Harry’s Spring Run Off to Fight Prostate Cancer. What a Weekend!

Celebrating the victory, personal best time of 26:59 on a hilly 8 km course, and comeback from injury. This shot, taken by Canadian Running Magazine reminds me of  …

Dylan’s celebration after making the Canadian qualifying time in
Rotterdam for the 2012 Olympic Games. Not quite the same significance
but still.

Yesterday was my first official race of the season. Yes, I ran the Around the Bay race but that was a “training run” and this time I was allowed to give it my all. What a great feeling.
Leading up to the race was a bit stressful. I’ll be honest, being a mom and running is amazing but there are times I too get overwhelmed. Thursday I had to unexpectedly wait in a long line at the transportation office to get my license plate renewal stickers with the three kids, including a fevered 7 yr old. 2 yr old Leah kept everyone else in line entertained while 5 yr old Seth took videos and pictures with my camera after they quickly finished the few chocolate covered pretzels I had in my van (and each and every crumb). Then Seth had track practice, dinner, etc. Friday was a run and short bike then getting the house ready for Jonathan’s relatives who are missionaries. It was last-minute but having my house in decent order was the least I could do for these people who serve the needs of others, with very little, day after day, year after year. Jonathan went to work then it was packing up our suitcases to head to Bradford for Micah’s hockey tournament. I had my nephew between the 1pm and 5pm games because my sister in law was heading back to have their missionary relatives for dinner. My nephew is like a son so it’s no biggie but basically waiting in a parking lot and Tim Horton’s to kill time between games was not ideal as he and my 5 yr old wrestled with Leah in the mix while Micah shivered in blankets in the back. Thankfully the Advil did the job this weekend. Then, Jonathan missed the entire second game because it started and ended early, and traffic was bad. I transferred the kids to him then headed back to the race hotel in Toronto. He and the kids stayed at my brother and sister-in-law’s, which was wonderful for the kids to play together. Thanks, Rob and Michelle for keeping the youngest two between games. On the way to my hotel, busy traffic, accidents and driving all the way through the city was tiring, as was the long wait to check in, followed by me getting a parking ticket in the hotel parking garage because I didn’t get my license plate submitted in time. The ticket was cleared but I had a few tears at that point! As soon as I got in the hotel room I put on my pyjamas, texted Rick and Jonathan that I arrived then settled in and slept well. All good.
Race day was beautiful; cool and sunny with no wind. I went early to get a parking spot then sat in my van, resting. Rick and Ben later joined me for a bit. Ben had a great race in 28:02, winning his age division. He too is coached by Rick in Brantford and I look forward to training with him. I did a 2 km warm up and stretch then headed to the start. Many informed me that Harry’s Spring Run Off was a hilly course but Rick and I knew the hills would work to my advantage, especially in the end. I knew that Dayna and Kate may get out in front with a good lead on the early downhills so my plan was to get them in the end with the hills. The first 1 km was 3:03 and the second 3:15. Yikes. I went out too hard at the Ottawa 10 km race last year and thought I learned my lesson then. Didn’t want a repeat. But, I stayed just behind them and just after 3km, my body made its move up the hill, passing the two of them. “Oh dear”, I thought, “Is this too soon?”. But, I kept on. Dayna slipped back just a touch but I could hear Kate’s breathing and footsteps the entire time, which kept me going. Once I pass, I don’t intend to get passed. A track runner vs a marathoner would make for an interesting end. And as a marathoner, I was determined to keep it together. I held on to the lead, barely. Then I tackled that last hill at 7 km for the win. The best part was that the finish was just around the corner at the top of the hill. I took a quick look back and knew the victory was mine. And my watch was just where I wanted it, under 27:00 with 26:59. I congratulated Kate, only a few seconds behind, then we both stood, hunched over catching our breath. Short distance races are such a different experience. It’s not about the mental toughness; it’s physically hanging on for dear life! I went for an easy cool down jog then came back for the awards ceremony. It is always very special to make the podium but discovering that the race raised $320, 000 for prostate cancer research was even more significant. As I’ve mentioned before, losing my parents to cancer makes these events event more meaningful to me. Alan Brookes is an amazing Race Director who has the art and science perfected; from caring for elite athletes to engaging the community in great causes. Thanks again, Alan and the Canada Running Series team.
Coach Rick and I enjoyed our drive back, including a wonderful lunch at Goodness Me. We were able to chat about my progress, confirming the significance of hitting our target and sticking to the game plan between now and August. Between now and then I will average 130-170 km/wk of running with decreases to 120 km during race weeks to feel fresh to compete. The plan is to run around 73:xx at the Cdn 1/2 Marathon Champs in Montreal, 33:xx at the Ottawa 10 km, and 72:xx at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon at the end of April, May, and June respectively. Or better of course. Another PB year is the plan. Set the bar high. There is no other way.
I just finished my week with a lovely 32 km long run this morning. Jonathan took Seth for his birthday breakfast and to church while I stayed home with the other two for Micah to recover from his tournament of 4 games in two days, and fever.

It was great to chat with Dayna and Kate after the race. They are two lovely, talented and competitive athletes whom I highly respected in the race, never taking lightly the entire time.

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