About Me

My photo
Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, March 30, 2015

Race Report: Around the Bay 30k!

This past Sunday was the 121st running of Around the Bay and like the past three years, I was eager and ready to take part! I didn't have to go to the expo as the bestest running partners ever, Sam and Emma went down on Friday and got my kit for me. I was eager to see the shirt colour, until I got the text from Sam showing me the comparison between these and the 2013 version:

2015 and 2013
To be fair, the 2015 shirt is MUCH nicer fabric and fit, so I don't mind. Saturday passed by uneventfully and I settled into fish tacos and oven fries for dinner. Normally I would have pasta and chicken. This change of meal ended up being a mistake as we'll soon find out. I've given up potato chips for Lent (SO. CLOSE. TO. THE. END.) so I ate some rice crackers as a snack instead.

Sunday morning 6am came and I was up, dressed and on my way to pick up Sam and Patty after a quick stop at Tim Horton's for my now traditional pre-race meal of a plain bagel, butter and cheddar, with a small coffee and half a Powerade. A banana before the race completed my pre-race fuel. One last hurrah and it was time to head to the C corral with Patty and Sam.

Back row: Kimberley, Sam, Peter, Me. Front row: Emma, Patty and Zindine. Photo from Irina
Getting outdoors in our throwaways let us know that yet again, the weather predicted for this race was wrong. It was far warmer than the predicted -14. I didn't worry about my vest - then.

KM 1-10: Best race ever!

The gun went off and the crowd surged forward. Sam and I surged as well. The plan was to run 3-4k warm up around 5:25/km and then drop to marathon pace for the rest of the run (5:08/km), or if feeling poorly, attempt a long run with an average pace at 5:15-5:20/km (good thing there were two options).


We started off strong and fast. WooHoo! I smell someone smoking and yell, "I love the smell of smoke on race day!" Sam tells me a funny story about her husband. There are lots of people cheering us along and before long we're downtown. Downtown Hamilton at its finest with all the runners running their runs. Including Sam and I. Running. Sweating. Running. Too fast.

Sam: Oh my God, I'm so hot.

Me: Yep (tosses Dollar Store ear warmer). We should slow down... got a sub-5 here.

Sam: What? Jeeze

30 seconds later

Me: Good thing we slowed that down... by 1 second. HAHAHAHA


And thus is the feelings when you start a race strong and everything is just feeling so, so, so good. Which the below photo lies about as we don't look awesome, but we were feeling great. Check out the splits.

I know this is the first 10k because I haven't dropped my gloves yet.
5:06-5:05-5:05-5:13-5:11-5:05-5:19-5:09 (GU)-5:08-5:06, split: 51:26

KM 11-20: Things begin to fall apart

The first 10k features three inclines up and down highway underpasses. As you can see above, these didn't make much a difference to Sam and I. Oh no. Things were A-Okay! We were chugging along, taking in water and Gatorade at the stations and enjoying our own from our hand-held supply. After the third water stop, we head on to Beach Blvd. amongst the crowd of runners and its all familiar territory. My back starts to feel a bit tight at this point and I try to not think about it. It was all too much like the Mississauga Marathon all over again and I tried not to freak out because it resolved the last time. So we kept running along, the entire time with me trying to figure out if I should take another gel even though I had taken one around 9k and trying not to think about my back. I know that there is water before the lift bridge at 15k and I figure I'll do a huge drink of Gatorade at that point. Then I smell marijuana. Sam smells puke, but details. There'll be time enough for that. Funny thing is, I smelt this as we ran by Wallenberg Castle. Where the old lady in the fur coat always sits and cheers on runners. You go old lady!

So we get to the lift bridge and Sam mentions something about Zantac. I tell her my back is tight. We momentarily forget about it all when we see Paul waiting to run the second half of the two person relay. Then we really forget about it when we navigate the lift bridge. In case you're wondering, yes, the footing still sucks. It takes major brain power to get over the bridge. By 16k, I tell Sam that I need to stop and stretch out my back. Its horrible. I stand up again and start to run and Sam's refilling her handheld from her Penis Bottle. "Stretch more!" she demands and I do and she refills and we're off.

At 18k, there is another water station. We both take a gel before this station. It takes me four goes to get the damn thing down. UGH. Funny thing is, I was starting to feel cloudy. I simply needed the carbs. The meal the night before was not sufficient for my needs on this day, that's for sure. So I take the GU and then at the station, I drink a huge cup of water and a huge cup of Gatorade (Yellow. Gross. My theory is that they don't sell the powder of yellow the same way they do the other flavours so they give them to the races. No one likes yellow).

The hills begin and a man charges past Sam and I, "WooHoo! Hill One!!! Here we go!!!" I look at Sam and declare, "This is going to suck." "Yep," says Sam. Next thing I know, I'm puking in my mouth. Oh good God. At least my back isn't hurting. I stop Sam and ask her to pull over to the side so I can try to puke properly, but I can't. Oh well... time to climb the hills.

5:11-5:07-5:08-5:08-5:32-5:33-5:09-5:57-5:16-5:35, split: 53:57, Total time: 1:45:23 (aside, we can totally get that 1:45 half marathon!)

KM 21-30: We totally have th... SRSLY HEADWIND!!!

