On Sunday I ran my 4th Around the Bay 30K, the oldest road race around and easily one of my favourites. With my goal marathon coming up in just 4 weeks, we decided that the best course of action would be to treat it as a glorified training run for some solid goal marathon pace practice. Luckily my good friend Katie had the same strategy and pace goals so we planned to run together.
Race weekend started with two long but fun days at the expo with NRR Online Coaching. We chatted with lots of runners about our business and many of my “internet friends” stopped by to say hello too!
A few of us drove to Hamilton together Sunday morning and we were relieved to see that the forecasted rain seemed to be holding off for us. We parked at the YMCA (where they allow us to use showers after), bundled up in our throw-aways and took a quick pic before heading to the start.
In honour of Canada’s 150th year, they passed a huge Canadian flag over us as the anthem played while we lined up in the start corral. It was a pretty cool moment! I spotted Quinton on the sidelines as we started (this guy pops up everywhere!) and he gave me some awesome pre-race vibes.
Our plan for the first 9K was to warm-up at a comfortable 5:20-5:30 pace. It was pretty crowded to start so we just settled in and went with the flow as much as possible. A few splits came in slightly faster than planned but we mostly kept ourselves in check and cruised along on target. Other than the very industrial sights and smells (ew) and plenty of wind, this section was pretty uneventful.
First 9 – 5:29, 5:19, 5:12, 5:22, 5:15, 5:20, 5:23, 5:16 (gel), 5:16
After 9K Katie and I looked at each other and said “Ready?” Yep! It was time to get to work and pick up the pace to our target 5:00. This meant we had to start working our way through some crowds to pass, which was a nice mental boost and also made the kilometres fly by. It wasn’t long before we passed the 2:40 pace group. Ivanka spotted me at one point and it was nice to exchange a brief hello!
Katie and I chit-chatted here and there and also interacted with some of the more enthusiastic spectators, but we both had music playing quietly in the background and mostly just zoned out and did our thing. The pace was feeling really good and I was optimistic that it was going to be a great day.
Around 17K I heard Mari screaming my name and saw Emma behind the camera. Thanks for the awesome support and this amazing capture! Katie is having fun, I swear! I think she said “Does everyone know you??”
10-19 – 4:57, 4:59, 4:59, 4:57, 4:59, 5:02, 4:58 (gel), 4:57, 4:55, 4:59
We knew the hills were coming but reminded each other as the terrain started to roll that this was just like any old Sunday run for us. We’ve had some really hilly long runs recently and this wasn’t going to be anything we couldn’t handle. We took them one at a time and quickly recovered on the downhills.
Around 25K I could tell that Katie had a lot more energy in the tank than I did. She would bound up the hills and then slow down at the top to wait for me. I told her at one point to go on ahead if she wanted to, but she gave me a firm “No! We are doing this together, now let’s go!” It was just what I needed to hear to rally for a strong finish. Before we knew it, we were at the top of Valley Inn Road where volunteers and spectators were promising that it was downhill to the finish!
20-27 – 4:54, 4:57, 5:00, 4:52, 4:57 (gel), 4:50, 4:43, 4:58
Running down York Boulevard is one of the best home stretches of any race, with the perfect gentle downhill grade all the way to the stadium. We passed the infamous grim reaper, the crowds were picking up and we found ourselves flying past people all over the place. We passed the 2:35 pace bunnies and I pointed them out saying “That’s my 30K PB!” Not anymore! Katie was in turbo mode running a few steps ahead of me and urging me on. Seriously, she wasn’t the least bit tired. I couldn’t believe how fast we were running every time I glanced down at my watch. We were hitting my half marathon PB pace at kilometre 29, and 30 was even faster!
Suddenly we were making the turn into the stadium and it was the best feeling to have run the entire race together and executed our plan perfectly. Katie grabbed my hand and we ran across the finish line with the biggest smiles and two shiny new PBs!
28-30 – 4:44, 4:36, 4:21, 4:32 (260m garmin nubbin)
I couldn’t have asked for a better day out there. I’m so proud of our race and it gave us both the biggest confidence boost for our upcoming goal marathons.