Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Around the Bay 30K Race Report

It is here!! It is here!! Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for... the first race of the year for Riri & Zin! Tadaaaaa.... (spoiler alert)

Not so fast, my friends!
First, a bit of recap. This was the third time that I was making the trip to Hamilton for the "Oldest Race in North America", in its 119th anniversary this year, and still "older than Boston". By the way, this ain't gonna change any time soon, so deal with it. The two previous times I run it I was part of a two-person relay and covered the full distance, but never at once. This year, I trained hard and went there hungry for a PR. Since I had never run in a 30K race before, my only  reference times were my 30k splits at the marathons completed last year, so the time to beat was 3h13 from Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

After struggling with different paces in my head, I met with my new coach earlier in the week and we discussed strategy. He told me that he wasn't comfortable with me racing it all out because it's not my A race and I could get injured and jeopardize my training for Ironman Muskoka 70.3, but after agreeing on the fact that a 3h10 time would make me happy and that most likely it would not kill me, we decided that I was going to run it as following (all by feel, no peeking at the watch!) :
  • First 5k easy
  • Next 10k fast (race pace)
  • Last 15k easy
I figured that my 10k race pace was going to be somewhere around 5:30min/km, but the easy pace, anywhere in the 6-7min/km range. I went to sleep with the peace of mind that I was going to follow a plan and not do whatever was going to cross my adrenaline-fueled brain. That's a first!

So, on Saturday we went to the Expo to pick up our race kits, and oh, the miracle, we didn't buy anything! We got there early enough to win a flashy orange tech cap from Running Room, but other than that, there was nothing there that we really needed. I took a picture of the empty Copps Coliseum though because it was free.
Went back home and spent the rest of the day driving around, to downtown Toronto to pick up some prints and to Value Village where I bought throw away clothes for the following morning. In the evening we carb loaded with our traditional homemade lasagna. I may or may not have had some ice cream too.

The next day, alarm clock went off at 6am. After a quick shower and a breakfast, we managed to leave the house at 7am. We felt confident that we'd get to Hamilton early enough to find parking, unlike last year when we circled the downtown area for an hour before finding a spot. And just as expected, we quickly found free street parking, just half a mile from Copps Coliseum.

We went to Tim's for coffee and a pee break, then to the Coliseum where we had planned to meet with Nicole, Sam and the rest of the online gang. I did recognize a few faces, but was a bit too shy to talk to everyone. Shook a few hands and forgot most of the names (sorry, small brain), but felt right at home among them happy people in bright shirts and running tights.

By the way, I know that people say that it's bad juju to wear the race t-shirt, but I've never done otherwise, so I was glowing in the hot pink one that hey gave to the women racers this year. For bottoms I was wearing my long Sugoi tights, and those too were a no brainer given the near-zero temperatures advertised by my weather app. I also chose to go with my buff instead of a hat, and no gloves.

With 15 minutes to the start time, we made our move towards the grey corral, for those without qualifying times. That's when we saw Lou and Paul from the Barefoot and Minimalist Runners Facebook Group and I admired both the fashion statement and Lou's perfectly shaved legs.

We looked around us, a sea of people ahead, a sea of people behind. 
And us two goofs in the middle, with sun in our eyes and a mean attitude...fail!
I don't think we even heard the countdown because all of a sudden we started moving and eventually I saw the starting mat. I ditched my sweater and dug my phone out to start Runkeeper, then off we went. Here, try to spot us, we crossed the starting line about 7 minutes in.
Zin said he was going to "warm up" with me for about 2km, then go on his own, but he only lasted for about 2 minutes beside me, then... he was gone! I am really glad he did because I wasn't going all that fast and he really wanted to go after a 2h30 PR.

I decided to run my own race, not even mingle with the massive groups of people following the pacers. I had a plan to follow after all. Soon enough Nicole and her friends passed me and we both vowed to never listen to the weather reports again as she was peeling off her jacket and I was wishing I didn't wear a wool layer under my top. The first 5k went by really fast and then came my time to speed up and complete my tempo workout of the day. Just before reaching the train "situation" I passed Nicole again and zoomed my way ahead dodging people one by one. I knew they were all going to pass me back again, so I didn't have any hard feelings ahead of time, I was on a mission and that was the most important, not to die before the 15k mat.

The bridge could not come soon enough, because a fast 10k split is still a lot of energy to leave on the pavement. I took in Clif shot blocks at 4k and 10k, mixed in with some water and Endura by Metagenics (as a sports drink, I couldn't recommend it enough, there is only good stuff in it).

