Speed River Inferno: First Stop on the NTL Circuit
Last Saturday night was one of the premier running events in Ontario, The New Balance Speed River Inferno, the first stop of the Athletics Canada NTL series, and my first outdoor race near home this. It has been a few years since I’ve run the Inferno meet and the first chance I’ve had to run at Alumni Stadium. I was totally blown away by how beautiful the stadium is.
Competing close to home we piled into Rol’s car and headed from Toronto to Guelph. I don’t like driving myself to meets since I think it’s a bit of unnecessary mental exhaustion. Luckily for me I had my #1 fan to get me there.
The weather Saturday was suspect. I stalked The Weather Network all day, watching the ‘green monster’ travel up from the south-west across most of Southern Ontario. It was looking like some grim race conditions. However, I knew if the storms blew through that the weather would be just perfect.
As we headed out the rain kept pouring down as we drove on. Around Hamilton the burning ball of fire (the sun) made a brief appearance. Fingers crossed we would make it through the meet with no torrential rain.
I was running the 1500m and with the way the track was set up I did not get to see my friends racing in the 800m. I focused in on my task at hand and completed a very humid warm up in the field house.
With 15 minutes to start time the women were brought out to the track for some strides and last-minute race preparations. The weather was beginning to shift. The temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up. It didn’t help that meet started to fall behind schedule either (although to be fair, Dave, Chris and the crew are usually spot on with the schedule).
The men started their 1500 and I did my final preparations. Spikes on. The last few, fast strides. Finding my mental resolve and focus. The goal was not to lead the race. The plan was to let the rabbit do what she was supposed to do and settle in somewhere, just not in the lead.
I settled in around 5th or 6th. While I didn’t lead the race I could have done a better job at tucking in. I ran most of the race in lane 2 and probably ran a 1585 (so says Rol!). We went through the first 400 a bit quick, around 66s and then the pace really slowed. From 300 to 700 we actually went through in 70s.
The rabbit dropped out shortly after that and I sat in with the 6 pack, as the Runner Space commentary named our group on AthleticsCanada.tv. Ross and I had talked about staying with the leaders and kicking from about 300m. With 500 to go Sophie Watts made a big move to try to break apart the pack of 6. I jumped on her back and settled in as we rounded through the bell.
I tucked in along the rail (finally!) and felt the pace quicken. There were two Oiselle athletes just in front of me and I marked their backs. With 300m remaining they picked up the pace again and I followed. As we rounded 200 and came around the corner the girl in front of me stepped on the rail, rolling her ankle, and taking a few steps on the inside of the track. It broke my focus a little, and I even thought to myself ‘should I ask if she’s ok?’
I regained focus and saw that I had a clear lane for the finish. With no one in front of me I started charging for the line. The other Oiselle racer regained composure and started to hunt me down. In front of me I could see the clock at the finish line… 4:05, 4:06 …
Unfortunately the clock was off and while I saw 4:09 crossing the line the official time was 4:11.68. But I had stuck to my plan, used my kick and the result was a win! I am not racing for time, I am racing because I love the thrill of racing. I love charging for the finish line and trying to be the first one there. As a good friend, and a very smart runner said to me, ‘race to race. The time will naturally come.’