As you know, the people from my marathon clinic group and I decided NOT to run the Around the Bay race as a race, but instead to run it as a Long Slow Distance run per our usual Sunday strategy. It was the first 30k run for six out of the seven of us and we were all going to PB no matter what!
We arranged meet up points and carpools and caravan's and were on the road to Hamilton by 07:40. Despite thinking we'd park in one place, we ended up in a lot just up the street from Copps and lucky for us, we met up with our clinic leader Chris (which was completely unplanned). We hit Tim Horton's for a pee break and then headed to Copps to meet our seventh group member, Anila and my cousin Jodi:
Jodi is the person who inspired me to start distance running. I ran my first 5k at the Mississauga Marathon races in 2009, the same year she ran her first full marathon. Seeing her come in and beating her goal time of 4:09 made me determined to continue with this sport. She blew her 3hr goal out of the water yesterday, finishing in 2:55:17
Before too long, it was time to say goodbye to Chris (who went on to a silver medal in 2:11:09) and line up for the port-o-potties.
Except the lines were way too long and the race was only 15 minutes from starting. We all figured we could tough it out and grab a pee on course as it was only a LSD run anyway. We were very far back from the start and it was still crazy and congested. We actually were lined up with the 3hr and 3:15 continuous pacers, but decided that our group of seven would be all we needed to pace. Before we knew it, the crowd was cheering and we were off!
1-10k. I've never started this slow. Where is the water? I HAVE TO PEE!
The seven of us managed to stick together through the start, with Peter, Paul, Anila and I slightly ahead of Julie, Peggy and Steph. At one point, when we were talking about how slow our pace was, Peter commented, "I've never started a race so slowly!" It WAS a bit strange to be continuously reeling in and keeping it to easy pace while being passed by so many people (but also passing people too). At 4k, we passed Ivor Wynne stadium and I decided to send out my first tweet:
We passed a water station here and I didn't get a drink as I had a full belt with me. We also passed port-o-potties with Peter commenting that he'd need to stop by 15k at the least (and I agreed - Damn small Tim Horton's coffee!). Then we were running though downtown row-house neighbourhoods with kids watching through windows as the thousands of runners raced by. I turned to the group and said, "Wow, these kids must be thinking: WORST. PARADE. EVER."
I booted ahead to get a shot of this guy:
and he ran back to shoot a photo of me! I was having so much fun already! The best part was that the seven of us were still sticking together just like any Sunday run.
Around 8k, we started looking for water again as both Peter and I wanted to take a GU. I had water on me, but wanted to time the GUs with the stations as I already knew that the day was hot and I was over dressed (as you can see from above, I had a vest and long sleeved top on). The station didn't come and finally as we were heading over the highway, I handed Peter one of my bottles and told him to take the GU. We were 10k in by that point and neither of us wanted to compromise our runs. We also decided that the need to pee was getting unbearable.
Splits 1-10k: 6:31-6:23-6:25-6:22-6:25-6:27-6:25-6:25-6:22-6:19(GU) (5k split: 32:06, 10k split: 1:04:04) - pretty amazing consistent splits, eh?
11-20k. FINALLY! Port-o-Potties! Pace... PACE!
The next few KMs were all about getting to that next port-o-potty. Peter, Paul, Anila and I decided that we were stopping no matter what (meaning no matter how long the lines were) the next time we saw the orange boxes. Before we came to that aid station, we passed a bunch of signs that said things like 2845 miles to Boston, 9864 miles to Berlin etc with a guy with a bunch of race medals giving out high fives (he was apparently handing out bacon before we got there as well!). It was just part of the fun to give him a high five.
We finally spoted the next aid station and port-o-potties and yelled that we were off. Peter and I sprinted there with Anila following and Paul hanging out to get water and wait for us while Julie, Steph and Peggy decided to continue on. The stop cost us 5 minutes as you'll see from the 15k split, but:
After we were all done, we continued on, under the highway, over the lift bridge (Oww to any barefoot or five finger runners!) and onward to the hills. We ran a bit fast here to make up time, plus we were behind the 3:30 walk/run pacer and I was determined to get in front of him, so a lot of these KMs were spent with Peter yelling, "Pace! Nicole PACE!!!" at me.
Splits 11-20k: 6:19-6:36-6:24-6:26-11:09 (duh! Potty time!)-6:15-6:26-6:24-6:28-6:49 (GU) (15k split: 1:40:58, 20k split: 2:13:20).
21-30k. Nicole! PACE!!!! THAT's the Hill? Really? Let's go, let's go, let's go!
By 20k we were into the super nice homes of Burlington near the Golf Club and hitting the rollers. We came up a bigger one and Anila asked if that was "the Hill". Lots of runners around us laughed and we said that it was at 26k, so she would know it! We passed lots of great support in this section and we walked through all of the water stations which was an AMAZING strategy (Thanks Paul!). By this time I was BAKING and was taking one cup to dump down my neck and back and the other to drink. I was also drinking from the poweraide I had in one of my 8oz bottles and I had the very beginnings of hunger pains! Just when I was starting to think too much about being hungry, there was a table of orange pieces and I took one and ate it with glee! PERFECT!
We lost Anila around 22k on the rollers and part of it was probably my fault. I spent a lot of time on the downhills or flats being told, "PACE! PACE! NICOLE PACE!!!!" by Peter as I just couldn't help myself! Thank goodness he reeled me in as downhills can be really mean to my knees and they feel fine today.
This part of the course also brought with it my favorite sign of all time, which I stopped to take a photo of before chasing Peter and Paul down:
Before we knew it, we were at THE HILL. Valley Inn Road. As Chris had told us, this hill on its own wasn't the problem. It was the fact that it came at 26k AFTER all of the rollers that made it difficult (he said that Heartbreak hill in Boston is just like it). Of course, Peter, Paul and I (man, I wish my name was Mary just for this race!) were motivated to run up the thing without stopping. In fact, Peter took off yelling, "Let's kill this!" and I said, "Well, let's not get CRAZY, let's just get up it." And so we did. (26k split - 6:11)
And that was that.
From there, Peter really had to hold me back. I was like a horse CHOMPING at the bit! I wanted to go, go, go.
Right around this time, we saw a familiar back! JULIE! It was amazing, but we had caught back up with our group! Peggy and Steph were just ahead.
We blew by the grim reaper and by 28k, we could see Copps in the distance. I totally laughed at the 28k marker which said, "It is rude to count the number of people you are passing out loud" because we were passing people like roadkill. That is the benefit of running a race at easy pace, you can really turn it on at the end.
I let Peter and Paul know that I would be veering off course to tap the 29k marker and once I joined them again, I started screaming, "Let's go! Let's Go! LET'S GO!!!" we booted it home taking care not to fall on the ramp down into Copps and ended up at the line with Peggy and Steph! I head Peter's name and my name and I had my arms in the air from the second I entered Copps. I WAS BEAMING! I can't wait to see the photos.
I took my time walking off the course with my stupid smile plastered to my face and an EMS asked if I was okay. Oh yes I assured him and one look at my face and he knew I was just thrilled with it all.
21-30.2k: 6:16-6:34-6:26-6:28-6:36-6:11 (Valley Inn WHAT!?)-6:13-6:25 (JULIE!)-6:01-5:41-1:32 (last 220m - 6:56 pace). 25k split: 2:45:40, 30.2k split: 3:17:58.
Official Chip: 3:18:12
F35-39 (first time in this category): 331/451
So, that's it! The first 30k, the first Around the Bay!
I will be back next year to race this one. I had a blast and I know that I would have had the same fun even at a race pace or on a cold day.
Next up: Mississauga Marathon on May 6th!