Race Recap: Scotiabank 5k

So, even though I shouldn’t have run the 5k at the Waterfront marathon…I ran the 5k at the Waterfront marathon! And it was awesome! And now I can barely walk!

In desperation, I got a last minute physio appointment late Friday. I was prepared for the worst, but also not-that-secretly hoping for some kind of miracle cure. And I pretty well got it! He said my pelvis was tilted, making one  leg longer than the other and causing a glute muscle to spasm. He worked the pelvis back in to place, gave me some stretches, and said there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t run on Sunday.

Magic words!

But every time I tried to start running, just to test myself out, it hurt and I stopped. That was probably a clue that I should stay on the sideline, but I was at that point over-the-top excited, unable to rationally consider my options. My first big race! On the lake! And then right through the heart of downtown! I couldn’t stay off Twitter and Instagram, where hundreds of excited runners were posting about their last pre-race run, their meals, their outfits…so many little details that are probably mindlessly dull, in general, but that I couldn’t stop checking out. I even posted my own!

race kit


I set my alarm for 5:20, but woke up ready to go at a few minutes after 5. Bagel in the toaster, coffee on the stove, then into my clothes and onto the foam roller. Desperate times, desperate measures! I was really, really nervous, but kept trying to remind myself that the worst thing that could happen was that I’d have to stop. That was it.

Lucky me, my mother drove me to the race! Better than that, she had a winter coat in the car I could wear until close to start time. It was 3 degrees downtown, and probably colder near the water, so I was very, very grateful for that. It was still fully dark out when we arrived, and we’d parked pretty far from the start line, so we walked along the edge of the road, stopping to exam the elite beverage set up (the 5k went through kilometers 16 to 19 of the full marathon, and 16 to 21 of the half).

The only other race I’ve run is the Longboat Island run, which was wonderful, but very small and chill. This was my first large race: almost 8,000 running the 5k, and close to 30,000 runners overall. My first corrals. My first wave-starts!

at the start line

I guess I was too early? I swear, it was after 7!

I was in the first of five corrals, for those estimating they’d finish in half an hour or less. This must have been a walker-heavy event, because I am not what you’d call first corral material.

At 3 minutes to 8, we sang the national anthem in our places. Then we were on! Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, then across the start line and off!

I wasn’t exactly in pain, but I could certainly feel my hip, and I tried to slow myself, to enjoy it while also paying attention to what hurt. Running along Lakehshore Boulevard, normally a veritable highway, was a wonderful novelty! And then we were running right past the Skydome and the CN Tower, and I felt so in love with my city (a feeling that’s been hard to come by lately), and so happy to be part of this huge group party.

I was going faster than I thought I’d be able to, and by the third kilometre I decided I didn’t need to try to pace myself anymore—I was going to make it!

Turning up onto Bay was wonderful: less than a kilometer and a half to go, with Old City Hall in the distance promising a finish line. Up through the tunnel past Union Station, then between the skyscrapers, with the road just for us! It was magic.

Too early at the start!

It’s no race picture, but here’s how Google Maps sees the last kilometre on a regular day

In the last 400 meters I started to pick up speed. I also started looking out for Jonathan, who’d said he’d cheer me on, and there he was just south of Queen. I felt freakin great! Great!

Lesson learned from my first big race: you can’t really pick up speed near the end. All those wide streets narrow into a much narrower finish line, and there’s no pushing through.

I crossed the line in 28:07. Not my best time, but I’m satisfied, since I know I held back on a number of fronts. I will get in under 27 next time! I was running fairly even splits of about 5:40/km until the last kilometre, which my Garmin swears I did in under 4:00/km. I can’t really remember it being any faster, but I guess that makes sense given my final time. Basically, my legs were soooo ready for this.

Unfortunately, my hip was not. I got a medal and a juice…and then I realized I almost couldn’t walk. My hip felt so twisted, I had to lie down in the grass next to the exit chute and try out some of my stretches. Not good.

I got my snack bag and my chip time, then met Jonathan and hustled in to City Hall to warm up. To have had my mom at the start and him at the end really hammered home what a supportive family I’ve got. I felt so happy and loved!

