Running in the dark – Monster Dash 10k

The day after our 5k race (and more importantly a week after our first marathon) Arlene and I ran the Monster Dash 10k in Toronto. As we were getting ready for the race, we both kept saying “Why didn’t I sign up for the 5k?” For some reason I have it in my head that I always have to run the longest distance in a race. The race takes place on the grounds of Holland Bloorview Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital and Sunnybrook Park. Dan and I used to run through Sunnybrook Park when we lived at Yonge and Eglinton so I was looking forward to the route. Proceeds went to Holland Bloorview so the run was also for a good cause.

Arlene and I before the Monster Dash 10k. A mad scientist and a fast fairy.

Arlene and I before the Monster Dash 10k. A mad scientist and a fast fairy.

We met Arlene in the parking lot where she gave me glow stick bracelets and necklaces. She had just been to the Dollar Store so she had a lot of fun ghoulish goodies. While we waited for the race to start we went inside to use the washrooms and check out the set up. They had a lot of fun decorations and most runners came dressed in costumes.

Before the race

Some of the costumes before the race. This was before things got super busy.

I didn’t really have a costume so I wore my tutu. The race announcer later called me a fairy. I also had a lot of fun posing for pictures with the decorations.

Me with a witch

Me with a witch.

Me with a giant inflatable cat.

Me with a giant inflatable cat. I wanted to straddle it but I was worried that I’d pop it, make it deflate and get in trouble.

Me with a giant happy looking inflatable spider.

Me with a happy looking giant inflatable spider.

We went back outside and watched the Spooky Mile race for kids. The kids were really fast and absolutely adorable in their costumes.

Here's a pic of me ready for the Monster Dash and posing with my spooky looking gloves.

I don’t have any pics of the kids but here’s a pic of me getting ready for the Monster Dash. Instead of t-shirts they give you gloves. I had fun posing with them.

After the kids came back it was time for the adults to line up. The 10k was supposed to start running at 6 but we didn’t get started until 6:15 for some reason. I was worried about running in the dark so I bought a headlight that day. It was one of the best prerace purchases that I have ever made.

Lined up for the 10k. Lots of runners in costumes.

Lined up for the 10k. Lots of runners in costumes.

Arlene and I ready to go. Sort of.

Arlene and I ready to go. Sort of. I love my new headlight.

Soon we were off! Partway through the first kilometre my shoelace untied! I couldn’t believe that this was happening again (first it was during a few of my last training runs, then my marathon and now this!). Arlene waited for me to tie my shoelace and then we took off again. We ran past a creepy cemetery that had names of “dead races” on the headstones. Then we headed into Sunnybrook Park. At this point I started to lose Arlene because we ran down a really steep hill that was covered in leaves. A lot of people were being cautious (not me though). So I took advantage of the hill to get ahead of some of the other runners and get some space. It was pretty cramped until I got to the bottom. It also occurred to me that we probably had to run back up the hill later. Because Arlene is more sensible and cautious than I am, I lost her on the hill (but I could still see her whenever I turned around). It started to get dark very quickly and I felt like I was slowly passing other runners. When we hit the water station I tried to drink some water but the cups were plastic so I couldn’t bend it like a v (my usual trick in races). Because of this I ended up dumping water all over myself. Oh well.

By the time we reached the out and back section it was pitch black. At one point I saw a really fast boy and his mom run past me (on their way back). There were a lot of fast runners and I loved looking at their costumes as they ran by. I reached the out and back and turned around. I got to see Arlene on my way back. She was looking good and I know it was probably challenging for her to run because she had a bunch of fake spiders dangling from her costume. I was really grateful for my headlight because there were lots of places on the route where I couldn’t see. Eventually I was running by myself and couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. It was a little eerie and because of the lack of lights there were some points where I wondered if I was going the right way. At one point I ran past some volunteers with flashlights who were standing by pylons. They didn’t say anything or shine their lights for me so I wondered again if I was going the right way (but figured they would have told me if I wasn’t right?). I reached another bend and there was a bright light shining from behind me. I realized it was a volunteer on a bicycle and he said something about lighting my way. I was so happy he was there because it was pitch black without him (though my headlight was providing light too). The volunteer guided me up the hill and I ran behind him. I can’t believe the hill was totally dark (it was steep, full of twists and turns and covered in leaves. These are ideal conditions for slipping and falling. Especially when you find yourself running alone like I did!). Fortunately I made it up the hill and kept running. I reached the section where the 5k runners were and again it was dark and there were a lot of potholes and mud on the trail. They had light up pumpkins marking some hazards but it was hard to tell what they were until you were up close  and some of them were knocked over. I got out of the trail area and back onto the road. At this point I got confused and started running on the sidewalk, then back on the road and then I got confused about where to turn. Some other runners told me to run straight ahead and turn left (good thing they were there!). I did it and I heard someone from my Running Room yell “Go Mei!” I sprinted to the finish and set another personal best, finishing in 57:19. My previous PB was an hour. I was really happy and got my medal, met up with Dan and cheered for Arlene as she ran in. She also did really well (she took it easy on the run and matched her Zoo Run time where she had put in way more effort). We were both really happy with ourselves and went inside and to get food.

Arlene and I after the race. We survived!

Arlene and I after the race. We survived! You can see Arlene’s lights here (she bought them at the Dollar Store). She was happy she had the lights with her, otherwise there were some places on the trail where she would have been in pitch blackness.

The post-run food was amazing! They had pizza, beer, juice, apples, bananas and granola bars.

Me with a lap full of food.

Me with a lap full of food. I was hungry!

My official time. A new PB!

My official time. A new PB!

My Monster Dash medal! He's also a bottle opener.

My Monster Dash medal! He’s also a bottle opener.

Overall Arlene and I had a really good string of races in a short period of time. We ran our first marathon, set a PB in the 5k and I set a PB in the 10k (and she ran the 10k easily with very little effort). Most importantly, we both had a good time running.

Arlene and I proudly posing with our medals and the Monster.

Arlene and I proudly posing with our medals and The Monster.

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One thought on “Running in the dark – Monster Dash 10k

  1. Pingback: Running in tutus – Inspiration and Glam Runner | Plain Can Be Lovely

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