Race report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Race date: October 18, 2015

After I ran the Ottawa Marathon in May, I decided to take some time to finally look after my right hamstring. I signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half marathon, took a few weeks off from running, and then began a slow, and sometimes discouraging summer training cycle. My leg was healing, but I’d lost so much cardio throughout all of this that I couldn’t keep up with my usual running buddies anymore. I have always been a back of the packer, but I was now running behind the back of the pack. Alone. It was a very humbling time for me.

In the final couple of weeks before the race, I was starting to feel some improvement. Not being left behind right from the get go, feeling a little stronger. My final race pace runs had me at a 7:05m/km and feeling winded so I decided that my goal for the race would be to just run comfortably, stick to my 10 and 1s and try to come in around 2:30:00.

This was the third time I’ve done this race and each time has been a slightly different course. The current version of the course was by far my favourite.

It was a special day for me because1-_DSC5194 my daughters were there to watch me run a half marathon for the first time and Mike was going to be there taking hundreds of photos.

12115751_10156257660030160_2760446347450234148_nWe met up with Ginny and Julie before the race and walked over to the start together. I enjoyed being able to leave home 45 minutes before the race avoiding the pre-race port-a-potty situation and just getting comfortable in the corral.

It was a cool, crisp fall morning and we were all wearing throw away tops over our race gear along with gloves. I had on a jacket, gloves and arm warmers that I would either give to Mike if I saw him within the first 5k, or throw away if I missed him.

The plan was to start out together, but to run our own races. We all agree that training together is great, but on race day, it’s your race. You have to run it for yourself.

The race has both the full and half marathons starting together with each corral going off at 5 minute intervals. As we slowly walked up to the start line you could feel the excitement growing. We reached the mat at the start, shouted something like “let’s do this!” and we were off!

Right near the start I spotted Mike and the girls taking pictures and cheering us on. What a great way to start a race.

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I almost immediately fell just behind Ginny and Julie. Not because I couldn’t keep up, but rather because I really wanted to run this race alone. I didn’t want to be subconsciously running at a faster pace than I should be, potentially burning out prematurely.

The first 10km of the race took us through some of Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods and landmarks. We ran up University through Queens Park turning onto Bloor and passing through Yorkville, the Royal Ontario Museum and then down Bathurst past Honest Ed’s (it will always be Honest Ed’s – even when they finally close for good). By 2km I had already taken off the jacket and tied it around my waist until I could find Mike. The arm warmers and glove came off shortly afterward. 1-_DSC6008At around 5km I saw Mike and the girls and prepared to stop for a second to give them my stuff. I had a hard time getting the jacket off my waist. The knot had tightened and my fingers were a bit cold so I lost a few seconds but not a big deal.

I continued down Bathurst, across the steel bridge, onto Fort York Blvd. and then began the long out and back on Lake Shore Blvd. where I moved into the centre of the street hoping to see some of my friends on their way back and was happy to see Andrew who was pacing a friend to a Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon run in a suit. I also saw Colin, Melissa and Greg along the way.

I was running comfortably through the front half of the race, not putting any pressure on myself, and only glancing occasionally at my Garmin, but each time I did, I was happy, and even a bit surprised, to see that my laps were consistently well under a 6:50m/km pace. Even the laps that contained a walk break in them were in that range as well.

The back half of the race took us the rest of the way out along Lake Shore to the turnaround at Ellis and back into the city. I was still running a fairly consistent pace and feeling really great but knew that I had to run the hill up to Jameson along this stretch. This out and back along Lake Shore is one of my least favourite places to run. There is a park that runs adjacent to the street with a trail on it that is very heavily used by runners, cyclist, inline skaters. 16-145154Personally, I’ve never liked running it. I’ve always preferred to run on the streets in the city than to run in the parks. I need the stimulation to keep my mind occupied. But near the end of this training cycle, I ran the trail a few times. I think that may have helped. There were no mind games. I was running at a good pace and even when I got to the Jameson hill, it didn’t seem as big as it usually does.

17-145559As we approached the city again, we were treated to a spectacular view of our great city with its beautiful skyline and the CN Tower in all it’s splendor. I ran through the 18k water station that was run by some of our running community, and then made the final turn onto Bay St. with 1km left to go.

