Sunday, April 20, 2014

Toronto Yonge St 10km 2014

On day 9 of altitude, I jumped on an early plane out of Flagstaff and headed to Toronto for the Canada Running Series Toronto Yonge St10km (April 13th). This is a pretty big run in the area and I have wanted to try it; however, it tends to fall on the same day as the Vancouver Sun Run so I have never tried it. This year, due to Easter Weekend, Yonge St is actually 2 weeks away from the triple race dates of Sun Run, Victoria’s Times Colonist 10km and the Montreal Half Marathon. That meant an opportunity to try out a new race and when CRS offered to cover my travel, accommodations and food, I had to jump at the opportunity.

It was a long set of flights that included Flagstaff to Phoenix, Phoenix to Chicago and then Chicago to Toronto. Or as I liked to describe it I went from Coyote Territory, to Blackhawk Territory to Maple Leaf Territory. Yes definitely a huge hockey fan here (Good luck in the playoffs Canucks….. oh wait). So much so that I made sure to walk by the hockey hall of fame the day before the race! More on that later!

I arrived in Toronto shortly after 7pm, and was followed in by Natasha Wodak, Dayna Pidhoresky and Rob Watson who were coming from California. Sabrina Wilkie and Catherine Watkins were coming from Vancouver within 30 minutes after us, so while Clif waited for them, the rest of us caught a cab due to not enough seats in the van.

We were at the hotel around 9pm and I met up with my roommate Kate Bazeley who was nearly half asleep due to being on Newfoundland time (90 minutes ahead of Toronto). We visited quickly and then I hit the hotel treadmill for a shakeout run.

After a decent night sleep we were up and we headed out for a run. Unsure where we were going, Kate listened to her coach Matt (not my coach Matt)’s instructions on where to run to a gravel path. We found it pretty easily; however, this path was a short circle of a mini park in downtown Toronto. When I say short, I mean short. I think it took like 3.5 minutes to run  each loop, definitely no more than 4. We did a few loops and then around the university near by and then a few more loops. Kate stopped for some strides while I kept going then we headed back to the hotel. I dropped Kate off and then continued on my way to finish up my hour.

An hour is more than I usually run pre-race, but it had been decided that I wasn’t going to taper for this race and "train through" it. I think that as evident by my Tuesday workout leading into it. Definitely a big week for this girl. My legs felt alright after the flights, but on both the treadmill run and the 60 minutes on Saturday my left knee was bugging me on the back inner side. It felt tendon related and it didn’t hurt at all before arriving in Toronto so I am wondering whether I sat funny or tweaked it on the plane which is very possible.

After the run we went and got breakfast; however, poor Kate was hit with the stomach bug that morning and she opted out of breakfast to buy gravol and go back to the room. When I got back she had been sick a few times even though she had barely eaten anything that day. Her hubby apparently was sick earlier in the week. Kate mentioned she didn’t blame me if I wanted my own room, so Ian and Clif from CRS were great and got right on getting me my own room. Hello king sized bed! I felt bad for ditching Kate; however, I really did not want to stay longer and increase my chances of catching anything.

The afternoon I spent walking around downtown Toronto a bit, as I mentioned going by the Hockey Hall of Fame. I did not go in though. I figured you had to pay for it and I really didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet, especially with my knee acting up. Dinner was spent with Sabrina, Catherine and Richard Mosely where we all left still hungry and bought snacks on the way back to the hotel.

I ended up getting to bed at a decent time. I think I was asleep shortly after 11pm and then my alarm went off at 6:30. Of course I was up a few times in the night, but for the most part I felt rested. We met in the lobby at 7:15am and caught the bus to the start line as this was a point to point race. The drive felt like it took forever!

My warm up was done with Krista DuChene and Tarah Korir and then off to the start. The race went off fast of course, with a slight up and then it was 7km straight down Yonge St, which was mostly downhill with a bit of a headwind. I was surprised by a few ups though as I was under the impression it was all down. It certainly didn’t feel all down. At 7km it flattened out as we took a right, then a left, then another right, then left and down towards the finish (I think).

Krista and Tarah went out fast with Rachel hot on their heels. After about a km Tarah fell off and then it let me and Sabrina who was hot on my heels. No real shock there was we are generally pretty close in races. I kept pressing on, trying to lean forward (this girl is NOT a downhill runner) and trying to keep the legs spinning at a good rate. I hit 5km in 16:39 (only 4 seconds off my 5km PB) with Sabrina 1 second back. Sometime after that I began to hear Sabrina’s breathing fade. Cheers for “Erin and Sabrina” or “ladies” turned into “Erin” or “lady” though I wasn’t taken anyone’s word for it that she wasn’t still right behind me.

At 7km I kept pushing and counting down how long I had in the race time wise. Worst case scenario even at 4 min km's (which I shouldn’t be running) that was like 12 minutes. 2km left (ooh less than 8 minutes left), then the final km and I tried my best to pick it up. As I came up to the finish I saw the clock for the first time clicking in the 33:2x section and I pushed in finishing in 33:28 and received a 3rd place finisher sticker on my hip for the effort (so the media and race organizers knew who to grab in the chaos).

Coming up to the finish (photo stolen from Rob Brouillette's FB)

In the end, it sounds like Krista led the whole race with Rachel Hannah hot on her heels. With around 400m left Rachel made her move and had a finishing kick that Krista couldn’t match. Congrats to both Rachel for her 32:33 and Krista for her 32:40. I was gunning for a bit faster time than my 33:28 considering the net downhill of the course; however, based on my week I am super happy with my effort. Not to mention, honestly I am not a strong downhill runner so while it might be a huge advantage to some, it is probably less of an advantage for me. Don't get me wrong, still and advantage, just not as much as others. My lungs felt great, my legs just wouldn’t spin as fast as I was hoping. Considering I went 16:39 for the first 5km, I went 16:49 for the 2nd 5km which was actually less downhill than the first, so I am again also happy with that.

We hung around for the awards where the top 3 overall, then top 8 Canadian and finally the East vs West Challenge (East won easily) were all recognized. Then a fun mission to find the bus that would take us back to the hotel. We arrived back there shortly after 12pm in which that left me less than 30 minutes to pack my stuff and get ready to head to the airport. My flight wasn't until 2:51pm; however, new Canadian citizen Kip Kangogo had a flight at 2pm so we needed to leave in time for his flight. It was rushed, but I made it though unfortunately without a shower (sorry to my plane buddies).

Results from Yonge St found here

Now back to Flagstaff for some more hard training!   

Top 3 Overall Women and Men (L-R: 2 CRS members, myself (3rd), Krista (2nd), Rachel (1st), Paul Kimugul (2nd), Eric Gillis (1st), Kip Kangogo (3rd)

Top 8 Canadian Ladies

Top 8 Canadian Men and Women

West vs East: Who would win?!

 East wins!

East vs West challenge 2014

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