When I pick my races, there are several things that I consider. How does it fit in with my training schedule? How easy is it going to be to get there (taking into consideration the boys)? How expensive is it (races can be expensive)? What are my chances of placing?
I always hope to place in an event. Who doesn’t? Usually, in the days before a race, I comb the race’s website, looking for award information. Sometimes, I go in thinking I have a chance of coming home with something. Others, I don’t think I have a chance. And then, there are those in which I’m sure that I don’t have a chance.
The Chocolate Half-Marathon was one of those races – the kind when my hopes of even squeaking into an age group were non-existent. Last year, the race’s first year, the top female half-marathon finishers were all in my age group; had I run it instead of the short course (finishing second overall), I may have earned one of those annoying “4th place age group awards”, the ones that make me “grrr”. And, with age groups being 10 years, and with my nearing the top, I felt sure that some freshly turned 40 year old would finish ahead of me. This year, the first place finishers, according to the race’s website, would win a long-sleeve technical shirt – and it was one that I would have loved to have.
Like so many other runners, I stood at the starting line and sized up my competition. Fleet Feet had a team of fast and fit-looking women and there were several others whom I felt would take me on the course. That made sense as this was a second year event so it was bound to draw more serious runners. That and the sudden heat that we’ve had led to a last minute decision to make this a training run. I just hoped to finish in under 1:45.
I was confused right after running 200 metres. We turned right, not left. Now, I can read maps but there were no directional arrows on the side east of the start; since the course finished on the east last year, I assumed it would be the same. Never assume because…. We also had a water station at 2.5K, which was not on the map for the half-marathon. Earlier tonight, I saw that it is marked but on the 5K route map – the course that clearly indicates an eastbound start.
Once we finally started running west, I felt that I had my bearings. But I had no idea where I was in terms of positioning. Kilometres were marked at 4K, 5K, 6k, 10k, 15k and 18K, and split times weren’t called. I figured that I was in the third wave of top runners but that didn’t help because we ended up being so spread out that there wasn’t anyone in sight because of the twisting nature of the course; most of the time, I ran my own race, at a pace that I could hold comfortably.
At the turnaround, I discovered that I was running better than I thought. Most of the runners ahead of me were male and I counted me as fourth female. By 18K, one gal passed me so I finished fifth – or so I thought. The race results show that I’m Gal No. 7, finishing in 1:42:07. My finish place guaranteed me, at least, an age group award. Hubby was proud, Skipper was excited, and Little Ironman asked if we could get some chocolate ice cream.
The boys and I hunted for chocolate and played in the lake (a brave move as Lake Ontario is filthy) while we waited for the awards, which were held 2 1/2 hours after I finished running.
When we arrived at the presentations, we learned that there wasn’t an award ceremony and that there were no awards! They were only giving draw prizes. However, I was able to learn that the women ahead of me were all under forty. That meant I was first master but I didn’t get that lovely blue shirt. Instead, I received an 8 1/2 by 11 inch certificate (I’ll scan it at work tomorrow) – no shirt, no medal, nothing but a piece of paper. I was doubly ticked!
On the way home, I told my husband that, really, I can’t complain. I won my entry fee which included a short-sleeve technical tee and I was given a long-sleeved technical tee for the “Sugar Profile” that I wrote for the Chocolate Race. I got in a training run on a challenging course which tested me physically and mentally. There were volunteers at water stations along the way so water was never an issue. And, Little Ironman got his chocolate ice cream.
Did I get any chocolate? No. I wasn’t in the mood for it after I ran, and I didn’t want to carry any around in the hot sun. But I will still run for chocolate. Yes, I will be back.
The stats: 1:42:07 (1:42:04)
7th female (1st 40-49 age group)