The first run of the season has come and gone. Yesterday, I took part in the Toronto Yonge Street 10K. As the name suggests, a bulk of the run took place on Toronto’s famous Yonge Street (for those of you that are unfamiliar, this street was once considered the longest street in the world). The race started at 9am, earlier than I’m typically up and at it on any given Sunday. The night before, I got all my gear together so I wouldn’t have to look for things in the morning, and also so I’d have a general sense of preparedness. My clothes, hair accessories, headphones and fanny pack were all waiting right there for me. And yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I wear a fanny pack. I have no idea how people run without them. Were do they put their phones and keys?
I basically had everything that I could control under control. What I was somewhat freaking out about was the weather. For those of you living in the greater Toronto area, you know how unpleasant the weather has been in the past few weeks. In April, you expect the rainy days, but not absolutely frigid temperatures! They’re are really something else – Sunday’s forecast was a mere 6 degrees Celsius (that’s about 43 Fahrenheit). This had been in the forecast for quite some time. Every day leading up to it, I was hoping against hope that all the weather outlets I referred to got it all wrong. But they hadn’t. I’m not much a of a cold weather runner, so I did what I could mitigate things – I took a really hot shower, got ready at home with my central heating on, and blasted the heat in my car on the way to the to the start line.
After I got out of my car to join my corral, I was surprised at how warm I actually felt. I took the advice of a friend and took a pair of mini gloves with me, but I ended up putting them back in my car because I didn’t need them. Luckily, the sun was out in full force, providing some degree of heat.
My corral got the go ahead to run, so I took off. I had a strong playlist set up, so I was literally and figuratively off to the races. The sidewalks were lined with supporters cheering us runners on as as we passed by, equipped with signs, cowbells and words of encouragement. A few little kids gave me high-fives, which was pretty cute. Sprinkled throughout the route were a few local bands – everything from trumpets, steel pans, didgeridoos were played. And unlike most organized runs, we were all supplied with 2 bibs – one to go on the front of our shirts and one for the back. This additonal bib was inspired by the tragic, senseless events that occured at the Boston Marathon. As fellow runners, we wanted to show our support for the victims in New England.
To my surprised, pleasantly so, I was not cold at all while running. In fact, there were times when I was quite hot. My zip-up ended up around my waist, and my short sleeves were rolled in to cool me down. All my worrying about running in the cold was for naught. During my run, I took a few walking breaks here and there. Seeing as I hadn’t run or participated in any form of exercise in the last 3 weeks, I got a bit tuckered out at points. The Gatorade breaks came in pretty handy. When I was reaching the home stretch, I got an extra wave of energy. The last hundred metres or so was a full-on sprint. Crossing the finishing line was very satisfying. When went into the little after-party area, I was rewarded with my medal. Even though they give these “finsher” medals to everyone, I still felt like a champion (my time was actually pretty bad, though). There were some fuel times at food stations – bagels, bananas, apples, more Gatorade! I indulged a bit, but by this point my body had cooled down, and the biting air was starting to get to me. I headed for the nearest bus and went home and took a long, hot shower to thaw myself out.
Seeing as I’m an old pro at this 10K thing after my sophomoric go-around, here are some tips I’d suggest to anyone who will be running their first race:
- Make sure you’re good to run: As with any physical activity, make sure you get the go-ahead from your physician to take part.
- Prepare what you can the night before: You don’t want it to be searching your place high and low looking for your crops 10 minutes before you ride to the start line leaves. Lay out your stuff the night before on your couch, dining table … wherever makes sense. And put your bib on your shirt the night before too! That always seems to take more time than it should.
- Dress for the end of the run and not the beginning: I can’t claim that quote for my own … I heard an announcer say this at the start line! But it’s true. You’ll be undoubtedly much cooler at the beginning of the run that in the middle or the end. If you over-dress, you’ll feel uncomfortable pretty quickly, and that will stop you from performing at your best. Grin and bear the cold pre-race. You’ll be hot a few minutes out the gate.
- Figure out your transportation to the starting line beforehand: I chose to drive to the start line this year, as the frequency of public transportation that early in the morning is spotty at best. And obviously, there will be road closures (ie, your race route). Figure out how you will get around them.
- Carry your essentials: Obviously, I take my keys and phone with me. But in addition, every time I go for a run, every single time, I take my driver’s licence, health card, about $3 in cash, my TTC (public transportation) pass and my debit card. Hence the need for a fanny pack! Yes, it’s a lot of stuff to carry. But in the odd chance something happens to you and you need to be taken to a hospital, having your identification and health insurance information will be invaluable. I carry a few dollars with me because I always like to go for a cold drink of milk after a strong run! Take your subway pass with you (if you have one) so that in the event you get fatigued, or if a flash thunderstorm flares up, you have a method of transportation back home. And I carry my debit card with me just in case I end up going out right after my run, or if I just want to do a spot of shopping!
- Don’t not run a race because your friends don’t want to: Double negatives make you stop and think, don’t they? Anyway, a little story – I bought my entry into the Yonge Street 10K way back in October, and since October I have been asking my friends if they wanted to join me. Some told me no, some told me they’d think about it. Time went on and I heard nothing. I was a bit shocked that absolutely no one wanted to run, but it honestly didn’t make a lick of difference to me. My running wasn’t contingent on what anyone else wanted to do because I knew I wanted to do it. Don’t worry about screw-faced reactions you might get from people who are surprised you’re running solo. You do what you need to do for you!
That’s all I have to say about the Yonge Street 10K. In a few weeks, I’ll be reporting on my first half-marathon. Now that should be interesting!