Sister Act: Around the Bay

Me (with Erin and Andie) after the race!

Me (with Erin and Andie) after the race!

Now that you all heard Erin’s side of the story, it’s my turn to share mine.

I, too, ran around a Bay! And was it awesome! The race itself was awesome, the fact I actually survived was really awesome. The not being able to walk afterward, well, that part was not so awesome. But it was totally worth it.

Months and months ago when my dream for 2013 was to run a full marathon with Erin she decided Around the Bay would be the perfect lead up race to the Bluenose Marathon (which I still have full intentions to go home and run, I’m just running the half now not the full). This was the plan. We’d run ATB together, then a full together. But then my acceptance email for yoga teacher training arrived from Moksha. Then my training took a huge plunge and I wasn’t running at all. I was doing yoga everyday in perpetration, not running.

All throughout my teacher training I was dreading Around the Bay knowing when I returned home I had this race to complete. Then days would pass, then weeks, and I wouldn’t think about the race at all. There was so much going on and not enough room in my head to think about anything! But maybe, just maybe, if I didn’t think about ATB, it wouldn’t happen! I was wrong.

I returned home from LA with very little training done. (And I mean very, very little: a couple long runs in LA not even 10k distance coupled with a few runs to and from the studio on the days I wasn’t completely exhausted. It totaled about 3k or so maybe 10 times. And that’s being generous.)  But I was doing yoga, twice a day, every day, for 30 days. This counts as running training, right? I was banking on it to save me! And it actually worked.

As much as I didn’t think the day would come, March 23rd sprang upon me and I found myself at the GO Station with Erin, my overnight bag, and shoes for the next morning. I was actually doing this. Please note the longest run I’ve ever completed in my life was the Nike half back in October. Yup, that is right: I have never run over 21k or longer than 2 hours. I’m going to die! End of story.

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Somehow,  probably thanks to all the yoga I did, my body was capable of running. During training, I felt the strength in my legs increase as the weeks went by. That was the biggest change I noticed. It must have helped me run! Although, if it was for Erin and running alongside of her, I wouldn’t have done so well. I am not a good solo runner. I love company and distractions.  The course was a lot of fun! And with a little more (okay, a lot more) preparation it could be that much better.

I was also surprised at how difficult everyone said the course was. Call me crazy, but it wasn’t that bad. Having run the Nike Women’s Half ,I feel as though I can make that bold statement. The “hill” at the 26k mark was a bunny hill in comparison to San Francisco. But let’s be honest. I’m just amazed that I: 1) actually ran the whole thing; 2) finished it under 4 hours! (3:09:08 to be exact!); and 3) I didn’t walk to the finish.

Given my competitive side I’m surprised I didn’t push myself harder when I lost Erin around the 25k mark. I wanted to catch her so bad, but the last 10k of the race is the worst part. I could not go any faster. My mind wanted to, but I was stuck. Before the race I convinced myself not to get tied up in a time, a pace, or keeping up with Erin. I actually listened and stuck with that. We made a pack – as Erin shared – I didn’t want to be the one holding her back. I’m glad she took off and finished before me. She’s been training so hard and deserved that glory. I just wanted to finish the damn thing! Even if I had to crawl across the finish time in front of all those spectators.

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Erin was convinced by the 15/16k I’d tap out and have to walk in. (Ha, what a supportive big sister!) But I felt good all the way through to 20k. So I kept going. I knew I’d have to slow down at some point. That happened at the 25k mark. The last stretch of the race could not be longer! But when I saw that grim reaper I knew the end was near. (The finish line that is.) Finally, I saw the crowd of people and hi-fived a bunch of children along the way in. I made the turn into the Coliseum and sprinted to the finish line.

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It was surprising a very good day, but I promised Andie (Erin’s running coach) I would never run that far ever again with no training.

We’ll see if I crazy enough to do something like this again.


All the pictures — except the one of us with Andie – are by My Sport Shooter, the official race photographer.

Race recap: I ran around the bay


On Sunday, I ran around the bay. The 118th annual Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario, to be exact.

It was my first time running this race, or any race longer than 21.1k. This freaked me out. I was convinced I was going to be so slow that I needed to start with the walkers. (Rational thought and laziness prevailed when I realized that this would mean waking up an hour earlier). I was also nervous because Matt and I went away the week before and I didn’t run once. (I’ll write about this in a future post, coming up soon!) My last run before this impromptu week off was terrible. My legs were sore, my back was sore and I was hating running.

