My St. Patrick’s Day run on Sunday was a blast. It was my first race of the season and I feel so ready to start racing. I miss the rush, sprinting towards a finish line, and adding more medals to the shoebox in my room. I decided to wear the surprisingly nice green tech shirt that came with my race kit. And I always knew I’d be wearing my ultra mini Sportkilt. I love that thing – it’s super cute and sexy and fun as hell to run in.
I had to get some significant mileage in as part of my ultra marathon training for the MTD 12 hour race in Rochester, so I decided to run to the race start. I live in North York and the race was right downtown in front of the Steam Whistle Brewery, right beside the CN Tower entrance. It was a 16k distance from my house.
The run to the race start on Yonge Street was very quiet and pleasant early Sunday morning. There was little to no traffic and the weather was comfortable. I passed about three Running Room stores, and got caught up in one running mob that was just leaving the store for its 8am group run.
I love watching Running Room runners. It’s funny how they all look exactly the same in a mob – black tights and reflective Running Room jackets and bright running shoes. I stuck out like a sore thumb with my monkey feet Vibrams and my Irisher running kilt. But I soon passed them by and I was on my own again.
As I approached downtown, there was more foot traffic on the sidewalks and I had to do some weaving to get by. I was about 10 minutes away from the start when I got pulled over by some cops. I thought maybe I was in trouble but it turned out they were on important official cop business – they wanted to know if there would be free beer at the race I was headed to.
I got to my race about 20 minutes before the starting time. I had no idea there would be so many runners. I had time to go to the bathroom and that’s about it. I did see an old classmate of mine who was in my nutrition program. She had an injury a few months back and this was her comeback run. I also saw another girl who was on the track team back when I was in high school. She looked exactly the same and it was kind of cool to see she was still running.
Front of the race line
I took a couple of pictures and positioned myself to start the race. I was feeling a little discomfort from the cold since I stopped for those 20 minutes. I had already worked up a bit of a sweat so I was damp and freezing when the 5k race horn went off. I decided to aim for a negative split, so I kept the same pace I ran down with for the first half. In the second half, I sped it up.
It felt like a brilliant split, but unfortunately there was no timing at the halfway mark and I forgot to look at my watch, so I’m not sure how I did. I ran along the edge of the route markers so I could watch the first place runners coming in after the turnaround point. I love watching fast people. I looked at each of their faces though and I was surprised at how tortured they all looked – like each step was agonizing. No smiles here.
I saw a lot of people that I recognized from previous Toronto races. I saw one guy from El Salvador who I had met in High Park last year at another 5k. He was ahead of me and I tried to catch up to him to say hi, but I couldn’t. He was really pushing some good speeds. At the finish line I couldn’t find him either.
I sprinted to the finish and got in at 26 minutes. I thought that was pretty good since I had just run 16k and my PR is 25 min for this distance. I was a little confused at the finish line because there was no one collecting chips and there were no medals. I headed back to the main tent, but I didn’t go inside because there were too many people and I was meeting a friend for hot drinks.
I ran a few more blocks to meet Mike I., a friend from Dailymile. He bought me a tea and a muffin. And after that I started the run back home.
I got caught up in the St. Patrick’s Day parade when I tried to run back up Yonge Street. The sidewalks were packed, so I ran on the road like I was part of the parade. Great fun. Some people even took pictures of me. I got a lot of smiles and the city vibe was festive. It felt great.
Eventually I outran the parade and I was back on normal streets with heavier traffic. Interestingly, the only discomfort I ever felt was when I had to stop at a light or for any reason had to break my pace. I’d start to feel cold or in need of a stretch. But as long as I was running, I was calm and breathing well and I felt comfortable. I truly felt like I was born to run. It was almost zen-like.
When I got home, I was sad to see the day end. But I was getting hungry and I knew I could use a good stretch. The transition from running to walking again is always strange after long distances. It takes a few minutes to remind your body what it’s like to stop. However, I was very happy with my recovery. I had no pain. No muscle issues. And I felt like I could have run longer.
When I got home I stretched out, took a shower, ate some food, and plopped on the couch. I ran a total of 38k on Sunday – the longest distance I’ve run since my marathon. And the longest distance I’ve ever run in my VFFs.
It was a great day.