Race Recap: Around the Bay

My coach, Andie (left) with me and Jill after the race!

My coach, Andie (left) with me and Jill after the race! Thanks Andie for the pic!

A 22-minute PR, whaaaaat?!

Here’s how it happened.

We spent the night in Oakville in order to get car access and closer to the starting line. The race began nice and late at 9:30. I woke up shortly after 7 and made coffee and my go-to pre-race meal (toast, peanut butter, honey and banana) for me and Jill. We dressed, stressed out and tried to get excited for the adventure to come.

By this point, I had totally psyched myself out. I have no idea why. I’m faster and better trained than last year. But I was feel a tad tight and had been out late on Friday night. I was convinced this would be my doom. But in the drive to the start, I started to get excited. I focused on “having fun.” It was a training run, after all. (Hahaha, what a lie. You race races.) We got there shortly before 9 and tried to find a washroom.

Decision fail.

Copps was crammed. It was impossible to move anywhere and the bathroom lines were dozens and dozens of people long. It felt so much busier than last year. We abandoned out bathroom plans and headed to the start. On the way, we ran into Alice T., who Jill knows from yoga, and Andie, my coach (who scored a bib that morning, by the way. Impressive!). They sent positive vibes our way and I started to think that I’d at least finish this thing.

With Jill by my side, this was my plan: we’d run together with the 3:30 10 and 1 bunny in sight. We’d fuel up (Clif Shotblocks!) every 30 minutes. Jill would stick with me as long as she could, but we agreed we’s split up if we had too. The starting line was jammed, just like Copps was, so Jill and I just headed out on our own. In my effort to settle into a decent pace and find space within the crowd, I lost Jill just after the 1k mark. Ooops. I kept running and decided to use my first walking minute to find her. Crisis averted! We ran the next couple kilometres at just over a 6-minute pace. Pretty fast. It felt tough, but comfortable, perfect for a race that’s supposed to be a training run. Around the 4k mark, we saw a bunny just ahead of us. It was time to bunny hunt (I found this phrase hilarious during the race!). We didn’t pick up the pace, but got closer anyway. When I saw it was the 3:15 bunny and not the 3:30 one, I started to feel good about the day. They were running straight through and it was jammed, so we quickly passed them. We passed the 5k mark at 30:15. Kilometres 6,7 and 8 were more of the same. It got hot, so I removed my gloves, ear mitts and outer layer. We kept moving. Then we noticed a log-jam up ahead. WTF? A train!

A train was running directly through the race course and hundred of runners had stopped.  It apparently took 4 minutes to cross. Jill and I were lucky. When we saw the delay, we slowed down, and by the time we reached the train, the crossing had cleared. We had lost maybe 20 seconds. No big deal.

It did cause another log-jam at the 10k mat (1:05:49), which was annoying, but what can you do? Around the 12k mark, we ran into the 3:00 bunny. My brain lit up at this point. Was a sub-3 run really within reach? I decided we should hang with the bunny just to see. But after about 12 minutes, I realized there was too many people and the pace was a teeny bit too fast. If ATB had been my goal race, I would have stuck it out. But reason prevailed and Jill and I fell back.

Around 15k (1:35:47), I started to get tired. This is where the real race begins. How the hell Jill was still right next to me this far in, I will never know. But I was grateful to have her there.

When 20k hit, it was all about survival. This is when you turn into Burlington and the relatively flat course evolves into rolling hits. Before the race, Andie told me to run up the hills, but take it easy on them. I could make up any time I lost later by not killing my quads on the big hills. Made sense to me. We ran through the last 10k at about a 6:30 pace, which wasn’t too bad. But at the 25k mark, I lost Jill. There was a downhill, it was crowded. I kept turning back to see if she was there, but didn’t see her! I was a bad big sister at this point and figured she dropped off, so I kept on running.

Right at the 25k, there’s a steady downhill into the biggest, nastiest hill of the course. A 1 minute walking break came up on the downhill, but I decided to run the whole way down, the whole way up, then take a 2 minute walking break at the top.

So I ran down. Then I ran up. Take that, hill!

Jill still hadn’t made an appearance, so it was time to put on cruise control for the last 3k. I felt totally wiped at this point, so it was all about putting one foot in front of the other. A walking break at 28k came up, then I knew I had to run it home.

So I did. I knew if I kept going, I had a shot at sub-3:10. And when I rounded the corner into Copps with 3:06 on my watch, for the first race ever I didn’t sprint my heart out to the finish. Sure, I picked it up, but I took in the moment. I crossed the line in 3:07:45, crushing last year’s time of 3:29:36.

Not bad.

Jill’s recap is coming. Stay tuned for her version of events…

Posted in: Run

9 thoughts on “Race Recap: Around the Bay

  1. A.M. says:

    Hey! I’m a friend of JK’s and she directed me to your blog. I am also running a Marathon in May (Ottawa) so I have liked reading about your training. I just have to say: Congrats on ATB—that’s an amazing time and it sounds like you killed it! 🙂


    • Erin says:

      Hey Ann-Marie!!! Thanks for reading!! What plan are you doing for Ottawa? And do you have any warm-up races planned? I’d love to hear about your training plan too!

      • AM says:

        Hey Erin! I run with the Running Room so I’ve been following their plan for Ottawa. Its basically: LSD on Sundays, Rest on Mondays, Tempo Run Tuesday, Hills/Speed on Wednesday, Steady Run Thursdays (although I play volleyball so I skip this one often), Rest Fridays (I do Bodypump) and optional steady run on Satursdays. I followed the same plan last year and it worked pretty well for me…although this year I’m trying to beat my time last year so I’ve been running at faster paces. I do have a race planned (a half-marathon in April) that I’m going to try and hold my goal marathon pace at. We’ll see how that goes!! I’m finding it hard to juggle everything (work, social life, family) and am wondering how you are feeling about that? I find that social life on the weekends is starting to be non-existent because I have to “prepare” for my long runs on Sunday. Oh well, only two more months…. Happy running! 🙂

        • Erin says:

          That’s a solid plan. How is running with the Running Room? I do so much of my running solo, but find the occasional group run to be really good.

          My social life is done. However, I did delete Facebook at the same time (ish) that I started training, so that could have something to do with it too. I find that when I do have Saturday night plans, I push my Sunday runs into the afternoon. In the winter, this isn’t so bad because it’s not crazy hot out. But it’s for this reason (socializing) I’m trying (and failing) to get better at am runs. But having friends who run/work out helps too. JK and I mostly hang at fitness things or work things. So…I don’t have an answer for you! It’s hard!

  2. Tennile Sunday says:

    That’s amazing that you were able to set a new PR, and by 22 minutes! That must feel awesome.

    Could you share how you determine when to take your walking breaks? I see that you don’t always stick to the plan, depending on how you’re feeling, but in general do you try and space them out equally, or is it more about the route?

    • Erin says:

      Thanks!!! I owe my improvement to hiring a coach. The speedwork she makes me too works wonders.

      I try really hard to stick to 10 and 1, so run for 10:00, walk until 11:00, run until 21:00, walk until 22:00, run until 32:00, and so on. Because I don’t have a Garmin, I end up doing it in my head — which is potentially annoying, but makes on-the-run decisions like I made at the hill easier to manage as long as I can handle basic math.

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