Around 1am last night, I woke up to my brother asking if I’d want to run the Sporting Life 10K in his place because he hurt his back. 5 hours later, I found myself on a bus to the starting line, wondering what I’d gotten myself into.I am regularly compelled to run in my everyday life when it feels like I’m moving too slowly toward my destination, but generally, long distances are not my forte. I’ve never enjoyed running much more than the length of a football field or the bases around a diamond – and that’s really just because I’m motivated by touchdowns and home runs.
For the last few weeks, I have been preparing to join Trish’s Team Stratusphere in the Met Con Blue Mountain Adventure Race by running around my neighbourhood park. According to Gmaps Pedometer, it’s a 3km route… and I usually start walk/running after 2km. But mostly, I’ve just been pole dancing.
So when I approached the Sporting Life 10K starting line, I had intended to run the first couple kilometres and then walk/run the rest… but I didn’t really stick to my plan.The 1st km was all downhill, so my 2nd km really felt like my first. Then by the 3rd km, I still felt fresh enough to keep running to the 4th km, where volunteers passed us water. The refreshment kept me going for another km, at which point, I thought: I’m already halfway, I might as well keep running.
By the time we reached Dundas, I couldn’t believe I had run all the way from Eglinton and that I’d soon be just down the street from the group home I work at. When we rounded the corner from Yonge to Richmond and headed toward Peter, I recalled rushing along this route back when I did Jewtopia at Diesel Playhouse – all these details helped put the distance into perspective, making it seem more manageable.At this point, I was committed. 20,000+ people all racing in the same direction, streets closed down just for us, spectators cheering us on with entertaining signs, like “Hey Stranger! Nice legs.” and “Why do the good looking ones always run away?” and “Call me. Seriously. Call me.” What could I do, but keep running?
When we turned onto Front around the 8km mark though, that’s when I ran into trouble. Fatigue was starting to set in, I rolled my ankle on a sewer grate, and forgot where the race ended. Once I passed Spadina, I thought the race ended at Bathurst, but when Bathurst was in sight, it was clear that we would continue south. By the 9th km, I was tempted to stop running, but I had come so close. And I was committed.
Maybe it was a Pavlovian response to all the cow bells, or maybe I’m just a sucker for peer pressure, but when I turned onto Fort York and everyone was yelling “Keep running!”, “You’re almost there! Keep running!”, I kept running. When I saw the finish line, I felt tingles on the back of my neck and began to run faster, excited that I was actually going to finish running the 10K!
I was among the 17,543 of 21,722 entrants who finished. I ran an average pace of 6:34/km with my first 5km taking 30:30 and my second 5km taking 32:20 for a total time of 1:02:49. Click here for all the results, but remember: this morning, I was Ryan Lui.