I finished a marathon and I cried


I cried when I crossed the finish line of the 2016 NYC Marathon.

At first, I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t achieve my time goal. I didn’t survive a suffer-fest. I had a decent marathon effort that in retrospect, I give a solid “B”. But I cried. I buried my face in my hands. I locked eyes with an older man who finished at the same time I did. He was crying too. We held hands and half-embraced. Nodded at each other and smiled.

I cried because I was as emotionally raw as I’ve ever been. I only get that emotional when I am obscenely drunk and when I finish marathons.

And I suppose that is why I run.

I run because I am not comfortable with emotions. I am not comfortable with being uncomfortable. I am not comfortable with public displays of affection. I am stoic, focused, disciplined. Calm.

But at some point on a 26.2 mile journey, that barrier breaks down. Pain creeps in. Boundaries collapse. The most primal, raw, uncontrollable aspects of who I am and how I feel bubble to the surface and I am too exhausted to suppress them. So I cross a finish line, bawl my face off, and for one moment, am intimately connected with a complete stranger who is the only person in the world who knows exactly what I am going through.

Being that open, that vulnerable, is terrifying.

But it’s also freeing.

It’s something I wish I had the strength to cultivate more of in my everyday life.

Until that happens, I will run. Away from my fears, my insecurity. Away from doubt. Away from second-guessing myself. Away from negativity, from self-imposed stress and anxiety.

When I run, I embrace pain. Embrace emotions. Embrace strangers.

And, eventually, I’ll be able to embrace myself.

As I finished the NYC marathon, that’s what I did. I embraced my race, my effort. I did the best I could on the day I had with the circumstances I was given. In that moment, it was enough. I was enough.

And it was okay to cry because of it.


Sister Act: A Midsummer Night’s Run 15k

Erin’s story:

I ran A Midsummer’s Night’s Run last year as part of my training for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon. While the race itself didn’t go so well (1:48), I enjoyed the route and spirit of the race, so signed up for 2012. Thankfully, many of my running pals were aso into the 15k distance and Shakespeare theme, so we had quite a strong contingent heading out there!

Despite what happened last year, I didn’t do a lot of training for Midsummer this time out. A handful of 10k long runs dotted my DailyMile reports, but that’s it. I feel that I’m much fitter than I was last year and my running base was there, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after 10k. My plan? To feel strong until 12k, then just hang on.

That’s exactly what happened.

In the back of my mind, I had a 1:30 goal time. I felt that despite my lack of training, 1:30 would be difficult but achievable. I could handle that. On race day, we had perfect running weather. Sunny, but cool. It’s beginning to feel like fall. Jill and I met up with Kate before the start (who is a fitness monster — she followed this 15k race with Tough Mudder on Sunday morning!) and we agreed to stick together. Kate was using the race as a long training run (reason: the aforementioned Tough Mudder) and it was Jill’s first ever 15k race, so she was unsure what to expect (her race experience is below!).

The Midsummer crowd is dense for the first couple kms. Without timed corrals, it’s bound to happen. It’s not the biggest deal, but it does make it tough for three people to stick together and try to find a pace that works for everyone. After about a km, Jill took off. This was cool with us — I knew if Jill felt strong, she’d run under 1:30 without any problems. Kate and I settled in. I was feeling good, running around a 5:45 pace. I knew it wouldn’t last, but I felt It wouldn’t wear me out. Then Kendal caught up with us and hung around for a bit. Kendal was also using this run as a training run. Her race mission? “No slower than 1:25.” Stick with me, Kendal, that’ll definitely happen.

Kilometre 3. I was slowing down. Kendal and Kate inched ahead of me. Then Kendal put on her music and settled into her run. Kate dropped back and made the decision to run with me the whole way. Thank you Kate!!

