Course des Pompiers Race Recap

Another long overdue race recap! As a member of the Frontline Racing Team for the Canada Army Run, I am lucky enough to receive bibs for other races. An opportunity came up to run in the Course des Pompiers in Laval, Quebec. I took the weekend as a “Mom’s Weekend Off” and booked a hotel in downtown Montreal, grabbed my camera gear and drove to Montreal.

The first stop was picking up my bib from a sports store in Laval. Then, I drove to Old Montreal to grab lunch and walk around to practice Urban Photography. When I parked my car and started walking, I promptly forgot to take notice of exactly where I parked my car. Brilliant….

I walked all over the place and took some photos. There were many little restaurants to choose from, but I found a nice little bistro close to Notre Dame Basilica. I had a delicious salad, a glass of wine, creme brûlée and listened to some nice jazz music. I really enjoyed my lunch and hope to go back when I return to Montreal in a couple of weeks.

After lunch, I found my car and headed towards the hotel to check in and have a little rest before heading out again. The next part of my photography tour was to head towards some of the walk up apartments and also retrace some of my steps from a research trip I took in 2006. I ended up taking the Metro to my location to make it a little quicker.

After taking some more photos, I went for dinner at Balsam Inn. The restaurant had a nice vibe to it but I was disappointed in the food. I never learn my lesson about ordering pasta at a restaurant. I would like to think that I am fairly good at making pasta (I make my own everything – noodles and sauce), so I tend to be a bit more critical about pasta at restaurants. I ate a white pesto pasta with mushrooms. It was alright but definitely missing something. I did have a delicious panna cotta for dessert though.

After dinner, it was still light out so I went for another walk. First, I picked up a small bottle of wine at the SAQ (alcohol store) and then went towards McGill University. Looking at Google Maps, I found a path that would lead me up to the top of Mont Royal. I had not been to the top since my 2006 trip. The path led me to what seemed like a million stairs. Of course, I did not simply walk up the stairs, I ran up them. I also figured there was a Strava Segment going up the stairs, and perhaps I should have brought my watch….

I made it to the top and took a few photos before heading down. One would figure that numerous glasses of wine and running up a large hill are not suitable “night before race day” activites. Oh well!

The next morning I felt tired but good enough to race. I packed up my gear and into the car for a drive to Laval. Montreal was dead quiet at 7am so the drive took no time at all. The race started really close to a Metro Station, which had free parking. I love races where you do not have to find parking! Course des Pompiers is a different kind of race. There are numerous races on offer – 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon. The races all start at different times and start in totally different locations. But the finish line is the same. The race offers shuttles back to the individual start lines which is really nice (and was very well organized!). I met with fellow Team Frontliner Suzanne, who also had a few glasses of wine – we labelled ourselves “Team Bad Choices”.

Soon enough the race was off. It was a small but fairly large race with 903 participants in the 10K. I had PB’d the weekend before, so I really had no plans for this race except to work on my form a bit. The race takes you through Laval. There were many locals out with lawn chairs and coffees on their driveways. For a small race, it was nice to see all the support out there! The first part of the race, I hovered around 5:10-5:15 per KM – pretty much PB pace, so I figured I would stick with it and see what happens. Around the midpoint of the race there is a massive hill on a bridge. That was not fun to go up or go down.

I felt okay until KM 6 and 7, where my pace slowed quite a bit. KM 1-5 were between 5:04-5:17, but the second half I slowed down and ran KM 7 in 5:27. I was still close to PB pace but not quite on PB pace. My race form looked much better in the photos. At the 8KM mark, we did a few in and out sections where I could see my placement. I realized that I was actually fairly high up for overall female, so I gathered some strength (thanks to the gatorade station at the 8K mark) and booked it to the finish. I ended up passing quite a few people. I ran that last KM in 4:39 – very close to my 1KM PB time and something I normally do at the beginning of a 5K, not the end of a 10K!

I finished the race in 52:11, a solid effort for not being 100%. I ended up 117/903 overall, 23/486 Female and 3/65 in my category. Nice!!

The finish line was amazing. It was really nice finishing chute with lots of people out to cheer – even though it started to rain. There was music and food at the finish and the shuttle service was excellent. Overall, the race was lots of fun and I hope to return next year!

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