This is the race of any chocoholic's dream - a scenic, 21K (or a shorter 14K) course along the waterfront of Port Dalhousie, a subdivision of St. Catherine's, Ontario. Aid stations along the course had water, e-load energy drinks and, of course, chocolate. A thousand runners from Ontario and south of the border came to this quiet little town on Sunday morning in search of chocolate. Except for this runner.
Yes, I do love chocolate. But I can't mix running and chocolate; for me, they simply don't go hand in hand. Yes, I run so that I can eat chocolate, and I run because I eat chocolate, but I cannot imagine trying to do both simultaneously. Me? I registered for the race in search of an age group award (and chocolate for after the run).
So, on Sunday morning, the boys and I headed out the door before 7:00 a.m. to get to the race on time. We arrived at the start area to find there was no parking close by and a huge line at the washrooms (perhaps organizers can plan for porta-potties next time). So we drove back into town so that I could use the facilities at a local restaurant and returned to the start where I changed into a long-sleeved shirt as it was much colder and windier than expected (and I hate being cold).
Other than finishing in second place overall, my race was really quite uneventful. There were issues with marshalling within the first 2 kilometres of this out-and-back course as we lead runners ran the wrong way not once, but twice. The half-marathoners, who started 15 minutes earlier, must have had the same problem as their number three lead, who passed me on his way back to the start, asked me if I saw their two front-runners. Lead cyclists would have been a good idea for both races. Then a third time, towards the finish, where the 21K runners continued to run west and I was mixed in with them, I kept calling "Short" for directions; one of the marshalls still nearly missed me, which would have sent me off for another 7 kilometres and completely ticked me off. Despite the mix-ups, I did better than I wanted in the end - not the 1st or 2nd place age group award, but the second place overall. This earned me a nice little bag of dark chocolate coins.
The excitement at the race, though, happened at the chocolate stations. Picture a fountain of chocolate, chocolate-dipped strawberries, Hershey Kisses, Tutti-fruitti chocolate....the list goes on and on. The organizers had cases of dry ice at each aid station to keep everything from melting. My boys were in Chocolate Heaven at the Pretty Dirty Girls (aka Running Skirts) aid station, where the female crew handed out about 2000 chocolate kisses and a few real ones. Hubby and #1 were busy giving out cups of water (they went through 80L, and I'm not sure if that was because people were dehydrated from running or they needed a chaser for all of that chocolate) while #2 watched and charmed the skirts off the ladies. My oldest came home with a bag of Hersheys; between that and my own bag of chocolate, I saw no real need to cook dinner that night!
After the race, I realized the value in the boys' volunteering. All summer, they have been very supportive of my running and racing - even if it means getting up when it's still dark. And, all summer long, they've had to sit around idly and wait for me to finish, which has at times felt like an unproductive use of time. But this time, the boys had a job to do; they handed out water to the one thousand runners who passed them - twice. And, they still got to see me run; #1 proudly passed me my water cup while #2 cheered me on.
And, this time, in the end, I got to wait for them.