We passed the 5 mark at 28:38, making good time. Both 1:30 pace bunnies were right in front of us, so we decided as long as we kept them in sight, we were fine. Kilometre 7 is the one that rounds the lighthouse at the end of the spit. The trail changes here from pavement to dirt and last time I ran on dirt, I rolled my ankle. I slowed. Kate stayed with me. We picked it up for kilometres 8 and 9, and even passed both 1:30 bunnies. I fueled up at kilometre 8. I was fading, but not in pain. I concentrated on my breath and not letting Kate get too far ahead of me. She was running maybe two steps in front. When we passed the 10k marker at 59:32, I felt we were in the clear. If I could hang on to a 6:00-ish pace, we’d be fine. Kilometres 11 and 12 started to hurt. Nothing painful, just the I’m-at-the-end-of-the-race-and-using-everything-I-have-left feeling. We were running closer to 6:10 by this point, but I was okay with that.

Then kilometre 14 lasted forever. It felt like the longest click of my running career. The sign was never coming. (I confirmed this with my fellow runners after — it was long!). Then,  it was the final kilometre. We kept pace until we rounded the corner for the last couple hundred metres. “Do you have a sprint in you?” Kate asked. “No, arfhghjkgkd!” I believe was my answer. But we picked it up anyway and crossed the finish looking and feeling strong.

1:30:35. 35 seconds off my goal and 18 minutes faster than last year. Can’t complain about that at all.

Thanks, Kate for running with me. Running a race with a friend changes the entire dynamic of what you are doing. You’re focused on them, making sure they feel good and running strong, but you also don’t want to let them down. The few times I felt weak in this race, I pushed through because Kate was there. I really enjoyed having someone to talk to and someone to measure myself against.

Next year: 1:25. I think I can do it. Especially if I run with a fast friend.

Jill’s story:

A race featuring fairies, princess and mermaids is defiantly my kind of race. Although, Midsummer Night’s did not have that race feel at all. Instead it was super fun, friendly, social, and rather exciting. Maybe that’s why it’s called a run and not a race. Either way this is a run for all Toronto runners. I kid you not there was a mermaid!

When Erin put this run into our summer race schedule, I was really excited. Let’s be honest: fairies are fun! And the chance to run among them would be grand! My only worry was the distance. Up to that point (when we registered) my longest race would have been the Yonge Street 10k. Anything beyond 10k was going into scary territory. But I signed up anyway, as getting a 15k race under my belt was one goal of mine to accomplish before leaving for San Francisco. As my Team In Training runs were stretching out further and further, I was becoming more comfortable with my longer runs. Adding more kilometres each week helped build the confidence I wanted to run a solid 15k for Midsummers. I knew full well in my mind 15k was more then manageable, but once I ran 20k “accidentally” with the marathoners one Saturday morning with TNT, I knew I was ready. This was just the boost I needed.

So finally race day came. I wasn’t too happy having to work the weekend I had a race, but seeing how the event was the canfitpro Conference and Trade Show — 2 days of taking to fit people — would be a good thing. I was complemented for my hippie environmental beliefs and ways of life, but also for my running and race goal times. I had a sub 1:25 in mind, but would settle for a sub 1:30. Erin and I explored the expo that afternoon, sampled more protien bars than any normal person should have, discovered to our newest fitness-must-try, Piloxing — more on this whole experience in a later post I promise — we ate a nice late lunch in the park by the CBC, then biked to Erin’s to rest for the race. I was tired, I needed a power nap!

Finally it was race time. As much as I wanted to run with Erin and Kate, we quickly realized running with 3 people is hard. As Erin mentioned the run did not have designated corrals so the first stretch was a tight squeeze to manoeuvre around. I saw the 1:30 pace bunny and caught up to him right away. I could hear Erin and Kate behind me, so I knew they weren’t far. I was feeling good and ready to run, but kept focused on not doing too hard to fast. For now. The next thing I knew the 1:25 pace bunny was behind me. I was then determined to keep it that way! With no music or no one to talk to I was insanely calm and focused on my breath. I had a song in my head to move to and new scenery to look at. As night time grew upon us I went into attack mode. I was stealthily taking down my opponents in front of me to finish ahead. This was probably more fun than it should have been, but hey whatever gets you going! But then the 13k stretch came and this leg of the race was not fun. My brain wanted it to be over and passing people became harder. I didn’t want to slow down, but most likely I had. The finish was drawing closer and people were in sight. I needed the cheers and claps to help me finish. Sprinting to the end I finished with a time of 1:22:45! Crushed 1:30 and minutes ahead of 1:25. I had a good race and was very happy with the outcome.

