I love the start of July for many reasons: school is out; everyone, it seems, vacates town so it’s nice and quiet; it’s one holiday that Canada and the USA almost share (unlike Victoria Day and Memorial Day in May, and Thanksgiving which are weeks apart).
This is the first year that I raced on Canada Day. I don’t really know why I didn’t before and I have no explanation for why I did this year. I love racing because it gives me a good speed workout and it allows me to compare myself to others. I love racing because I get a “real” time and there is support with water and porta-potties, if needed, on route. I love racing because of the rush it leaves me with.
In the days before a race, sometimes weeks before, I am really excited; it becomes all I can think about. After the race, I can’t wait to get home and tell friends about it. But, for whatever reason, this one was different; perhaps it was just anti-climatic after the end of the school year.
On Thursday morning, Canada Day, I headed into Burlington, hoping to finish top Master. That wish disappeared when I heard that former Olympian marathon runner, Tania Jones, was at the starting line. The thought of placing as a top three was still there. I knew it was going to be a competitive run for me: Jacqueline, whose 5K time is about a minute less than mine was also there; Delilah, about 20 years younger and also close to my pace was also there sporting her Running Skirt. I wanted to finish ahead of them and I tried to relax as I watched one inch closer to the start line.
The gun sounded and we were off. The race was along the Burlington Waterfront, on the boardwalk, on gravel and, believe it or not, a bit of sand (but well-packed so footing was good). I pushed myself and blinked when I saw 20 minutes and change as I approached the finish line. Then, I reminded myself my eyes are aging and I just couldn’t read the clock. As I got closer, though, I realized I was right; my finish time was 21:28.
I was really happy with my time and I’m starting to believe that breaking 21 minutes is doable this summer. The former Olympian, know over 40 years, was first overall (no surprises there) and the 2nd runner was also a Master – a 5o year old who ran in 19 minutes. As I am almost half-way through the 45 to 49 bracket, I often wonder how much longer I’ll be able to keep this up; these women show me that I can.
I won my age group and brought home a medal (in the shape of a Maple Leaf, of course) and a beautiful diamond set necklace. Honestly, though, these didn’t mean a lot to me – or I would have written about this race sooner. What is more important are the new friends I made – Jacqueline, who I spoke with quite a while after, and Delilah, who is also friends with a co-worker (small world, considering we all live in different cities) – and the vision that I can do it.
My Dad always said, “Don’t be afraid to push yourself.” He was referring to school and work, but it does apply to my running and it is what I constantly tell myself.
One more thing: everyone was given two bottles of wine (10 ounces, I think), donated by the sponsor. My husband and I don’t drink; my friend, Liz, whose boys ran, also didn’t want them. So, I gave them to Jacqueline, who was quite happy to take them home; I told her to save them for the night before the next race.