I have to say, it feels good to have my first race in my 14 in ’14 challenge completed. Trying a new race was also fun, especially a race that has been around for 32 years. The Richmond Road Race is a relatively small race (I think numbers are kept to around a total 500 for the two distances) but one that clearly has a loyal following. From what I could tell, most of the runners there were not first timers like me. There was even one participant who had been at every race since year one.
I know alot of people do not like winter races due to the weather. But one thing I love about these cold weather events is they usually provide an big indoor space for pre-race and post-race events. Combine that with the fact that they are usually small races and you have a race where there is no need to stand shivering forever at the start line. Better yet, that start line is often located steps away from that lovely, warm indoor space. This race provided all of the above plus a heck of alot of food. Nice combination 🙂
This is a fairly simple race; no timing chips, no medals. There was a cute long sleeve shirt (though not in the tech material I was hoping for) and great backpacks as prizes for age category winners. This is my first race where in my kit I received information about the possibility of a train crossing our path during the race. Apparently VIA Rail will not confirm when a train will pass at a specific crossing, so the race organizers tracked when the train came through the last few Sundays and felt pretty confident it would go through before the race. They were right (and I am sure relieved) as I heard the train whistle as I pulled into the parking, long before the start time. This is not the first race I have heard of having train problems. Around the Bay in Hamilton has apparently changed their course this year since runners had to stop for a train last year. That would have to be more than a little frustrating in the middle of a 30km course.
All in all, the Richmond Road Race seems like a very organized event, I’m guessing after 32 years they know what they are doing. I have to give kudos for the food. At the end of your run you went back into the warm high school cafeteria to pick up your bowl of hot soup and a plate loaded with a bun, a muffin, cubes of cheese, a banana, a juice box and a yogurt. There had to be a good team of volunteers to organize and put out this amount of food. Since I am avoiding large amounts of gluten, it was the soup that I really enjoyed. Evan enjoyed everything on his plate plus all of the food I didn’t eat. Having an almost 11 year old growing boy comes in handy when you have extra food around.
Neither Evan nor I are in race shape. This was meant to be a training run for us so we set three goals. We decided we would be happy with finishing the 5k under 31 minutes, and would be really happy if it was under 30 minutes. Anything that started with 28 would be awesome. We started out fast, too fast, so had to remind ourselves to slow down. When we started to hit slippery pavement, and then icy areas on a gravel road we were careful not to push too much. Evan seemed tired so I said to him we could take a break if he wanted. His answer: “No, I don’t want to walk, actually I do really want to walk, but I don’t want to, you know what I mean?” I think most of us can relate. So we kept going and actually picked up the pace a bit on the way back. As we got near the end I told him to sprint if he wanted and off he went. I had zero interest in running any faster so I just coasted to the finish line where volunteers recorded your time. Evan was thrilled with his 28:58 and I can live with my 29:08, though it is 3 minutes slower than my best. These times put both of us in third place for our age groups so we came home with some pretty nice backpacks:
Running with Evan is always fun. Except for one thing. He talks… ALOT! And half of what he says is in the form of a question, so he expects an answer. Usually I have to answer at least three times because between his heavy breathing and the hat over his ears, he can never hear me. I finally had to tell him to stop talking to conserve his energy. The reality was I couldn’t talk anymore and maintain my breathing. Maybe I will be able to talk and run again in a couple of months but not now as I try desperately to get back to running under a 6 min/km pace. I was more than a little surprised actually that my 5:50 pace put me in 3rd place for the 40-49 group. I admit I assumed there must have only been a handful in this age group, so I was even more surprised when I found out there were actually 23 of us. I guess I am not the only one trying to slowly chip away at my pace.
The winners were anything but slow. The top 4 runners in the 10k were in the 37 minute range, while the top 3 runners in the 5k were in the 17 minute range. These are their times in the middle of winter on a slightly slippery course!
What I will remember the most though from this race is the number of “senior” runners. I don’t even feel right using the word senior, these people were amazing. In the 10k there were 2 men in the 80+ category (yes you read that right) who finished with times of 67 and 68 minutes!!! In the 5k there was an 82 year old women who looked like she was still ready to run after the race was completed. There was no shortage of participants in the 60-69 and 70-79 year old category either, and many of their times were simply amazing. It made me think how as runners we spend a huge amount of time setting “number”goals. We are always asking ourselves if we can reach a certain time, a certain distance, a certain number of races. Perhaps an even better goal would be to strive to be running and feeling healthy in our seventies and even our eighties. I can only hope!