The Longboat 10km race, now in its 31st year, is a wonderful family day that offers solid competition, a fun family atmosphere, and many prize opportunities. The race is a well-run event organized by the Longboat Runners in Toronto, offering a 10km, a 5km (new) and a kids 1km race, topped off by a great BBQ. The course is a flat route through Centre Island with about 800 metres on grass and a good mile on boardwalk near the finish. Fast times can be had if you run light and steady through the changing footing. Although there is solid competition for the front pack, there are plenty of opportunities for age group awards.
Having run this race two years ago, I wanted to give it another whirl as a tune up race before the Picton half in a few weeks. With my husband at a baseball tournament, no family nearby, I recruited a willing friend to add my two active boys to her brood and bring them all on to the island while I warmed up and ran the race. The plan was to warm up with 5km, race, then hopefully keep running until the kids arrived to play at Centreville. My kids weren’t going to make the kids race since my friend needed to bring them over. Since I knew the boardwalk altered my running the last time I ran this race, I made sure to warm up through the boardwalk to build confidence. All would have been well if my stomach would have cooperated. Sadly, my stomach entered stress mode beginning in the hours before the race and I desperately attempted to rehydrate with Vega Sport. I had lofty goals, but the body wasn’t going to let it happen.
I was thankful that we had a few minutes delayed start as we had a surprise celebrity join us — Ed Whitlock. He is a humble guy, not eager to draw attention to himself. He stood just behind me, wearing little, light runners that look nothing like the latest flashy performance shoes. He’s a man comfortable with who he is –running forever. He ran a blistering 42 min winning the 80 + age group, of course. I only hope I can run that well that late in life!
The race would be fast, this I knew. But, despite my stomach, I knew I had a chance to place in age group. My goal was to run steady and slow down my usual too fast first km and take it from there. Low and behold, my 1st km fell in at 3:55 (better than my last 10km but still not right). I tried to settle in for the next few kms, aware of my GI difficulties, but hoping for a steady pace. I knew I was about 7th female but I didn’t mind. I know I have the strength to finish well, usually. By 4km I started to pick off a struggling female or two. At 6km, the stomach pain came in cosmic proportions, forcing me to slow down dramaticially and decide how to manage the rest of the race. Do I give up or suck it up? I had been in this situation before and I then mentally gave up. I just couldn’t give up now, after all that my friend had done to get me here.
The final kilometres of the race were a decision to do the best that I could and fight for a decent time. At the last water station I knew I couldn’t drink but I sneaked a slow jog beside the other female runners in the hope that my stomach would settle — it didn’t. Instead, my desire to keep going rose above it. A short single track trail leads to the 8km marker and the boardwalk. We were slowed here as we tried to make our way through this. However, once I hit the boardwalk I decided I just had to go. I passed by the last close female and ran light and fast through the last 2 km, clocking 4min/km for the first time at a 10km race. The last 500 metres is on an open pathway (perfect for passing) before you finish on grass. I finished in 41 min flat, somewhat disappointed, but gratified that I could finish in that state. I landed a 2nd place overall and took home a gift card for The Runner’s Shop in Toronto.
I finished the day with a BBQ with my children, watching the draw prizes, and spent the rest of the day at Centreville Amusement park. My kids loved the rides but my upset stomach didn’t appreciate the rollercoasters and ferris wheel. I didn’t have time to finish the post-race run so I ran again later in the evening to round out the day. I’ll definitely try this race again, with the kids at the kid’s race, and hopefully a kinder stomach.