Hello hello! It seems I’ve disappeared on you guys again. But I’m back to tell you about how Around the Bay went!
Long story short: I PR’d for 30k but I don’t think it was an accurate representation of my current fitness level.
Two weeks before the race, I managed to get yet another cold (third one of the year). Luckily it was a short one unlike the first two I had. I’m sure that being sick and taking a long time to recover had something to do with my ok performance at the race. It did make it easy to remember to taper though and not overdo it.
Another weird thing that happened was my left hip was extremely sore for about three weeks. I think I overused it on my last long run, I remember it feeling sore in the last miles. I think I ran too far and didn’t allow myself enough time to recover from the Hypothermic Half. It was kind of strange though, it only seemed to bother me once I was done running, not during.
Fast forward to race weekend: we drove to Hamilton on Saturday and stopped immediately at First Ontario Center to pick up our bibs. My dad was also running the 30k race this year. He upgraded from the 5k!
I snagged a picture of the finish line. This race is cool because you get to finish inside the arena where spectactors can sit and watch. I had no spectators this year since my dad was also running and my boyfriend decided that the weekend was boring so he stayed home. It’s still cool to see so many people watching a finish around this time of year since if it were outside, there would be no one.
Next topic to cover is the weather for race day. Apparently Hamilton is very unpredictable this time of year and we got the short end of the stick. I packed just about every combination of outfits to account for any kind of weather. The weather on Thursday was 16 degrees (Celsius) and somehow over the weekend in Hamilton, it was going to snow and be extremely windy and cold. Great.
We ended up with pretty cold weather. When I woke up on race day, it was -6 degrees and very gusty. It was going to make for an interesting race. At this point, I was readjusting my goals. There were too many factors indicating it wasn’t going to be a perfect race: my hip hurt, I was still tired, and we would be fighting a nasty wind for a good portion of the race.
My dad and I found parking and arrived at First Ontario Centre around 8:30 am. Another great thing about Around the Bay is that it is hosted here. The bathroom situation is excellent because it’s an arena designed to handle thousands of drunk hockey fans. There were still lineups for the washrooms but it is definitely more pleasant than a bunch of overused portapotties.
We headed outside early as I remember almost missing the start last year because the line is a few blocks away from the arena. We warmed up a little bit and took some pictures. It was windy but at least the sun was out!
We lined up and got ready to start. I think it may have been something to do with the wind but neither one of us heard the horn for the start. All of a sudden everyone was just shuffling forward.
After finishing my Hypothermic Half in 2:03, I really thought I could try going for under 3 hours in this race. So I adjusted my goal and tried to stay around 3:10 because of all of the factors I was fighting.
The first couple kilometres of the race were very narrow and it made it hard to get around people. There was a lot of shuffling going on and I felt like I should have started further up. Eventually it spread out though. I ran with my dad for the first 3 or 4 km and then I took off when everyone settled into their paces. I wanted to go a little faster.
The first 10 k of the course was pretty uneventful, there are some overpasses which suck to run up. They are step but luckily not very long. They claimed a lot of victims (people who had to walk up them). If only they knew about the rolling hills near the end…
The sun was really shining up to this point and I was starting to get hot. It was a tough decision to wear a coat because you can’t really take it off if you get too warm. I tried to unzip it as much as possible. I also noticed that my legs were feeling pretty bad. They were so sore. Not too sure what happened but it really took a lot of effort to keep them moving.
After crossing the 10 k point, we made a turn and were heading directly into the wind. At first, I appreciated it since I was feeling too hot but it soon became very annoying. I was running and trying to eat my chews and it was so windy, they blew out of my mouth. Pretty sure someone waiting to run the relay thought I was throwing up and eating it based on the look on his face… Runners are gross but not that gross!! Haha
Anyways, I realized around this point that I wasn’t going to be able to run as fast as I did in my half. It did not feel effortless like it did the day I ran that race and I knew I was in for an interesting 20 k. At this point, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish.
Last year, I remember reading the little quotes they had on the kilometre markers and it helped me. This year, the wind had knocked a lot of them down and they couldn’t be read. Bummer.
Nothing else really happened of interest from 10 k- 20 k. There was a really cute old lady sitting outside her house in a full length fur coat which was pretty funny. I knew that the hills were going to start around 20 k so I tried to hold on and make it there. I planned to eat more chews on one of the hills since I knew it would be a struggle to get up it.
I made it to the hills! It started to get cold around this section because it was partially shaded by trees but didn’t provide much wind coverage. I was glad I wore my coat afterall because if I had anything less on, I would have froze.
I found the hill I wanted to take a break on which was right after the 20 k mark. So I walked up it and ate my chews. I still managed to cross the half marathon point in about 2:15 or so. This isn’t bad considering that used to be around my PR. I was still a little disappointed but I just tried to keep moving.
I actually felt pretty good running up and down the rest of the hills. I remember having a hard time last year but I actually ran up them all this time. Small victories I guess. These hills claimed even more victims than the overpasses near the start. At this point I remember being focused on a quote I saw that had something to do with running. Something to the extent of “At 20 k, they thought I’d be dead. At 25 k, they realized I was too strong to kill”. I kept thinking this and made it through the hills.
I made it through 15 miles in 2:36 which is almost a 15 minute best for me. This was where the last hill was and I knew I was on the home stretch now. Oh! Also the spectators along the hilly section were awesome! They were handing out fruit, water, even tissues which was great. Thank you!
I still felt like I could make it in 3:10 at this point so I tried to get moving.This worked for about a kilometre and that was it. My hips were starting to act up and I didn’t want to absolutely destroy them. I knew I could push myself faster but with the marathon in May in the back of my mind, I knew it wouldn’t be worth it. I settled into a modest pace and just tried to make it back. I had to walk a few times to stretch things out but I ran most of the way back.
I did see the Grim Reaper also. He yelled “You’re all going to die” as we passed him which was pretty funny. I really like the novelty of him being there, despite the dark humour behind it.
Before I knew it, I was actually on the home stretch. Unfortunately, the home stretch is very long because you can see the arean from pretty far away. I gritted my teeth and just tried to hold onto for dear life. As I was turning into the tunnel leading down to the finish, the 3:20 bunny passed me. Funny, I hadn’t seen a pace bunny for over 2 hours.
I finished in 3:19:47 so I guess that pace bunny did a good job! Also, the announcer yelled my name out when I finished which was pretty cool. I also outsprinted a lady to the end because I am a competitive asshole.
Am I happy with my time? Yes. Do I think I can go faster? Absolutely. This was a 24 minutes improvement on last year’s race and a 6 minute improvement on my fastest 30 k time. I know I could have pushed harder at the end but I didn’t want to risk injury because of the marathon. Overall I guess it was a good preparation run for the marathon. Here are my splits from Sportstats
Unfortunately the last split makes it look like I died out on the hills. But I didn’t; I actually died afterwards.
Mile 16 is where it all turned for the worst. After I finished, I headed up to the stands to wait for my dad to finish. I sat down to check his time and I saw he had already finished! He finished in 3:25 which is awesome considering he didn’t get a lot of training in because of his knee injury. Here we are with our medals.
That’s pretty much it! Hopefully the weather is going to start warming up here soon to make the rest of marathon training a little more fun and bearable.
This happened the other day. Before it started snowing, there was no snow left on the ground. Rude.
They also normally have nice race shirts. This year is no different but I really wish that they would offer xs for women! This is a small and I’m swimming in it. I do like the color though.
Thanks for making it through this post. I’m hoping to start writing more as my final exams will be next week and then after that, I’m left to my own devices for research. Science away!