Running my 49th marathon was very special and memorable. First, it was my early Mother’s Day gift. My daughter was so thoughtful that she decided to register me for this May 3rd event, so I could come back to Toronto – the city where my kids were born and a city I have known very well and raised my kids for a long period of time.
Although a few years ago I had run the “other” Toronto Waterfront marathon, this time, it really felt different. Just even flying in filled me with excitement. I somehow felt like my life had come full circle. Never in my wildest dreams while I was living in Toronto would I ever think that someday I would come back and run a marathon.
This Toronto Marathon (the Goodlife Toronto Marathon) started from North York, near Mel Lastman Square (he was one of the long-reigned mayors of Toronto) and he was made more famous because of a commercial he made for his company, Bad Boy Furniture. Thus, he was nicknamed a “bad boy mayor” by a lot of Torontonians.
The race started at 7:30 am; it was a beautiful summery morning with not a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining bright. Couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day. We ran the first 6-7 miles along Yonge Street (supposedly the longest street in the world). I remember these neighbourhoods very well. Very nicely established neighbourhood. We ran past York Mills, but at about this point, there was a steep climb for about 300 metres. Not too bad a climb at all. Then we continued on towards Yonge & Eglington, which has a mix of commercial, retail and residential areas. Lots of old famous shops used be around or near the intersection. One of the more famous shop was the Art Shoppe which used to sell fairly high-end furnishings. When I ran past, the shop was gone, and was now undergoing construction to build luxury condos, aptly named The Art Shoppe. Further down the route, we turned into the old establishment neighbourhood: the very wealthy Forest Hills. We did a loop around Upper Canada College, where a number of our former Prime Ministers had attended the notorious private boys’ school. Then a few minutes later, we passed The BIshop Strachan all girls private school. The homes around here were all gorgeous. It’s such a beautiful neighbourhood!!
You can sense from the tone of my writing how gorgeous this marathon route is. It just brings back old memories, like I never left the city!
The next landmark we ran by was the famous Casa Loma, an old British style castle which is now turned into a tourist visiting site. This marathon really showcased the city of Toronto so well. By the 20km mark, we merged with the half marathoners – some of the faster half marathon runners were sprinting past some of us marathoners. This started to happen in an area which will house the athletes for the upcoming Pan-Am games this summer. The route then took us through the Downtown Toronto Financial District and continued onto the harbourfront, namely westbound along Lakeshore Blvd.
At this point, the half marathoners were finishing, meanwhile it felt like our race had really just began. I felt the heat (from the direct sun and from the asphalt) from this point onwards, and as we ran further along the waterfront, there were bugs flying all around us. I was told because of the lake, it breeds these bugs. We continued running west way past the Humber River into this quaint park before we turned around. Ah… at that point, I was wishing for shade and trees.
With 5km to go, it was scorching hot. Each km seemed longer and longer. When I got to this hill by the tennis club along Lakeshore, I swear I wanted to walk then. But…I knew I was that close, so I just focused on the runners ahead of me…until suddenly, the 41km mark was right in front of my eyes! So, I carried on, and with the last 200 metres to go, I sprinted to the finish! What a day, what a course!
I loved every minute of it. Oh, and please see the size of the medal we got (the biggest I have ever received).
As we were leaving, I had a good chat with a few marathon maniacs. And to top that, I even managed to meet the winner of the marathon as well as the first runner-up of the half marathon. Totally inspired!!!
Now the question is…where will my big #50 be? As of now, I don’t have a clue, but one thing I know for sure, it will be very soon!
Sometimes when I finish my marathon races, I feel like what Paula Radcliffe said in her farewell London marathon, “…to savour those last miles…I didn’t want it to end!”
Until my next marathon…..
By: Mabel Fong