Everything was going fantastic. I had been running consistently throughout the race. And then, it happened. As usual with about 2km left to go, I looked at my Garmin, did a quick calculation, and confirmed that I was ahead of my 2:30:00 goal time. So, what do I do? With 1km left to go, I take a walk break. For no reason other than I could. It was just a short walk of a few seconds. Maybe 10 or 15. But it was the first of 3 short walks I took in the last km of the race. I guess in the grand scheme of things it didn’t make much difference in my overall time but I think this is what I really need to work on. It seems that every race, regardless of the distance, I talk myself into taking unscheduled, and most importantly unnecessary walk breaks near the end.

In the final stretch of the race, it was great to see the crowds getting thicker. I was able to see Sonia and Jonathan waving and taking pictures and just past them I saw James with his parents and the girls, and Maria and Miguel with Zach. It was great to have the support!

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All in all, I’m really happy with the result. I finished ahead of my goal, I had no pain from start to finish, and I ended the day celebrating another awesome race with a group of my family and running buddies both old, and new.  I can’t think of a better way to cap off the 2015 race season.

Official time: 2:25:36.7

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Pride and Remembrace 5k race and injury update

Race date: June 27, 2015

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since the Ottawa Marathon, trying to recover from this stubborn right hamstring injury. I took a full 4 weeks off, and then, just to get my legs moving and test them out before the Pride and Remembrance 5k run, I did two very short runs. Both were slow and sluggish.

The day before the race, I saw my physiotherapist for my weekly appointment. I was sore and achy and starting to believe that this stupid hamstring is never going to get better. It’s been almost 5 weeks of total rest and I feel like it’s not getting any better at all… Well, except that I don’t have to sit on a pillow at work anymore, so I guess that’s something. My physio applied some kinesiology tape to my leg, showed me how to do it myself and gave me instructions to stretch my quads and hip flexors before I run.

Within a few hours of leaving her office, the pain in my leg was almost gone, but I wasn’t holding out much hope that it would lessen the pain that I felt on both of my short runs the week before because I had tape on my leg for those runs as well.

So, I’ve been looking forward to this race for months! I went out last year to spectate and it looked like so much fun I couldn’t wait for registration to open this year. This is a small race with a maximum of 1500 entries and they were all Me and the girls at pridespoken for. It’s also known for its amazing after party with a fantastic atmosphere, great music, food and cake from Dufflet Bakery. Mike and my daughters were going to come and join the fun as well. Neither of my daughters had ever been out to a race before so I was looking forward to them experiencing the excitement.

Because of my injury, the plan going in was to run easy and just have fun. No pressure. Based on the two runs I did in the last week (both were painful, slow and I found out just how much cardio I’ve lost in 4 weeks),Me and Julie I thought I would probably come in around 38 – 40 minutes. We met up with Julie and a couple other friends at the start line, took a few photos and then Mike and the girls went to find a good place to watch the race and we headed into the corral to wait until the confetti flew and the race was on!

We went out nice and easy, Julie letting me set the pace. The course is flat along Wellesley with a couple of small inclines as you circle around Queen’s Park (twice) before heading back along Wellesley to the finish. Julie and I chatted the whole way getting caught up with each other and enjoying the costumes of runners and the marching band along the course. I was really happy when I realized that I wasn’t feeling any of that familiar leg fatigue, ache or pain I’ve grown accustomed to. From beginning to end I was pretty much pain-free! Just a small niggling at the top of the right leg but that was it. I was also happy to be able to run for 21 minutes before taking a 1 minute walk break. That was the longest I’ve run continuous since the marathon over a month ago and nowhere near how I did earlier in the week. I didn’t bring any water and it was warmer than I thought so I did need to take advantage of the water station, and we took one other mini walk break before turning towards the home stretch.

1-_DSC6522 (2) I saw a lot of familiar faces along the final stretch. Friends who had already finished their race, or who had come out just to cheer. I crossed the line and was pleasantly surprised with the time I saw.

This race was both a PW (personal worst) and a PV (personal victory). It produced my slowest 5k race result to date, but it was also a victory because I ran it comfortably, pain-free and faster than anticipated. In fact, I couldn’t believe how great I felt!

Five days later, as I write this, I’m cautiously excited to share that I have had about 85-90% less pain in these 5 days, than at any time, in the past 5 months. I have to wonder what it was that caused such a drastic change. Did the weeks of rest I’d had finally kick in, was it the taping of my leg, or was it the magic that is the Pride and Remembrance run? Whatever the reason, I cross my fingers (and my toes) that the momentum keeps going.

My short term plan is to increase mileage and number of runs slowly over the next few week and hope that I’ll be back to regular training for my fall half marathon soon.