21.1k in looking easier and easier. Of course I say this now….


The route:

Race Recap: Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon


Perhaps this race was doomed from the start.

Or, at least, doomed after Around the Bay.

I PRed. (2:14:09). But it was a poorly executed race. Perhaps, though, it was the race I needed.

Let’s recap.

The original plan was for Goodlife to be my first-ever marathon. I created an elaborate running plan. I followed it like the most dedicated student. But, about 16 weeks in, I was sick of running. Utterly, completely sick of it. I was tense and everything hurt. Then I went on a cruise, came back and crushed Around the Bay. It was my best race experience to date, but it destroyed my body and my mental attitude towards a full marathon. After much contemplation, I backed down and decided to do a half.

Then, it seems, I got lazy. Without a proper training plan to follow, I slacked off. Spring literary season sped up, so I found myself drinking more wine and seeing more people as opposed to downing water and hitting the pavement. I felt confident, though. After all, I finished Around the Bay. I ran a great 10k race with Jill. I was ready for this race. I was going to crush it.

I crushed the first 13 kilometres. Then I fell apart.

I fet good the week leading up to the race. Really good. So good, I started seeing 1:59:59 in my sleep. I became focused on that, convinced a sub-2:00 half-marathon was in my reach. I went out hard, hitting 5:30s pretty much the whole way through the first half. I was on track to do it. Then my stomach got weird. And it got hot. I needed an emergency bathroom break (thank goodness this race goes through the Rosedale ravine!) and a few minutes to walk. Suddenly, I was exhausted and dehydrated. The next three water stations were low, low, low, which meant making the choice between waiting the few minutes in line to get a sip from the volunteer’s sacrificed water bottle or zipping past and ignoring the stomach cramps and dizziness that really wanted to amp up. Kilometres 13 through 16 were horrendous.

This may be the only decent running photo I'll ever take. And I'm still not spending $34.95 to download it.

Then, as we passed my house (literally — this route took me by my house and my office), I decided to stop being so hard on myself and enjoy the race. It’s a great, fast course. It was a beautiful sunny day. I can run and run strong. I slowed down to a 7:30 pace (my usual LSD pace) and just focused on feeling strong. It worked, and I made it to the end.

I’ve never felt so grateful that a race be over in my life. I felt nauseous and sore. I had to go find a spot on the ground to sit for a minute. I almost cried, I was so overwhelmed with how my body was feeling. My watch wasn’t on (I turned it off during the bathroom break so I could figure out exactly how much time that cost me and forgot to turn it back on), so I had zero clue how I did.

Then I started walking back to my bike. The finish zone was directly by the marathon route, so I could watch some of the slower marathoners make their way through the 30-32k stretch. There were plenty of older women, plodding along. Older than me. Running a marathon. It was a weird route and people were clearly ignoring it. These marathoners were dodging dogs, baby strollers and a group of teenage girls doing sprints. I stood there for a moment, cheering each one as they went by me. These women were amazing. No one was supporting them or paying attention to them or giving them the support they deserved to make it through this awfully planned stretch (who makes marathoners run by the finish line with 12k left to go?!) And yet, here they were, not giving up. My bad race was my own fault. I could have prevented it by being smart at the start, by not eating that disgusting Power Bar before the race, by not convincing myself I was superhuman. I have the power to make it a good day or a bad day, by my attitude, by how hard I try. These women, they were making it a good day. Everything was against them, but they were making it a good day.

I need to learn from these women.

