Tune in to hear more about my experience at the Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon on the RunningFlat Radio Show on Tuesday, June 16 at 7PM.
This year, 14 of my favourite ladies from Ottawa headed out at the crack of dawn on a sunny Friday morning ready for 4 days away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. We had a day of travel ahead of us - 9 hours of driving followed by a 1.5 hour ferry ride to the island. We jumped from rest stop to rest stop all the way from Ottawa to Leamington. We made great time and even had time to stop in for a drink before boarding the ferry. As you might expect from a group of suburban ladies and no kids around, this was where the party started. The fact that the ferry sold wine and Caesars was the icing on the cake!
We settled in quickly upon arrival and headed over to the pub to grab a bite to eat followed by a little bonfire and a few too many glasses of wine.
Saturday morning, most of us headed a few driveways over to rent bikes for the day. Given that the circumference of the island was pretty close to the 21.1kms we would be running the next day, a bike was the perfect vehicle to explore the island. We headed late morning and I couldn't get over just how free I felt, riding along the shore with no tiny humans following behind. About 5kms down the road we stopped in at the most amazing little bakery for lunch. I am still salivating over the delicious wraps, salads, and baked goodies they had. By the time we got back, most of us were happy to sneak in a nap, have glass or two of wine (it was on our training plan, afterall!), and hit the hay early to be in good shape for the run the next day.
Sunday morning arrived and while we had all been checking the weather leading up to this day, none of us were prepared for the incredible wind and rain that greeted us as we woke up and started our pre-race rituals. We all kept the wheels in motion with many glances out the window and nervous laughs asking ourselves "are we really going to do this?" Despite the raging weather, at 9:45 we found ourselves dressed and ready to go, covered in makeshift ponchos that we made out of a box of garbage bags we found in our little cottage.
As we stepped out the door to walk to the start line only a couple hundred feet away, the butterflies were fluttering around and the excitement was brewing. We were not the only lunatics ready to run in this monsoon. There was a small herd of runners smiling, jumping, and ready to go. At 10am, the start gun went off and the race had begun.
Now I could go on and describe how the run felt, kilometer to kilometer, but I really don't think my words would do it justice. Each kilometer passed in a blur of 50 mph winds, rain, and hail coming off the Great Lake. I kept waiting for the race organizer to drive by and tell us they were shutting it down. It wasn't until about the 6k mark that I accepted the reality that we were really going to do this.
Head down and the most encouraging run buddy by my side, we trudged through puddles and mud for 21.1 kilometres and crossed the finish line soaking wet and full of smiles. We were greeted by the rest of our ladies and a post-race buffet fit for a queen, not to mention the flowing wine and live music. We capped off the day eating, drinking, crying, and dancing, celebrating victories for every single runner who ran the worst and the best half marathon ever.
During the race, I felt the need to document just how crazy this half marathon idea really was so I took a few videos at various milestones. I've put them all together here to give you a glimpse into our experience.