I got up at 5:30 that morning, as I had the previous week, which had gotten me to the cheer site on time. What I failed to consider in formulating my quick plan was that the previous week I had driven across the city. By the time I got out the door with everything I needed stashed in my hydration pack, it was 7:00 am. Hmm. The marathon had just started, so by my calculations, the men would be doing their last lap near the Pace & Mind cheer station at around 9:00 am so I had two hours to get there. Okay, so I wouldn't see the race from the start, but that was okay.
I headed west. It was a gorgeous morning, less humid than the previous week, but also less cloud. I hadn't used the Lakeshore / Queen's Quay trail west of the DVP to Ontario Place since the completion of the renovations. I was simply amazed at the change. In years past, it was difficult to continue east or west along this portion by foot or bike. I stopped to take a photo. And another. And another. I texted my husband to tell him how awesome it was. I stopped to chat with a man with a wheaten terrier puppy. I felt like a sightseer in my own city. At one point I glanced at my phone to see the time. Oh! Apparently my fun sightseeing long run was taking a little longer than anticipated! Okay, so I wouldn't see as much of the race as I thought, but I would still get to cheer them on for their last lap or so.
As I neared Ontario Place the marathon detours started and started to worry about being able to get to High Park in time--or at all. I started weaving along. At one point, I unexpectedly found myself facing the turn around point of the marathon! I stopped for a moment and snapped a photo as one of the racers passed. The detour continued through the CNE to a hill facing the grandstands and start / finish area. I paused there for a couple of minutes watching the action along with others camped out on the hill. I considered staying here in case I couldn't make it further in the detours. It was the fact that I hadn't finished my long run that kept me moving. After weaving again, I arrived at a long, open stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard. Based on the time, I knew that the men were now likely trekking through High Park. While I wouldn't get to the cheer section in time, I was going to see them on their final kick to the finish. I arrived at a spot along the stretch before Parkside when the leaders, Raul Pacheco ( Peru, who would win silver) and Richer Perez (Cuba, who would win gold) stride by with their motorcycle entourage. They were followed by Mariano Mastromarino (Argentina), Daniel Vargas (Mexico) and the two Americans pacing each other. Canadian Kip Kangogo approached, and I was able to cheer him on his last leg. Rob Watson trekked along a moment later looking down but determined to get it done. I yelled a cheer to him as well.
Two notable asides.... An unexpected photo bomb when I snapped a pic of the 4th place Mexican, who I later realized to be women's gold marathon winner, Gladys Tejada casually strolling by. Then, seconds later, Lanni Marchant ran by, turned around at Parkside and ran back towards me. Of course I said "Hi Lanni!" to which she smiled and waved. A man along the sidelines looked at me in surprise and said, "As in Lanni Marchant?" I laughed and said, "Yep!"
I made my way up the last 200 meters to the cheer station. I made it--even though all the participants had passed by. I spent the next half hour chatting with my friends Christa, Jenna and Alan Brooks and then walked Christa back to where she had parked her car. I glanced at my phone to see what time it was, and once again realized I was cutting it close to get to Coronation Park for Lanni's run. Despite already gotten in my scheduled long run distance, I knew running would get me there faster... So I ran. I arrived just after 11:00 am, with two minutes to spare before Lanni arrived. The group of about 20 runners including my friend Rebecca gathered around to say hi, take some photos and see her bronze medal from her recent 10,000 meter win. I enjoyed chatting with her for a few minutes, and told her I saw her sneaking in her 'real' run earlier on Lakeshore. The plan was to go for a short out and back run followed by beers in the athlete's only section of the CNE Pan Am area. We headed out. At just under a kilometer in, I realized I was done. I had been mostly either walking or running for four hours. I stopped in my tracks, calling to a probably surprised Rebecca to go on and that I may see her later. I stood under the shade of a tree flipping through the photos from the morning with a smile. At that point I realized I had already gotten way more out of this day than anticipated, and started walking again, this time towards the subway and home.
You just never know what you're going to see on a long run.