole morning wandering around on edge with nerves, which is dumb because I'm a mid pack runner who runs for fun (and t shirts) and what the heck do I have to be nervous about, really? Sheesh. And the nerves just got worse as the day went on.

Prepared for anything.

I got my stuff packed up, did some nervous house cleaning, choked down a bagel/cheese/tomato sandwich for lunch,  forced myself to drink a bunch of water to ensure I'd be well hydrated, and watched the clock obsessively until it was time to go meet Nicole and Sam.

Sam, where are you? In retrospect her difficulty finding the meeting place was possibly a sign...
I drove us into downtown Toronto without incident, and did the stressful Downtown Toronto Parking Hunt, which is always good times. It was kind of unfortunate it was such a beautiful day, because that meant a gazillion people everywhere.

We encountered our first line of the day waiting for the ferry across to the Toronto Islands (seriously, how is there no pedestrian bridge or tunnel or something?), but things moved quickly and it wasn't long before we were on the boat.

Maybe if everyone starts pushing it will go faster!
 Got to the island, attempted to find some other Daily Milers for a meetup but most people had ferry issues (or possibly we were in the wrong place) because we only found Roxane and Heather. Nice to meet you, guys! Lounged around on the grass, attempting to avoid the goose shit, and killed time until the race start.

The islands are quite pretty. I wouldn't mind spending some time over there, if it weren't for the hordes of people everywhere. People are the worst.
 Waited in the second line of the day, to check our bags. For some reason my left glute cramped up horribly at this point. I stretched it out, but it was clearly determined to stay cramped.
Bag check line. I'm really not entirely sure why this took so long, they were just tossing the bags indiscriminately into trucks.
It was around this point we realized we had no idea where the start was. Turns out not at the Sports Stats timing mats we had walked past on our way to the general starting area, but in a different spot with nothing marking that it was the start! Mass confusion. Nicole got herself organized to start her 30k pacing gig, and we wished her luck. Then Sam and I ran into Mari and chatted for a few minutes before the 30k started and she had to go run.

30k runners waiting to start. With no defined start corral? More mass confusion!
Sam disappeared to go to the bathroom, and the start area (such as it was) started to get crowded, so I wedged myself in next to the 1:30 pacer and hoped for the best. Then I noticed that for some inexplicable reason the 1:40 pacer was ahead of us and I knew the first km was going to be a clusterfuck of too slow people ahead of me. Especially when a couple of women in front of me started asking if the walkers were supposed to be mixed in with the runners. START AT THE BACK, WALKERS! GOD!

This guy was wearing two different shoes. Fashion choice or mistake? You decide!
My glute was still not happy, so I crossed my fingers it would loosen up with some running. The horn sounded for the start, and as soon as we crossed the mat it was clear I was waaaaay too far back. Very narrow paths made the first km a mess as I kept having to slide over to the side of the path and sprint around slower runners (and WALKERS. GOD.). The 1:30 and 1:40 pacers were yelling at each other ("1:30 speed up!" "No, 1:40 slow down!") as I managed to get around both of them and leave them to figure out WTF they were doing on their own.

My glute felt OK so I focused on just running, and catching up to (and then passing ) the 1:25 pacer. The crowd thinned out after the first km and I was able to settle into a relatively comfortable pace, although I quickly had three major problems: I was hungry, I had a side stitch, and it was really f'in hot. In retrospect I should have taken a gel immediately because the energy would have been helpful later in the race, but at the time I wasn't sure if that would help or hurt the side stitch.

The course was confusing (an aid station 500m in? what? and we looped back around through the start again? ok...), and at one point was over sand (WORST). I did spot Nicole on one of the loopy switchback things and she looked good. I also yelled 'GO SAM!' at a girl who was most definitely not Sam. Hope she enjoyed the encouragement. There were some great views of the CN tower, but mostly it was hot and there were a lot of random people walking and biking getting in the way. The perils of races on paths. I was grateful when we turned around and the sun was at our backs, but still, too damn hot. And my glute was threatening to cramp with every step (seriously, I have no idea what was up with that). It was clear within the first couple of km that a 5:20 pace was not happening, but my watch wasn't set to display pace and I was avoiding looking at it, so I really had no idea how fast I was going, except I was ahead of the 1:25 pacer.

I look like I'm practicing 'smell the fart' acting. Totally didn't see this photographer until it was too late to flash my traditional thumbs up.
The km markers were in some cases hilariously wrong (when I passed the 9k marker I was like NO WAY and checked my watch - 8.5k. And then I'm pretty sure the 10k marker was long, making that the longest km of all time). And there was a lengthy section, maybe 2k, over a terrible boardwalk that filled me with hate and loathing (although at least we only had to run it once - 30k suckers had to run it 3 times). By the time I (finally) got to 10k I just wanted the stupid race to be over. I was still hot, my glute was now full on cramping, I was hungry, and everything was stupid. Especially when we had to run over grass. Bah. I could tell I was slowing down a lot but didn't really care. I did talk myself out of stopping to walk, though, so that's a win.

With 2k or so left the 1:25 pacer passed me. Crap. But I couldn't work up the gumption to keep up with him, so I let him go. Over a stupid bridge, across more stupid grass, WHERE THE FUCK IS THE FINISH, oh there's Patty and Sam! I yelled at them that my ass hurt (I'm sure they cared) and sprinted to the finish.

