Date: August 28th, 2016
Gun Time: 20:58
Chip Time: 20:56
Placing Overall: 2nd out of 379
Placing in Age Group: 1st out of 33 (M40-49)
Theme Song: “Clouds“, Zach Sobiech
Time to dust off the blog again. The summer was uneventful from a running perspective (not to mention screamingly hot) as there really aren’t any competitions in Ontario in June and July. I tried to get into the Angus Glen 5 miler on one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, but it was full by the time I tried to enter, and in any case it ended up still being about 90 degrees at 7PM the night it was run (my buddy John, a veteran marathoner, ran it and said it was brutal between the hills and the heat).
This race was the 3rd iteration of the one I ran and finished 5th in last year. Some changes for the better occurred in the interim, as it’s now part of the RunWaterloo series and had a welcome change of venue (last year’s race featured having to stop for cross traffic on the streets intersecting the trail). The new location was on the trails in Homer Watson Park and on the grounds of the Waterloo Region Museum in south Kitchener, and was thankfully bereft of cars requiring dodging. However, the course was a lot tougher than last year’s, involving a lot of hills and some tricky loose gravel sections, and the hot, muggy morning didn’t really help things.
B was running with me this time, despite the fact that the race didn’t have a parent child team category. I told him not to expect a fast time, since I certainly wasn’t given the course and conditions. The Dean of our faculty was running as well after I put a call out for fundraising and companions (my colleagues came through in a big way in this regard, so big ups to them) and given the promotional boost from RunWaterloo the field was a lot bigger this year, with an added 10K to bring people in.
There was a live band playing a mix of music (including “Fat Bottomed Girls” again at one point – what is it with cover bands playing that song at running events?) and the Empire even showed up, as you can see below.
Anyway, the start time was delayed twice, largely because the parking was a shitshow and it was taking people 30 minutes to find a spot, and it also seemed like there were a lot of last minute entries. Eventually Paul Gibson, a pediatric oncologist from London, kicked things off by explaining why the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, the beneficiary of the run, was so important to patients and families. The band performed the national anthem, the horn went, and we were off into the muggy morning.
Once the usual phalanx of little kids at the front had sprinted the first 2oo meters of the race and dropped back out of the way, a couple of rather serious looking 14-year old girls in racing singlets took the lead. One of them was wearing University of Oregon gear which I found a bit odd, given that we are pretty remote from the Pacific Northwest, but no matter. They were passed by a young guy who blazed past them and was setting a pace that I didn’t feel I could match. I settled into about sixth and was feeling good as we passed through Doon Pioneer Village, complete with people in period costume. Have to say I’ve never run a race through the 18th century before. Feeling great as we reached the bottom of the first of the steep hills, I churned my way up, the way made somewhat treacherous by the gravelly surface. The course bent back around near the start and then up another hill to an out and back section.
It looked like the two young girls who had started so fast hadn’t reckoned on the hilly nature of the trail, and were fading a bit already. I blew past both of them on the undulating track and pushed forward. A helpful guy out walking his dog watched me pass and said, “Hey, you’re third”. Thanks dude, I thought.
So now it was a matter of holding my pace, which despite the tough course I seemed to be doing pretty easily. At the turnaround I could see that the first place guy was at least a minute ahead and I probably wasn’t going to be able to catch him, but I was definitely within striking distance of second. I passed B coming the other way and gave him the thumbs up, and focused on second place. By the time we reached the downhill stretch back to the finish line at about KM 4, I was right behind the other runner. I probably could have kicked and gone by him at this point; I had plenty left in the tank. I opted to be tactical and draft off him until the turn to the finish. I knew I wasn’t going to PR anyway and I felt it would be the best strategy to ensure second. It worked, too.
Afterward, my son and I were talking to a guy who said he had lost over 100 pounds in the past year after gastric bypass surgery, and actually finished top 5 in the 30-39 group. This made me think that even though sometimes running becomes a bit of a drag, it’s never hard to find someone to inspire us further.
So, my time was pretty slow for a 5K, but everyone’s was. Most people I talked to felt like the course was 45 seconds to a minute slower than a flat 5K would be. B did pretty well, finishing in 30:58 in 74th. Over $50,ooo was raised for pediatric cancer, which was the best thing of all. And hey, I’ll take two second place finishes in a row any day.