I first noticed the race on Instagram last year, and it looked like such such an amazing event that I knew I wanted to participate this year (which happened to be the 40th anniversary of the event). The event offers a 5k and an 8k course, as well as an 800m kids run. With Ragnar on the horizon at that point, I chose to do the 8k - I really need to put in all the kilometres I can leading up to May. I'd also never raced 8k before, so I was interested in the challenge.
Online registration through Race Roster was a breeze, as usual, as was kit pickup at The Runners Shop.
The morning of the race Clem and I got up and I had my standard breakfast (whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana) and we TTC'd over to High Park. It was COLD so I was very glad Clem was there with a backpack so I he could hold my many layers that I peeled off right before the race started. But even though it was cold, the sun was shining, and once we got moving it was pretty perfect weather for racing. Right before the race started the race organizers held a minute of silence to honour Ed Whitlock, which was really touching.
|Nabbed some Ragnar swag|
The 8k route looped around itself within High Park, and finished at the top of a lo-o-o-o-ong hill on Spring Road before it meets Colbourne Lodge Drive just south of Bloor. The course was hilly enough to be challenging, but not so intense that I felt uncomfortable during the race. Joining Tribe for some of their Monday night hill workouts was also very helpful for strengthening my legs and helping me become more conscious of my form as I tackle hills. I also really enjoyed that the race created the Kill The Hill challenge out of that long hill towards the finish line: there is a timing mat at the bottom of the hill that tracks how long it takes runners to get from the bottom of the hill to the finish line at the top, with the fastest hill conquerers being awarded prizes. I definitely did not come anywhere close to winning anything, but I did get fired up as I crossed the timing mat and pushed myself up that hill as fast as I could go. It was very hard (trying-not-to-puke hard), but it was a cool way to end a race, and was different from my usual MO of suddenly finding the energy to sprint across a finish line.
|Almost at the top of the hill!|
|Check out that pain face|
Clem had his bike at the park so I got to see him a few times on the course, along with so many awesome people from the Toronto running community (Night Terrors, Tribe, and Run TO Beer, I'm looking at you guys!). Hearing people cheering for you, even if they are complete strangers, makes all the difference in my mood during a race.
Once I crossed the finish line I picked up my medal and some PowerBar samples, and met Clem for a high five and a sweaty hug. We picked up some food provided by CRS, juice samples from Oasis, and some Tim Hortons coupons, and then I made Clem take several post-race photos of me, like any good Instagram-husband should.
After a while we made our way back down the Spring Road hill, cheering 8k runners still on their way up, and around to Deer Pen Road, where we saw the speedy first pack of 5k racers blasting through the course. The two of us then went to the High Park Zoo to see the famous capybaras and their new babies. I can't recall ever having been to the High Park Zoo before, so I was pretty psyched to check it out on such a gorgeous day (and to walk off the lactic acid!). We watched the capybaras for a while, fed some llamas (a $2 donation to the Zoo gets you a small bowl of food), pet some crazy soft bunnies, and had some small talk with the Mayor who had been there feeding the baby capybaras breakfast and stuck around to chat with constituents.
Eventually we headed back to the race area, where hordes of children had just finished their run and were excitedly chattering to parents and pals, and showing off their medals. My ovaries had a moment (don't tell my in-laws).
Henderson Brewing Co. was hosting a post-race party and since the weather was so great Clem and I decided to walk over, which only took about half an hour. Runners got a free pint of the Food Truck Ale, which was delicious. We didn't stay for long though, because we were both getting hangry, so we walked over to Roncesvalles and had brunch at The Ace before heading home again.
All in all, an excellent day. The weather was great, I really liked the course, and registration was very reasonably priced. My race photos are terrible (as usual), but I bought them anyway (as usual). My official race time was 47:38, just under my goal of 48 minutes (based on my average pace for a 10k). My iTab arrived in the mail soon after the race, so I've stuck it to the back of my medal - it's a cool add-on that is guaranteed to get $10 out of me every time I run a race that has them for purchase.
I had a great day, and definitely plan on racing Spring Run Off again!