Friday, August 21, 2009

Race Report - Midsummer Night's Run 30km

Midsummer Night's Run 30km proved to be one of the most unique races I've ever been in. The race starts at an unassuming baseball diamond just off Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto at 5:30 in the evening. Actually, the race started on a side street call Bouchette. To find the starting line on Google Earth, put the co-ordinates 43 39.0808N, 79 20.2855w in the fly-to space and hit enter.
The race does a zig-zag route through the industrial area of the old port region of Toronto before heading out onto the Leslie Street Spit or Tommy Thompson Park. The spit is an on-going project made of landfill from construction products in the city of Toronto dating back decades. The Spit section is basically an out and back that turns around after circling the scenic lighthouse at the tip. Once back into civilization, the last 11 or 12 km take place on a loop of Ashbridges Bay Park and the Toronto Beaches boardwalk before returning to the start line.
The weather was great. Storms were threatening all day but other than the odd sprinkle, the air remained clear. The views of Toronto's downtown skyline were awesome during the Spit section. The views of Lake Ontario were also inspiring and psychologically kept the blood running cool.
The Ashbridges Bay/Boardwalk section was nice, flat and scenic but was a bit overcrowded with beach-goers and park users that were sharing the course.
The finish area was lined with cheering spectators. The process at the finish line was very fluid with medals handed out, chips clipped off and food in mouth quite quickly. It should be noted that the baggage check area was easily the most organized of any race I've ever participated in.
The beer garden looked well-organized and very tantalizing. Unfortunately, I felt it best to make the 5km walk back to my vehicle without partaking in the festivities.
As for how the race went for me...
I spelled out 5 objectives that I wanted to aim for in an earlier post. They are:

1. beat 3 hours
2. finish injury free
3. enjoy the sights - I may be the only person that finds the Leslie Spit to be an attraction
4. get my money's worth
5. have a beer with my fellow runners after the race at the beer tent

I did not beat three hours. I came close at 3:01:27. I was up to 2 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of the 3 hour pace until I hit the 20km mark. I then slowly lost time on each and every kilometer until the end. I don't believe I went out too fast. I do believe my biggest problem was my decision to walk so much before the race. I estimate my total walking distance at around 15 km before the race even started. Five of those kilometers were with a 25 lb. pack on my back and a hot sun beating down on the back of my head. Right from the start of the run, my calves and hamstrings felt cramped. I also blame lack of long distance training runs. I usually max out at 14 to 15km on my long runs and those just aren't enough to build the stamina needed for runs of this distance and beyond.
Despite aching pretty bad that night and all the next day, I did achieve my objective of finishing injury free. This is something that comes with the wisdom of old-age! I know the signs now that indicate I need to slow right down to avoid a muscle pull. There was a time, not too long ago, that I would run through these signs and soon after be limping at the side of the road.
I did enjoy the sights. I got to see some areas of Toronto that I haven't had a chance to see before. We Canadians from outside Toronto have a habit of putting 'The Big Smoke' down, but it really is one of the world's most beautiful cities. The Leslie Street Spit is an amazing case of how Mother Nature inevitably takes back what's hers. It's looking more and more like a natural forested area every year. I'd never been to Ashbridges Bay before and was surprised at the feel of being so secluded so close to such a huge population.
I got my money's worth. I got to run a world class event with world class organizers and volunteers. I received an awesome long sleeve New Balance tech shirt, an awesome finisher's medal and an awesome stainless steel water bottle at the finish.
I did not have a beer with my fellow runners because I was concerned that I might never make it back to my vehicle alive if I did. The beer was provided by Steam Whistle Brewery, a local Toronto micro-brewery and was going for a decent (for Toronto) price of $5 each. According to , Steam Whistle is a vegan friendly beer. Next year, I'm parking closer and having a few brown pops.
The one thing I was a little disappointed with was the packet pickup location. The Delta Chelsea at Yonge and Gerrard was no where near the race site and suffered from a lack of affordable, short-term parking. Hopefully, next year they will find a location closer to the race site. My race rating of the Midsummer Night's Run will follow in a day or two.

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