After many harried emails and phone calls the stars were beginning to align for the Toronto Scotiabank Half Marathon.
Friday morning Anne and I headed west to Toronto. We were excited to be on our way and the weather was holding its own, no rain and no blazing sun. Nice and comfortable, even with the five and a half hour drive nothing would dampen our spirits. We made our way in to Toronto before the looming rush hour traffic and were well ensconced in our hotel room by 3:30pm.
There were so many plans for the weekend, what with meeting Vickie and Jan, meeting with other blogger's, swimming, shopping, eating and oh, of course running, we decided to head out to the Sports Expo that was being held at the Toronto Convention Centre. Luckily we were able to walk down to the expo while taking in all the sights of a "booming metropolis". I even found a large pothole to fall into as I was walking down Bay Street just north of Dundas! My foot twisted just enough to cause me to almost fall to the ground plus there was immediate swelling and pain, "crap, I just got here and I'm already on the disabled list"....well, trust me, what I said wasn't quite that polite!!! Nothing was going to stop me from having an amazing weekend so we continued along our way as I hobbled and bobbled my way. In hindsight, all the walking was probably the best thing I could have done.
The Expo was not to disappoint, however, my favourite CWX brand of running wear was a no show! An empty booth, no where to be seen, Darn, I really wanted to get a couple of pair of running pants, one a capri style now that the cooler temperatures are headed our way and the other pair of winter running pants. Double DARN.
I did settle on a capri style of Saugoi pant which will be handy on the cooler fall days...CWX, you lost OUT! Anne and I completed the circuit (several times over) and were laden with free bee's, samples and purchases when we checked our watches and it was already after 7pm. We'd been there for hours!!
Toronto is such a busy city and with it being Friday night, a hockey game was on and Celine Dion was in town, the restaurants had over 40 minute wait lines. Luckily we scooted our way into Lone Star in no time flat for some fajitas and the mandatory Margarita's, a true athlete's meal!!!
We made it back to the Delta Chelsea Hotel and proceeded to go through our race bags. For being such a big race there really wasn't anything that stands out in my mind, which boils down to "it was a ho hum race bag". The rest of the evening was spent in the hot tub and pool while we waited for Vickie and Jan to arrive from the airport. We finally got to meet up after 10pm when they called and came to our room. Nothing like making a great first impression having just come out of the shower and being in our jammies....but we all hit it off immediately and chatted up a storm until after midnight.
Saturday was extremely busy right from the get go. My dad was eagerly awaiting our visit plus a highschool friend of mine whom I haven't seen in about 34 years was meeting us for lunch.
It was great to share stories, laughs, tears and we made a promise that we won't wait that long for our next visit!
We had to kickass to get back to downtown T.O. so we could meet up with the fellow blogger's.
If you want to see how much fun we had trying to take this picture, just go to Marci's blog! Oh, thanks, I like my sandals too!
Anne and I left the Expo and headed off to meet with Vickie and Jan at Little Anthony's Italian Restaurant. It was exactly what we all needed to relax and catch up over a fabulous dinner and glass of wine. Open elegance is how this restaurant is described and the meal was out of this world.
Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to catch some shuteye so we'd be nice and fresh for the mornings race.
Sunday morning arrived and it was dark but not too cold. Rather balmy! Anne had brought two throw away sweatshirts which we had on, but doffed even before the start of the race.
We walked our way to the start mats, there were so many runner's, walkers and spectators it certainly took on a festive mood. Anne and Vickie were dancing to the music while Jan said her well wishes and dropped back so she wouldn't get too jostled in the crush of runner's as we hit the mats.
Have you ever taken three steps into a race and knew it was YOURS?
All I could think of was what one of the Wooo Hooo's said, "see what's in the tank" for this race and TNTCoach Ken said "What's in that tank? Just go balls out until you see stars."
Thanks guys, that is exactly what I needed to hear! When we hit the turn to go under the Gardiner Expressway and head to Lakeshore Blvd., my legs and feet were on their own, my brain was thinking back to all the memories I have of growing up in Toronto.
Memories of all the friends and family that have passed away, all the memories of being a kid and going to the Canadian National Exhibition, all the fun we had as young adults down by the Toronto waterfront.
Time flies when you're having fun! Next thing I know I'm running towards my marathon friend Henk (who was running the marathon in Toronto) and we were able to cross the 10K mat together! We had a quick exchange of "good luck" and I zoomed off (well as fast as I get, more like a thundering herd of turtles).The race route is an out and back along the Lakeshore for the Half marathon runner's, so as I was headed back on the other side of the boulevard I got to see Henk again, Anne, Vickie and Jan who was totally hoofing it.
The bands that were set up along the run route were amazing! The spectators were out in droves and there was even a group of Canadian War Veteran's in full dress uniform out to cheer us on! They just lit a fire in me, those courageous men who so bravely fought for my freedom to be able to run as a free woman in the country I love! Another burst of energy and I flew along heading back towards the downtown core. There was a young man struggling his way along when I caught up to him, he was a new Canadian and was running without hydration nor gels. He was really struggling, so I walked with him for a little way and made sure he had the gel and water I gave him. I made him promise that at the next water stop he would get two cups of water and drink one and toss the other over the back of his neck. He promised me he would! (He probably told me that just to get the crazy old woman away from him LOL).
Running under the Gardiner Express threw my Garmin coordinates right out of the window, so I was running with my instincts, I knew where I was, but I was starting to get a little tired. When we turned up Bay Street you could hear the roar of the spectators and the race route at the end was marked with increments of 100 meters, so you knew you only had to go 500, 400, 300 until you came down to the final 100 meters! The official time clock read 2:33:46, but I knew that it had taken me over ten minutes to get to the start mat. Yes, I ran a personal best!! Toronto was my best Half Marathon ever!
When I crossed the mats I let out a huge sigh and thought to myself, wow, what a way to end the racing year!! 2:23:05, Not too bad for an old chick!!
We were channelled through an area to have our chips removed and I wanted to head back to see Anne and Vickie and Jan finish, but there were too many people, so I picked a nice spot in the sun to wait for them. One by one we were reunited with laughs and stories and aches and pains!
Navigating our way back to the hotel was a half marathon in itself. Jan had a huge icepack on her shoulder, we were in our mylar blankets still trying to get oranges and apples into us along with water! It was quite the parade!
Once we got back to the hotel after manipulating our way through closed streets and more potholes, Jan and Anne headed off (still with their mylar blankets) to find an Adult BEvERage store, more commonly known as the LCBO. They came back with red and white wine, which we poured into plastic cups and headed to the kiddie pool! (The adult pool facility was being serviced, silly hotel).
After our much enjoyed and needed time in the whirlpool, we made our way back to the room for more chit chat and plans for dinner at the exclusively expensive Hy's Steakhouse. Very old, very chichi, with a lot of Toronto Stock Exchange secrets!
We couldn't give up the evening so we headed back for one last cocktail of the evening and our last goodbyes. Jan and Vickie were up at the crack of dawn to catch their flight back to Grand Rapids and Anne and I were on the road heading back home on Monday morning.
What an amazing weekend! Thank you Emily, Marlene, Marci! It was a treat to meet you and congratulations on your AWESOME RACES!! You guys ROCK and you are MARATHONERS !!!
Jan and Vickie, what can I say other than you feel like I've known you both forever!!!
I can hardly wait until we spend another fantastic weekend partying and racing again!
Life's fun if you don't weaken,
**sorry the report is so late, it has been one *beotch* of a week, reality bites!!!
***blogger actually kick this post out of the web yesterday afternoon, so I had to re-write it!