So, what lessons did I learn? Let’s see.


Stick to the game plan

Once ATB was over, my game plan was out the window. But even on race day, the game plan that worked so well at ATB was out the window because I am an overeager idiot. Next time, I’ll run the race I train for, and I’ll follow the training plan I have mapped out. I also won’t do things like try a new Power Bar the morning of the race, because we know that never works out well.


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

I didn’t have enough water the day before the race, the morning of the race or on the course. It might have been enough water for a cooler, greyer day, but not that day. I can’t rely on the race’s water stations, either. They may not be frequent enough or have enough water. And even if they do, the line may slow me down. I need to have a hydration plan and come prepared to execute it.


Don’t come out gunning for it

This is a lot like the first lesson. But if I feel strong, wait a few kilometres before amping it up. There’s always time in these long races to make adjustments along the way. Get settled, assess how I feel, then make the changed. Seems simple in theory. In practice? We’ll find out.


I’m already eyeing fall races. And I have a big summer fitness game plan on the go. But, right now, I need a break. I need to run for fun and get the urge to get out there and crush it again. I know it’ll happen soon. Just you wait.





The run: 21.1km in 2:14:09

The route:

Sister Act: Toronto Yonge Street 10k Race Recap

Finishing the race at the same time!

Erin’s story:

I don’t really remember how it all began, but Jill suddenly became keen to run a race. Because I decided to include the Toronto Yonge Street 10k (the new/old race that emerged after the Sporting Life 10k debacle — which I still don’t really understand) because it fit in nicely with my planned marathon (now half-marathon) training. It was my first-ever race just a year ago and I remembered having a great experience — it’s an easy course with a great crowd — and suggested that Jill give this race a try. As you already know, by the time we lined up at the start line Jill already had 1 race under her belt, but that didn’t matter. It was time to race 10k. Down Yonge Street.

Jill slept over (yay sleepovers!) and we woke up to a REALLY cold day. This was a challenge because we didn’t want to check bags (I had a bit of a time crunch because I had a bridal shower immediately after the race), so we each grabbed old long-sleeve shirts to trash at the beginning of the race. After the race? I had no idea what to do.

These shirts weren’t enough. It was that cold. The shuttle was quick and easy, and we spent 20 minutes bouncing around trying to not freeze. Once we started running, it was fine. The tailwind and 4 degree weather was perfect.

The race plan? I wanted to run sub-55, but knew I probably couldn’t do it on my own. I let Jill set the pace (she had no idea about this) and adjusted accordingly if we fell too far off the 5:30 mark. This worked out great — we hit 1k right at 5:30, but fell bit behind at 2k. We coasted through, running fast, but strong. I felt good until about the 8k mark, when I started to fade. I made Jill yell encouraging things (the best one? “Matt is buying brunch after!” but once we turned the corner down Bathurst, I was the one with the energy and we kicked it up a notch for the final km.

This was a great race. I pushed harder than I ever had in a race before, we stayed on pace and it was great to have someone next to me I could push forward or lean on accordingly. We made a great time and I don’t think I cold have PRed without Jill by my side. Yay us!


Jill’s story:

I have to say running races is way more fun than I had anticipated. Plus running with Erin is the best! It’s an excuse for me to sleep over and Erin feeds me. Best big sister ever! We always have the “runners breakfast” which includes toast with peanut butter and honey and bananas. See running is totally the best.

Way back when Erin and I started this blog one of my new years goals was to run a real race. The Yonge Street 10k was a perfect place to start. Knowing this was a distance I could handle, plus the race is mostly downhill, and Erin had run this last year and planned to do so again this year, there was no reason for me not to sign up. And after my successful first real race in High Park (which was planned after signing up for the 10k) and a very solid run with the Pubruns crew the weekend before and having just climbed the CN Tower – I was still riding high on the “we could do anything!” mentality – I felt confident going into race day. Plus Erin and I decided to run the race together and under an hour. Easy! I was actually excited to run, for once.

