I have registered for Around the Bay, Hamilton’s 30K race that has bragging rights of being “Older than Boston”, 5 times, but I’ve only run it 3 times. One year, I started to feel awful during the first 10K and dropped out; the next day, I was diagnosed with strep throat. Another year, I planned to run only the first 21K; hubby got his signals mixed up and went to the finish line to meet me when he should have picked me up at the half-marathon point; I walked 21 to 26K, and ran the last 4k to the finish. Last year, I got injured two weeks before and never made it to the starting line.
This year, I was apprehensive about getting to the starting line as I had started to believe that this race is a cursed one. But I wanted to use it as a training run for Boston as the hills along North Shore, I’ve been told, are great prep for Boston’s “gently rolling hills”. At the beginning of January, I made the decision to run it – but not race it.
On Thursday night, I woke up to the sound of my right calf screaming at me. “What did you do to me?” it shouted. “I’m dying here. I’m not going to let you run Around the Bay.” After a tough workout the night before and falling asleep while putting Little Ironman to bed, I somehow overstretched my right calf – likely from resting my left foot overtop of the ankle. On Friday, it hurt to walk but lots of stretching and deep massage into the calf loosened it. Yesterday, I was able to run for an easy hour and was confident that I’d be fine running The Bay. However, memories of the curse kept popping into my mind.
This morning, Dave and Little Ironman dropped me off 30 minutes before the start. I warmed up for 15 minutes and got to the start line, not quite sure whether I was overdressed or should have made more of an effort to run earlier so that I could get to the porta-potties. I didn’t worry, though; after all, this was my “no pressure” race.
My plan was to go out slower than my marathon pace – 5:00 per kilometre (or 8:00 minutes/mile); 5:10 was the goal pace and I needed to “work the hills”. After running with Garmin Graham last Saturday, I figured that running that pace would be simple.
It wasn’t. My first kilometre was in 6:35 because it took me a minute to cross the start line. I kept a close eye on my watch for the first 5K and stayed at an even 5 minute kilometre. When I tried to slow down, I couldn’t. I was comfortable and relaxed; I felt good but I also hoped that the 5:00 pace wouldn’t bite me when I got to the hills along North Shore.
The first “speed bump” was at the 15K mark and I pushed myself up the hill quite easily; I focussed on form and breathing on the way down. While working the hills, I felt that my pace was picking up, but I went through the half-marathon mark in 1:43 – still a fairly steady 5:00.
I continued to drive myself up each incline and relaxed on the way back down until I got to the beast, the big hill that frightens everyone. Once again, I pushed myself up to the top, feeling triumphant that I ran the North Shore without hurting. The rest of the course was easy: flat and downhill into Copps Coliseum.
By the time I crossed the finish line, my average pace was 4:49 – quite a bit faster than the planned 5:10, as well as the 5:00 that I started out with for the first 15 kilometres. I was really pleased with my 2:26:9 finish time because I didn’t taper, I ran 7.5 miles yesterday and I ran the course faster than I did when I first ran it twenty years ago; I was especially pleased because the curse of The Bay is finally broken: I fnished (albeit faster than planned ) and I finished painfree.
Today’s training run was a huge confidence boost for me. I am feeling stronger than I have in a long, long time and I am ready for Boston.