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.
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.