Around the Bay

Dan

Felt more than a little hard done by during my 3 hour round trip to pick up our race kits, made worse by my abject inability to navigate my way out of a paper bag and Hamilton’s one-way system.  Race morning, on hearing that one of the runners had run from Toronto (60km) to pick up his race kit I felt a tad petty. Can’t complain too much, the race organizers did a great job from kit pick up to getting us to the start line on time.

The race itself is a lot of fun, way more runners than I have ever run with before, took 7 minutes or so to actually cross the start line but everyone was in great spirits. The plan had been to treat this as a long slow training run, aiming to take around 3 and a half hours. This plan was pretty much shredded burnt and buried within the first 5km as we were happily trotting along way beyond this pace caught up in the excitement of the day. What was pleasantly surprising is that at the 10 km marker we were still happily gamboling along, at 15km we were positively spritely and then just beyond the 20 km we had goal. Just up ahead I spotted a pair of bunny ears, a pace bunny, 3:15 pace setter, putting us almost 20 minutes ahead of our previous weekends pace. All of a sudden I was channeling Elmer Fudd that wascally wabbit was ours for the taking. The last 10 km is a little hilly, and over the course of the next 5 km we reeled in the pace group before finally blowing past them on the final big hill. My Elmer spirit was further enhanced by a high-five from a fellow small person, no, not one of the many children lining the course cheering us along with their families. An actual small person, high fiving the dwarf before the last big hill is an Around the Bay tradition, as is the grim reaper who awaits ailing runners at the top. Truth be told the reaper nearly claimed, Heather however scared me back into action by fibbing about just how close the bunny was to catching me. The finish to the race is a lot of fun as culminates inside Copps Coliseum. We finished in 3:10, not to shabby for a training run.

 

Heather

This weekend was our first ‘tune-up’ race but really it was just a fun training run where we didn’t have to stop for the traffic lights!  Since this weekend also happened to be a mini taper we only had to run 42km.  We hatched a plan Thursday night to get up early Friday morning to do our 12km run so that we could actually sleep in on a Saturday!  It was fabulous and totally worth the 5am wake-up Friday.  To fuel ourselves for Sunday we ate too much fried food, washed down with too much beer while watching the TFC win their home opener (hey we still need to have a life outside running).  Anyway we still managed to wake up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed Sunday to head to Hamilton.  In fact since Dan had such a tough drive Friday we left so early that we got a really good parking space!  The race starts just outside of Copps Coliseum, which meant we got to hang out inside where it was toasty warm and lots of bathrooms.  We were pleasantly surprised by three unexpected cheerleaders; Mommy, Baby Sister, and Baby Sisters Boyfriend!

To get to the start of the race we had to take a little walk around the block, we weren’t in any rush since this was just a training run, that also meant we missed the start of the race but there were so many people it took us 7 minutes to cross the start line!  The day was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and around -1C with no wind.  I peeled off my coat at 2km, so happy that Dan was carrying his backpack so I didn’t have to carry my coat.  We started off perfectly on our goal pace for the first 6km, then we let loose and sped up just a tiny bit.  
The first 20km of the course is lovely and flat, it was scenic, not really ‘pretty’ but lots to see.  Between 15km and 16km you run across the swing bridge that can be seen from the Burlington skyway, I’ve always liked the bridge and was excited to get to run across it (it can be so fun when you don’t bother looking at the race course prior to the run) unfortunately I will never look at that bridge same way when we went by a poor runner who had tripped and done quite number on her face. She was being tended to but you could hear and see everyone cringe as they went by.  One group of runners started reminding everyone to keep their toes up, I just picked my speed up and got off of there quick.  At 20km the course starts to undulate a little more through a very nice neighborhood.  This was where Dan and I started to make up some ground; I love running hills and Dan doesn’t like letting me get too far ahead.  Plus I think a lot of runners get caught up in the flatness of the first 20km and go out a little too fast.  There is a lot of local support along the racecourse; one house was giving out grapes!  There was also a dwarf, two grim reapers, and many, many ‘antiques’ on their motorized scooters, such a wonderful atmosphere.  The coolest part was the finish where you actually get to run into Copps Coliseum down onto the (covered) ice surface.  So much fun!  This was a very organized, well-executed race (they have had 117 years to get it right).  All and all a great training run for us but I think we may just find ourselves racing Around the Bay in the future.