The expression on that guy's face in the background is cracking me up. Maybe he could tell my glute was KILLING ME.

I crossed the finish with a final chip time of 1:25.01. FUCK. If I'd realized I was that close to 1:25, augh. I assumed I was way off because the pacer had passed me, but he did cross the start line well before I did.

Gun time: 1:25:42
Chip time: 1:25.01
Overall place: 354/1314
Gender place: 141/860
Age group place:  54/279

One thing I did really like about this race was the reusable water bottle they hand out at the finish. I can always use more of those, since my kids take them to camp and lose them.
This race also has awesome shirts. Can't wait for cooler weather so I can try this one out! Top pic is the front of the shirt (plus the water bottle) and bottom pic is the back.

Met up with Patty and Sam, rapidly started getting cold, discovered the line to pick up checked bags was insane. I always use a very distinctive bag if I'm checking baggage at a race, so I said to hell with this and just went and grabbed my own bag. Made more sense to me than standing in line, even if some guy with a headset was yelling at people to let the volunteers find their bags for them. I am so rebellious.
Thank god that's over.
 We had some time before Nicole would be coming in (nice thing about waiting for a pacer - you know exactly when they are supposed to show up at the finish!), so got our food. The pulled pork was good, and they gave me double potatoes instead of icky coleslaw, score (then they tried to give Sam double coleslaw, HA).

Yum. I heard that later on they ran out of sides and veggie burgers, though, which really sucks for the 30k people who were probably way hungrier than the 15kers.

We cheered Nicole in to the finish (she did awesome), then she got her bags and her beer and stretched out a bit. By this point I was sweaty, sticky, thirsty, and cold.

Patty, Sam, me, Nicole the pace fairy. My running friends make me feel tall.

And then it was time for the worst line of the day. The ferry line. Judging by the time stamps on the increasingly irrational texts I sent my husband ("Maybe we can just swim across, it doesn't look THAT far..."), we had to wait well over an hour for the stupid ferry.

Small part of the ferry line. A very small part.
I felt a little bad for the various families and non-runners in the line, because I'm sure all the runners smelled positively delightful.

Nice view of the CN tower and skydome. And then back to waiting. I was sore and tired after 15k, I can't imagine how the 30k runners felt about this lineup and wait!

And we waited. And waited. And complained. And waited.

I look way too cheerful in this picture. Nicole's expression captures it so much better.

Finally we got on a boat, got back to the car, and headed home. I dropped the girls off at their cars ("Thanks guys, that was fun!" "NO IT WASN'T"), got home, and went to bed for some sweet sweet sleep.

Would I do the Midsummer Night's Run again? Not if it's on the islands, that's for sure. 11 hour day for a 15k race? Jesus. I didn't get home until midnight!! And I think that evening racing really doesn't agree with me; I'd much rather run in the morning. I'm OK with my time (would definitely have liked to be faster) and I think I may need to revise my Scotia half goals, but I'm not going to worry about that right now. I've got some serious training planned over the next few weeks and will hold off setting any Scotia goals until after I run the Oakville 10k.

Now if I could just get my damn glute to loosen up! Some self myofascial release is helping, but I think I might need a trip to the physio this week if it stays sore.

Sam's race experience:
Nicole's race experience:


  1. LOL Nice recap Emma. I wouldn't base your Scotia goals on this race. Scotia won't be at dinner time, super hot or on varying terrain. Maybe we can pace this next year, all the swag none of the pressure to race. :oD

  2. Great recap, Emma! Agree with lots of what you said about the race. Hope your glute feels better soon. We ended up taking a water taxi back because I wasn't in the mood/nor condition to wait two hours for a ferry! Best decision!

  3. the thing not mentioned (which you were lucky to escape) was those whose bags were on the missing truck. the one that took longer to get to the finish than most of the 15k runners, and some of the speedier 30k-ers. I had to wait 45 minutes for my damn bag, and i was sweaty and cold and pissed off at the boardwalk!

    1. We saw the second bag truck arrive while we were eating - I was relieved my bag wasn't on that one! That was really strange, it's not like the start was far from the finish, so what on earth took the truck so long to get there?

  4. Everyone's having similar experiences. Have you ever done the Island Girl race? I'm wondering if there are similar issues....

    I figured out the km marker mess.....for the 30k we did so many loops that they had messed up the order. the 22km marker was where the 26km marker should have actually been. So 22km felt long and 26 felt short (as did many other sections of the course). Surprisingly enough my watch was practically dead on when I finished which almost never happens. I was shocked given the several grassy sections and poorly marked course.

  5. Thank you for the recap Emma. I had huge reservations about this race moving to the island, and everyone seems to agree it left a lot to be desired.

    And you were close enough to 1:25 that it counts ;)

  6. Wonderful job Emma on a challenging race (15k at 1745 is... stupid! LOL).

    Scotia will be awesome for you, I'm positive.

    Thanks SOOOO much for driving.

  7. Congrats on a great result, sucks about the 1 second! I ran Midsummer twice (30K) and can't get myself back to it. I find it a hard race to run call it the evening, the humidity whatever it is. I can't imagine doing it on the Island. So definitely don't base any future race on the outcome of this one.... Midsummer should always be a faster training run towards a future goal (in my opinion). Congrats again.