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.18.20 PM

After some more stretching and a stop for coffee, we headed back towards the finish line to cheer on Leslie, who was running the half marathon. She’d been having a lot of IT band issues, so we weren’t sure when we’d actually see her, but it was fun to see the early half marathoners come in, looking so powerful and not at all spent. The crowd wasn’t massive, but it was super enthusiastic, and runners looking for some love 200 meters from the finish certainly got it. In 2008 I was in New York for the marathon and discovered by accident that I freakin’ love marathon cheering. Seriously, it is one of my favourite activities (the “Obama will probably be elected” zeitgeist definitely made that one extra special, but I will cheer on any running event, truly).

This was my first time cheering as a runner, and while I loved seeing peoples’ outfits, expressions, and names on their bibs, what I loved most this time was seeing their gaits! There may be one best running form, but people seem to do well enough with a wide, wide variety of torso positions, foot angles, and stride lengths.

Leslie ran in really good time (1:47!), and then we stayed to watch the first few marathoners coming in. All of Bay was blocked off, but half marathoners were kept to the left west side, and I hadn’t been sure why, beyond it being an emergency route. Then starting at a little after two hours, when a few police motorcycles whisked through, I realized it was the path for the elite full marathoners, so they could push themselves at the end without dealing with a crowd. The first runners came past us 2 hours and 7 minutes after they’d started running. I felt genuinely privileged to be able to watch them in action.

If you’re able and even remotely interested, I highly recommend being part of the fun next year, even if you do a walk/run 5k. I am so excited to go back a bit more seasoned! Thank you to everyone who makes this marvellous day possible!

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Walking has not been so good since. Am I stupid to say I have no regrets? I wanted to run so badly and I had so much fun! But I returned to the physiotherapist today, who said I had a sprained pelvis. Ah! Technically, I guess it’s the ligament running through the hip that’s sprained but…yeah, it feels really bad, and I can’t run at all now for awhile. But I’ll be back! And I’ll be careful! And I’ll be fast!

Injured & sulking

If you’ve spoken to me lately, you’re probably aware of my new found obsession with running. I started out with Couch to 5k in June, ran my first 5k in September, and have been able to talk and think about almost nothing else in recent weeks. It’s a bit of a problem, but mostly for those who have to listen to me.

My birthday came around, and everyone knew what to get me: running gear! My mom sent me to the Runner Shop, where I ran up and down the hallway in a half dozen pair of stability shoes before finally conceding that the ugly Asics GT 3000s were absolutely perfect. Alas, I do not have the feet for all of the much cooler shoes.

I also got a Running Room giftcard from some kind friends, and after reading every single Reddit post and DC Rainmaker review, I decided I really wanted a running watch, and specifically I really wanted the Garmin Forerunner 220 (well, I really wanted the 620…but even gadget-loving me knew that was too much oomph for my level).

This weekend is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and I’m signed up to do the 5k. After the whole phone-in-running-belt logistical confusion of my last race, I really wanted to get the watch and get in a couple of test runs with it before the race. And on Tuesday, it was mine.


The glorious new Garmin, ready to go.

Yep, on Tuesday it was mine. But unfortunately, on Monday some weird glute pain became mine during an easy morning run. It felt like a soreness that might sort itself out, and then it didn’t. In addition to the watch I bought myself a foam roller (ahhhhh), and I rolled the hell out of the sore spot, and sat on an ice pack, and went to pilates, and took the subway instead of riding my bike to work, and generally behaved myself very well. No running for more than 72 hours! And it was starting to feel better! And with only 72 hours to go until the race, I thought I’d take myself out for a test run. Plus, oh man, I wanted to try out the watch so badly.

And this is what happened:


Yep. I ran for less than 8 minutes and gave up. My legs felt fantastic after the three day break, and the temperature was lovely. In the first couple of minutes I was thinking I actually felt better than I did at rest. And then what had been a variety of types of soreness became, in addition to that soreness, a sort of tickling numbness, the kind of weird, uncomfortable feeling that says “hey, what’s up? I’m a nerve.”

