Race days are always on Rundays. While shorter races result in a condensed Runday, longer distance races (especially those attended by many of your running friends) can almost feel like holidays. Those kind of days where your sense of time is lost and responsibilities fade from your mind. There are, however, another kind of Runday. These fall less frequently on the calendar, and are extra special. This past summer I was lucky to experience two Rundays in one month during the Pan Am Games. Today, I’m very excited to share my first Runday of 2016!
While not required, actual running on a Runday is a definite bonus. I’m training for quite a few races this spring, including two half marathons (one fun, one goal), three 10Ks (two fun, one goal) and two 5Ks (one fun, one goal). It’s a much busier spring race season than I'm used to. When I sat down to prepare a training schedule early in the New Year, I found myself scratching my head, unsure of where to start. My friend Michelle is a coach and on several occasions said I should let her set me up with a plan. On a whim I decided, why not? Upon looking back, I realize this was a really great decision. In the past, I've largely followed training plans found on-line and modified them to what I thought sounded good. I was open to trying something new to see how it went. Michelle has a ton of running experience, coaching experience and knows me. I’m now in week four of training and I’ve already learned a lot, especially about pacing.
On today's calendar today was a 16K long run. I'm a bit of a multi-tasker when it comes to running. My weekday runs double as my work commute and I listen to podcasts or audiobooks during long runs. So, knowing I needed to be downtown at 10:00 am on Runday, I mapped out the route from home, added the run event distance and, voila 16K!
Given that it was going to be quite a long Runday, I planned all this the day before. I typically run with my amazing Salomon hydration pack, but the capacity for other items isn't huge, so tried out (and regretted) a new pack I'd recently purchased at MEC. I packed a change of clothes, keys, camera (my iPhone battery never lasts an entire Runday), money, ID and I even MacGyvered an extra hydration bladder into the bag (yes, this got a few giggles at the event)!
I arrived at Nathan Phillips Square with time to regroup before the team arrived. Team? Yes, JP's Team! If you are a runner in Toronto and active on social media, you've heard of Jean-Paul Bédard. If not, you should! JP is a husband, father, teacher, writer, runner and survivor of childhood sexual abuse. JP uses running , writing and his voice to relay the message. This is perhaps an understatement. JP was likely the friend of whomever created the phrase, "Go big or go home." The first time I heard about JP was on the news when he decided to race the Boston marathon twice--in a row. This past fall, I was standing at the finish line among his family, friends and media when he finished the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon three times--yes, in a row. Just after this, JP announced that he would be running the Ottawa Marathon as a double-double (twice on Saturday, twice on Sunday) and the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a triple-double (twice Friday, Saturday and Sunday). And, more recently, JP created #JPsTeam (details of which will be released this week!) All of this to raise awareness and charitable funds towards the victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Last year when I met Wesley Korir (2012 Boston Marathon winner, member of the Kenya parliament and documentary maker) I distinctly remember him telling our group how he used running to be able to do other things in life. I realized that JP was also doing this. These actions really had an impact on me, which inspired me in designing three logos for JP: one for the Double-Double, one for the Triple-Double and an extra special one for JP's Team.
Along the way I got chatting with Miriam about running, dogs and real estate. At a light and a turn we lost track of the group ahead of us, but kept trekking along, waiting for Bathurst. When we arrived at what we thought was Bathurst, we looked up in shock to see Ossington. Oops! We backtracked our way back and up to reconnect with the group and continued our chat the entire way! If you are going to get lost on a run, at least have someone to chat with!
Follow these links to find out more about Jean-Paul, JPs team or the free fun runs:
There is nothing worse than a group of rungry runners waiting for brunch! About 14 of us made our way over to Milestones at Yonge Dundas Square, the same place we had brunched earlier in the month. Given that I'd run 16K (longest since STWM last fall), I was definitely ready to inhale some breakfast food. Once again, the chatting and laughter was a good distraction in the meantime. It was so great to make a few new running friends today, including Miriam, Allison, Jennifer, Jodi and Roland!
After brunch I quickly hopped on the subway to trek back to pick up the car. Within minutes I was on the road and headed to the Track and Field Centre at York University to the Ontario Masters Athletics indoor mini meet. I'd been here two weeks earlier to cheer on Michelle as she competed in her first 600M race. Today, Michelle was taking on a much more challenging task--beating the Canadian Master's W40 indoor track record for 5000M. That's 25 times around the track, in case you are wondering. I arrived in time to chat, watch her warm up and meet family and friends there to cheer her on. When the race was due to start, there was a definite buzz in the air knowing that a record attempt was being made. The gun went off and competitors and spectators crowded around. Michelle was being paced by two other runners, and from the start she tucked in behind them and started powering through the laps. There were supportive cheers in those first 3000M, as people consulted each other to see if she was on pace. Adorable cheers from her biggest mini-me fan Ziri could be heard from the balcony, putting giant smiles on everyone's faces. Her coach Timo stood watching her closely, clipboard in hand. After 3000M, things started getting serious. Cheers got louder. The painful look on Michelle's face increased. And on one of the laps you could hear Timo tell Michelle that this was it, she needed to go. I cannot even imagine the pain that Michelle went through on those last laps. As she passed us on the final lap, everyone, myself include, was jumping up and down yelling to her. The clock ticked away as she circled, everyone yelling, 19:00, 19:10, 19:15...she rounded that final corner with a look of sheer anguish but powered her legs towards the finish...19:21, 19:22, and crossed the line at 19:23, beating the 19:31 record! Before you knew it her Mum was there, as Michelle wandered trying to catch her breath and let it sink in that she had done it. She took her Mum's hand as they circled the track for a recovery lap. When she returned, I was able to give her a huge hug of congratulations. Michelle has been an athlete her entire life and truly dedicates her life to running. It was an incredible moment to witness, especially knowing just how much it means to her.
Follow these links to read more about Michelle's accomplishment:
Upon arriving home, the whole house smelled like the pot-roast I had plunked in the slow cooker that morning. Dinner was served shortly after and I sat down to compile my Runday recap, and of course catch up on all of the posts by friends about the day on social media.To completely round out Runday, I decided to register for the Toronto Women's 5K. I'd been holding off trying to decide which 5K to do as a spring goal, but given the location, race reputation and closed course, it was an easy decision.
It was a good day. Tiring, but exhilarating, smile inducing and inspiring. If you have a chance to experience a Runday, do it--you won't regret it!