Official time: 36:39

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Race report – Ottawa Marathon

Race Date: May 24, 2015

I chose this race as my second marathon because I love the vibe of the city of Ottawa on race weekend. I ran my second half marathon there in 2012 and was really impressed with how excited and welcoming to all the out of town runners the city is.

This was going to be a much different experience for me than the Chicago Marathon was. Although the weekend has about 48,000 runners in 5 different races throughout the weekend, only 5,000 of those were running the marathon. The crowds running my pace would be much sparser than they were in Chicago and I would be running this race, all 42.2km, alone. Totally on my own. With the spotty training I had in the final few weeks leading up to the race due to injury, I had decided to take all pressure off myself. I hadn’t run anything longer than 16km in 4-5 weeks so I had no idea how long my legs would hold out. I had a comfortable, slow pace I was going to run at, and the only goal I had was to complete the race. Based on the pace I had settled on, and allowing for extra walk breaks and additional slow-downs throughout the race that meant a finish time of about 6 hours.

We arrived on Friday which gave us plenty of time to pick up our race kit, shop the expo (a few times), get caught up with friends and relax the day before the race.

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Race kit pick-up and Expo at the Shaw Centre

The race started at 7am so it was great that our hotel was a short 5 minute walk to the start, and with no cut off time to be in the corral, this would allow us to sleep a little longer, prepare in a more relaxed atmosphere and avoid the long lineups at the start line port-a-potties (which is always a bonus). The weather was forecast at 12 celsius at the start of the race climbing to 24 celsius by the time I was expecting to finish. I settled on a light weight tank and my favourite running skirt. I brought arm warmers in case I needed them until I got going but on the way to the start I quickly realized they would not be needed so dropped them in Mike’s bag-check bag.

In the corral I met up with two of my clinic training buddies Stuart and Greg. We chatted for a couple minutes before the gun went off and we started inching our way up to the line. We wished each other a good race, I crossed the mat and started my Garmin and within a few seconds Stuart and Greg were gone.

The first 10km went pretty smoothly. I saw Ginny at 1km cheering us on before her race began in a couple hours. I waved, gave her a high five and carried on down along the canal. That first km was a little fast but I soon settled into my running pace of about 7:25 – 7:30 m/k20x30-OTAX0780m. The runners thinned out pretty quickly but there were still a good number of people around me. The crowd support through here was great. There were tons of people out at 7:00 on a Sunday morning cheering everyone on. I high fived all the kids along the route, the weather was perfect. Cloudy, cool.

The next 10km was a little more challenging. It took us through Tunney’s Pasture and out onto Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway for an out and back before carrying on across the bridge over to Hull. It was at the beginning of this section, around 12km that I started feeling a rubbing on the bottom of my right foot. I stopped just as I turned into Tunney’s Pasture to take off my shoe and sock and used my Chapstick like body glide to stop the rubbing (a trick I learned while training for Chicago through a really hot summer). It seemed to do to the trick. As I headed out to the Parkway I wondered if I would see anyone I knew since it was an out and back section. I looked across the highway at the runners going the other way and spotted Mike coming out of a water station and waved. Not much further along, I spotted Stuart and Greg just heading into that same water station. The temperature was starting to heat up and the sun had come out. It was getting warm on the Parkway with no shady areas to cool us down. Just after I got to the turnaround point I was passed by the 5:30 pace bunny and her small group of runners. It was also along this stretch of the Parkway that we came to our first sponge station. To date, this is the best thing I have ever experienced on a race course. It’s brilliant!”

By the halfway mark I was starting to feel my legs getting tired. Really tired. And the rubbing had started again on the bottom of my foot. Just past the 21km mat I had to stop and apply Chapstick to the bottom of my foot again. Once applied I was back up and running. But my legs were prematurely done. It was around 22km and I had already started taking extra walk breaks. The results of not getting in much running the weeks leading up to the race. The runners had definitely thinned out by this point. The course ran about 5km around Hull and at about 24km I found myself merging with the half marathon participants. There were hordes of people. Running really fast. And I was getting overhauled by them. I looked around and saw the 1:50 pace bunny among the crowds. I started to feel really overwhelmed. Who did I think I was running a full marathon when all these other people were clearly better runners than I was? 20x30-OUAA2996It was really demoralizing. Maybe I’ll just run it in with the half marathon people. Call it quits. And then I heard someone call my name. I looked to my left and saw another friend, Sean, who was running the half. Sean with his big smile, waving at me. I waved back. It gave me a big lift and I was able to continue running over the Alexandra Bridge with its spectacular view back over to Ottawa with all those half marathon runners. Once across the bridge I felt a sense of pride as I made the left turn on Sussex Dr. for the marathon course while the others went right. Here I saw a ton of runners on their way back (they were at 37km and I was at 28km). I looked for, but didn’t see anyone here. At 29km I had to stop one last time to reapply the Chapstick on my foot. This would be the last time. I never felt the rubbing again after this.