Dan

Walking to the start line.

Swing Bridge

Approaching the swing bridge, keep your toes up!

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Not Going the Distance

Dan

Heather has already mentioned how great our 30 km was this weekend. This isn’t entirely true we didn’t run 30 km we actually only ran 29.77km, believe it or not this was a deliberate decision. Next weekend we run the Around the Bay, a race that’s claim to fame is to be the oldest road race in North America, a title often given to the Boston marathon. Now Boston certainly is the oldest marathon in North America, but Around the Bay isn’t a marathon it is an unconventional 30km. The race started in 1894 three years before Boston, a big motivation behind creating the race seems to have been the gambling opportunities it allowed. However it has also bred some great runners, Jack Caffery and William Sherring had the best of the early races, with the two of them later making up 1st and 2nd place in a Canadian sweep of the 1900 Boston marathon. With all this history it seemed a little rude and uneventful to run my first 30km just on a training run, that’s why, I decided to cut it just a little short.

The run really was a fun one though, the people were friendly the temperature was perfect and the trail nearly all ice-free. We also got the chance to run past some sculptures we had only seen from the road, never been sure what they are supposed to be and close up I was non the wiser. We took a picture in case you had more of an insight, to me they are watering cans with elephant legs.

Answer's on a post card

Sunday offered more of the same, Heather designed a great 20km route that took in the belt line, Cedarvale park, and some Toronto’s nicest neighborhoods. Don’t worry this route was actually 20.23km, there was no way we were going to short change ourselves on our first 50km weekend! I do have to say though the runners on Saturday were a lot more cheerful. That said we may not have been the picture of sunshine and cheer ourselves, 50km is a long way.

Star Sighting!!!

Heather

I’ve been running around Toronto for the last 2 years and have seen many interesting things, but today was my first celebrity sighting (while running).  Toronto is a filming haven and I’ve run by plenty of sets (or been detoured because of them) but never managed to catch a glimpse of any of the stars.  Today was completely unexpected, there was no camera no fan fair,  and I almost plowed into this celebrity as he turned the corner!  However I recovered cooly, punched Dan in the arm so he’d notice who I nearly hit (which of course he didn’t) flashed a big smile and kept on running.  Now I was quite pleased with this citing but I’m almost afraid to say who it was because, well, most people reading this will say “who”?  The show he was on was a reality program that I loved but was sadly cancelled, Project Runway Canada, he was the mentor….Brian Bailey!!  He’s also a designer with his own clothing line and a quite shop on Queen St West.  Just to give you a little more insight into me, well, I’d like to think of myself as a little fashionista and I have a passion for sewing and making things.  So that is why I knew it was Brain Bailey and that is why I was excited!

Spring In My Step

Heather

What a beautiful day for a run. This morning we set off on a 30km jaunt, it was sunny,a pleasant temperature and it stayed that way! We tried out a new route that took us north along the Lower Don trail and into Taylor Creek park.  It is a great trail despite running along side a major highway, you really don’t notice the traffic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was alive with runners, walkers, and cyclists. There is something special about a morning run where everyone you pass responds to your hello’s or even greets you first!

We did still find some stretches of ice along the trail which was a surprise but after one close call we just walked/slid carefully along them.  Our pacing was spot on although I could use a leash to actually keep Dan in check!

A great run that finished with our post run ritual/visit to our local coffee shop.  Hope tomorrow brings more of the same!

Be Prepared

Heather

This week I was amazed by how organised Dan and I could be.  Our last few weeks of training have consisted of us running to the gym, working out, and running home. Great for the mileage and the muscles, but we were eating at wacky times and eating the wrong food. For instance I wolfed down taco salad one night, my run to the gym was horrible I felt every morsel of cheese and guacamole bouncing around. But it only proceeded to get much worse during my weight class; I will spare you the details on that one.  This week however we were on the ball.  We made a realistic meal plan of food that was easy to prepare and digest and make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day!  We shopped once for the main ingredients and I picked up the fresh stuff on my way home from work. And dinner was ready for when Dan got home so we could eat and digest before we headed out.  The best part is that I really feel like I had a great training week, I hope we can manage to keep this up.  The worse part, I was attacked by a gigantic dust bunny this morning while I was trying to leave and my kitchen floor seems to have a ‘new’ pattern.  I wish housework counted as a work out.

