A week or so later and I am still amazed that I survived that 30k and everyone of it’s hills. Race weekend was a busy weekend and a tiring one at that. However I can proudly say that the 30k Around the Bay Road Race may be older than Boston, but it was definitely my toughest race yet!
In the morning when Andy, Callum, Katherine, my dad and I woke up there was SNOW on the ground!!! What a turn off, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself, no one likes running in the snow. But we didn’t let that bring us down, especially when we got into the city and realized it was concentrated flurries. Aka, let’s just snow on Jasmin’s house to freak everyone out.
As per usual once we got close to the race I needed to pee. We were making pretty good timing, so we thought, and we missed the starting horn. No matter, there were over 9,000 participants PACKED into the streets of Hamilton like sardines. We started out in the heart of downtown Hamilton near the First Ontario Centre (Copps Collesium) and the trouble started at around 5k; along with the hills. We were running along Burlington St to make our way from the West end, to the East end of Hamilton. Problem is, Burlington St connects to the Red Hill Valley [high way] and we had to run up a bunch of overpasses… at points I wished they were underpasses! Surprisingly there were tons of volunteers and city supporters along this industrial street to keep us motivated and [to be realistic] lie to us and tell us we are almost there!! Great encouragement!
In training, Andy and I were training in 5k intervals, with 1min walk break. We threw that out the window for this race. We ran up until 10k, took a minute to walk it off and continued down into Beach Blvd; onwards to Burlington. This area was nice because a lot of the homes in this end are a big older and have nautical character. Needless to say I was distracted and house hunting, haha!
As we jumped from Hamilton to Burlington at the 15k mark, we ran over the East Port bridge that is slightly underneath the Burlington Skyway Bridge. My only complaint about running over this bridge was that my footing felt uneasy because of the grid like surface. But I would take that any day for what came later on in the race. All in all, at the 15k point I was feeling great! No cramps, no tightness and I was full of energy both from the hype and my Cliff Power Gels.
I can’t remember exactly what kilometer where the hills began, but I’m guessing it was the 18th or 19th. From this point on we would be running through residential areas with great views of the Hamilton Harbour. Personally, I don’t get how these people walk there dogs, I was cursing up and around those streets. Thank god there weren’t any kids to hear me! At one point, mid hill, I was so tired that I just breathed and said, “holy shiiiiit”. It made for a few laughs amongst the runners in my vicinity. At 20k we took a walk break of about 1-2mins so Andy could fix his knee brace.
From 20-25k our pace stayed steady, unfortunately not speedy. but we were making great time. At 10k we hit 57mins and at 20k we hit 1:57mins. I consider that a win in the consistency category. *Queue Jaws music* ddddduuuunnnnahhh, duuuunnnnnahhh, dunah, dunahhh… shiiiiiiiit! That’s what happens when you reach Valley Inn Hill Rd, aka the 26k mark. It’s almost deceiving as your running up to this trail like hill. You look at it like, oh okay, I might need to concentrate on my breathing a bit. But then once you hit the bridge to start running up the hill, you feel like you’ve been swallowed feet first because it’s so steep. Andy and I ran up half of the hill and I said, “I honestly can’t run up this whole thing” and it was agreed that we would walk up the rest of the hill to conserve our energy for the last 4k. Then a few seconds later, Andy gets a tap on the bum and our friends Callum and Katherine run by us! Taking on the hill like pros without a pain in the world.
At this point our pace had begun to fluctuate and by 28k Andy and myself were in dire need of a walk break. He had a charlie horse and I was just plain tired. However it was a weird tired, as if I didn’t realize how close we were and I had no concept of distance. At 28k I was aware that we had two more kilometers, but that seems like a life time. But we picked up our feet and our pace and made that 2km a quick finish to our long journey. Our energy picked up as we saw all of the spectators cheering and motivating us to keep running. This was my turn around point for sure – that and having the First Ontario Centre in my sights, I told Andy we should pick up the pace and to be careful when we entered the Centre’s garage because it was a steep drop down to the finish line.
Luckily, Callum and Katherine were only about a minute and a half ahead so we all met and groaned as we collected our post race snacks and medals. I felt so accomplished and full of more energy than I’d had in awhile. As most runners say after a race, “I could have gone another few kilometers” – I would say yes I physically could have, but no I would not have wanted to. After we made our way outside, we met up with my Dad who ran the 5k race. He beat his time from last year coming in at 28mins19secs and told us that he saw us cross the finish and that we did an awesome job! As we parted ways he told us he would see us at home and that there are some beers in the fridge!
Back to reality… well at least until I book my next race!
Special thanks to everyone who followed me on this snowy training blog. It was a cold and staggered three months of training, but it was definetly worth it in the end!