Race Reports

Whitby Marathon

Running the inaugural marathon in Whitby would be my second, of three back-to-back marathon weekends.  This was starting to become much more of a regular thing for me and I was not too worried about how I would do. 

I was able to drive up on the Saturday so I could pick up the race-kit in advance, and I stayed at Steph’s friend’s house in Whitby for the night.

To make things a little bit more interesting for this race, I decided it would be a cool challenge to wear some of lulu’s more casual wear while running the entire race, just to show that you can still sweat in them too!  I wore a pair of black Kahuna Pants, and a blue striped Polo Shirt.  I also wanted to try running the entire race with my backpack on, as training for when I would be running in Corsica on the GR-20.  I only filled the bag with about 2/3’s of the weight I would be carrying on the hike. 

In the morning, they had a kiddie-race taking place before the marathon start, which was a lot of fun to watch.  Then it was our turn!  It was a nice cool spring morning that started to warm up a little bit as we got closer to midday.  I was able to find a few new friends to run with which made the run a lot of fun. 

I was getting lots of strange looks and questions about my outfit, which was to be expected.  Most people couldn’t believe I wasn’t boiling underneath.  I just explained to them how well the material breathes and that it is also moisture wicking to help keep me cool.

I spent awhile running with a young girl who was well on her wait to a BQ time.  She was a fan of lulu as well, and it was her first marathon.  The heat was starting to get to me in the final stages of the race, where there were long stretches of the course without any shade.  Overall I thought the course had a good variety of city, suburb, parks and trails. 

I finished with a remarkable time of 3-hours and 46-minutes, considering I was dressed more for a round of golf than a run. 

I headed back to Amanda’s to take a shower and tidy up before driving back home.  As I walked in the door, a teenage boy was looking at me, and scared me a bit.  I was thinking, “Who are you and what are you doing here???”  He was thinking the same thing about me.  After a couple moments, we got things figured out.  I explained who I was and he explained that Amanda’s brother had asked him, a friend of theirs, to let the dog out during the day, and he didn’t know about me staying over. 

All was well and I lived to see another day.  The following day, I planned to finally win the Watford Road Race.  I prayed that my legs would recover quickly, which turned out not to be very likely.

Mississauga Marathon

The Missisauga Marathon has been a race that I have wanted to do for the last few years, but because of it’s timing with the Forest City Marathon, I have been unable to make it out.  I was really excited to finally be running it.  I would be treating it as a training run, leading up to my big GR20 hike at the end of June.  The focus was just getting used to lots of miles on tired legs. 

Since I wasn’t running for a time goal of my own, I was more than happy to run with my friend Stephane, who was doing the 42.2km distance for the first time.  Sarah and Brady, another couple of friends from lululemon, were running in the Half, so I was looking forward to having lots of company for this race. 

On race morning, Stephanie and I arrived early at the mall, near where the start line was.  We were supposed to meet Sarah and Brady, who picked up our race kits the day before, but we couldn’t find them anywhere.  We were starting to get a little nervous that the race was about to start and I didn’t have my bib or timing chip yet!!

Finally, we spotted Sarah in the crowd, and I felt much relief.  There were some issues with the traffic being redirected and it took them much longer to get there than they prepared for.  I got my bib on and the race was about to start, only with no sign of Stephane. 

I entered the corrals with Sarah and Brady, thinking that I might be running the second half of the race by myself.  We thought maybe Stephane had second thoughts about the race, considering he had never run more than 21k before and he was about to try for twice that distance.

The starting gun went off, and the crowd started to shuffle forward.  The start was really slow since we tucked ourselves closer to the back.  We were patiently walking, getting closer to actually crossing the starting line, when out of no where, Stephane comes running over from outside the corrals.  He hopped the barricade and joined right in.  He must have had some troubles with traffic too.  So now we were all there, and once we crossed the mats at the start, we were able to run a regular pace. 

The first half of the race was quite enjoyable.  We just chatted and had fun while passing the mileage markers.  Shortly after the half-marathoners split off, we started to slow a little bit.  Stephane was now running further than he ever had before, and I knew it would be a challenge to keep him going all the way to the finish.  Luckily, he is generally very fit, which would have to make up for his lack of training mileage. 

After passing the 30k mark, we were starting to take more frequent walking breaks.  I suggested to Stephane that he try to take in as much water and gels as he could, to get his legs feeling more energized.  We made it through with only a few kilometers left to go. 

We turned onto the final stretch of road leading towards the finish, and slowly caught up to this really strong looking guy wearing a t-shirt that, on the back, said something like, “You’ve just been passed by a track star!”  I thought it was a bit of a bold statement to put on your shirt, especially for someone looking absolutely parched near the end of the race. 

