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October 17, 2010 / elodie kaye

Toronto Half-Marathon

My race was flawed, but the day was beautiful: golden autumn sun, a cool 48ºF with a little breeze. I didn’t run a particularly smart race.  Sometimes I was moved to surge longer than I should have, and another time I slowed to contemplate trees stripped bare underneath a chain of transmission towers.  I ran hard though — my mother was a difficult woman to please.  I looked for the moments I would have saved for her if she were waiting at home.  The trees were brilliant in the Rosedale Valley, a winding slope downhill that for all the world feels like a country road.  The breeze tickled the leaves, sparkling, almost gaudy in the morning light.  Several children blinked their wide eyes at us, silent with awe at the stampede of heaving lungs and slapping rubber.  The trees insulate against the hum of traffic that flows around this patrician neighbourhood in the middle of downtown.  It made our staccato feet emphatic.

The shoppers at St Lawrence Market were bundled in jackets and scarves, holding paper packages of cheeses and meats under one arm, a coffee cup in the other, they looked on with amusement.  One woman seemed to ask how I could possibly be sweating so much, while wearing so little in the cold morning shadows.  A portly man wondered dubiously if this could really be any fun; I held his eyes and sent him a beaming smile, oh yes!

The final 2 miles include a gentle incline which ends as it passes Princess Margaret Hospital and then the sinuous curves around Queens Park.  These miles are always the hardest.  When the inevitable pain came, it began as a slowly mounting flood around my ankles.  I didn’t flinch this time, but willingly carried it in my arms to the finish.



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  1. Vern / Oct 18 2010 5:27 pm

    Elodie, I saw nothing in your description that said “flawed” to me. It sounds like you enjoyed running a nice course on a nice day, and that’s really the most important thing. If this was indeed an enjoyable run, I hope that you can accept it for what it was– a gift. Maybe not exactly what you planned, but a gift no less.

    • elodie kaye / Oct 18 2010 7:57 pm

      I only meant that as an exercise of mental will, my race was flawed, and I wanted to acknowledge that. That isn’t the only or most important thing in racing, but when I started preparing 15 weeks ago toward these races I expected I’d have some performance goals. It kinda didn’t work out that way, but I didn’t know it until about a week ago. Anyway, in recognising that I could have run a smarter or faster race, I didn’t mean to imply that I feel any regret.

      I didn’t honestly have any plan for this race, except a vague one, to inhabit as completely as possible whatever might come. That isn’t as much a goal or plan as an approach, not something it’s possible to fail at. I can’t sum up the race as enjoyable in its totality, though it had many cheerful, even elated moments. There were also some difficult ones.

      I appreciate your thoughts, Vern. Maybe because my feelings about this race are mixed, it’s difficult as a fellow runner to read about it.

  2. gpetitto / Oct 19 2010 9:14 pm

    I keep thinking about my own propensity to surge longer than I should, I thought of it while out running yesterday. And I’ve also got a strong urge to move more slowly and contemplate quite a lot. Sometimes maybe a race is more than merely a race and shouldn’t be rushed. Seems this one was what it needed to be.

    • elodie kaye / Oct 19 2010 11:03 pm

      I’m not sure what meaning there is in this race. I’ve been turning it over, and I don’t really know. I have joy, sorrow, anger — even over some of the same moments. Taken all together, I’m feeling rather ignorant actually, because I don’t have the sense that anything is concluded, satisfied or finished. I must still be on the journey…

      • gpetitto / Oct 20 2010 7:08 am

        Sometimes all there is to do is settle as best we can in the midst of not knowing. Journey on, friend.

  3. Geoff Cordner / Oct 21 2010 11:14 pm

    And yet, despite your flawed race, you ran it faster than a much less flawed Waterfront half a month ago. Some of the best music is improvised. You played it well, Elodie. You ran with your heart. Oh yeah, and closure? They made that sh*t up to sell self help books. The journey is all we’ve got.

    • elodie kaye / Oct 21 2010 11:58 pm

      Bob on DM predicted exactly 2:02 about 10 days before my race, based on some 800m repeats. I ran the Waterfront without a taper, so it wasn’t a stretch to improve a few minutes on that time. Looking at the splits that were recorded automatically, they were all over the place, so maybe if I’d been more intelligent about it I could have finished faster. Or not.

      I’m okay with my time, and now I’m okay with not knowing what it was all about, too…

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