A Day at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon

Warning: this got kinda long!
Our day started dark and early with hubs full of energy and me being my usual grumpy quiet morning self, even after the extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings.
We packed food and tea (for me) for the drive and picked up our friends Patricia (aka blue M&M) and Ueli shortly after 5AM. Patricia was running the marathon as well (shooting for a PB of sub-3:30). I tried to doze during the long-ish (1.5h) drive to Hamilton, but the excited runners kept me awake with their chatter. 🙂
We parked at a plaza down the street from the start so that Ueli and I would be able to make a smooth escape once the runners were off. It was just a short walk down the street to the school that was open for everyone to keep warm. After an initial port-o-potty visit, we grabbed a spot in the gym to chill out and people-watch wait.
I had decided to wear my M&M costume so I would be recognizable (and because it’s FUN!) and got some comments, smiles and some plain old awkward stares. One guy who works for Mars approached me and asked if I work for the company. Hmmm… maybe I should seek sponsorship!?
In passing the time, it was also decided that Patricia and I will be running a full marathon wearing the M&M’s at some point…. stay tuned.
Pretty soon it was time to head outside so hubs and Patricia could warm-up. We met up with a few people from clinic for good luck hugs as everyone began to make their way to the starting line.
I was able to connect briefly with Quinton (Q on the Move) by cell, but we didn’t get to meet-up before the race. I think we were both too busy tending to our runners. 😉
Suddenly I spotted a familiar orange top nearby and called out to Yannick (EndorphinBuzz) who was in town for the race.  I was so glad that we got to meet in person! He was just as sweet and adorable as I knew he would be. Yannick got to meet Mark briefly as well and I met Alex… it’s also a treat to meet these significant others that we read so much about on the blogs! I wished Yannick good luck and told him I would see him out on the course.
After their warm-up and one last pit stop, Ueli and I collected Mark and Patricia’s outer layers and sent them into the sea of runners.
I love the smell of anxiety in the morning.

Once the runners were off,. Ueli and I didn’t waste any time getting to the car and driving to Destination 1 – 12K. This was a newly-added out-and-back on the course due to construction so it would give us a chance to see our runners twice (16K on the way back). We set up shop near a water station and proceeded to wait for the lead runners. It’s a pretty barren stretch of country road (most of the first half is like this) so we did our best to stir up some excitement. Ueli even put on the blue M&M costume, which got a great response as well as a few requests for chocolate.
First up was Yannick, looking happy and strong. At the moment I snapped this picture, he was telling me that he thought Mark was up ahead. For a minute I thought I might have missed him, but it turned out to be someone in the same colour.
Sure enough, Mark came along a couple minutes later, tucked in nicely with the 3:20 pace group. I’ll save the pics for his race report… which I hope he is working on. (ahem)
Next up was Patricia, looking great and right on pace. Although she said she was hungry! (Already?)
We saw everyone again on their way back before jumping in the car and heading to Destination #2: 32K at the base of the looooong downhill along the parkway. It was a great spot for photos and cheering and we had a great time, arriving just after the lead marathoners ran by.
Out of nowhere a lovely runner said “Hi Marlene! I read your blog!” I would learn later (when she introduced herself at the finish line) that it was reader Barb (who should start a blog!). Congratulations on the half and thanks for saying hello. It was great to meet you! ðŸ™‚
Yannick was looking fantastic as he ran by and I could tell he was having a great race so far. He looks like he’s flying!

Mark was next, ahead of schedule and looking strong. Of course, he was able to convince me that he was fine last year at this very spot, only to drop out a few kilometres later. I trusted him this time because he looked really happy. Again, pics to follow. Soon.

After a while there was a pretty long gap where no runners were coming through. Just as we were wondering what was going on, one of the photographers came down and informed us that a train was going through and everyone was stuck on the other side. Argh!! it turned out that Patricia was stuck for a few minutes. Not cool! You lose all kinds of momentum, start to stiffen up and I can’t even imagine the frustration! Fortunately she was able to shake it off and eventually made up the time. What a trooper!  Ueli jumped in to finish the race with her at this point and I was on my way to the finish line solo.

I knew that parking at Confederation Park would be crazy with so many more runners in the half and full marathon this year (both sold out at 1500 runners each) so I parked about a kilometre away and walk/jogged along the lakefront trail (on the course). I must have been quite a sight, wearing jeans and M&M suit and hauling bags full of warm clothing for my runners. A couple of people even took my picture.
I parked myself right near the finish line and started watching anxiously for Yannick and hubs. I was constantly looking back and forth from the clock to the chute, getting anxious as the minutes and seconds ticked by.
I paid extra attention to the runners finishing just under three hours, watching their faces and wondering if this was their first sub-3. Truly incredible! Of course I thought of RunningLam and his “perfect tenth”, and was reminded of my new favourite quote courtesy of Lam: “I’m just waiting for the perfect race to let my secret out.” Always makes me smile.
I finally saw that bright orange shirt rounding the bend and cheered as loud as I could for Yannick. You’ll have to check out his blog for all the details soon.
It wasn’t long before I spotted my favourite bright yellow top and saw hubs making his way in. I was SO happy and stood up on the barricades so I could make sure he saw me. He gave me a smile and thumbs up, though I thought he looked extremely pale and frail. As soon as he crossed the line, I heard someone call out my name from the opposite side of the finish line. It was Q! He had seen hubs finish and snapped some pics (stay tuned). It was kind of difficult to chat across the finish line, but we managed to bump into one another again and finally snapped a pic for the bloggity-blogs.

Don’t you love that smile?

We also had a random six-degrees-of-separation moment when we discovered that HIS friends know MY friends (Patricia). It’s a small running world!

Speaking of Patricia… despite the mishap with the train crossing, she reached her goal of sub-3:30 finishing in 3:29:27 and looked great doing it. 

We got everyone bundled up, shared plenty of hugs and started making our way back to the car. I snapped this pic as we walked along the waterfront trail – what a beautiful day. Notice the lack of waves on the lake; this race is renowned for a windy finish, but the runners really lucked out this year.

After the obligatory stop for a double-down, I got hubs settled at home and set out for a run of my own. It was the perfect way to wrap up an exciting day.

Hubs’ recap coming soon….

Thanks for reading!

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29 thoughts on “A Day at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon

  1. The lake path definitely isn't windy all the time. Maybe like 25% of the time…take it from someone who runs on that path at least once, usually twice a week.

  2. Whoo hoo Mark! Congrats!And congrats to you for wearing that costume the whole time! I must say, as a runner I would have appreciated it out there ;)Have a good Monday!

  3. You are fast to write! I am still working (or procrastinating) on my race report! Thanks for cheering and taking pictures. I don't know where you walked but to me it felt like it was pretty windy at the end 🙂

  4. Glad you didn't think I was a creepy stalker! Nice to meet you yesterday and congrats to your husband. Unbelievable to me that people can run that fast.(Reader and soon to be Blogger – you've convinced me) Barb

  5. Great spectator recap. You managed to support so many people. I laughed at your beginning. I can have a "quiet" morning self too. Usually my husband leaves for work before I get up so I can be quiet and not grumpy by having to make conversation too early! Love that you wore your costume.

  6. umm. if you get a sponsorship from mars that is some bullcrap cause i consume more product than the rest of the world combined! aka, hook me up :)oh yeah, and way to go mark and his wonderful spectators! isn't it fun to be on the other side?

  7. Ok I seriously need to at least spectate a marathon! Sounds like so much fun and I am so happy for Mark!! That stinks about the whole train thing for Patricia – but I am glad she still met her goal!

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