So: It looks like I have a textbook case of piriformis syndrome. Quite a few people claim it sorts itself out through strengthening and stretching. I am hoping that’s the case, but also contemplating a doctor’s appointment to get a physiotherapist referral next week. Probably good to have that handy anyway, right?

So here I am sitting at home, full of unspent energy and disappointment. It seems highly likely I won’t be able to run this weekend. I know there are lots of other racing opportunities, and that resting is really the best choice. But boooooooo. I feel like I’m being punished for having picked up the best habit ever.



Farewell, 28

It’s my last day as a twenty-eight year old! When I wake up tomorrow, I will be 29. Rumour has it that’s a good year, in general. It’s going to have to work prettttty hard to top what came before it.

This year I:

  • levelled up to Librarian III
  • got married!!!!
  • started running and ran a 5k
  • got my G2 license

As well, I:

  • wrote a (short) novel as part of National Novel Writing Month
  • went hiking in the Lakes district
  • volunteered for my first political campaign
  • saw a little more of America, travelling to DC, Baltimore, Austin, and Charleston, with lovely friends at every stop!
  • sang all over town with my beloved choir

There were low points as well. Someday the beginning of a great joke will start with the story of how I actually hit another car on the way to get my drivers’ license. People whom I love very much struggled. Sometimes I was my best self to help them. Sometimes it was really hard to be present, and helpful, and loving and I could have done better. These moments are documented as well, just a little more privately.

I would characterize my state of being at the end of this year as calmed. No one has ever used this word to describe me, but it’s starting to be true. I feel more centred than I have in a long time, maybe ever. Wedding planning was not a calming experience, but being married very much is. Running is a huge part of that.

I haven’t dreamed up many lofty goals for next year. Running more! Getting more self-directed projects off the ground at work! Being a good and useful human! Will report back more regularly, I hope.


My first race: the Longboat 5k

As I look around the great, wide internet, I can’t help but notice how many people blog their running. As a new (and newly obsessed) runner, I thought I’d write my own little race report, though I’m a bit late in coming to it.

My first ever race was the Longboat Roadrunners’ Toronto Island 5k, which happened September 7th. I had heard a few people recommend the course—flat, scenic, and very friendly, which sounded just right for a first-timer.

The race started at 11 but if you’ve struggled to get to the Island, you know you need to get your butt in gear a lot earlier. As I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterwards, I figured I’d take the subway rather than bike. It was only when I woke up that I remembered that the subway doesn’t open til 9 on Sunday. Stupid archaic TTC.

I made it to the 9 o’clock ferry with minutes to spare and met up with my dear old pal Leslie in the ferry line. Leslie is too humble to talk about her running, but she is freakin fantastic. She ran a marathon in Phoenix last year and is training for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon next month. She is fast, and disciplined, and totally zen about it all. She was the perfect friend to have when I was so jittery.

Love you, Leslie!

Love you, Leslie!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and we got to the race area by 9:45 and checked our bags, looked at all the merch (oops, I bought gear) and then sat in the grass. We stretched, Leslie did a warm-up jog….and then there was still plenty of time.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

And then, suddenly, it was time to part ways. My shorter run started 15 minutes before Leslie’s, so I said farewell and headed to the start line, suddenly thinking, “oh my God…am I going to run a race? I can’t do that! I hate running!”

And then I was at the start line. I had looked at the times from last year and they ranged from under 15 minutes to over an hour, so I figured I should start towards the middle. I didn’t have a particular goal in mind, but finishing in 30 minutes seemed like a nice idea.

Longboat 5k start

Thanks for the pic, Mason! And yes, I’m wearing my Make Soknacki Mayor hat (sighhh).

I couldn’t really hear the announcements right before the gun went off, and I was suddenly stressing about the logistics of starting RunKeeper and my music at the right moment without bothering or slowing anyone else. How do people do that?! Why hadn’t I practiced that!?

Welp, that turned out to be a non-issue. When the gun went off, everyone around me did the same thing—and we were only walk/shuffling anyway until we were well past the start line. And then all of a sudden the trail opened up and I could just…run. And run I did! Yes, I was consistently passed by groups of small children and yes, the ragweed situation on the Island is outrageous and terrible- But I was running!