But that Erin, she’s so clever. I knew we’d be much happier with a sub 55 time, but I didn’t know the tricks she had up her sleeve. Next time I know to push much harder. Running with Erin is when I feel my best, she usually guides me along and keeps me on pace. When we have run together it’s always been shorter than 10k, so I kept this in mind and that Erin knows best. I didn’t want to burn myself out early on, especially where I don’t really know what my running capabilities are just yet. My plan was to let Erin take the lead (as she usually does) and I would follow suite. I really didn’t want to think too much about anything, only that we’d be running together.

To even better prepare myself for the race I convinced Cecilley (my work friend) to run too. After talking about it all the time on our lunch hour mini workouts, it was rather easy. Now I had running buddy! Erin and I are very busy. If don’t have time to watch our shows together when would we ever run together? I needed backup support. It also helps that Cecilley and I not only work together, but live in the same neighbourhood too. Having Cecilley to run with made up for not having Erin around for pre-race training. This would be Cecilley’s first race too, and that made me happy. This race was very contagious (but really, who woulnd’t want to run down the middle of Yonge street?) because Jenn (my roommate) decided to run this race too. Jenn was insanely fast and finished 10th (10th!) with a time of 40:56. I both love her and hate her for this.

But I was very happy with the way Erin and I finished. We both pushed and helped each other along the way. When I felt slow Erin was there to help pick up my pace. There were moments when I felt I could have ran faster, but I stuck with Erin and used her as my guide. I had this worry of going to fast to quick, and needed to stay on track to save some juice to gun it at the end. The 7-8k stretch was the hardest for me. I stopped enjoying the run for this portion and wanted it to end.

Thank goodness it didn’t last too long because when that finish line came in sight, sprinting to the end together made the whole race totally worth it. Erin took off and I had to catch up! I know Erin went full speed ahead because sprinting is the best way to finish, not because she had an ulterior motive and secretly wanted to beat me. That would have been okay, I’m the middle sister, I’m used to this. Jokes! We both did good. Yay us, indeed!



The race: 10k in 54:57

The route:

Race Recap: Harry Spring Run-Off 5k

Well I did it, I actually ran a real race – one fully equipped with a running kit and everything. I got a shirt, a bib number, a real finish time, and even a medal to show for it. And, no, this race was not done wearing my swimsuit. I almost consider myself a runner now. Although runners to me will always be those crazy people who run marathons for fun. I don’t think I will ever be one of those people. But maybe, just maybe. This past weekend does have me reconsidering this persona.

The week before the Harry Spring Run-off Erin’s running group were exchanging emails about the next monthly running route and brunch spot. I was included on these emails and felt more and more like I could enjoy the thought of going for runs, but I wasn’t quite there yet. Then the question came up of who’s running on Saturday in High Park. I wanted to consider doing this. “Wanted to” being the emphasis. My plan was to go for a run in High Park. Why did I have to join a race to do that? But Erin’s words of excitement — “races are fun” — tied with the invitation to join her and Matt at Matt’s family cottage for the weekend, and the guilt that races raise money for charity, left me re-thinking this race. And I do have the Toronto Yonge Street 10k coming up, which I may want to start thinking more seriously about. So I signed up (knowing full well lots of beer would be waiting for me at the cottage, no matter the outcome).

There were a number of reasons for running this race: 1) Erin would be there with me. Running your first real race requires lots of support and a fan club. I had Erin! This made all the difference in the world. 2) I’ve ran 5k in High Park before. I was a little more relaxed knowing I wasn’t going into this race completely blind, I sort of knew what to expect (minus how terrible the end hill was going to be). 3) 5k is a distance I can do – I’ve ran further than this, I knew 5k was not an impossible distance to complete. That was a good thing.

After watching Erin take off on her 8k, I soaked in the racing scene. Okay, real runners are intense and make running look good. If you can look good while running fast, props to you. Those pictures you get from the random photographers after the race are not pleasing at all! I would quit running to never see those facial expressions of mine ever again. I was intrigued by these runners and felt myself wanting to be more like them. Running that fast would be awesome. I caught a glimpse of Erin a few times along her route, and then at the end. I was ready for my race after watching Erin and these running models.

