Hamilton Stole My Soul – Around the Bay 30K RR

And next year I will reclaim it!  Ah, the 30K Around the Bay Road Race. . . “Older than Boston” printed on the back of my pinky/purple NB long sleeve tech shirt.  You need guts to run this race, lots of guts.  But. . . let’s start at the beginning.

My bff M and I took a few detours along the way and made it to our hotel in Burlington (just a 15 minute drive from Hamilton) about 10 PM.  The ride was fun and adventurous, but I was ready to crash.  After rearranging some of the furniture in the hotel, we went to sleep.  Yes, rearranging furniture – there was a fridge in the closet (which leaked water), ironing board in the middle of the floor, floor lamp and reading chair on opposite sides of the room.  All of those things were driving M nuts!

After a rough night’s sleep on my SO not tempurpedic mattress, we got ready to leave for a big breakfast.  Only the big breakfast never happened.  Our 15 minute ride to Copps Coliseum to pick up my race packet took about 45 minutes. . . M is NOT good with directions and all the one way streets didn’t help either.  Good thing the whole point of this trip was “No planning, just go with the flow.”  Exactly, what we did.  Finally found a Tim Hortons (mmm coffee and bagels) and a parking spot and it was off to Copps.  Note – in Canada a large Tim Horton’s coffee is equivelant to a medium in the US.  Think we over-serve ourselves a bit???  Believe it, it’s true.

Met up with Kirsten and picked up my packet.  M, K, and I then began our “touristing” for the day.  K is a super fantastic person, a great host and shares our crazy sense of humor.  I must say that without her, M and I would’ve seen nothing in Toronto and probably have rode the subway around in circles.  In the Detroit area we drive our cars EVERYWHERE and public transportation is pretty much non-existent and somewhat unsafe.  K mentioned Sneaky Dee’s in her blog – MOST AMAZINGLY LARGE PLATE OF NACHOS EVER!!!  Each of us ordered our own and in true runner fashion demolished it rather quickly as I’m sure others in the restaurant looked on in amazement.  Paired with the beer, we called it carb loading!  🙂  With full tummys we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and then dropped K off at her place so she could get some rest.  M and I left Toronto and drove to Niagra Falls.  I love it there!  It’s so pretty!  We walked along the falls and then drove back to the hotel.  Of course, we got a little turned around AGAIN, but thankfully I figured out my GPS and we made it back by 10:30 PM to the hotel.  Picked out my racing clothes and hit the sack.  I was exhausted!  Not the usual way to spend the day before a long race, but I wanted M to have fun and I wanted to sight see too.

Race Morning – Got up feeling stiff, since I miss my mattress.  After a quick shower and I was feeling better.  Water and Clif Bar for breakfast, then off to Copps to meet up with whitey102 and K.  After some meeting and greeting K and I made a few pit stops to the potty and took off to find the 2:45 pace bunny.  We got pretty close to her and took off.

The race for me was going great for the first 10K, mostly flat and I was holding on to an 8:33 pace.  Except for a tweaking of the left hamstring at the 2K point, I was feeling great.  The next 5K was where I slowed to take my first gel so my average pace slowed to an 8:43.  Somewhere here between 10K and 15K, whitey102s running buddy Jim caught up to me.  We chatted for a while, but I was dragging down his pace and goal to finish in under 2:45, so I bid him farewell and wished him luck.  The truth is I was already beginning to fall apart a bit here, took a gel at about 9 miles and was starting to feel better again.  Between 15K and 20K my pace only slowed down to and 8:47.  It was here I thought if I can go by effort up the hills and pick it up on the down hills I should be well off to beat my previous 30K time of 2:45 and some change.

This sounded good in my head, but my body wasn’t really along for the ride.  As I tackled the first of what seemed like never ending hills I knew I was in for a rough time.  I made the first one okay, but walked for about 30 second intervals on many of the uphills for the remainder of the race.  That tweaking of the left hammy really started to get to me on the uphills.  Think stabbing pain, but I pushed on knowing that I would get a break on the downhills.  Well at least my hammy would, but my quads would have to pick it up.  Ah, 25K marker, only 5K to go. . . and ONE GIANT HILL!!!  Boy, this hill was a killer.  I had been determined prior to the race to run the entire length of this hill, but it got the best of me sad to say and “stole my soul.”  I walked briefly twice on the climb that never seemed to end.  Walking just made the hill last longer, so again I said push on.  Finally, the hill was over, but my water bottle was empty.  I professed my love for the sweet little girl that gave me the most glorious tasting cup of water I’d ever tasted.  Maybe a bit over the top, but I was parched.  3K more to go and it was all down hill from there, quite literally actually.  At about 28K you can see Copps Coliseum at the bottom of the hill and it seems so close.  Looks were VERY deceiving, but I was coasting down the hill at what was for me a rapid pace at that point (about 8-8:30 min/mi) then the quads burning caused me to briefly walk.  Oww!!!  That hurts a little more and is a little embarrassing with all the folks looking on.  I sucked it up and resumed previous pace and FINALLY there I was rounding the last corner into Copps Coliseum for my VERY rapidly downhill finish.  Yes, Dave not only does my G have sixes, it has a five!  Finishing Chip time 2:48:00!

I thanked all the volunteers manning the finish area and did some more professing of my love for each of the food items that were placed in my post race goodie bag.  It was a little bit of heaven, but not as much so as the Sneaky Dee’s nachos.  Those are quite possilby worth the drive from Detroit to Toronto, just for a meal.  But, I digress.  I made my way back to 66 where we had decided to all meet post race to watch K make her BA finish on her twisted/swollen ankle.  Congrats to her for all she went through and still finished the race in a great time.  We showered and were off to a Loop Lunch.

I wish I could say that lunch was as wonderful as lunch the previous day, but sadly most of you have already heard of our restaurant debacle.  Hungry/thirsty runners having to wait FOREVER for food and beer never ends well.  Needless to say, we had great company to hang out with, so all was not lost.  KirstenH9, whitey102 and all of their friends and family are super awesome wonderfully fun folks, who I was SO happy to meet and spend the weekend with.  Next year, we will have to take whitey up on his offer for pizza and beer at his place instead.

Overall, a great experience.  If you want a challenging, well put together race this is the race for you.  This was my first time travelling for a race.  I learned a few things and had a blast.  Hamilton’s hills better watch out for next year – I know two Loop Ladies who are going for revenge!!!

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