From 30km to 38km it was really desolate. There were little to no spectators along this section and runners were few and far between. In fact most of the people around me were burning out and walking.20x30-OTBG1753 I was just happy to be adding some running in there. By this point I couldn’t run more than 2 minutes at a time. The positive was that the sun had gone away and it was cooling down a bit. The support at most of the water stations was still great though. Everyone was energetic and supportive. Helping us refill our bottles, giving us whatever we needed. In fact it was somewhere along here that I saw the best cheering squad. I’m not sure who they were, but they were all dressed in red. And even this far into the race, with so few runners coming through, they kept the energy going. They were excited, funny, and made me laugh. And they made us all feel like we were special.

The last 4km had a lot more spectators. It’s amazing how much crowd support can affect your race. At this point I started to look for other friends from our run community, Doug and Sam, who were going to be cheering around the 40km mark. I wasn’t sure if they would still be there this late in the race but I watched for them anyway. As I approached the turn toward the 40km mat I saw Doug and Sam. They had seen me coming and were coming out onto the road to cheer me on! I was so happy to see them. They gave me high fives and told me I was doing great and it was just what I needed to push through that last 2km. I was able to run a little longer than the 2 minute intervals and the last km brought me back to my original pace from the beginning of the race. Heading to the finish line I saw Mike, Ginny and James waving at me from the VIP area. More support. Big smile. Crossed the line. Happy.

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This race was so different than my first marathon experience. Everyone told me that any marathon I ran after Chicago would be anticlimactic since Chicago was so amazing. I wouldn’t say it was anticlimactic though. This race was harder. The course was more challenging with many small inclines everywhere, it’s a smaller race so there was a lot less runners for me to draw off and I was on my own. I’ve never run that long or that far on my own before.

It was a very humbling experience. One I will never forget.

Besides my usual group of amazing running buddies and of course my partner in life Mike, I really need to give a special thanks to my coaches Vince, Chuck and Kathryn who were always supportive and so accommodating to everyone in our clinic. I learned more from you all in the last 5 months than I ever could have asked for. Also a big thanks to all of my clinic buddies. We were a small but tough group and it’s been a pleasure getting to know all of you.

Official time: 6:04:43.6

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Race report: Mississauga Half Marathon

Race Date: May 4, 2014

One thing I’ve learned since I started running and participating in races is that there is a lesson learned in every race. Something I learn and take forward into future training cycles and races. This one, was no exception.

I signed up for this race because:

  1. Mike was running the full marathon and I’d be there anyway so I might as well run it
  2. To have a goal to carry me from Around the Bay to the beginning of marathon training
  3. I knew I’d be tired after Around the Bay and didn’t want to train too hard and I had heard it was a nice, downhill course so I figured it would be easy.

After training all winter for the Around the Bay 30k race, and with the Mississauga Half Marathon a mere five weeks later, I was able to ride my ATB training and maintain the long run distances I had been doing for a little longer to prepare for this race. Unfortunately, about a week before the race I developed a cough that was affecting my lung capacity and had to dial back the runs because I was having difficulty breathing. The day before the race I went out for a short 3k run to see how I felt. For a few hours afterwards, I was coughing like crazy. It wasn’t looking good.

Mississauga Marathon is a full weekend of events from a 2k kids run all the way up to the full marathon. The half and full both started together and had a combined total of about 3,000 runners. It was a nice, small event.

The morning of the race we headed out before the sun came up. It was an early 7:30am start and we needed to get to the start, find parking and check our bags before 7:00. We met up with Stacey and Julie, got ourselves organized with last minute preparations and headed into the start corral. It was nice to be in the corral this time with Mike as well as the ladies. Pictures1Just before the gun went off, the city’s mayor, 93 year old (Hurricane) Hazel McCallion said a few words wishing everyone luck and thanking them for participating and stayed to see us off.

After the gun went off, the four of us walked up to the start line together and it wasn’t more than a minute or two before we were each running our races and I was on my own. This was the first time in months that I had my iPod with me. I had broken my music habit and haven’t run with it at all since late last summer but I knew I’d be running this race alone and brought it along for company. It was a crisp spring morning with a fairly strong wind but the sun was nice and bright. At my first walk break I shed my top layer and tossed it to the side of the road and continued in my short sleeves and capris.