It turned out that taking an entire week off was exactly what I needed to conquer Around the Bay. I’m not entirely sure how to recap this. (I felt great! I ran a race! It was over in 3:29:36!), but since it was my strongest and most positive race yet, I want to share with you why I think this was so.


1) I listened to my body

Okay, so going on a cruise to the Caribbean, where running on a boat seemed like a stupid thing to do isn’t exactly “listening to my body.” But before the vacation, I was breaking down, physically and mentally. A relaxing week off where I did nothing but yoga was exactly what I needed. From now on, I need to recognize the difference between needing a break and being lazy. This week? I needed a break.


2) I used a pace bunny

I have never used a pace bunny before. Now that I have, I have no idea why. It was great not only to run with a group for a few hours, it was good to have a marker. I ran solo for the first 10k, but when the 3:30 bunny caught up to me, I decided to go with it. If I got ahead of him, I knew I could ease off for a few minutes. If I got too far behind, I needed to pick him up. It also kept my goal of sub-3:30 front and centre — if I beat this guy, I will achieve my goal. While I don’t think I’m a pace bunny convert just yet, I definitely see the advantages of using one when running a new race or trying to hit a particular time goal. So, thank you, Mr. Pace Bunny.


3) I love crowds

I didn’t think I’d be the type of love crowds. But they make running this far for this long so much easier. And they always show up at the perfect time. Around the 22k mark, I was fading. Hard. The hills were wearing my out, and the sun got really hot. (Not Caribbean hot, but hot for a supposedly winter day in Canada). Then there was a huge group of people with signs, cheering loudly. It makes all the difference. So, anyone who has ever cheered for a random stranger at a race — thank you. We may look seriously pissed off and in a ton of pain (and we usually are), but it’s good to have you there.


4) I was familiar with the course

About two weeks prior to Around the Bay, Kate and I headed to Hamilton to run the last 10k, the section with the hills. This helped immensely, as when I got to the final monster of a hill at the 26k mark, I knew exactly what I was in for. And I managed to run up the entire damn thing. (I’m almost more proud of this than I am of my time.) Sure, I walked a for a minute after I got to the top, but that doesn’t matter. I ran up the effing hill, and I probably wouldn’t have if I was unfamiliar with it.


5) The weather was perfect

The day started off around 5 degrees, and became 12 and sunny by the end of the race. There was no wind. Considering this is a race in March and previous years have seen rain and sleet and snow and wind up the wahzoo, we were really lucky.


6) I trained. A lot.

What can I say? Those series of 60k weeks really paid off.


Now that ATB is over, I feel confident that a sub-4:45 marathon is in my reach. I just need to convince myself that I want to do this.


The run: 30k in 3:29:36

The route:

View Around the Bay Road Race in a larger map

The 2012 Running Plan

I’ve been thinking a lot about my 2012 running goals. I want to get faster, but considering that 2011 was my first full year running, that shouldn’t be hard. I think I want to run a marathon.

Okay, that’s a lie.

I know I want to run a marathon. But the time commitment, the physical exertion, the training — even thinking about it exhausts me!

The plan, then (because I am a wimp!) is to start training for a marathon on January 2 and see how it goes. If I ended up drowning in work (thanks, Canada Reads!), I can always scale back to the half-marathon if need be.

We will see.

So here’s the Winter 2012 racing plan:

Training begins on January 2. Right now I’m in holiday maintenance mode, which means running when I can, but not worrying too much about it. Which is a good thing, because it’s hard to run on back-country Nova Scotian roads when there’s two feet of snow on the ground! Thank goodness for showshoeing!


March 25, 2012: Around the Bay in Hamilton, Ontario



I am signed up and ready to go. (This is why I think a marathon is in the works. Why train for just 30 when you can *gulp* train for 42! It’s just 12 more!). My running pals Kate and Bronwyn have signed up too and there’s a few guys at work planning to run, so it should be fun.


April 22, 2012: Toronto Yonge Street 10k in Toronto, Ontario


The politics around the creation of this race are troublesome, but it fits the training schedule. I had a blast last year at the Sporting Life 10k (my first ever race), so I’m looking to top that time of 57:15 and be in great condition for…


May 6, 2012: Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon in Toronto, Ontario



The big race! The current goal is sub-5 hours (I’m a turtle, that’s okay). Kate is training for this as well. We did our first on the same day (mine, Goodlife, hers, Mississauga) so I want to commit to this and share our first marathon experience together.

And I want to say I ran a marathon. Can’t knock it if you don’t try it.

My training program is a combination of the Around the Bay training, Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 marathon plan and Run Less, Run Faster. I’ll share the details with you in a later post!