Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Run for the Toad Race Report

Run for the Toad 50k in Paris, Ontario was kind of a big deal for a number of reasons. It was the Canadian national 50k championships, Dave and I were traveling across the country to race it, it was my main fall race and, likely, my last race of the year. In short, I wanted to do well.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I had been dealing with a few minor niggles - a sore knee, tight IT band, stiff ankle and lingering cold - so my training had been decent but not amazing. Still, I thought I was in good enough shape to go under four hours at the Toad, which would be in the top-five fastest times for that course.

Me, Stacie, Kristin and Dave before the race.

Conditions on race morning were ideal - cool and overcast - and I felt great. We had a leisurely morning (by ultra standards) at the hotel and then headed to the race to get ready for the 9:30 start. There we found Ryne and met George, who, along with his lovely wife Peggy, have been organizing the Run for the Toad for 12 years. Both Peggy and George are incredibly kind, warm and welcoming and have limitless enthusiasm for their event. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better organized trail race in Canada and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

After the opening ceremonies, which included music and speeches, the 50k solo and relay runners headed to the starting area to wait for the canon to sound signifying the start of the race. Stacie, Kristin and I lined up behind the elite men, I gave Dave a kiss and wished him luck in his race, and then we were off.

The course is four laps of a 12.5k loop with rolling hills through the forest, fields and a couple of campgrounds. My plan was to run a conservative, but not slow, first lap to get warmed up and learn the course, and then pick up the pace slightly for each subsequent lap. Stacie and I ran the first couple of kilometers together, but then she took off and I let her go and stuck with my plan.

Feeling good after the first lap.

I ran my first lap in 56:29 which was exactly where I wanted to be and I was feeling very comfortable heading out on lap two. By about kilometer 18, I started to get some worrisome tummy rumblings that I hoped was just gas, but was reluctant to test that theory in case I was wrong. Minutes later, my worst fears came true and I was dashing into the bushes to heed the urgent call of nature. This would be the first of five such unfortunate pit stops I would have to make over the next 30km.

In between bathroom breaks, I tried to run hard and make up time, but too much time was lost. I finished in 4:14 and 3rd place. Results here. Not exactly the result that I had hoped for, but the best race I could pull off under the circumstances. (My friend Stacie won in a smoking fast 3:57 - only the second woman ever to break 4 hours! - and Dave started strong, but wisely decided to call it a day at 44k when he felt an injury flare up.)
Post-race with coach Ryne.
Now I'm going to take a little break from running and racing to rest my mind and body and focus on other things that I enjoy...and pick my races for 2014! I think I'm ready to take on a 100-miler. Yikes!!

Happy fall everybody! :)

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