Flashback to one year ago, Race 3, my first race ever when I did the 5k. I said then I’d be back next year to do the 15. And so I stuck to that promise.
Now that I’ve completed each of the MEC Burlington Race courses I can honestly say the course for Race 3 is my favourite of the series and one of my favourite course all round. Using LaSalle Park in Burlington as the start and end point, this course hits all the Northshore hills, and if you’re doing the 15, hits the big ones twice.
I had a less than ideal race morning. I’d forgotten to reset my alarm and slept in. Luckily a well timed notification set my phone off and woke me up within time. Still a bit stressed and rushing to leave I headed for the race and made a pit stop at a Tim Hortons near the park to use the bathroom. Opting to stop there instead of getting in line at the LaSalle Park bathrooms. As I’m ready to turn on to Northshore I see a line of cars waiting to get in to the park, the parking lot looks pretty filled up and I quickly learn one of the staff members is directly cars to turn around and park at a nearby school or marina. Luckily I knew this area well by now after Around the Bay training and knew where to find the school he mentioned, not too far from the park at all, probably under 800m, so not bad.
I was bummed though I wouldn’t have my car near the start, as that’s a handy thing but knew it was my fault for not getting there earlier.
I completely forgot to pick up my race Bib the night before so after parking my car and jogging back to the start I got my Bib and lined up for my chip timer. I made good timing there, soon after the line for the chips exploded. Soon Ryan is announcing that due to the unexpected amount of runners (100 more or so than any race they’ve held before) things were taking longer and they were going to delay the start 15 minutes to make sure everyone was ready.
I thought this was super nice but I was getting worried, it was getting warm and only going to get warmer. And the sun was already beating down on us and I remembered during my rush to get there I forgot my sunscreen. Also I was getting a bit thirsty.
Just after 9 the 15k runners are called to line up on the road at the start line(the 10k and 5k started 15 minutes after us). There Ryan gives us the route instructions and wants to make them very clear so we stay on route as there were some mishaps at race 1 and 2. For the 15k we run the 5k loop, then keep going to complete the 10k loop. This process required us to make a turn on the first go, and to keep going on the second.
9:15 and we’re off. We head south/west down Northshore which means we’re doing the bowl first. For a beginner runner who doesn’t know the course, this will kill you, trust me I know it was me last year. I’d never even run downhill at that point. It was strange and then going uphill immediately after, my poor past self didn’t know what was happening. This year I knew it was coming, I was prepared and have run these hills countless times. I was good. 1k in we hit the first water station. This course is filled with water stations and it turned out to be the greatest thing ever… But we’ll get to that. 1k may seem like odd placement for a water station but remember the 15k passes by this twice so it’s also the 6k water station and very necessary. I grabbed a cup here to take a sip since I was already thirsty and kept going. The next few km I’m doing good, there’s another hill around 2k, all good. At 3k another water station, take a little sip. Still good. As were heading downhill back to Northshore things begin their turn for the worse for me.
I start wishing I’d taken more than a sip at that last station. Also while a pretty shady course, and I have a hat, the sun is starting to get to me. I kept telling myself just make it through the LaSalle hills then the water station is right there.
Well I made it up those 2 hills, but I was really feeling it then. I could feel a headache starting to come on. This is not what you want 5k in to a 15k. I knew I needed to stop or I would develop a migraine. I tried to make it until I had the water station in my sights but I didn’t. I started walking, I walked for awhile. Saw the water station then jogged to it then hung there drinking water for a moment. Back to the race. I start to jog, but I’m not feeling good, the migraine is still threatening to come in and I seriously contemplate turning around and calling it quits. So I start walking again. And I don’t start running again until I feel a bit better and have decided I’m crossing that finish line even if I’m delirious.
The next 9k I spent taking it easy to avoid a headache and counted down how much longer until the next water station. Thankfully there were 6 total on course, every 2-3km. Best ever. If it weren’t for the amount of water and the fairly shaded route this race would have definitely gone even worse for me. One of my friends was also volunteering at the race so it was great seeing her on the course since the rest of our friends couldn’t make it out for this one.
Finally back on Northshore and the final water station, the man at this one was my favourite as he started walking towards me with water stretched out and told me to feel free to have another as I slowed to a walk. This was my plan anyways but it was just such a pleasant moment during an awful race. Sweetest man.
Last station meant 2k left of solid hills. Don’t mind the hill’s though! The course ends with the slow climb back to LaSalle which I’ve now fully learned is a very hard thing to try to sprint up even when you’re ready to just gun it to the finish to get this misery over with.
This race they added an extra mat near the finish and were announcing the runners as they came through which was a great addition to see added. I got a little extra shout out from Ryan as I came through being a regular of the MEC meet ups and my twitter habits promoting them, made me smile.
While an almost complete disaster for me I still love the race it’s really an amazing course loaded with water stations!
And as always for this year we got not only a banana but also Nuun and Cliff Bars. ‘There’s Nuun at the finish’ was a mantra for me during the race.
In the end I finished just under 1:35, on a better day I wouldn’t have had a problem coming in under 1:30 but that was not the case, and my time is still pretty damn decent considering the amount I walked and how slow I took the last 10k.
Overall the race was the smoothest of the 3 this year, just the minor hiccup with the chip pick up due to the massive influx in runners. The water stations were fabulous they also had buckets with sponges for people to cool off to help eliminate the cup waste. Great idea! And I loved that they added the extra mat to announce runners as they came though. Given the small size of the race and that it attracts so many speedsters, the announcing really help keep things going for the back of the packers.