Race Day… Game Day


Saturday, June 4th was the 2016 Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon, and this year the weather was near perfect. Overcast skies meant that the runners weren’t terribly dehydrated, and the rain held off long enough that no one was hypothermic. Yet we all remember last year, and the monsoon conditions that made running the race so difficult. Below is Anne Marie’s account of running last year’s race.

At 4am I’m awoken by the sounds of waves and wind howling on the East side of Pelee Island. I can’t sleep. Race day anxieties. I don’t normally get nervous, so when I do, I find it somewhat intriguing and also really annoying. I get up and drink water and doze back into a half-ass sleep for the next 3 hours. I’m back and forth with what I’m going to wear, do I even have long pants on the island (living between Pelee Island the mainland) and am I going to be warm enough?

The wind keeps up picking up on the East side, so I wonder if the race will even happen. Knowing Chris from Running Flat, I’m confident that unless there is some severe safety issues, it’s going to happen. In preparation for the race, I normally pack a sundress for the post-race party at the winery. One of the best parts is getting to the finish line! I joke with my roommates who are also running that I don’t think a summer dress is in store. I pack my winter down jacket, down booties and fresh pants and sweater. I know I’ll be drenched and potentially hypothermic.

Rewind a bit to this past winter and all the training runs that I’ve put into my repertoire with this race in mind. For me it’s more about the training than the actual race day. It’s a way to pass time and set a goal. I love working towards something and with the nature of my seasonal business it helps me focus throughout the winter when I’m not as busy. I love getting the runner’s high and it’s a reason to carve out some time outside to exercise and release some endorphins.

Now I’m at the start of the race. The rain is pouring down and it’s so windy we can barely hear Lindsay Norris sing the national anthem. It’s exciting, the rush, the adrenaline is pumping. I’ve found my tribe. I’m not the only crazy one, there are at least 350 other people just as nuts that are going to tackle this race as well.

Over the past couple years, I’ve had a habit of dedicating my runs to friends and family that aren’t as healthy and cannot just jump out of bed and go for a run. I naturally have a lot of energy and training is also a way to balance that energy out. Like a kid at recess, there are times if I haven’t gone for a run, my body craves and almost misses the release. I start the race being very thankful. Thankful for Erin, my new colleague who is taking care of my business for me and for my friend Michelle, who is also helping out. Without them, I wouldn’t be running. I think back to the first year of working with Chris and the team at Running Flat setting the groundwork on the island. It’s in my nature to coordinate and organize and work through the logistics, but I also didn’t want to be on the sidelines and behind the scenes. I wanted to participate. I have “Run a Marathon” on my bucket list, so why not start with a half-marathon? In my own crazy way I’ve defined success by running the half-marathon, having my staff take care of my business and sitting in the wine garden with my friends enjoying post race drinks and celebrating that accomplishment.

The Pelee Island Winery Half-Marathon is on my home turf. One of my favourite parts is that I know the island so well. I’ve been living both year-round and seasonally on Pelee Island for 13 years now. It’s so amazing to come up to a water station and know everyone at the water stations handing me water, cheering me on, knowing people at the road crossings cheering me on.

I get to the airport, only a kilometre from the start line and the rain is pelting my face. This race is going to be intense. That’s okay, I’m thankful for my health!

It’s great to be with a bunch of other people running. Also, a couple highlights running and chatting with friends that I know along the way. Parked cars giving me high fives. The mental struggles cross my mind that I could stop at any point in time at a friends house.

The wind along the East side is treacherous, there are 8 foot waves, at times I felt like I was going to be swept and pushed into the huge drainage canals.

As I finish the race, it’s so nice to be greeted by friends I know at the finish line. All I can say is Oh my God!!! I can’t believe what I just ran through that! I’m emotional, I’m exhausted, I can’t really stand. Why did I just do this? Was it worth it? Hell yah!