There it is, the 15k relay exchange point which also meant that I was done...with the fast feet, because the race was only starting.
We are over the hump, I heard some people say, but the humps were actually yet to come! Notorious for its hilly second half, including the infamous Valley Inn road, Around the Bay is not the race where you can bank time. You'd better conserve your energy, otherwise the hills are going to eat you alive. Thankfully I knew I had trained for them and they were not going to last forever. My goal was now to get over each and every ones of them with a smile, and onto the last downhill stretch to the Finish line. Slow and steady...
Nicole and the gang passed me again, they were just ahead of the 2:55 pacer, and they looked like they were going for it!! This little energizer bunny knew to have fun out there! I took notice and it definitely motivated me to keep up the pace and enjoy myself. There seemed to be one hill per km, so I tried to take advantage as much as I could of the downhills and get back to my relaxed state in between. Still no Zin in sight, so I started thinking that he may have already finished, which was probably true, and that was also giving me wings. So proud of my hubbs for going strong!

Eventually I approached Heartbreak Hill, and I started hearing Queen's "We will rock you" blasting off someone's boom box. I can't remember if it was an official ATB tent or a kind Hamiltonian's setup, but it  MADE MY DAY (thank you!!!). It was right at the top of the hill before Valley Inn road, yep, just before it goes down hard to only go back up again. I started singing and yelling at people, "this is it, guys", let's do this!" We will, we will, ROCK YOU!! I felt like a boulder rolling down the hill, then powering up and passing those who decided to walk it, telling them, it's only 400m, folks! Keep going!! (for my American friends, that's a quarter of a mile). I was a talking boulder, alriiight (cuckoo!).

Anyway, made it up and then... breathe... almost done! Last 3k. Longest 3k ever... I really wanted it to be over, I had enough fun for the day. I was hoping to see the grim reaper so I can laugh in his face and then sprint to the finish line. I finally saw him and took out my camera, then snapped the picture below. I realized there was an official ATB photog right there if you wanted a more professional "near death" experience, but I decided to skip.
Unfortunately I was also dealing with a side stitch, so there was no way I could have smiled for the camera. I walked for about 30 seconds, hoping it would go away, but then the pain started traveling around my entire lower abdomen and I said, to hell with it!! This too shall pass... I saw a Toronto Triathlon Festival t-shirt passing me and it brought back my smile. Later I realized these two were Alex Flint and Marvelous Martha. I passed them again and onto the final km, I was waiting for the photo op before launching myself down the ramp into Copps Coliseum. I wanted to give the guy a mean double devil horns sign, but in the end my hands decided to do something completely alien. Triple horns. Oh well, I'm such a noob. Can't control legs and fingers at the same time.
Passed a few more people and sprinted my way across the finish mat with a huge sigh of relief. I was done, and DONE!! Legs seized up, I could barely walk, I wanted food and my medal and as coach suggested, to "get out of there before I catch a bug". Walked my way up to meet Zin, had a bite and waited for my legs to cooperate again, then I drove us back home where I had an ice bath, then cuddled with my heating blankie and caught up with the rest of the universe via my favorite social networks.

My first 30k is in the books!! 3h05 chip time, a 8min PR over my fastest 30k marathon split. I am really, really happy with the result, and even happier that I managed to execute this race exactly as planned. Zin also beat his fastest of the fastest times and finished the race in 2h31, earning himself the name of SuperZin. I am impressed! If he continues like this he may end up in Boston before we finish an Ironman (the pressure's on!).

Last but not least, here's the techie view for those who like numbers and pretty graphs.
Alright, next!


  1. Wow! That's amazing! I ran 10k today and just about died so that means you're pretty much my shero :)

    1. You're modest, Sharon. Fact is, unless you want to go much longer than an Olympic tri, most likely you'll be ok. ;-) If you haven't died yet, you are safe.

  2. Excellent race report and awesome photos! You executed perfectly to plan and enjoyed the rewards. So lovely to meet you. Congrats!

    1. Ditto, Nicole! Hope to run again with you soon.

  3. Yay! Amazing report. I saw your hubby at the end and told him to pass on my congrats. We were leaving as you were coming across the finish line. So happy that I got to meet you. You're a sweetie. :o)

  4. Great race report! Congrats on your new PR! You make me wish I lived closer so I could race this one too! We don't have any 30k road races here! Might be worth a special trip :)

    1. I hear you Cori, I loved this distance! There is another one in summer as well, you should consider it. ;-)

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks Carol! We missed you out there! Next year, maybe?