And the race slowly falls apart. We tackle the hills as best as we can. We run them all because the first ones are easy and Sam basically threatened me with death if I didn't run the one up to La Salle Park. "My sister stands at the top of that hill and WE WILL BE RUNNING  past her." So on and on and up and up we ran and Sam's sister was no where to be found. Oh well, the threat got us up that hill. Then we coasted down the other side before climbing again. Sam was ahead of me, but I kept running. She actually kinda stopped and looked back at one point, surprised to see me so close to her. I guess I wasn't death breathing like the old man we played leapfrog with in the first 15k of the race. I felt like so much shit. I think Sam did as well. There was an unofficial water station on the final mini residential climb up to Plains Road and we stopped to walk through it.... and kept walking. Sam was taking a gel and I totally SHOULD have, but didn't. Before we knew it we were on Plains!

WooHoo! Hills were over!!! No turn on to Springbank. no Valley Inn! No. More. Hills. Things were looking up! Then a car drove by and honked at us (must be my great crops). Sam freaks out. Then there are a bunch of people yelling at us and waving and Sam's waving and someone is asking how we are and Sam's lying and saying, "Great!" and I'm giving cut eye and being truthful. "This is SHIT."

Photo credit: Sam's Sister
At 23k, I tell Sam I need to walk. I 100% look at my watch and count down the one minute. "Let's go." and off we go again. I feel so badly about ruining Sam's race AGAIN with my antics, but she is truly the best and just keeps running along with no complaints. "Four miles left, Nicole. Let's go." The wind is starting to kick up, but our paces seem okay. We hit the water station at 25k, walk through it and get going.

I start to do mental math. I think that we should make a sub 2:40. I'm not too far put off by that. I had predicted a 2:37-2:38 and right now after everything a sub 2:40 sound great! Hey, my back feels fine. I'm not going to puke any more. And we're running pretty quickly. And then the wind hits up. And then it REALLY starts to blow strongly. Sam and I laugh. Really?!? Really!!! I guess it was Mother Nature's way of getting us back for the lack of Valley Inn hill (I'd rather take the hill).

I KNOW there is another water station at 28k, but it seems So. Long. Away. and I start to give up hope. I don't even look at my watch when I gasp out, "Sammy. Sammy. I need to walk." (I never call her Sammy unless we're racing).
"What?" says Sam, "No! No!!!"
"Wait is that the water station?"
"Okay, I'll get there."

And we do and we drink and we are head down, down hill to the end. At this point a man on a bike is behind us with a lady. And he's encouraging her like its his JOB. "You got this. 5 minutes left. One 5 minute kilometer. You can do it. What's five minutes. Look at the finish. Its right there. Five minutes. You got this." And he was my personal cheerleader too.

I hit the 29k sign and run the longest kilometer ever. I wasn't so out of it that I forgot the photographers though (I've joked that I could complement Kenny's Race Strategy with a photo strategy guide).

And finally, we make the turn into First Canadian Place and to the finish. This expression got me a, "you GO 923!!"

And we cross the line, no hands held, but together with Sam crossing the line 0.6 seconds in front of me.

5:36-5:39-6:03-5:29-5:27-5:30-5:21-5:41-5:09-4:31 (4:51 pace), split, 54:46, Total time: 2:40:07

Gun Time: 2:41:09
Chip Time: 2:40:07 (2 minute, 2 second PB!)
Place: 1741/7277
Gender: 472/3426
F35-39: 78/525

Final thoughts

I learned a good lesson about pre-race fueling on this one.  This is the first time I haven't eaten pasta the night before a hard, long race and it showed in my early "bonking". This caused me to shot gun Gu, water and Gatorade which lead to the puking. Good times! First time I've puked on a run since I was pregnant. Which I'm NOT right now. Not at all. I also think that I need to up my GU intake on course. Coach Phaedra and I have already discussed this.

I learned that I still need to tough it up mentally. The last 12k of the marathon are going to be hard and I need to find the gear to push though any negative thoughts. I think I may need music in this part. I don't think it will matter much; Sam and I won't be talking a whole lot.

Sam is the best racing partner ever. No ego on her at all. She is just there for the run and sticks with me no matter what. I'm not sure I would be as kind. I'm so lucky to have found her. I can't say enough kind words about her. Rewards will come in the form of chocolate and donuts.<3 p="">


  1. JUST when I was going to sleep, here come the race reports! I know what you mean about Sam. ;-) You two make the greatest running partners. It's really awesome to see your friendship survive all these races. I also believe that you need to find a fueling strategy that works for you. It's a pity when it ruins a good race. Lessons learned, right? I know you'll get the results sooner or later. All of them. You're truly a fighter.

  2. Man, I'm a little sad my A goal running race is done and I'm not continuing my run training with you guys. You and Sam helped me through so many long runs this winter. *sniff* I'm cheering you on through the rest of your training and Ottawa!! Big congrats on the new PB!

  3. Aw I wuv you too. Thanks for the kind words but they are really unnecessary. I run for the fun not the misery and it would be a lot more miserable without you. Eight weeks, baby! We've got this. Xo.

    PS Mari also felt that it smelled like puke at the lake. LOL

  4. Congratulations on a PB and a good one at that!! You held it together on a tough day and that's always so impressive. I love reading your race reports. I'm always amazed at the level of detail you remember. My race is a blur when it comes to too much detail (maybe it's an age thing)! Anyway, nice work out there. Congrats on the PB!

  5. Great report and very impressive run. With all the problems you managed a PB and a very impressive time. Congratulations on a fantastic run Nicole


Thanks for joining in the conversation!