Once again, better late than never… (the race was August 17th)
A Midsummer Night’s Run is one of my favourite races around. The time of day (evening) combined with the weather (hot) tends to add an extra challenge, but also some extra excitement. The atmosphere is a ton of fun as runners are encouraged to dress according to the fairy/Shakespeare theme, and we run straight through sunset into dusk.
This year the logistics were a little more complicated since the event had to move to Toronto Island due to construction. Adding a ferry ride to and from the race made for some long lines and added time on either end, but the biggest difficulty was sharing the paths with non-racing visitors who were out enjoying the beaches and parks of the island. We had bikini-clad pedestrians with their strollers, bicycles and quadcycles (??) to contend with throughout the evening. And is it just me or did it constantly smell like hot dogs, pop corn and beer?!
All that being said, I can honestly say it was not nearly as bad as I expected. The 2.5 loop (yes, I said 2.5 loop) course map is convoluted, but volunteers were well-positioned and did a great job of making sure we went the right way. I only had one mix-up where I was caught up in a pack of 15K runners and turned right up the bridge toward the finish with them where I was supposed to continue straight for my final loop. No big deal – I noticed quickly and corrected myself. I did see a couple of close calls with runners and bicycles that were stopping suddenly or cutting across the path out of nowhere, but for the most part I just had to pay attention and be mindful as we shared the paths. Truth be told, it made for some good people-watching!
I got stuck running near one lady in the initial kilometres who was screaming at people all over the place to “move off the path!”, “runners coming through!”, “stay on the grass please!” and just being extremely rude. You know what? We don’t own the island and these paths are not closed to the public for the race. Suck it up and move around people if you need to – it really should have been expected at this venue. Anyway, she was setting a really negative vibe and I was happy once I was able to get some distance from her.
Most of the route was along paved paths with just a few short sections on grass (including the last couple hundred metres, unfortunately) and one long stretch of boardwalk which we covered three times. The footing was tough with a lot of loose boards and my legs were wobbly each time I made it to the other side. Luckily the scenery was beautiful and there was a nice breeze along this stretch, so I still enjoyed it. Unfortunately I found out later that a friend of mine took a big spill when a loose board came up and tripped her – ouch!
I had expected the 2.5 loop course to be a big mental challenge, especially since we would run by the finish area twice before we could actually finish. In the end, it wasn’t bad at all. It was a great way to break up the distance and tackle one portion at a time.
As for my race, I didn’t really know what to expect and didn’t want to risk blowing up (especially with the heat and sun). I wanted to run a “challenging but manageable pace” which would be slightly faster than my typical long run pace. I had planned to start extra slow to warm up, but ended up doing a few extra kilometres before the race and felt a bit too bouncy as the gun went off. It was a really crowded start on the narrow path and I got a little carried away trying to pass people and find some space. My first two Ks ticked by way too fast (5:10, 5:18), but then I had some room and was able to settle in. From then on, almost every single kilometre was within 5 seconds of 5:30, which was my best case scenario goal. I had slower splits when I stopped to refill my water bottle and use the washroom (which required veering off course about 50m), and at KM 27 when I had a moment of weakness and walked. Mostly the pace had felt tough in a good way, but in that moment I suddenly felt like I had to STOP!RUNNING! and I couldn’t ignore it. It happens. I got going after about 30 seconds and shook it off to finish strong.
I was excited to finally make the right hand turn toward the finish instead of back out around the island, although it still seemed to take forever. People kept saying “just around the corner” or “just over the bridge” etc. Yeah, not so much. I was drenched and exhausted and very happy to finally see the finish line.
I grabbed my medal, found hubs right away (who rocked the 15K in 1:02:12) and we bee-lined for the ferry since we both wanted to get home. There was a mile-long line to get back to the main land, but I pretty much expected that. Probably should have grabbed some food and changed into dry clothes…
All in all, I’m pleased with how my race went and how it was executed given the circumstances. If for some reason the event takes place on the island again next year, I can honestly say I would still return. It was a ton of fun and great to see fellow bloggers/DMers before and during the race – Hi Kenny, Laura, Mari and pacer Nicole!