mickey mouse

mickey mouse

Monday, 30 June 2014

Going Straight to the Pride Run

Going Straight to the Pride Run

I lived in Toronto for 20 years and never went to Pride. For some reason I figured it didn't apply to me, that I would not be part of that community and it would make no sense to be there. That and I hate crowds.

This year, as a runner, I finally crossed another race off my bucket list. The Pride and Remembrance Run is part of Pride Weekend, and I figured that I could at least go, run, show my support and head home.

I was lucky to be part of the team for Fife House. They provide secure, supportive, affordable housing to people living with HIV/AIDS in the GTA, and are one of the beneficiaries of the 5k run.

I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never been part of Pride weekend, and this was bigger than usual because it was World Pride so even more people were participating in the week long celebration.

Once again it was a dark o'clock trip, the GO Train into Toronto at 7am, wearing a tutu, a sparkle skirt, and enough accessories to make the world glitter. Nobody flinched as I added more accessories to my already awesome outfit.

I arrived in Toronto hours before the 10am race start, and wandered around at Church and Wesley.  

 I was so amused by the rainbows everywhere, from inside the TTC station to the TD Bank. The people I saw walking around were happy but had the look of folks that perhaps had yet to go to bed....which explained why the coffee shops had lines of folks smiling and ordering huge cups of coffee.

I remember why I loved living in Toronto, the ease of getting around, the fact that nobody looks sideways at you when you've got a tutu on, that you can find almost anything you want, day or night.

I had time to kill, so I wandered around drinking coffee, taking photos and being thrilled by how wonderful the entire village looked. What's amazing is that mere hours later this entire street was jammed packed with people.

I met up with Cory and the team from Fife House and we got ready to run. One of the team, Sam, had yet to sleep from the parties the night before, and he was charged with handing out the Fife House sweatbands (the blue one in the centre of the photo below).  I figured I'd help him out so he could go get a nap before the next round of  parties.

It was so fun to go through the crowd, handing the wristbands out and chatting with total strangers. Really made me feel like a part of the event. It's amazing who you run into at a race, and for the second time this year I saw this woman at one. This time I could not resist snapping a selfie with her.
Yep, Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario (and our first openly gay one too). She's also one heck of a fast runner.

Before I knew it we were ready to start running, under a huge cloud of rainbow confetti.  
The course went down Wesley street to Queen's Park Circle and then made TWO laps of that. Yep, another case of me not looking at the race route and being surprised when the volunteers said 'around you go again'.  I was having such a great time. I  brought my music but never even bothered to turn it on, it was way more fun to chat, high five the volunteers and enjoy the entire fun time. There were photographers on the course too, can't wait to see how the snaps turn out.

Everyone running seemed to be having fun. There wasn't any of the 'on your left' screaming or people being all about them. There were costumes, and cheering and the volunteers were banging thundersticks and having a great time.

I finished in a huge crowd....
AND made the news! CBC News Toronto  has a great shot of me crossing the finish line about :20 seconds into the intro of the night's newscast. 

After the race I spent some time posing for fun photos 

This was the finish line party area. The best food I've EVER had post-race. Yogurt, cake, pizza, tons of water. It looked like a festival, families and face painting and everyone hanging out.

Then I hit the Lucky Charms booth and had some fun (and got some cereal), posing with their #LuckyToBe posters.
On one of my many treks up and down Church street, I ran into a David's Tea lady toting a huge bunch of stuff on her way back to the store. Figured since I was going that way I'd lend a hand.  As a thanks she bought me a tea! It was a great treat on a hot day. I've never had one before, and I'm sure glad there's a David's Tea in Limeridge mall so I can get more.
There was a Smart Car parked on Church and I could not resist posing when they said it was okay if I stood on the seats!

By far my very favourie photo is this one. The confetti left in the street after the race was so pretty, I could not resist lying in it and tossing it in the air while a (tall) volunteer took my photo.

While speaking to Cory I found out that Fife House and Over the Rainbow had joined forces to create the #PrideCodeTO  shirt. It took me another 2k of walking up and down the street to find (and buy) one. It's on the left.

