J-A and I have started a bit of a tradition for the Rum Runners Relay. Last year, we bought some white hairspray paint and painted a streak of white down the centre of my hair – like a cross between a mohawk and a skunk. It wasn’t pretty – but it was hilarious – and I loved it. We worried about whether or not it would run when I was sweating, but it did okay – so we figured we’d try something again this year.
This year, though, things got kind of rushed. We ended up buying some red hairspray paint at the last minute in Tantallon. Then we drove to the start of my leg in Head of the Bay with 35 minutes until the start. Things should’ve been fine – but here’s the thing: it was raining. Now, because the stuff didn’t run last year, even with all my sweating, we gave it a try.
J-A got some great red streaks in my hair, but as I was doing a warm-up run in the rain, I happened to wipe some water off my face with the sleeve of my warm-up shirt – and the darn thing came away red. Red was pouring down my face! Hilarious.
So I did my warm up, got back to the start line, and everyone started laughing at me... at how stupid I was. But no worries – J-A wiped off what hadn’t dried, and the rest stayed put. As long as the stuff is allowed to dry, it’s water proof – the problem was that we didn’t give it time to dry all the way. Lesson learned.
Anyway, with red all over my neck and face, I lined up. Turned out Ray M. was doing this leg instead of Rami. Grand. The horn went and we all took off. I tried to stay easy. I figured Ray would take the lead, and I would follow and see if he wanted to work together after the start settled down. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Some other guy broke out of the pack to set the pace. I kind of recognized him and guessed that he wasn’t going to be going faster than 3:40s, so I found some space and tucked in behind him to see how the first k would go, while Ray was somewhere behind. We crossed the first k in 3:25 – way too fast.
I saw the guy look at his watch after the first k, and I figured he’d realize he was going way too fast and ease up – but he didn’t ease up. I did, but not as much as I would’ve liked – the 2nd k was in 3:29. At this point, I made a decision to let the guy go – I didn’t think he had a chance of holding that pace – and if he did, it was his race anyway.
By 4k, I was in the range I wanted to be, between 3:38-4:42/k. At this point, Ray caught me up, and we decided to work together in order to reel in the guy in front. So we took turns with the lead, kept the pace strong, and by 7k, the front guy was starting to fade – and we went right on by.
The pace was excellent, though – we went through 5k in 17:50 and 10k in 36:17.
I don’t remember at what point exactly, but somewhere after 10k, Ray and I had a conversation. We wanted to work together to keep the pace up, but neither of us was thrilled with the prospect of killing each other over the win. He’s running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3 weeks, and I’m running the PEI half marathon the same weekend – these are our goal races. I think we both realized that a duel to the finish, while it would be exciting for the fans who were cheering us on the whole way, would put us at risk for blowing our goal races. So we decided to save the extra gear and finish together.
As a result, we kept switching the lead (I think he led more than I did, to be fair) and kept driving the pace. We weren’t going to ease off – we were just going to avoid the crazy finish. So when we finally rounded the corner to the finish line at Queensland Beach, Ray came up beside me and we crossed the line together, arms held high, in a time of 1:02:00 (for 17.1k). We were both thrilled with the leg – it gave us both a huge amount of confidence going into our goal races. Needless to say, the fans were shocked and disappointed. They wanted blood, and we didn’t provide. Oh well. Maybe next time... if it’s during a key race.
In the end, though, the timekeepers gave Ray the win by a second, even though we crossed the line side by side. No biggie – if that’s what they felt they needed to do, then so be it. I don’t regret the decision to tie at all – it was the smart thing to do, given how much I want to run well at PEI. And I gave my team a solid time and helped us to another 4th-place finish. Go Outliers!
Overall, it was a great day with a number of really great battles. I could go on and on about it, but this post is long enough as it is...
Can’t wait ‘till next year.