The first 6k took us west along Burnhamthorpe Rd W. A wide mostly flat/downhill road that was wide open. I was feeling much better than I thought I would and definitely better than I had all week. I was keeping a pace of between 6:30 – 6:50 min/k which was within my normal pace range for this distance.

The next 10k took us south down beautiful Mississauga Rd. with a short detour through the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus and then back onto Mississauga Rd. This is a beautiful tree lined residential neighbourhood filled with gorgeous homes that most of us can only dream of owning. There was a timing mat at 8k which was at the top of a small hill and as I passed I took a quick check of my Garmin and saw my time was 56:05. I took a mental note of the time and planned to check it again at 16k. Continuing along the wonderful downhill road, I ran through the intersection at Dundas St. and looked up and to the right as I passed my old hills training hill and was happy not to be running up it today. But a few minutes later that feeling slowly dissipated as I approached a hill equal in size. Of course. I’d been going downhill for so long, it was obvious that I’d have to go up again at some point. Why did I not know about this hill? I usually spend hours scouring race routes months in advance. But I hadn’t done more than take a quick glance at this one and unfortunately, I was not mentally prepared for it. I ran it pretty well, walking only the last quarter or so of it. Other than that hill, the rest of this section was lovely. No, I should really say the whole section was lovely. The hilly section included. It really is a beautiful part of the city. My pace through this section was holding at 6:40 – 6:55 min/k.

10291320_786382921379347_4529005889574923954_nAt around 16k the course moves off the street and onto the Waterfront Trail. I took a look at my Garmin and I was at 1:52:23. I had run the second 8k in the same time as the first. I was doing well. It was on this section of the course that the wind picked up and the bugs came out. They were everywhere! Everyone was batting them out of their faces and I’m sure I swallowed more than a few. I looked down and my red shirt was covered in black dots. Things started to fall apart slightly with about 3k to go. Physically I felt fine. My cough had held off for the most part, my legs were fine and I was breathing well. But, running on the trail, through the parks, is not my thing. Add in having to fight the strong wind and those bugs, and, well, I just lost focus. I took a few extra walk breaks and the finish felt like it would never come. My pace for the last section of the race dropped to 7:02 – 7:31 min/k.

My iPod had been a welcome distraction for the last 5km or so, but I took the earbuds out and tucked them into my top as I headed into the final stretch which took me around an inlet of water and up a slight incline and then turned into the finish chute where I was hit by a strong headwind that blew my hat right off with 30m to go! Knowing that I hadn’t broken any records, and the fact that it was my favourite hat, I decided to stop and pick it up. My hat firmly back on my head, I headed to the finish line where I saw Mayor McCallion standing cheering as I crossed the line.

This was one of the best organized races I have ever run. From the amazing race kit, to the free parking, free shuttle buses for participants and spectators before and after the race, and free bag check, to the exceptionally organized water/Gatorade stations every 2k along the course, to the many, many volunteers at every intersection on the course and at the start and finish areas, to the obvious support of the residents of Mississauga and Mayor McCallion who was at the start and finish lines. The race organizers and the city just made it so easy for everyone to enjoy the day. I will definitely run this race again.

What I learned from this race:

  1. Race for the right reasons
  2. Know the course – all of it
  3. You can never be too prepared for a race, but it’s easy to be under prepared
  4. Even an “easy” course can be hard if you’re not ready for it

 

Official time:      2:31:49.5

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Race Report – Around the Bay 30k

Race date: March 30, 2014

This is by far my favourite long distance race to date. The race starts outside FirstOntario Centre (previously Copps Coliseum) and has a spectacular finish that brings you into the arena with the finish line right at centre ice.17989-874-18428174
The course is famous for its flat first half and rolling hills through the last half with a huge hill approximately 500m long around the 25k mark. This year, they made a course change to avoid train tracks that had caused many runners last year to lose time having to wait for a train to go by.

After a long, cold winter training cycle, I was looking forward to running the 120th anniversary of this race in what the weather experts were saying was going to be a sunny, spring morning.

We picked up Julie and Stacey dark and early in the morning to head out to Hamilton planning to arrive with plenty of time to secure a decent parking space and give ourselves some time to take in the pre-race activity around the arena. In a state of pre-race jitters, before we left the car I made a last minute decision to change out of my capris and into long winter tights and hoped that I made the right move.

