Guest Post · running

Running with Pride (Guest Post)

photo of Suan T, pride runner, guest bloggerIt’s been just over two years now that I have been able to run 5k. Sometimes it’s a bit more, sometimes less but give me enough lead time and I can work up to run that distance without too much issue. I have run by myself, run with my dog, run with my friend and run with my 13 year old on her bike, keeping her judgemental eye on my time and the redness of my complexion. I have run in a few races and I love how they motivate me.
There is one race, however, that motivates me best, the Pride and Remembrance Run, held each year in Toronto on the last Saturday of Pride Week. It was founded in 1996,
The Pride and Remembrance Run has become an annual tradition promoting and fostering community spirit, goodwill, volunteerism and sportsmanship in the LGBT community. (
I would like to share the things I love about this race.
First of all, it starts at 10am. This is both good and bad because if it’s going to be a 30 degree day, it’s already 25 by 10. However, asking a few thousand Queers and their friends and allies to show up any earlier than 10am on a Saturday morning of Pride is a joke so go on, sleep in until 8. Have a leisurely coffee and your pre-race snack of choice. Then, start on your hair, make up, ribbons, feathers and rainbows. I personally can’t run in this stuff but it is amazing what people are willing to put on for the show.

I love sneaking quietly out of my friends’ apartment at 9:15 and leaving a fresh pot of coffee for them as they begin to wake up. I love the walk to the starting line at Church and Wellesley, the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village. The runners converge from all corners of this unique residential and commercial neighbourhood. We line up together, teams, individuals, partners, lovers and friends. There is a giddiness to the crowd because this is a Big Gay Run and we are all here together sharing in the serious silliness, coupled with a deep knowledge of past struggle and tragic loss.

Lined up with us are a city counsellor, the Premier of Ontario and two Mayoral candidates. The shifting political sands of the city feel hopeful under our runner clad feet.

There are two start cannons (full of confetti, of course). The first is for the serious people, the under 15 minutes people, the “I’m on my second lap of Queen’s park before you even make it past Bay Street” people. After the second cannon, we are off, trying not to wipe out on multi-coloured paper littering the street and feeling like the wind.

After the first 10 minutes of elation, it’s like any other race. It is too hot and too sunny and I feel like I want to die. But I run, full of joy and of community. I run with these people, who are still too often “those people”, and they are my people.

I finished with a time of 35:30. My phone said it was a 5.5k run. If so, that was about a 6:30/km pace, which is outstanding for me. Or maybe it wasn’t that fast. It doesn’t matter. I’m full of Pride.



cycling · racing · Rowing · running · triathalon

Six reasons not to race and why they might be mistaken

I love racing, even though I’m a midlife, middle of the pack athlete. I know this puzzles some people (okay, some of my friends) and I often find myself in the situation of responding to the objections to racing that they raise.

Some of my friends are not at all interested in competition but I worry that their reasons are based on some misconceptions about why those of us who do race enjoy it.

I often think the anti-racing crowd might like it too.

So here’s my attempt to respond to the race-shy or the race-skeptical.

1. Some friends say, ‘I’ll never win so why race?’

Note first that this is true for lots of athletes. Think of how many riders there are in the Tour de France and how few are serious contenders for even winning one of the stages, let alone the overall race. Think about the numbers of people in the Hawaii Ironman. They aren’t all contenders for the podium, even in the age group categories. I’ve only won two races in my lifetime but I love the ‘winning moments’–passing someone even if I can’t hold them off, for example. In bike racing I love being part of the team effort, participating in strategies that get one of my team’s riders into the front pack.

2. Some friends say “I’m only interested in fitness.”

I get that but to be fit you have to push yourself and trust me, you’ll never ever push yourself as hard in training as you do when racing. I wear a heart rate monitor when training on the bike and I’ve done VO2 max testing so I’ve got some idea of what the various sports training zones mean for me. I’ve also worn the heart rate monitor when criterium racing. The first time I did this and then looked at the data after I laughed out loud at how much time I’d spent in the red zone, E4. That’s something I just can’t make myself do for very long outside race situations. I won’t bore you with all the geeky gory details but here’s the my HR data from a crit last year: Avg HR 171, max HR 178 (32% in E4) Avg speed 33.2, max speed 42. No way I could do that outside a race.

3.  Some friends say, “I just want to train, not race.”

Okay, but it helps to have a focus for your training, something to train for. Races give structure to your training as you build endurance, then speed, then both together, taper off coming up to the race, race, recover, and rebuild.

4.  Some friends say, “I’m too old.”

These friends admit they might have enjoyed racing in their youth but now they are too old, they think. They’ve grown up and put all the fun away. To which I say, don’t be ridiculous. It’s like saying that sex is for the young.  We’ve only got one kick at the can, one try at this life, and if something would have been fun when you were young, it’s probably still fun now. (Like sex.) The Vets Racing Club in Canberra requires a doctor’s notes in order to keep racing after age 75 and there are people in that category.

5.  Some friends say, “I might get hurt.”

Yes, that’s true you might. You also might get hurt sitting on your sofa for too long, or shoveling snow. Life is risky, no way around it. But in the category of recreational racing most people recognize that we aren’t professional athletes and there’s no sense risking injury unnecessarily. Some of the rules in masters and recreational racing reflect this. On the one dodgy corner on the crit racing course in Canberra–“collarbone corner” as it’s known–race organizers decided not to allow passing through that bend. For that one short turn the race is “neutralized” and riders are asked to hold their place. I also love the reminder that the race organizer gives riders before the start, “Remember we’re not racing for sheep stations out there.” In other words, we’re out there for fun not fortunes. (See image above.)

6. Some friends say, “I’m just doing this for fun.”

Racing is a lot of fun. Whether you most enjoy the training, being out there competing, or the music, snacks and prizes after, at the level of recreational athletics it’s all about the fun.

Hope to see you out there!!!