I felt great through the first two kilometres, okay on kilometre three, and pretty crappy as I got towards four. We came out of a wooded clearing and on to a boardwalk next to Lake Ontario, and it was hot and running on wood felt weird and suddenly my legs felt tired…but it couldn’t be that much longer, could it? If I got to four, then five must be close, mustn’t it? I was starting to fade when I came upon a really awesome lady cheering wildly for everyone—and then suddenly there was the finish line, with lots of people cheering, and a big clock which told me I’d gone almost two minutes faster than I’d thought possible.

I was handed a medal almost immediately after crossing the finish line, and I walked around breathing hard and drinking a little paper cup of some orange sports drink and just being totally, totally amazed at what had happened. A race! I ran a race! And they gave me a medal! 


So shiny!

As I sat down to stretch, I overheard two women yelping nearby about exactly what I was feeling: “We did it! We ran a 5k! We did it!” they kept saying. It was delightful.

Leslie had told me she thought she’d be about 50 minutes running her 10k, so I headed back to the finish line to watch for her and cheer on the rest of the runners, now a mixture of slower 5kers and then suddenly, like lightening, the first of the 10kers. What I hadn’t even considered was that there would be some genuine, professional runners there. Seeing the first elite men and women (including Lanni Marchant and Josephat Ongeri) barreling into the home stretch—the same stupid bit of grass I’d just been running on!—was a thrill. They looked so. damn. powerful.

Leslie came in quite fast too, and we walked around a little and then took full advantage of the barbecue included in registration (but we both got veggie burgers…DineSafe would not have approved of that set up!).

As we were getting ready to go, Leslie said she wanted to check her stats. Stats? I hadn’t thought that such a thing would be so readily available, but there were already papers taped to the wall listing everyone’s time and place. Leslie came second out of 90 in her division at 45:59! Much to my surprise, (and I’ve checked three times since to be sure), I came sixth in my division at 27:54! I couldn’t believe it. I had had so few expectations, had only wanted to finish, and I’d run pretty fast.

We caught the ferry back and parted ways. Halfway through my bike ride back I faded big time (it’s all uphill coming from the lake!), but I came home to find that Jonathan had been working on my old bike all afternoon and that perked me up greatly.


In line for the ferry with my medal. Oh, this gorgeous city!

All in all, it was an absolutely marvellous first race experience. I can’t imagine participating in another event that’s as well organized, cheerful, and pain-free.

Blogging What I Do, Day 4

8:30 AM – Into the office, and deleting as much email as possible. A lot came in overnight and a lot of it is spam or listservs I’m not really active in. I get overwhelmed if there are too many open-ended unread messages waiting for me. The truth is, I probably won’t get to them.

9:00 AM – Weird, long copyright question about moving a user’s citation & attachments between schools and jurisdictions. I understand monolithic library company’s desire to be cautious, but as this is the user’s private collection of research materials, I think we’re okay. If said user had the technical capacity to move it on their own, no one would be involved or the wiser. If said user had chosen to print out these materials and carry a box of files between institutions, there wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, it’s all digital, and it’s a lot of data, and we need technical reinforcement from an organization that is only interested in playing it safe.

10:30 AM – Going back and forth on a document, mostly just polishing at this point. Sometimes we have to start writing something before we’re sure who the audience will be. But of course, you must write assuming some audience, so the final stages of editing usually mean making sure we haven’t made any assumptions that are inaccurate: has the recipient been privy to previous communications in the same vein? Are they in a position to make the decisions we’re asking them to consider?

1:45 PM – I have been troubleshooting a couple of different issues for hours in between other emails. Part of the problem was that I read the initial email too breezily (a terrible idea for technical stuff! The tiny details are always where the problem lies!), but we’ve moved well past that and I’m still stuck.

2:00 PM – Brainstorming meeting. We need a name for a new project. A lot of not-good ideas were thrown out, but we’ve got a pretty good short list. I got to write on a chalk board for the first time in a many, many year.


(Attempted) renderings of a ‘busy bee,’ a canoe, and a backpack.

4:00 PM – Still troubleshooting. I am now 90% sure the problem is just Capslock on a tablet. Headdesk.