We met up with the rest of our peeps and a good sized contingent from our running community and after some chit chat, race talk and pre-race photo ops we headed out to the start line. Once in the corral, we ran into a few more people we knew, wished them luck and got ready for the gun to go off. Today I was starting out the race with my buddies Ginny, Tricia, Julie and Stacey. As always, the plan was to start out as a group but to run our own races.

The sun was warm and we shed our throw away sweaters as soon as we started out. It was warmer than we thought. The first 10k of the new route was more interesting than the old course, running on streets lined with storefronts and small apartment buildings with people cheering from the balconies. And then we came up against a hill. What? What happened to the flat section of the course? Feeling good, I ran up that hill and enjoyed the downhill on the other side.  A short time later I saw another hill looming ahead, and another, and another. In the first 10k there were a total of four hills. Gone was the flat first half of the race.

I had learned in previous races, that for me, it’s better to walk up a hill than run it and tire out my legs. The small amount of time I lose walking up the hill, I make up by not wearing myself out and being able to carry on stronger for the rest of the run. So, I made a decision to run the first half of each hill and walk the rest of the way to top. The sun had warmed up and it felt even warmer than they had predicted. At one point, one of the peeps asked me if I regretted putting the long pants on. “No” I said. I didn’t. I did, however, notice my left ankle was bothering me. I had never had ankle problems before.IMG_0159

The next 10k took us along Beach Blvd. where my right foot started to give me some problems by way of rubbing on the bottom of it. Just past the 15k mark, I stopped to adjust my shoe hoping to stop it. No such luck. By 18k I was obsessing over that rubbing and feared that I might not finish if I didn’t do something about it. So, I decided to stop at the water station and see if the medics had a bandaid I could have to put on the bottom of my foot and stop the rubbing. I watched Ginny, Julie and Stacey as they kept going and knew I wouldn’t see them again until the finish. I told Tricia to go ahead too but she decided to stay back with me. After what felt like an eternity, the medics finally located a bandaid and I quickly fixed myself up and we were on our way. Six minutes lost.

The final 10k is where all the fun starts. Hills, hills and more hills. Of course with the new hilly front half, hills seems to be the word of the day. By this time, it was noon, the sun was high in the sky and I was now regretting changing my pants. It was so hot that we had to stop to shed some top layers and reorganize ourselves. Two minutes lost. At about 24k I could hear the traditional boom box playing We Will Rock You on a loop before I even got there. We ran down the final downhill, across a little bridge and started the climb up that final, infamous hill. At this point, we had caught up to some of the people we had been running near earlier on in the race before we stopped for the bandaid. One lady asked if this was the last hill and was visibly relieved when I told her it was. Someone had actually placed a sign at the top of the hill that said “No more hills!” and people were stopping to take pictures with it.

After taking a moment to catch our breath, we started down the final stretch. We ran past the cemetery where another of the race’s traditions, the Grim Reaper stood taunting runners and inviting them inside. Along this stretch I noticed an older gentleman just ahead of me and written on the back of his shirt was “26th Bay race”. Incredible. With 2k or so left I noticed Stacey just ahead of me. She had slowed down due to some pain she was feeling in her hip. My ankle, still bothering me I had taken a few extra walks in the last few km and took another one with Stacey. Tricia kept going. She was looking strong. I pointed the arena out to Stacey. We were almost there! 200m to go and I spotted Mike cheering us on, taking pictures. Turn off the street, down the dark ramp, around a corner and out into the arena, we sprinted (or at least it felt like a sprint) to the finish line.

Tricia had finished a few seconds ahead of us and after we took a moment to congratulate each other on a great race, we made our way through the finishers’ area to collect our medals and found Ginny and Julie waiting for us.

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Me, Julie, Stacey, Tricia and Ginny We’ve come a long way and we’re not done yet!

This is a great race with huge community support along the entire route. Residents ranging from infants right up to the age of 90+ come out for the race and bang pots or cow bells or even shake baby rattles. Whatever they happen to have. As much as this race is a tradition to the running community, it is that much a tradition to the people of Hamilton.

I had some challenges during the race for sure, and my time became secondary to keeping my head in the race and not letting the pain get in my way of finishing. My left ankle was swollen and tender for a few days after the race and that spot that was rubbing on my right foot never did turn into a blister. Other than that, recovery was much quicker this time. My legs weren’t nearly as sore as they had been last year. I think that with the right training plan and the support of my peeps, the marathon is definitely within reach this fall!

Official Time:      3:53:28.5

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