Aaarrrrr, Matey! The pirate themed races of Maritime Race Weekend have been my favorite since I began racing and this weekend added even more to love!
The Friday Sunset 5 KM race is flat route along gorgeous coast line in Eastern Passage, NS. We run steps away from the ocean waves breaking on the beach, with the first and final quarter of a kilometer wrapping around the cutest little village of Maritime themed shops. The pirate theme is everywhere and not just on the crazy amounts of race swag given! From pirates in full costume who fire the canon to signal the start of the race and give out the medals, to decorations along the route, in the vendors booths and costumes worn by runners and spectators – the theme lives in every detail. Live Maritime themed music is played around the race start / finish line and along the route. It really is truly a huge pirate party with about 2000 of your closest friends while the sun sets over the sea.
This year, I had a new racing buddy with me. My 8 year old daughter, Rebecca, was participating in her first race ever and was beyond excited to be an official pirate. I can’t thank race director, Michelle Kempton, enough for inviting, inspiring and encouraging Rebecca to become a runner.
Before the race began, I had an idea about how it would play out. I was prepared to mostly walk the route, with little bits of running and a great little sprint across the finish line. It would be easy and fun bonding time for mother and daughter in a positive environment. As well, we would have fun with the van full of friends we were travelling with who were racing as well. I was also prepared for a possible crash and burn situation since it was the first full week of school and she was super tired all week.
The race began with smiles all around but quickly turned. She was not prepared for the amount of people in her space or the ability to run WITH everyone. I’m not sure how I could have prepared her for this one to avoid the frustration and attitude that we dealt with for the first 2 KM’s. Eventually, some of our friends passed us and created a golden opportunity. She asked if she could run ahead just to the friends. The crowd had thinned a bit and there was room for her to go. Little did I know that she would take off at some super sonic speed. I’m not sure if she was feeding off the crowd, tapping into some “race mode” or the sugar from the candy store we visited before the race was kicking in, but the kid flew and I HAD TO KEEP UP! We had been training most of the summer, I knew she could be fast but holy smokes! Once she caught up to our friends, Hannah and Shannon, she had been bitten by the speed bug. The tears dried up, the smile returned to her face and I spent the final 3 KM of the race chasing her for 30 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds or so while I caught my breath.
The first few times she took off a bit in front of me, weaving through the other runners, I worried that we were being rude, breaking racing etiquette rules and possibly annoying the other runners. If we did cause you some grief on the course, I apologize to you now and thank you for your patience. I, however, could not stop her from having the time of her life. She was stirring up giggles and feeding many runners with her contagious smiles and energy that was just bouncing out of her. She would get a bit ahead, pull to the side and bounce with excitement at the opportunity to laugh at me as I struggled to catch her. At one point, I looked at my watch to discover we were running at a 4 minute pace during one of her “catch me if you can!” spurts. My final race stats showed that our best sprint hit a 3:15 pace. My legs were on fire and I was tapping into all reserves to keep up so she could continue to enjoy herself. The smile that made her eyes sparkle was my fuel.
During our last walk break just before the finish line, she asked if she could run as fast as she wanted until the finish line and just wait for me there. Memorable running mama moment right there. I knew she was hooked, the frustration of the beginning of the race forgotten and I had another running buddy. We turned the bend and she took off. I love watching people cross the finish line. I have said it many time that the finish line is one of my favorite places in the world but to watch my child cross, well, my heart bursts with all kinds of emotion.
The finish line was filled with more pride as our friends, Valerie, and first time pirates, Erin, Hannah, and Shannon, all crossed the finish line with smiles of accomplishment. Vanessa, Michelle and Yann all finished ahead of us and captured the pure joy of Rebecca crossing the finish line for me – I will forever be grateful for those videos. Another fantastic race came to the perfect ending while I was tucking Rebecca into bed and she asked the best question ever… “Can we do that again next year?”
Be sure to check back later this week for my review of the Saturday Sunrise race where my original goal of running a half marathon was extinguished before I hit the start line and was replaced with the hunt for a personal best time in the 10 KM distance.