For the Birds – Under Armour Eastside 10K 2022

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Blogging has really taken the back burner over the past couple of years (along with a lot of other things!). Even with races starting up again in earnest over the past few months, I haven’t felt like I had a lot to say. So I’d like to give a huge shout-out to the kind stranger who spoke to me at the end of the Under Armour Eastside 10K with a thoughtful “Good blog”. This really warmed my heart and encouraged me to recap this blessedly rain-free event!

Under Armour Eastside 10K Shirt & Medal

I last ran the Under Armour Eastside 10K back in 2018. (I missed it in 2019 because we were in Bruges, Belgium at the time – not that I’m complaining!). This race has always been a favourite of mine, a great kickoff to autumn running, and a chance to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in months…or, in the case of the 2022 event, years! And while the Eastside 10K has traditionally been one of the wettest of races, we were all thrilled to wake to clear skies and a crisp fall breeze.

One of the weirder things about the pandemic is the whole idea of “this is the first time I’ve done X in like 2 years…” and it all starts to get a bit shrug-worthy. Nevetheless, I’ll say it: This was my first 10K since 2019! Since then, I’ve been running fairly consistently while at the same time not training really hard, so I arrived on the scene feeling ready enough to complete the distance, but under no illusions about the outcome.

Jeannine & Carmen picked drove me downtown, along with their pup, Froja the Toller. Never underestimate the power of an Instagram-famous pooch to bring the crowds! Before we even reached the race venue, someone had called out a cheerful: “Hi Froja!” Who can blame them? She’s pretty cute.

Big hugs for my run buddy, Judy – we’ve raced together many times and it was great to see her again!

I was really grateful for my last-minute decision to pack sunglasses – did I ever need them! As 2000+ runners charged onto the cobblestone streets of Gastown, I swear I would have taken a tumble without the shades to cut the glare of the stunning sunrise…because we were heading straight into it!

It was smooth sailing for the first couple of kilometres, and I was SO pumped when I heard the strains of ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme just a few minutes before the infamous uphill section of the course. Coupled with that, the inspring sight of the lead runners absolutely *flying* on their way back. (Special mention to Humphrey who, in response to my: “Good job, Humphrey” replied: “That’s right!”)

My recent hill training (the one bit I’ve been focused on) paid off as we reached the signs to Kill the Hill. The 0.7km section pushed my heartrate, but I finished with a competitive split time and energy to spare. It was *mostly* downhill from there.

Generally, I don’t race with music; I like to soak in the sights and sounds (and smells!) of the course. The Eastside 10K weaves through one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada, where drug addition, mental health issues, sex work and homelessness are endemic. I heard a bit of colourful language en route, but most of the local population simply watched the runners go past, sometimes cheering as we went by. But it’s a lot to take in, and it reinforced for me the importance of supporting the various charities that work to make a difference in the Downtown Eastside. It’s a stark reminder of the privilege many of us have, and the struggles of so many others.

I love the end of this race – you turn a corner and, with tall buildings lining both sides of the street, your goal is just ahead. Crossing that finish line, I felt like I had given it a good effort. As it turned out, my result was within seconds of my 2017 Eastside 10K! Check out the awesome medal!

Kudos to pacers Mayling and Jeannine!!

Last but not least, here’s the unstoppable Debra with her crow-themed costume to channel the symbol of the 2022 Under Armour Eastside 10K!

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