So much for tracking every step along the way … I seem to recall being terribly idealistic about carefully and mindfully journalling every single element of training.

Most practical people probably just write point form, factual notations on their running, if at all, and keep it simple. Not me! I had to make it descriptive and more involved.

This was fine while I experienced all of the initial novelties and sensations in the first few weeks, but my dedication to the creative extension of my fitness drive just did not prove so strong. As I mentioned before, writing for fun tends to wax and wane in my passions. Yes, I am inherently lazy.

Luckily, I actually kept up with the running part of the running program and, rather quickly, eight weeks was gone and the day of the event was imminent.

I shall hereby reward the small, observant subculture of this blog with a lengthy, detailed account.

Mike and I traveled early Sunday morning to Etienne-Brulé Park, along the Humber River and just north of the Old Mill subway station. I had never been there before — a beautiful wooded spot hugging both sides of the heritage river, with a gorgeous stone bridge arching gracefully over the swollen river. Along the route, the old mill of Old Mill — now an elegant hotel, spa and restaurant (that day, the site of a wedding).

There were a few men in rubber hipwaders, fishing in the river just at the foot of the bridge.
I don’t know what they were fishing.

I have attended two other running events as a support person, but this was the first where I queued up at a registration tent and collected bibs and safety pins for myself. #5212 (I have the bib on my fridge now).

I am not always the most outgoing person and, seeing some very serious-looking runners in he parking lot stretching, chatting and prepping, I felt self-conscious and hopeful that I was not out of my element.

The race started on the bridge itself, and we consciously placed ourselves to the back and side of the pack. Some studious-looking lone-wolf male runners did elaborate stretching rituals in the lead up. Other people congregated in packs, knowing each other from other runs or social clubs — I particularly picked up on the conversation of a few.

One girl, wearing a Longboat shirt and sporting some tattoos on her shoulders, described how she had run 14K in an hour on a treadmill the day before and felt so good that she drank like a fish the night before — and still, technically, felt she was drunk. This girl would later place third over all among women in her race. I don’t think I could pull that off…

So we start, and I set my watch and we run by the Old Mill Inn — and the first thing we smell is bacon (we didn’t really have much to eat for breakfast).

I was proud of this one woman, who was obese and struggling but had a friend or personal trainer pacing her all the way with a video camera. She was behind us, walking and jogging, and he was giving her excellent advice about how to handle hills — don’t look at the top, just a few feet ahead of you. I followed that advice. I think she did a 2.5 walk/run.

Back to me — after some clumsiness with a new gift, a proper running watch, we got into a rhythm and made our way along the first stretch — the course was essentially “out and back”.

I was conscious that we were definitely not in the middle of the pack, but that we were not the last by far and were doing well considering we were not running the whole thing continuously (we ran for 5 minutes and walked for one the whole way, in intervals).

I also watched some people, the top finishers of the 5K and the more experienced runners, zooming back and lapping us less than half way along. Humbling.

We hit the water station at the half-way mark, and the guy was a little patronizing about our pace (“well, that must be the last of them” – we so were not) but I ignored him.

The way back was tough as I felt blistering on the sides of my feet, but we kept along and tried not to feel the humidity of the day or the ache of watching another approaching hill in the not-so-distance.

Somehow, whenever we passed route marshalls cheering us on, we were on that one minute walk mark and probably looked pretty pathetic. These were, however, among the more polite and mature, non-condescending preteen males I have ever witnessed in public.

We ran a little faster in the last stretch, and the finish line was a simple blue chalk line between two pylons. Someone called out our time and I watched it flash on the large digital clock posted near a van. In minutes, charts of the results were taped to the side of the van.

We were under 40 minutes, as hoped. I was 38:55, with a pace of 7:45. Not bad, first time out.

What amazed me is that I was damp but my face was not as flushed, blazing red as it has been in longer runs and, generally, I felt fine and not extremely exerted at the end. I scarfed down the fruit and the mini baguettes offered at the finish line, but I felt generally refreshed and nonachy. This bodes well for future attempts at the 5K.

Oh, yes, there will be future attempts.

But I did nap well that afternoon. And I’ve been ravenous since.

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