This past Sunday I participated in the Toronto Sporting Life 10k in support of Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp outside Toronto for kids with cancer.
The race was a huge success- over 22,000 people registered to run, and altogether, almost $2 million was raised for Camp Ooch.
I was excited to be running for such a great cause, but also a little nervous. I mean, it was running after all… not drinking wine and not bidding on any of the silent auction items like I normally do at charity fundraisers. But I thought, what the hell? I’d put in a few miles on the
moving vessel of death treadmill over the winter, and even if I had to walk, I knew I could probably finish it.
Although, my performance might look less like this:
The morning of the race, I prepared the best way I knew how: by making an awesome playlist of “Call me Maybe” and the entire Mariah Carey Greatest Hits collection, and wearing an obnoxious amount of pink:
As soon as I got to the race, I immediately set out in search of port-a-potties. I had gone before I left home, but because
I have the bladder of a four year old child of my pre-race jitters, I needed to go again. I noticed, though, that the line was a good 100 people long. Probably because for over 20,000 runners, there were ONLY 12 PORT-A- POTTIES!! I knew if I waited, I’d never make the start, so I made my way back to my corral and tried to forget about the anvil sitting on my bladder.
I was amazed by the energy of the other participants. The race had drawn in people of all ages and fitness levels, and everywhere I looked, people were jumping around, laughing and cheering. I even saw some people doing a few “warm up laps”. Try-hards.
Then, the gun went off. The first km I didn’t even think about running because I was so busy trying not to get trampled to death. Sh*t felt like the running of the bulls, without the ambience.
I said a few prayers and let the sweet, sweet sound of Mariah guide me.
The course ran straight down Yonge Street in Toronto, which meant that (thank GOD) it was mostly downhill. The thing about closed courses though, is that there are no crosswalk lights. When you’re an urban runner like me, you get used to having those little 15-20 second reprieves from pounding your ass on the pavement, and so without them, I was really feeling the burn.
I tried people watching to distract myself, and found it funny how quickly some of the shiny-happy people I had witnessed at the starting line lost their veneer. Only about 2km in, I saw a number of people walking, some looking disgruntled and in pain, and even heard one agitated (and clearly undertrained) man screaming clearly over my Mariah: ” I just need some f*&*&ing WATER OK??”
After that, I tried to zone out and enjoy myself, but it was hard having to weave through so many people. I tried to channel my concert-going experience to jostle my way through the crowds, but the incentive just wasn’t the same. Instead of getting a better view and the rogue sweat droplets of an indie rock god at the end, you just got to run more. Womp womp.
oh, and did I mention that this whole time I was dying of an intense and overwhelming NEED TO PEE?? They had promised port-a-potties en route, and at every mile marker, my eyes darted past the crowds and ironic homemade signs in search of that sweet, sweet blue goddess. Finally, at km 7, I saw her- shrouded in a halo of blue light, in all her plastic, unsanitized glory: a port-a-potty.
I immediately made a dash for it, cutting off several runners in my path, and was just within reach, when a middle aged man wearing sweatpants cut me off directly and darted in, slamming the door behind him.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I could not believe the audacity of this sweatpants wearing gentleman. As I stood there, shifting my weight from leg to leg like an impatient child on a shopping trip, I thought of the many ways I could get back at him. You’ll pay for this, Sweatpants, I thought. Finally, SP finished his business, and the blue goddess and I had our much-anticipated moment.
There’s something to be said for the whole “objects in motion” thing. After my little potty break, I had a tough time getting back into it, and had to break up the last couple of km with a sort of run/walk system. I tried making it fun by picking out people in the crowd as benchmarks: “just run to the guy with the booty shorts” I told myself “..and then you can stop. And when you do, ask him why he’s wearing booty shorts“.
But finally, I crossed the finish line at 56:56.
I don’t have a pic of me at the finish, but here’s a pic of Kara Goucher at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials instead, because obviously I looked just like this:
Just kidding. I totally looked like a dying, waterlogged tomato.. but we can all dream, right?