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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Race Report: Around the Bay 30K 2009

My Results - 2:41:04 (1426/4915 overall, 121/248 of Men 30-34)

The History

I've wanted to run this race since I first heard about it.

It was first run in 1894... this was the 115th anniversary, making it the oldest road race in North America. There were thousands of people there - in addition to the 4915 30K finishers there were relay teams, 5k runners, and 30K walkers. I've never seen so many runners in one spot!

The Great Clothing Debate

Last night, the forecast was for light rain and 12C. I decided to wear shorts.

This morning, the forecast changed to steady rain and it was 8C...

I took my running tights with me just in case, but in the end it seemed just warm enough to stick with the shorts. Not ideal, but nothing about the weather was ideal! It rained from start to finish, it was pretty miserable.

My Race

It didn't start out well. My stomach was hurting almost immediately, it was raining, Hamilton is pretty dreary, and I was dodging slower runners who decided they should be in the front... I'm usually pretty excited and chipper at the start of a race, but I was miserable.

I went out faster than I'd planned, but it was noticeably downhill so I didn't worry too much about it.

By halfway nothing had changed - I wasn't having a fun day.

Then something magical happened - a guy yelled "Welcome to Burlington, aren't you glad to get out of Hamilton?" I hate to pee on Hamilton, but I really was glad to see Burlington. The scenery changed to nice rolling hills through gorgeous treed neighbourhoods, it was awesome! And the challenge of the hills kept my mind on something other than my stomach cramps.

I was mentally prepared for the hills just from reading the comments of other runners, but they still really take a lot out of you. I tried to keep my feet turning over quickly on the downhills, and kept myself from blowing up on the uphills. Most runners hate hills - I love them, probably because of my cycling background! It was challenging and fun.

This race has a few weird traditions - there's a midget (little person?) with a stereo blasting "We Will Rock You", you're supposed to high-5 him (low-5?). I skipped it, but still smiled. And when you get to the top of the "big hill" there's a guy dressed up as the Grim Reaper, and some signs inviting you into the cemetery... cute touches.

By the time I crested the "big hill" I was feeling pretty spent, but still had enough for a pretty decent finishing kick. In the back of my mind I was hoping for a sub-1h40 finish, but couldn't quite find it today. Something to target next time.

The Finish...

The piece de resistance - the streets lined with cheering spectators, then you head down a ramp and finish in Copps Coliseum. It was amazing... I'm on the big screen, there's a cheering crowd, they call out your name, wow. I soaked up the experience as much as I could in my state of near-delusion.

Final Thoughts

I love a challenge and this race delivered. The rain, the stomach issues, and most of all the hills gave me more than enough to overcome! Mentally I stayed in the game and kept the legs going, and that's half the battle in endurance sports.

I'll be back.

And as far as nutrition is concerned, I'm learned my lesson - don't eat too much solid food before a run! I had a bowl of cereal and two energy bars between 6:00am and the 9:30am start, as well as two Gatorades... I'll stay away from dairy and go with less solid stuff.

My splits (adjusted to chip time)
First 10K 53:11 (5:19/km)
10K-20K 52:57 (5:18/km)
20k-30k 54:56 (5:30/km)
Full 30K 2:41:04 (5:22/km)
First 15k 1:20:52 (5:23/km)
First 20K 1:46:08 (5:18/km)

It would be very difficult to negative split this race - the hills in the last 12k are tough, they really beat you up.


Boris T said...

Good work on the finishing time.

I hear ya about the hill, it wasn't too bad if it were on it's own. but the 8k before it just kills you.

Also next time low 5 the little person. Just remember when in Rome do as the Romans. Or in this case, Hamilton.

Ken said...

Hi I saw your post on a site about swallowing when swimming. I just started fitness swimming this year and am really struggling with this exact same problem...Did you ever find a way to solve it?? Please e-mail at