Happy Monday Morning Everyone!
It is officially the start of marathon training season, and what better way to start off a training cycle than running a fun race in Toronto! This past weekend, I travelled to Toronto to take part in the Nike Women Toronto 15K. This was the first Nike race in Toronto and the hype was big. Nike has races all across the globe and the races are known for being large, fun and featuring Tiffany Necklaces instead of medals. I signed up for this race right away, in part because it seemed like fun but also because I was looking for a longer distance race in June before I shut things down for the summer. Of course, June comes after May and I have been on the sidelines dealing with a calf muscle strain that has stopped me from running for 3 weeks. Therefore, I had ZERO goals for this race, other than have fun and finish.
I did not attend the expo or any of the classes they had in Toronto. My parents live in Mississauga and I didn’t feel like travelling downtown to do some yoga. Luckily, Nike had pre-race weekend kit pickup and I picked up my shirt and bib the weekend before when I was at OFSAA. The cost of this race is expensive, but at least you get a sweet Nike shirt with it. I’m not the biggest fan of the peach colour as it looks awful on me, but it still is a great shirt. The kit also came with a ferry ticket, which will then make us now dive into the only thing I really didn’t like about this race: the early ferry time.
Since I was assigned wave 3 – my ferry time was 6:30am, and I had to be at the Ferry station by 6am. My corral didn’t close until 9:15am, and unlike the NYC Marathon and that ferry situation, I did not have to take a bus so I knew it would be a long wait at the island. Luckily, Josée (runner friend from Ottawa), needed a ride downtown and was also on an earlier ferry, so it wasn’t like I was waiting alone. Also – lucky for us, my Dad gets up early and drove us downtown. Thanks Dad! Josée and I were on different ferries, so we got split up for a bit. The Ferry loading area was well organized and smooth. Not like NYC at all. Soon enough we were on the ferry and heading to the island!
When I got to the island, I somehow missed Josée at the docks and had to find her. We walked around a bit and noticed several venders, a coffee cart (with a huge line) and bag check. The island had enough space that the whole start village was laid out well. We found an empty part bench and sat there while we waited for everyone else to arrive on the island.
Soon enough, everyone was on the island and I got to meet a few running-Twitter friends for the first time including Lara and Stephanie. I also saw Cathy and Crystal. Sadly, Carmy and I missed each other 🙁 We hung out on the grass and then at around 8:45am, went to check our bags and visit the Porta-Potty city. There were tons of porta-potties which made the line go pretty fast. Then it was off to the corrals. Because I had seen a large rain system coming straight for us, Josée and I decided not to move to the back corrals (original plan) to get a head start on everyone else so we could beat people to the ferry afterwards. The corrals were being released every 7 minutes, starting at 9:30am.
We were in the corrals by 9am, just as the rain started. Most miserable 30 minutes ever! I was so cold! In the corrals, I finally got to meet Andrew! There were a few characters in the corrals, including one girl who was a little, “happy” or excited to be there. She was jumping around the entire time and was really excited about running on the island airport’s shorter runway. I don’t know who she is – but she was cracking me up. As our time approached, I saw the sun come out! Yay!
Eventually, we were off! Josée is a bit faster than I am, so she was gone before I knew it. There were 10,000 or so in this race and the crowd never really let up during the race. There were some points where we had enough space and some where I felt crowded. Complicate things even more with giant puddles and people were all over the place. Once again, despite being in one of the faster corrals, there were walkers. Seriously? Normally a few walkers wouldn’t be too bad, but when we got to the bottle neck parts, it was down right dangerous. I did lots of passing and I wasn’t even running fast.
The race route was not all pavement – but had sections of grass, trail, sandy-stuff and boardwalk. It was interesting! I did not wear a watch for this race so I have to use the Nike timing mats for pacing. I ran the first 3K in 19:23, which for a “long run pace” race, is right where I should have been. Honestly, I felt like I was going a bit faster than that – probably proof that 3 weeks of no running definitely slows you down a bit. As I was running/passing people on the trail part, I recognized a runner: one of my friends from University. Small world. I didn’t say hi though. At the 3K mark we hit our first water station where I made sure to avoid the Nuun! I also stopped to go to the bathroom, a product of being in the corrals for two long, I had to pee! Lots a few minutes there.