I thought I would have a little fun and try to encourage him, along with Stephane over the last few kilometers of the race.  I came up beside him and told him to keep it up, that we were almost there.  “Try not to let me pass you!!  You are strong!!” 

I’m not sure how much it helped the track star, but Stephane and I pulled through to run the last bit into the finish.  Stephanie and her friend Laila, along with Sarah and Brady were all there to watch us come across the line.  We came very close to having an even split.  Even though it wasn’t a fast race, it felt great to be able to be a part of Stephane’s first marathon. 

After a short recovery in the park, we headed on back to London.  I would need to keep myself in good shape with such a busy race schedule ahead of me. 

Pick Your Poison 50k

I have heard so much about this race from others in the OUS that I had to see what it was all about.  I knew that the course was quite challenging and that it is a big accomplishment just to finish.  I decided to make it even more challenging for myself by squeezing it in to an already tightly packed weekend.

I had to work on the Friday night, and there was a going away party after work for a couple friends that I really didn’t want to miss.  I figured that if I already had to stay for work, I might as well stay for the party too, and just drive up through the night. 

I had the car packed before work, and just drank a couple Redbulls at the party.  After a fun night with my friends, I was on the highway, en route to Horseshoe Valley, near Orillia.  I stopped several times for coffee and fuel, and once to have a 20-minute power nap. 

By the time I was within a couple kilometers of the race venue, it was past 5 o’clock in the morning.  I parked my car in the Foodland parking lot and laid down in the back seat to try and get an hour or two of sleep.   I really am a marathon junkie!

I awoke to my wristwatch alarm, and a very sore body from sleeping in the car.  I felt like I barely slept, which I guess is probably true.  It only took me a couple minutes to drive down to where the race was taking place.  I changed into my race attire and picked up my race bib. 

For breakfast I munched down on a Clif bar, chasing it with a Rockstar.  As I went over my game plan back at my car, I couldn’t help but notice some boisterous runners gathering at the car beside mine.  I went over to introduce myself.  They were razzing each other and speculating on how the day would go.  These boys were definitely an interesting bunch. 

We all headed over to the start for a pretty low-key send-off.  The course was a 12.5k loop that we would run four times.  Right from the start, there were steep hills, lots of roots and rocks, and unsure footing.  Deeper into the route, there were fresh trails where the soil was still fairly loose.  We weaved in and out of the forest, between the ski hills. 

The aid stations were set up fairly well, which was nice to see when running such a challenging course.  I always enjoy chatting with the volunteers as I grab a snack.  At one of the last stations, out near the highway, I came running in, and one of the volunteers shouted out, “Where’s your skirt?!”  I was taken by surprise, since I didn’t recognize her.  Then I clued in that she had seen me the previous summer running the Dirty Girls Run in one of lulu’s run skirts.  I smiled sheepishly and explained it was a one-time deal, and then grabbed some PB & J to go. 

I caught up with one of the guys I met out in the parking lot.  He seemed like maybe the patriarch of the group and was moving along with a pretty good pace so I decided to stick with him for a while.  We started chatting, and I learned that they all were from the same running club, called the Frontrunners. 

Little did I know, but the Frontrunner club has chapters all over the world and is a running club for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.  That helped to explain the guys’ flamboyant behaviour before the race. 

We ran together for almost a full loop, and he told me about some of his great accomplishments as a runner in his younger days.  He was highly competitive and nearly won some really big races. 

In the middle of the race, it started to rain.  Before long it was pouring down really hard.  I was completely soaked and the trail was getting really messy.  My head was having a hard time keeping motivated.  I just kept moving forward and by the end of the third loop, the rain had stopped.  I took a moment to dump the water and mud out of my shoes.  I only needed to do one more lap and I could have a nap!!! 

Part way through the final loop, I caught up with a girl named Shauna, who was doing not only her first ultra, but also first time doing a race over 30k.  She looked like she was doing quite well; but both of us were in need of a little boost to make it to the finish.  We chatted as we ran along, which made the time pass much faster.  We ran nearly the entire last lap together, finishing within half a minute of each other.  My finish time: just over 5-hours, 24-minutes.

The race provided a BBQ lunch, which was absolutely delicious.  The sun had actually started to come out during the awards.  Shauna came in second for the women, with only Laurie McGrath ahead of her.  One of the other frontrunners actually won the race. 

After all the fun, I grabbed my new socks (instead of a medal or a race shirt, Pick Your Poison gives you a pair of socks with a Skull-and-Crossbones on them to take home) into the car and started the long drive back home so I could work that evening.  I only had time to unpack the car once I got home and then head to the store. 

A couple people that heard I did a race earlier that day, almost couldn’t believe I would still be at work.  In hindsight, I don’t know how I did it.  The end of the shift couldn’t have come soon enough.  Once I got home that night, I was out like a light. 

© Brian Groot 2020