As you’ve probably already read by now, the 119th running of the Around The Bay 30k was this past Sunday. I ran it, my first race specifically at this distance, along with a friend determined to hit 30K in her 30th year (and she kicked ass!).
The drive to Hamilton on Sunday morning made for an early day, requiring naps later on, but we got in and parked in a primo spot and were all settled in with plenty of time to spare, which was perfect considering we were both a little nervous.
After checking our bags and going for one last bathroom trip, we headed outside with throngs of other runners. The weather was perfect at the beginning.I had brought a throwaway sweatshirt to wear at the start, but found myself quickly not really needing it and ditched it before crossing the startline.
I started out focusing on not going out too fast, but in reality, probably going out a little too fast given that I went into this race a little undertrained. The first 10K flew by, with little to report. I ditched my gloves at 2k, and had my winter headband around my neck by 3k. The terrain was flat, and relatively mundane.
I started to feel my undertrained legs around 12k, a little too early for my liking, but I was still enjoying the run. Throughout this part, I felt like running over the Burlington Lift Bridge was the strangest thing I had felt under my running-shoed feet, and can’t imagine what it would have felt like to the two guys running barefoot I had seen earlier. I enjoyed running in Burlington a lot more than the first pass through Hamilton. It was sunny but with a little breeze, and it felt like there were more people out cheering. As I approached the 20K marker, I started to panic, as all the blog posts I’d read leading up to the race warned that 20k – 27k are so would be the worst of the race.
Surprisingly, I didn’t find that stretch that bad. I had myself so worked up about the hills going into it, but I was expecting a lot worse. I enjoyed the changes in terrain and found most of the hills pretty manageable. Even the last ‘big, bad’ hill, ended up being pretty similar to a hill I run near home fairly regularly. When I got to the top of the Valley Inn hill, I did breathe a sigh of relief.
By this point, I was in Pain (with a capital P). My legs were shutting down, and my shoulders were aching (I have a right shoulder that always complains when I run distance for some reason) but I knew there were only around 3k to go so I held on, throwing a few extra walk breaks in here and there. It was much colder and windier here and I was wishing for my gloves I had thrown away earlier.
When I saw the Grim Reaper, right before 28k, naturally, I greeted him with a high five. Thats what you do with the Grim Reaper right? Before I knew it, I was turning the corner into Copps Coliseum, minding the extremely steep ramp down (thank you running bloggers who posted about this prior to!) and running to the finish (there was nothing left in my body for sprinting).
When I crossed that finish line (at 3:32:20), I actually teared up. Not because I hit an awesome goal or conquered a new distance, but because I kept with it when I was struggling and wanted to quit. Tears of relief, I guess.
For me, this might have been the toughest race I’ve run, both mentally and physically. Though I enjoyed the new scenery, the Grim Reaper, and the indoor finish, I’ve struggled with proper training and making it a priority since the Fall and this just confirmed it. I felt more mentally and physically prepared for both of my full marathons, and as a result, each of those race days were immensely more enjoyable than this one. I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and get myself back on track and this race is hopefully the kick in the pants I needed!
In terms of race organization, I thought the folks behind Around The Bay did a good job. Everything seemed really well organized from bib pick-up to race morning to the food and medal area after the race. I heard about the train delay but wasn’t impacted by it, though I think that was pretty much out of their hands, and hopefully the runners held back by it agree.
The only thing that stood out to me that they could improve is to assign more course marshalls to the route, particularly in desolate spots. I watched at least two cars dangerously pull out across a group of runners on their own to get to the one open lane on the other side of the road, in two different spots. This could have been disastrous and might have been preventable or at least managed better, had marshalls been placed more frequently along the course.
Did you run Around The Bay? How did it go?