Race Report: 2016 Around the Bay Road Race

PB’ed by a couple of minutes, ran even splits throughout and finished with my two fastest kilometres of the day. I’d say that’s a pretty great race!

Weather concerns

The day started with an early wake up due to gusty winds shaking the house. Not a good sign! I figured they would die down overnight and maybe we’d be fine once the sun came up?

I drove out to Hamilton with a stop at Starbucks for a bacon and egg sandwich and a latte. That’s a new pre-race meal for me, but since we are living in a kitchenless house, the usual english muffins with peanut butter was not an option. I drank about half the latte, thinking the milk probably wasn’t a great idea.

Parking was easy. As usual I scored a spot at City Hall (free) and walked the two blocks down to FirstOntario Centre to get ready. Miguel showed up with my bib and timing chip and I chatted with Mike and Linda about how many layers to wear.

I decided on a long sleeve, arm warmers and my running jacket with BMO gloves and a light running toque. I figured the middle section along the lake would be cold, and thought it would be better to be a bit warm elsewhere, than freezing for 10km.

Time to run

We wandered out to the B Corral about 9:20am and awaited the start with everyone else. We totally missed the horn and all of the pre-race festivities. All of a sudden the throng started moving and we realized we were off!

The first kilometre was very comfortable. We slotted in about 25m back from the 2:30 pace bunny and found our stride. We saw running friend Wing here and chatted with here for a bit through the first km split.

5:15 – 1km. Good pace, maybe a bit slow? Whatever. It was busy.

The next few kilometres were flat and maybe a bit downhill and things started to spread out a bit and we had more running room to work with. We made the turn from James onto Burlington and noted our splits were a bit faster now.

4:53 – 2km
4:46 – 3km
4:56 – 4km

Into a groove

Nearly halfway.

Welcome to the worst of Hamilton. Nothing like running through an industrial area with nothing to look at and no spectators. We were up and down on and off an elevated highway. That meant three or four hills and my hip started saying hello on the last one. Not good!

4:47 – 5km
4:55 – 6km
4:56 – 7Km
4:57 – 8km
4:49 – 9km

My splits were good and consistent here, but probably a bit faster than I had planned to run. Whatever…we were with the 2:30 bunny still and things were feeling fine. It was warm with the sun blazing down and the wind at our backs. I had my hat off and jacket unzipped now and then.

The hip says hi

Next up was the exit from the highway, around the off ramp and over the 10km mat. This was also the last hill for the next little bit and that was a good thing because when I tried to drive forward up that hill, my hip and IT band were really making themselves known.

4:46 – 10km
4:52 – 11km

On to Beach Blvd we went. As expected, it got cold as soon as we hit the lake section. I was super glad to have the jacket here and I felt comfortable with my choice of attire. I told Miguel that I thought I was in a bit of trouble with the hip and that maybe things would get bad through the hills. He remarked that his foot was getting sore and that it might be a tough second half for him as well. Thankfully, we have a good rapport when we race together and there’s an understanding that it’s every runner for themselves and there’s no pressure to hold back if one of us is slower.

By the time I got to the lift bridge, I was feeling okay. At 13km I took two Tylenol to see if that would help with the hip and over the next little bit I could feel things calming down. The gel from 8km was also working well.

4:53 – 12km
4:52 – 13km
4:52 – 14km
4:47 – 15km

Halfway home

I crossed the halfway at 1:13:23. I didn’t look at my watch after 14km so I had no idea what my split was except that it was under 1:15. Not bad, but could I hold this pace to the end? Somewhere around here Miguel dropped back. I looked back a few times over the next few kilometres but I didn’t see him anymore…I figured his foot injury started bugging him and that he eased back a bit to make sure he could finish.

From the bridge, it’s a few kilometres along the highway until you make the left turn onto North Shore Blvd. Then the hills start.

4:47 – 16km
4:42 – 17km
4:52 – 18km

Through the hills

I found that if I drove forward with my left leg and eased up a bit on the right side, that I could hold my pace up the hills and not cause too much stress on my IT and hip. That was good! The hills here are rolling and relentless, but I felt really strong and ran them well. I didn’t look at my watch at all, so I had no idea whether I was still running the same pace. Whatever…it felt good.

4:51 – 19km
4:53 – 20km
5:03 – 21km
5:03 – 22km
4:58 – 23km

The Lasalle Park hill and the one after that are both long and grinding. But 5:03kms for both of those is pretty solid! I was gaining confidence now.

Around 24km you make the turn onto Plains Rd. Since the big hill is still under construction this year, this turn marks the last of the big inclines. Great news! My hip was good, and I survived the hills again. I grabbed a banana from some family handing them out and ate it. Time to push the pace a bit and bring this home.

5:06 – 24km
4:56 – 25km
4:55 – 26km
4:55 – 27km

Pushing to the finish

Even splits from start to finish.

The finish is in sight here and it’s a long, gradual downhill to the end. I passed the Grim Reaper and told him “Not this year” as usual. Shortly after, I saw a runner stretching out his calf and said, “Let’s go! Let’s finish this up.” We chatted for a bit and decided to run it in as strongly as we could.

I didn’t know I had that much left and when he pushed the pace, I said “Go! You’re stronger than me…see you in the chute.” He said I had promised to run it in with him, so I had no choice but to give it some more effort.

4:59 – 28km
4:43 – 29km (what?)

The last kilometre is awesome in Hamilton. You can see the FirstOntario Centre getting closer and the crowds here are thick, encouraging you to the finish. It’s also downhill! I was running fast tempo pace now and feeling great. Only the turn down the hill to the finish inside the arena remained.

4:37 – 30km

My fastest kilometre was the last one. Awesome. I pushed it hard to the finish and stopped my watch. 2:26:55. A personal best by over a minute. My best Around the Bay by far, and probably the best I’ve ever felt at the end of a long race. My Dutch buddy came over to congratulate me on a job well done and I thanked him for the push that got me in under 2:27.

My best 30km

All in all, a great day and a real confidence booster with the Ottawa Marathon coming up in eight weeks. It’s clear that despite an early setback with a foot injury and some hip/IT band issues of late, that I’m still stronger and faster than last year.

There’s still more training to do, but I’m hopeful I can put in another great performance over 42.2km in Ottawa in May.