I woke up early this morning, around 5:30 only to find out that it was raining and the temperature was at 12 degrees Celsius, too cold for my race at 9 am, the 8th annual running of the Alfie Shrubb 8K Classic in Bowmanville, Ontario . Over breakfast and coffee, I thought that going back to the warmth of my bed would be the easier and more comfortable alternative to running on a Sunday. But ultimately, I decided to go for it (I adhere to my coach Isaac's teaching that running races in the worst weather conditions builds character) and drove 32 miles east to Bowmanville, population 80,000 plus, a small rural town east of Toronto. The race was to raise funds in support of the Claringdon Museum.
This race is named after an English runner, Alfred Shrubb (1879-1964) who at one point in his prime owned world records in running from 1,000 yards to 11 miles. His most famous rival was the native Canadian, Tom Longboat, winner of the 1907 Boston Marathon (2:24:24), whom he beat a number of times . Later in life , he made his home in Bowmanville, Ontario, until his death in 1904.
These records were accomplished by Shrubb without the help of modern technology, training techniques, cross training methods, technical shirts, non-blister socks, nor different types of modern running shoes (stability, motion control, trail, cross trainer, etc) that we runners of this generation enjoy. I stand to be corrected here, but I believe, when the official result of this race is released, none of the participants posted a faster time than the 24:33 he did in 1904.
I proceeded to the start area 5 minutes before the race hoping that the rain would stop. Most runners who were there wore jackets, some carried umbrellas, while some stayed under Runningroom tents. I wore a Lady of the Mist (from going on a boat under the Niagara Falls) rainbag which was handy as it protected me not only from the rain but the cold wind as well.
At almost start time, I positioned myself at the very back. The sky was still overcast, rain was still falling but no longer as hard as earlier in the morning. I was only wearing a shirt and shorts under my rainbag and the cold wind only made matters worse. My fault. When you train running in the winter, you become too cocky. Lesson learned, it's ok to be overdressed, never underdressed.
The one good thing about running big races (where participants number in the thousands) is you finish faster than a few hundred even if your time is slow. In small races , and in very bad weather too, I find that most participants are hardcore, seasoned runners with fewer slower runners participating. In this race, I saw the back pack thin to a few dozen runners in no time after the start. I entertained the thought of the possibility of finishing last in this race if I run this race like the Vaughan 10k the Sunday before.
From being last in the pack, I started to look at runners in front of me who looked out of rhythm, out of shape or just plain slow. I then aimed at catching up and then passing each runner I picked. First, I observed his/her leg turnover and then I made sure that mine was much faster and the strategy worked. When I experienced breathing difficulty or heaviness in my legs, I slowed down a bit and looked at the beautiful surroundings to distract me from it. I discovered and now know that one does not need to be elite to enjoy running. As I passed one runner after another, I felt a combination of joy and excitement, and looked ahead for the next one to pass. I finished strong as I passed about ten runners in the last k. Can't wait to see the official results to find out how many runners I passed.
At the small gym of MJ Hobbs School we congregated after the race for the award ceremonies. I was glad to see some oldies, in their 60's and seventies receive awards in their age groups. They inspire us to continue running, and also give us hope that someday, some where, God willing, any one of us could go up to that stage to receive our own.
A couple of runners were wearing 2010 Boston Athletic Club (Boston marathon) jackets. It turned out that both are elite as each won his age group.
God, please help and guide me to become a stronger and faster runner, so that someday, I may have the privilege of wearing a Boston Marathon jacket similar to what this young man in front of me was wearing.
Truly, I feel blessed being healthy, able to run (in the rain), and receiving this medal today. I thank and praise Him for another wonderful, memorable, and injury free race.
Can't wait to run the next one.
The winner of this race posted a time of 25 minutes plus, slower than Alfie Shrubb's 1904 time for the same distance.
I was 163rd out of 189 finishers, posting a turtlish (is there such a word?) time of 56 minutes and change. Yehey, I passed and beat 26 other runners! Babaw ng kaligayahan, no :)