This was easily one of the best running experiences that I've ever had. Everyone, from the Premier of Ontario to the folks at the water stations was having a great time. I felt more at home in my tutu at this race than any other. There were hugs and high fives and people cheering for strangers. I felt totally at home in a place where I was the minority yet totally accepted with no question. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Up Yer Kilt

Another road trip, another 5 hours in a car with Emily en route to Perth Ontario. This time it was for the World Record Kilt Run.

This was sort of a costume race, because all participants had to be clad in a regulation kilt to run. That way we were able to be part of the world record attempt. My friend Emily was the driver on this road trip to crazy, and we departed Hamilton at 5am, yet again another 'dark o'clock' drive.

Coffee, McDonald's, road kill, the usual, except this time we found a large fruit on the side of the road. I've driven past it many times and never stopped, but it's a tradition in Em's family to go and get treats. Little did I know that I'd develop an unhealthy addiction to something called the Mumble Crumble from the Big Apple

Fast forward another 3 hours and we arrived in scenic Perth. I should mention that when we registered for this race I thought Perth was near London, ON, NOT like 10 minutes from Ottawa :-) Damn, need to brush up on my geography.


In Perth we hooked up with Shannon, my bestie from Orillia, and Camilla and Kerri from Kingston.  

We ran amuck in town for a bit complete with  Big Ben, temporary tattoos and haggis tossing (that's Camilla throwing a haggis (haggi?) on the right). 

For about 15 minutes I was in second place in the contest.

What a beautiful town, a pretty place on the river Tay, home to Ian Millar, and friendly people who actually STOP to let you jaywalk! 
However I have to wonder why Big Ben has a butt hole?

There was a wedding in the park and the bride asked if we would pose with her for a photo, I'd love to see how that turned out!
You can just see the bride off to the left in this photo to the right. 

This is us in our 'Pride of Scotland' tartan kilts, which you could actually order for the race. That way you met the 'official' kilt rules for pleating and buckles and all that fun stuff. They are warm, thank goodness they weren't wool!

Part of the fun was that we ran at 6pm,so it was just sort of hot, not 'aaaa, frying' hot.  They had water stations every KM, which not only made the time fly but also kept you hydrated. There was also a Warrior Class, and they had to complete tasks like a javelin toss, rolling a huge tire, fording a stream. They ALSO had to carry a 5lb wooden shield and 5lb sword the entire course. Glad I didn't accidentally register for that!

I haven't run with Shannon since like 2007, so this was the perfect opportunity to get caught up as we looped around Perth (and around and around and around).
As we approached the finish like she yelled 'Race you' and took off like the tall gazelle she is. You can actually SEE her yelling as she vaulted off in the photo above. We are in the video at about 1:11:00 running in like freaks.

We got socks for finishing, this is my SECOND race in a row where there's no medal.....what the heck is wrong with the world?

One of the other great things about this race was the photos were included in the price of entry. I LOVE that, and I think Zoom Photo takes some of the very best photos out there.  They had them up and indexed by Monday morning too!

I did have a bit of feedback for the race director but I won't include it here as I want to give him time to reply and we can figure out the issues before I go complaining in my blog.  **update** All is well, great reply and resolution from the race folks.

This another one of those races that I wish wasn't so far from home, because I'd love to do it again next year. However, I now have the PERFECT thing to wear when I go see Gowan in December!

This weekend I'll be in Toronto for World Pride running the Pride and Remembrance run. Break out the rainbow tutu, here I come!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Better, Stronger, Farth

I've got a bucket list, and I'm a glutton for crossing stuff off and then adding something else before the ink has time to dry.

For some crazy reason, I had a triathlon on there. The part that makes it really wacky is that I can't swim. Like 'ugly dog paddle, does she need us to rescue her' can't swim.  I spent my childhood jumping off diving boards into pools and flailing my way to the edge and out. I don't like to get my head wet, can't see without my glasses, and sink like a stone.

So after a few years of saying I was going to learn to swim, I finally did. 16 weeks of lessons at the local city pool, two great friends who learned with me, amazing instructors who actually taught me how to do more than barely make it from one edge to the other.

