I left my house a bit later than I hoped, due to much messing about on Facebook but I still figured I had a decent amount of time to get there, get my kit and do a short warm up. It took me just over 15 minutes to get up to Corvair. I noticed a long line up of cars turning left but thought nothing of it and then realized that I missed the turn. Ugh. So I had to keep going north until I found a place to turn around. The next set of lights allowed me to do just that, along with another dude who also missed the turn. It meant that I was driving into a long line up of cars that were turning right to get into the airport. I assumed that all these folks were also doing the race. I glanced at the clock and it was shortly after 8:00 am. The race started at 9:00. We were crawling along. Of course, I panicked and silently cursed myself for not picking up my race kit earlier in the week. I couldn't see the parking lot nor could I see where we were supposed to turn. Oh well. I'd get there whenever I got there and if I missed the start so be it, nothing I could do about it now.
|The line up with no end in sight.|
|Packed Parking Lot|
These smaller races sometimes leave a lot to be desired in terms of organization but this one wasn't too bad especially given the fact that it was being held up at the aiport. The only real issue I had was with hearing the announcements. It was tough to hear anything inside the hangar unless you were right up by the stage and outside was even worse. Several of the runners had to step up and ask the people making announcements to speak up. I made my way right up to the front so I could hear. I noticed a bunch of other Team Running Free members and we started to chit chat while waiting for the race to get started. These guys were from the Orangeville Team and they were all really nice (hi to Hannah, Jeff & Len!). Hannah had just run her first marathon in Ottawa and was still on high from that. She'd never run a 5km either so she wasn't sure what to expect. I told her to go as hard as she could for as long as she could. That's what I was planning on doing. I'm not going to lie, a small part of me wanted to run leaning forward with my arms extended, you know, like kids do when they're pretending to be airplanes, but I didn't think that would get me very far.
We were finally given instructions to follow the volunteers out to the runway. I imagine for the volunteers it was kind of like herding cats but they managed to get everyone fairly organized and over to the start line on the runway. I wished my fellow Team Running Free mates a good race and wandered off to make my way up towards the front. I manged to find some space about 3 rows back which was perfect. The countdown started and then we were off. The crowd spread out very quickly probably because there was a ton of room to do so. One of the positives of racing on a really wide surface! This was great as I didn't really have to work my way through too many people. The course was a big oval. We ran out about 200 m, made our way around some pylons and then headed out along the runway. My heart rate immediately spiked and I could feel the lactic acid starting to build in my legs. My breathing was shallow and ragged. Not the best way to start a race but at least it was short. I figured that I'd calm down by the time I hit the first km. Sure enough, as I approached the 1km mark, I started to feel better. My Garmin beeped and I looked down to see that that first km was run in 3:44. Uh. Wow. Not sure I'll be able to keep that pace up but it's a good start. I passed a few guys and then realized that there were no other women in front of me. Wow, where is everyone? was all I could think. I figured there had to be another woman close behind me but I didn't want to turn around to check so just kept running as hard as I could. Kilometer number 2 rolled over in 3:53. Whoa, another sub 4 minute km. Geez. I was really feeling it in my legs. It was hot as all hell out on the tarmac. I figured we should be turning around soon so I kept my eyes glued on the runners in front of me, waiting patiently for a sign that the turnaround was coming up. Given that the course was totally flat and I had a bunch of taller people in front of me, I couldn't really see anything. Finally I saw the 3 leaders coming towards me. Ahhh, I was almost halfway done. I also got to see where all the other ladies were.
I made my way around the pylons only to be smacked in the face by a headwind. Awesome. That would explain my sub 4 minute km's earlier. I glanced at my Garmin and watched the speed drop. 4:00 min/km's, down to 4:08's down to 4:11's. I hoped that the 2 women that weren't too far behind me didn't have a strong finishing kick. I seemed to be able to hang on to 4:10's but I desperately wanted to find someone to draft off of. I pushed hard to catch the guy in front of me and I tucked in behind him for a bit. He started to pull away and I couldn't hang on. I couldn't see the finish but I could see the 4km marker coming up. I started to tell myself only 5 minutes max, just hang on for another 5 minutes. I was totally dying. I was hot, I was hurting and I really felt like I was going to heave. The triple H was almost in affect! I was hoping that I'd save the heaving until I crossed the finish line. Projectile vomit would not have been very sporting of me. The finish line started to come into view and I saw 2 of the volunteers scrambling with the finish line tape. I tried to push but I had nothing. As I got close to the line 2 guys passed me on either side and broke the tape.
Ah well, first place was first place, no matter if got to break the tape or not and I managed a new PB of 20:17 so it was impossible for me to be disappointed. And the guy in question came up to me much later and apologized profusely which I thought was really nice. He had no clue that I was the first place woman. He thought that they put the tape up because he was the first place team finisher. Such is life.
It was definitely an interesting place to race. Given the logistics involved I thought that the organizers did a pretty good job. There was a TON of post race food and water which is always great and there were plenty of porta potties on either side of the hangar so they were very well prepared. The medal is also pretty cool too. The best part is that race managed to raise $200,000 for Hope Air. It's definitely something I'd do again. If you want something flat, fairly fast and unique, then I'd highly recommend this race.
(photo credits: Phaedra Kennedy)