4:40 PM – My choir’s performing tonight at Harbourfront, so it’s time to head out for soundcheck. Happy Friday, Internet!

Blogging What I Do, Day 3

8:30 AM – Into the office.  I have an OLA Hackfest planning call at 9:30 and haven’t done much thinking about what needs doing, so I’m trying to take some notes while deleting the dozens of spam messages that seem to get through the filters between midnight and 6 AM. I also took a minute a couple of minutes to donate to the Women in Toronto Politics (#WiTOpoli) Position Primer for the 2015 municipal election. It’s a great idea, and you too can support it right here!

9:10 AM – Drop everything to watch John Fink’s presentation feed from #c4lmw. Still trying to wrap my head around Docker. This helped a lot!

9:30 AM – Good, quick call. How can we make this a welcoming space for people of different abilities and from different organizations? Figured out some timelines, assigned a few to-dos before our next call.

10:00 AM – Troubleshooting PDFs that look funny, citation managers that crash, proxies that won’t re-direct.  Hours disappear with this kind of stuff.

11:30 AM – I got really good, thorough feedback on a document I drafted earlier this week; feedback on tone, on ordering of different messages, and on making sure to reference earlier communications so people would understand the progression of our thinking.

1:00 PM – Burrito hunting expedition.

2:00 PM  – Editing, wordsmithing, formatting.

3:00 PM – Pulling citation manager usage stats for a university. They want, as many do, to be able to see a list of users by discipline or user type. As users self-identify with this info on sign-up, there is the fairly natural assumption on the part of administrators that you will then be able to actually USE this data. The very sophisticated and expensive software being used for this purpose doesn’t have the ability to do that. (I should add my place of work did not choose this software!)

4:15 PM – Fading fast. Adding items to my to-do list for tomorrow, a somewhat useful form of procrastination.

4:30 PM – Just got a note to say our LibAnswers 2.0 beta site is ready. Oooooh! But nope, I am out of here. Fridays are for beta testing, everyone knows that.

Blogging What I Do, Day 2

Yesterday was too meeting-heavy to be worth reporting on, but I thought I’d step back in to this today. Exercising the writing muscle and all that.

8:20 AM – Into the office. A back-up I started last night and had no faith in seems to have worked! This feels like a miracle. Other emails about mysterious blank screen and proxy issues will have to wait til I’ve had a coffee.

9:30 AM – It’s time to start drafting an email. A big, serious email that needs to be sent to a lot of people. They don’t tell you in library school how much time will be taken up with considering tone and audience, that writing an email can be a long process involving many people, that it’s a learned skill.

10:30 AM – I got into a fight on Twitter. I cannot resist the siren song of terrible opinions on the internet, so my best bet is to avoid anywhere that such opinions might appear. This one was civil, and I’m still so disappointed in myself for engaging. His Twitter bio says he works for Sun News! What did you think was going to happen, woman?

11:00 AM – Back to the email. It’s taking shape and I’m going to send it off for a first round of consultation soon.

12:00 PM – Roles can be a bit loose at my place of work, and this is usually a-ok: we’re a help-y bunch, and people very willingly adjust their priorities if something needs to get done. Today, an actual, semi-formal discussion on who’s in charge of what was much needed. I think we’re in a good spot.

12:30 PM – Falafel at my desk. Email. Software updates.

1:30 PM – Skype call to discuss being more involved with the Public Knowledge Project’s PKP School. First an internal briefing (“Okay, what questions do we have?”), then a chat with the folks at PKP to sort our what our next steps should be as we work on a module.

3:00 PM – Ref Desk! It’s pretty quiet, so between questions about the printers and course reserves I’m sending some last minute OLA Super Conference planning emails (gotta keep those abstracts peppy!), and a bit of 10 Days of Twitter reading.

5:00 PM – Back at my own desk. Remember that back up I was so excited about this morning? It’s a lemon. I should have checked the file size before getting excited, but I’m so used to getting error messages that having a file delivered felt like a win. Welp, not if it’s empty. Email for help.

5:15 PM – I have a choir practice at 7:30 and a book review that will not get written if I go home and get at all comfortable, so I’m off to find a table that will hold both purchased sustenance and my mangy notebook. Good evening!