What an experience! Looking back, I’m in awe of the wonderful city of Montreal and the experiences I had while competing in my first international race and first 10k. I did research, asked questions, and tried to pack appropriately, but until you actually complete your ‘first,’ it is hard to know what the experience will be like. What was it like? Different, amazing, adventurous, and fun!
The expo was no where near the race, which is normal for many large races I have been to. However, when one is in a different city, one does not know the ins and outs so it may take a little longer to get to the expo! There were no signs (that we could see) and ended up walking around the outside of the building, the wrong way. Once inside, check-in was fascinating. I know a little French but those I checked in with didn’t know any English so check-in was a challenge. It made me appreciate what the Chicago Marathon runners go through that arrive from other countries with no knowledge of English when I check them in for their race. Three of us were racing (2 5k runners and I was doing the 10k). We explored the expo (all booths were Canadian based which was pretty fun) and two of us were even interviewed by the Canadian TV news crew that was on hand!
Race day was COLD! Once the sun came out, and during the race, the weather was bearable and actually quite nice (except for the wind when the race ended). I kept my coat and gear bag as we walked to find where the corral was (again, not near the finish line), where gear check was (in the mall), and where the toilets were (only near the start line). The race started with fireworks which was quite cool and off we were. The Montreal residents were supportive and out in full force. Many of the supportive cheers were in French and although I recognized the music the bands were playing, the lyrics were in French which caused me to chuckle during the race. The drum corp at the furthest point in the 10k was phenomenal. Runners could hear them from quite a distance and it was fun to run to the beat. I was intrigued by the neighborhoods we ran through, the architecture, the balconies, and the spiral staircases. Gatorade and water was at hydration stations and I must say that Gatorade in Canada is VERY different than in the US (sugar is different). There were many hills on this race with the largest being at the beginning (I learned later this is the finishing hill in prior years). Walked part of the hills up and ran faster on the way down to try to ‘catch-up’ on time. Crossing the finish line was emotional for me and receiving the medal was joyful.
This was a true race weekend and so much fun. Following the race (and food), we went on a zipline and boat tour. The zipline idea was great in theory but my legs did not enjoy the huge amount of stairs we had to take. We returned for the concert (which was great) where we ended up learning some Canadian line dances.
At the end of the vacation, I was asked…so where is the next international race and vacation going to be? I think Dublin in 2020 for the Rock n’ Roll 5k and 10k. Who is joining me?