 

Happy Days

Heather

It’s the little things that can make you the happiest.  Yesterday I came home from an exhausting day at work already making excuses in my head for skipping my run, but then in my mail box were these:

My favourite magazines arriving on the same day!!!!  So I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t even look at the table of contents until I had completed my run.  And guess what?  I ran my fastest 9km.  And I had daylight for 90% of the run.  It’s the little things.

Running Firsts

DAN

So after running for a while the running “firsts” start to become less and less frequent. I’ve had the bloody nipples, the extreme chaffing and then the enquiring looks from friends when they see the industrial sized pot of Vaseline sat on the bathroom counter. Then of course there are the less graphically disturbing firsts like the first double digit run, the first long run with no walk breaks and of course the first medal (hopefully this coincides with the first race). Understandably these experiences had started to dry up, that is until the last month or so. I thought I would share a couple of these new firsts with you.

I will say straight up that some of these may not really be considered running achievements, but they are firsts for me.

New longest ever run – As the training intensity starts to ramp up so do the distances and just before our jaunt to Jamaica I hit a new high. Now I am not going to say I owned that long run, and really there is only one thing stopping me making that claim, and that is the fact that I didn’t own it. I made a plethora schoolboy mistakes I ran out of the gate far to quickly which left me sucking wind by the half way point, which then lead to an over hydrating stitch and of course a headache for Heather as I whinged for the next few kilometers. All that said my previous long run, the Picton Half, was surpassed by 4km. And what’s more it was followed up by another long run the following day. I think at this point I really started to believe that this training really was going to equate a 125km race.

Really getting hungry – I don’t know if it is the back-to-back long runs but I have recently really felt the effects of not taking in calories on the long runs. They say you should be taking on 200 calories per hour on long runs. Really how hard can this be, in fact it might even sound like fun, a 42g bag if M&M’s is 207 calories, so throw the green ones away and there you have your 200. So who wouldn’t be happy scoffing down a bag of M&M’s every hour, but I’m pretty sure you have already realized that this not the reality. The reality is you have to kiss a hell of a lot of toads to find your running snacks, the market is littered with options and honestly it is all about the individual, but we have been through all manner of dry bars, jelly cubes and goopy nastiness, and we are still not 100% of the way there. We have found a couple of great products like Larabar’s, but we are still some way away from working out how we are going to fuel ourselves over the course of the race (stay tuned for theories, we are both foodies and won’t compromise on the nutrition flavor equation). I digress a little so what is the first? Basically I hit a wall of having no fuel, my legs felt great, breathing and heart rate perfect but no energy, and this is because I really didn’t think I needed to eat. Pretty crappy first.

Running lore – this truly is a first for me. On a run with Roberta, Heather’s cousin, she told us about her friend who will stop on a run to pick up money she finds on the sidewalk, but her maxim is to pay that money forward. A noble ideal but as Heather is the only one with me for the most part she is up over 5 bucks and as for me I am realizing I have an unobservant running partner!!

Yellow snow – We all know what it is and how it’s made. I have had to make pee stops before but never in the snow, so on a long snowy run I hoped off the trail for a brief errr…. rest. But you know it’s always nice when one pops a cherry with you, thanks Heather……

He fell over – Really it should have been inevitable but some how I had managed to avoid it even through the snow and ice of the Toronto winter. But you know what they say all good things come to an end, I blame karma, just as I am complaining about someone (no need to say anymore their ears would have burnt) I hit a patch of ice and accelerate. At this point however I didn’t hit the deck, which probably only severed to piss off karma, and also make karma sneaky, which must be bad karma for karma, 20 minutes later I hit another patch of ice this time however I did the full Bambi. I hit the pavement arms and legs splayed. Fortunately the only thing that was damaged was pride as I lay giggling on the street. Moral of this story is that karma is sneaky, be mean with caution.

And those are my firsts.