We were blessed with fabulous running conditions for March 25, warm 10 degrees (Celsius) overcast in the morning and sunshine all afternoon. We hemmed and hawed about carrying water with us but we have gotten better with running long(er) distances without water that we figured we’d risk just using the aid stations. We definitely seeded ourselves better this year, last year we were still walking around the block to the start line when the race started, this time it only took about 2 and a half minutes to cross the start line!
I had told Dan that if he wanted to push himself to go ahead, I didn’t really have a race strategy as I had only run about 13km over the preceding 3 weeks (sadly I’ve spent a lot of time on the bike). Dan decided to stay with me for a bit and see how he felt, so off we plodded at our comfortable pace, which was probably not the smartest pace for the runner with the recovering foot injury.
Anyhow by the 2km marker I had a horrible stomach ache, I don’t know why but it certainly distracted me from any pain in my foot, it also distracted me from how quickly the first 10km went by, suddenly we were headed down to the lake, I decided to eat some shot blocks, they seemed to settle my stomach and I could enjoy my favorite bit of the run along Beach Blvd. Many of the home are “eclectic” and so are their owners. We passed people who had pulled (I hope) their couches on the front lawn, to cheer for us while sipping Caesar’s and beers (race starts at 9:30am). There was a bacon station, which of course being slow, was wiped clean as we went by but the fryers were still out cheering. Then we have to cross the scary Canada Swing Bridge, it’s scary because it’s grated, and last year we saw a woman who had tripped and face planted being attended to. I’m also curious to know how barefoot runners or runners in Vibram’s make it across that thing without completely shredding their feet or catching their foot in the large holes.
Then we were headed up North Shore Blvd, to the hilly last 10km. I was quite thankful for the hills, I find running on the flat kills my legs I need a bit of variety, judging by the people we were passing I may be the only one who feels that way. I felt there was a lot more “carnage” this year than last, we saw 3 ambulances along route and people were fading fast on the hills (which are really just pleasant rollers, other than the last one). Dan thought this was because we were ahead of our time, I guess all this stuff was cleaned up by the time we passed last year. We carried on past another cemetery (I don’t know if we run by the same one 3 times or if we are getting a bonus cemetery tour of Hamilton) and high-fived the dwarf, then it was down Spring Gardens Road (yeah) and then up Valley Inn Rd (meh, I really don’t think this hill is that bad, it just sucks that it’s so close to the end). As we ran past the two grim reapers I was starting to hurt. I had decided to wear a pair of shoes that I had never run more than 12km in, by 13km I could feel my toes banging into the toe box, and the sun had come out and I was parched. Having run this race last year carrying our own water and this year without, if it’s going to be warm I would recommend carrying your own because the water stations are very oddly spaced, or completely ravaged and never seem to be there when you need one!
The final 2.5km are downhill (barely) along York Blvd, leading you to Copps Coliseum where you run down a loading ramp and onto the (covered) ice surface. I couldn’t wait to get there. It felt like it took us forever to get there, if Dan hadn’t been with me I probably would’ve walked the rest of the way. But he was with me and he pushed me to carry on and so as we plunged into the darkness and around a corner nearing the screeching hum of the timing mat, he yelled at me to “Go! Go! Go!” I had no idea why (apparently it takes my eyes longer to adjust in dim light), but then I could finally make out the numbers on the clock…we had done it in 2:55, and that was the official time, our chip time were 2:52:26!
It’s not a fabulous time to many people, but to me it was awesome, it’s 18 minutes faster than last year, when I had actually trained properly! And truth be told my foot held up really well, a little swelling and discomfort, but nothing some ice couldn’t help, the worst of it is my big toenail on my left foot is now black, but that is nothing new, and I’m well aware of how it happened.
We even had a cheerleader that we didn’t even know we had! My cousin, Melissa, who lives in Hamilton came down to cheer us on, and even though she didn’t see us, she had fun. And somehow we got lunch out of the deal!
All in all, Around the Bay was a success, which is more than I had hoped for.