By the end I could do it, still not pretty, but I could do it. I bought a wetsuit and tried it out in the pool, got prescription goggles too. 

Registered for a try-a-tri. (I should mention we signed up BEFORE we started swimming lessons)

Cue the nifty matching outfits :-) 

June 7th, Binbrook ON. 400 m swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run.

I'm seldom nervous. I love speaking in public, and I'm happiest when I can do something nobody expects of me.  However this scared the crap out of me. The more I thought about it (open water, can't touch the bottom, tons of flailing people, cramps, can't see, can't finish, have to DNF fished out of a lake). 

Our swim instructor at the City of Hamilton, Cassandra, called to wish us luck while I was pondering finding a paper bag to breathe into. What a great boost of confidence and support, and how cool that she remembered and took the time to look up Lori's cell and call us. 

Somehow we still got there, and somehow I got my stuff racked and me suited up. You can't tell here, but I've stopped breathing almost totally. AND I can't see without my glasses, so like a dork I'm wearing prescription goggles on dry land. 

 They let us go in the water to 'warm up' and I realized at that point that I'd never been in open water as a swimmer, never tried to spot the markers, wear my wetsuit or my goggles in a lake, and that at some point about three feet out I'd not be able to touch the bottom until I reached the end of the swim. Oh, and there's current, something really lacking in a pool.

Oh. My. God.  I was the last to enter the water, and I paddled and plodded along without stopping (YIPPEEE) the entire 400 meters without needing a lifeguard to fish me out. (YIPPEE). The sweet young man on the paddleboard stayed beside me the entire time, coached, cheering, and making sure I didn't go off course. 

I came out of the water about 20 minutes after I went in. The very last person to emerge from the lake. You can just imagine how freaking happy I was, my goggles were fogged with tears of joy. And yes, I WAS lapped by the pregnant woman in the photo above!

Emily cheered me in from her post on the beach, yelling 'be a shark' so loud I'm pretty sure people were preparing to evacuate for fear of Jaws gnawing on someone.  I headed into transition to get on my bike, so freaking happy that I didn't have to swim again that I would have cheered, except I was trapped in my wetsuit and concentrating on getting out.

At this point I was promising myself this was my last Tri, I was going back to nice, harmless half marathons.

The bike was a cakewalk compared to the swim. 10K, a few hills, passed a few people (thank god, I hated having the motorcycle guy follow me as the last place person). 

I got through that too, and met up with Lori in transition. We waited for Kaylee to finish the bike and headed out for our 2.5km run. 

Somewhere in here I discovered that we don't get medals for this race. Are you KIDDING ME? I've been wet, cold, dry, sandy, had my hair pulled by my swim cap and the velcro on my wetsuit and there's NO MEDAL? 

We had a lovely walk around the body of water we'd just swam. Could have run, but we have a 'no man left behind' rule and I was sticking with the people who got me into this (and out), and trying to talk to Lori out of swimming back to the finish. Our friends Phil and Emily were taking photos of us as well, so I'll add those once they send them to me. 

As is the norm with K and L, they dragged me across the finish with their crazy tradition of sprinting like loons for the last few yards.

   overall time
The team at Multisport Canada has a tradition of taking a group photo of the first timers, so we happily hit the podium for the big moment. 

There was a finisher banner you could pose in front of, and these blue and white signs with words written that you could hold. They said 'Strong' 'Fast' 'High' and 'Farth'. Now at this point I was tired, and happy and a little goofy and was pretty sure I read the last wrong, so I read it a few more times.  I figured that I misread it as 'Earth', but nope it was 'FARTH'.

I was puzzling it out, out loud, when the nice group of people standing near us pointed out the banner we were posing in front of had 'ER' on it. AHHHHH  FARTH-ER. Somehow that was the funniest thing I'd ever heard, and I had to pose with that sign.

What's truly freaking insane is that I got home, got bathed and changed and unpacked, looked at myself in the mirror and said 'I bet I could do that faster next time'.  Someone get my pen, I have to add another line to the bucket list.