Me, looking like a real runner!

Erin had 3 important pieces of advice for me: 1) high-five any kid who wants to high-five you during the race. It is weirdly awesome how strangers cheering for you can boost your moral and pace! 2) Run up the hill at the end. The last 400m were straight up hill and I was dreading it for the entire race. I knew it was coming and that was all I could think about the whole time! But I did it, I ran up that hill, just as Erin said to do. 3) Sprint to the finish. Thank goodness the finish was literally steps after the awful hill. Somehow I managed to give’er at the end and boy sprinting (if that’s what I actually did) felt great.

I gave myself one goal for this race – to run under 30 minutes. This was something I could do, not too much to think about, and not unrealistic by any means. Being my first race, I didn’t want to stress too much about it, but having 1 goal I figured was important. With a time of 26.07, I crushed 30 minutes (you could save the world in just 4 minutes). I was both impressed and excited by this and have something to strive for, for my next race.

Enjoying the rewards of being a champion!

It was even quite possible Erin was more excited than I was about my finish time and the fact I placed 14th in my age group. Okay, I was a little excited by this too. So I eat my words, races are fun!

Race Recap: Harry Spring Run-Off 8k


I signed up for the Harry Spring Run-Off way back in the fall, when I was still mapping out my marathon training. 8k seemed manageable for a race distance (especially after Around the Bay) and I’d heard good things about it. So, why not? It threw a bit of a wrench into our Easter weekend plans, but whatevs! I had a race to run! Free swag to claim! It was a lovely day for a race. I learned Jill is a running superstar (I need to find a new sport to dominate!). I ran steadily, but sorely and while I am disappointed I didn’t run sub-48 (my chip time was 49:37), I can’t complain too much. This wasn’t a goal race. I didn’t train with an 8k PB in mind. I was there to have fun.


Jill and I after our races!

The good:

1) It was a beautiful day

Can’t complain with sunny, single degree weather for a race!


2) I ran the whole damn thing

It’s only 8k, but still. Before Harry, I had only been out twice since ATB — one 10k and one 11k effort around the neighbourhood. It doesn’t take much for the swelling in the feet and the bruised toes to start aching. And when you’re trying to run 5:50 kilometres, it only gets worse. It’s a hilly, challenging course, so the fact I hung in there for the entire ride is something to be proud of. It’s the little victories.


3) Jill is a running superstar

This was the first race where my priority was someone else. It was a lot of fun to amp Jill up, calm her down and cheer her on. It took the focus off me and my race, which was good since it was supposed to be for FUN. REMEMBER? RUNNING IS FUN! It was great seeing Jill kill it for her first-ever race. I won’t spoil too much (her race recap is coming later), but I am proud of her. And jealous.

The bad:

1) I went out too fast

The first two kilometres were 5:35s. There are two problems with that: I can’t sustain 5:35s and the first part of the course is the easy part of the course. Eventually, I slowed down to 6:30ish over the rest of the course. (I can probably go faster, I just need to believe in myself. And do more speedwork.)


2) My hip and I are not friends

My left hip has been aching more than usual, and the not-so-nice guy showed up around the 3k mark. It wasn’t anything insurmountable, but it worried me. I think all it really means is that I need new running shoes (my current puppies have nearly 1000k on them), but anything that points to an injury FREAKS ME OUT. I need to learn to stop freaking out. And ice things.


3) The course was boring

I love running in High Park, but the 8k route is a tad repetitive. You loop through the crowds twice before heading out to the 5k route. If I ever run this race again, I’m sticking with the 5k.



The conclusion?

Not every race needs to be about accomplishments and goal setting. Sometimes you can run a race just for the hell of it.

Now I need to go buy new shoes!




The run: 8.0k in 49:37

The route:

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