After the 3K mark, we started to head towards the airport. The airport section was really cool. I got into the airport just as a plane was taking off. We ran all the way around the airport’s smaller runways. This is when I stopped to take a picture of the view. It was amazing! Best part of the course. As I was running along side the main runway (which has Porter and Air Canada planes taking off), an Air Canada plane took off. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one cheering. We came out of the airport at roughly the 6K mark. I finished that 3K in 23:00 – most of that was stopped time to go to the washroom and turn on my music.
After that point, we ran by the school, the water treatment plant and then back to the centre part of the island. There were lots of spectators out! By this point (around 8K or so), my legs were feeling really tired. I had no problems with my injured part of my leg, I just felt out of shape. This was to be expected because of the no running and the fact I haven’t run over 10K since NYC! We started to head toward the east end of the island and the last 5K of the course. I was stopping at every water station at this point. I tried to not take any walking breaks in between water stations, but I had to at some points. I ran the next 3K in about 19:00 as well. The one thing about the water station – they didn’t seem quite prepared for 10,000 runners. They were mad-filling up water when I was at the stations. Triple stacks are key!
When I passed the 9K mark, I noticed that I was right behind Crystal and Carmy! The original plan was to follow them for a bit and then run the last couple of KM with them – but even though they were holding just above a 6:00/km pace, I was feeling really sore at this point, especially in my hip. I’m thinking all the running around puddles and different terrain made my hips drop a bit more than usual. When I got to the 12K water station, they didn’t stop for water and I did – so they got a bit more ahead of me and eventually I lost sight of them. I ran just under 20:00 for the next 3K.
This part of the route was really pretty. We got to run in one of the island neighbourhoods and eventually went onto the boardwalk. When you got to the boardwalk, it was just trees and lake! The only thing: the boardwalk lasted FOREVER. I’m not really a fan of running on boardwalk, so I stopped under each KM marking for a quick walking break. At this point I felt my left leg go just a bit. Almost done! Soon, we were approaching the finish line. The finishing chute area was filled with people! I ran to the finish, finishing the 15K in 1:39:44. The last 3K was done in around 19:00 as well. At least I was consistent!
Did anyone else not like the red finishing area mat? It hurt my eyes! We went under the finish line and went to collect bottles of water and a food bag filled with chips, trail mix, dried cranberries and a Kind bar – my kind of food bag! There was also fresh fruit available. Then we turned the corner for our Tiffany necklaces. I do have to say, I wish the pendent was a bit bigger/had the CN Tower on it. Some of the other Nike-Tiffany necklaces have nice designs. This one was simple. But, it is a Tiffany necklace.
Because I knew another 5000 runners or so were behind me – I quickly grabbed all my gear and went to the ferry. I had to wait about 25 minutes for the ferry, which wasn’t bad. Soon I was back on the mainland and shopping for finishing gear at the Nike tent. I do have to say I did not like all the walking I had to do after the race 😉 They were out of size small tanks when I got there, so I grabbed a t-shirt instead.
Then, off to the subway to meet P and Max at Yorkdale mall.
The Nike 15K was a great race. The only real suggestions I would have is to train the water stations a bit more and if they want everyone on the island before the 9am start time of the public ferry service – have the race start earlier. Waiting for almost 3 hours was not fun. If I was alone, I probably would have gone nutty by the end of it. Everyone had made it on the island in good time. The race could have easily started at 8:30am or even 9:00am. If the Nike race series comes back, I may be tempted to run it again! This race was a solid training run for my first long run for STWM training. I’m trying to not be disappointed that I was running around 6:40/KM – but looking at my LR pace charts, that is a bit too fast for a long run. I’m sure that once Army Run rolls around – I will be a bit more comfortable running around 6:00/km again, which is what I did when I ran the Ottawa Race Weekend 10K.
Let the marathon training begin!
Have a great Monday!