T is for Toronto and Taking a Breather (all mums need one now and then)
First of all, the result. I am not being hard on myself, only realistic, but speed is relative and fast is a feeling and I was somewhat surprised to go over 1:20 in the half today. The Toronto Molson Half Marathon, supposedly downhill and fast wasn’t that fast for me. Surprised because it’s been a long time since I have run that slow and I am not about to admit that turning the corner to 44 means I have to run 2 minutes slower for the half than I am capable of. But it’s not all about times is it? I raced well, came 2nd overall and 1st masters and surely pushed up my fitness.
I came out to Toronto to get in a race in the Eastern half of our great country, that part that lies well beyond the Rockies: to take a little field trip of sorts, beyond the British Columbia border, to have a small R & R break from my other 24/7 job of raising children, taxi driving and stocking the house with necessities for daily family life. A job I love and find meaningful, but from which a small break is sometimes nice. Coming out East is always a returning to my roots sort of thing for me, as it gets me closer to Nova Scotia, not that close exactly, but closer than Vancouver and definitely: Ontario is East. There are more Timmies on the corners out here and more people from the Maritimes hanging out, and people are impressed that you made the trip from so far away as the West Coast.
I started the race on the conservative side, wanting to run a strong second half and although it’s a downhill course, there were hills and wind in the second half. I quickly found my spot, running 3:45’s; in third place but ready to pounce in the second half. I had a few guys around but it took over 10k to sort that out. Coming up on 12k I made a jump to a fellow up the street as it seemed more fun and productive to run with him than alone and he kept on waving to friends along the course. Coming up on his shoulder he asked me if I was still having fun. ‘Oh yeah!’ I replied. I was now in 2nd and feeling smooth, if not stellar. A few moments of brief conversation and it turns out this guy is from Nova Scotia, sailed in the same bay as I did, knows the same people-including my brother- and went to the same High School even, albeit 15 years after I did. Holy Cow. Small world. After that short chat I was huffing a little too hard so I shut up and enjoyed the Bluenose Camaraderie all the way home in silence. He fell back just a short way from the finish but we had a good laugh after the race. When I finished the announcer said I was from the other Sydney: Nova Scotia. Yup, closer to Nova Scotia out here. Thanks for the pacing Jeremy!
Running in the rain wasn’t too bad at the time, but within minutes of finishing I was desperate for an emergency blanket and a warm drink. Brent at PowerBar gave me some dry clothes to add to my 3 layers and I survived the walk back down University to the hotel, watching the marathoners streaming in, and feeling happy that it wasn’t me!
One of the benefits to travelling on my own is that I get to read the whole Saturday Globe and Mail from cover to cover without having to abort the mission in order to make Lego cars, French toast or to retrieve a lost toy. It is always nice to get caught up in current affairs and what’s happening though I skipped the sports: these days you can learn about the hockey play offs from pure social osmosis. So I was both interested and shocked to read about how the Bluenose ll is being almost completely rebuilt back in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It was great to read about, but I was dismayed at how this piece of personally relevant cultural news had somehow sailed over my head. As a kid I always felt proud of the fact that the Canadian dime had the boat from Nova Scotia on it. That boat was the original Bluenose, a fast racing boat and fishing schooner; a part of Nova Scotia history. (As a point of reference, the Bluenose on the “Schooner” beer label is the Bluenose ll, a boat which was actually built by Oland Brewery as a promotion (!) and later sold to Nova Scotia, and which has been a staple tourist attraction ever since). Now the article in the paper was mainly concerned with the controversy over the technicality of whether the ‘new’ boat, which is being painstakingly crafted using old wooden boat methods, should in fact be called the Bluenose lll since it has very little of the original boat left in it. What caught my eye was the fact that the old Bluenose ll has been mainly scrapped and some of it will be sold for souvenirs. I really have to find out what those will be.
So, it’s been a nice weekend. I had a good race, caught up with some friends and, while it seems awfully quiet around here, I have been able to reflect and relax. After the race I took a walk back up University and visited the Royal Ontario Museum. Now this was interesting. There’s nothing like putting the world you read about into context by looking at a real artefact. They have real mummies in there! One is opened and one has never been opened. There is a mummy on display that has been x-rayed (to see the amulets) but it’s never been tampered with. I have read all about mummies and pyramids and tombs because I have kids and kids love Egyptian history. In the 19th and 20th centuries so many mummies were destroyed, torn apart and unwrapped and discarded, until the next generation of ‘educated’ people got smart and figured they better save a few. The x-ray machine and CT scans helped on that front as well. So it was very interesting to see real mummies, the amulets, the canopic jars (where they put the organs) and the mummified animals, including hawks and kittens and a baby alligator.
I also learned about a mineral called Smithsonite. Really! And was quite impressed with the bird room that displayed birds of the world in flight.
By the time I decided to walk back to the hotel, the day had taken its toll. My legs ached with every step, my feet were sore and I had that familiar weary feeling from physical exertion. I strolled back down in the Sunday afternoon drizzle stopping at Timmies for a bagel and tea. Thanks Toronto.