Hamilton's Around the Bay 30k road race is one of the more popular local races,unfortunately my first experience with it in 2009 left me with a bitter feeling towards the race. I had been training for a marathon and was feeling quite proud of my progress,my long runs had been over the 30k distance and I was a lean mean running machine. Leaving the start line in the pouring rain I was on fire,flying along with the greatest of ease,17km later I was a wreck my legs were cramping and I was feeling sorry for myself.I went on to finish in 2 hours and 32 minutes, it was a finish but not what I had anticipated at the start and walking up the hills with the horrible leg cramps left me never wanting to see the race again.
Fortunately time heals all and several years of waiting at the base of the largest hill to run up with friends I have made while running I decided it was time to make amends with the Bay race. I signed up late in the fall last year after qualifying for the "A" start corral in the Hamilton half marathon and was actually excited to run.As race day came closer I realized I would need to adjust my training a little to accommodate the race but really didn't want to lose too much time as the countdown to the Sulphur Springs 100 miler is quickly closing in.The decision was made to drop 1 long run from the front of the week to allow for a bit of a recovery for the Bay, then I would race at a relatively survivable pace and just enjoy the race.
Race day was perfect weather and at the starting line I was relaxed,I planned to run just under 2 hours and 15 minutes to achieve a silver medal and put the bad feelings behind me,in the back of my mind I knew a 2.10 would be possible if things went well.The race start was fast as everyone takes off to try and get some open road,I didn't worry too much when my first 5k was faster than I wanted to be.The second 5k somehow slipped by too fast as well,at this point I took a quick assessment of how I was feeling and decided to push the pace for another 10 I was feeling good. At the 17km mark doubt crept in ,am I making the same mistake again,this is the fall apart point,am I running too fast? I did another assessment and decided no things are good,smarten up ditch the negative thoughts and go, the hills are coming and unlike 2009 that is where I feel good now. Now that the brain was back under control the ease came back to my stride,I let the hills loosen things up a bit waved or smiled to a few friends who were spectating and hit the big hill .I knew Mike would be waiting to run up the hill with me and its amazing what a distraction can do to take the bite out of a hill,a few more km and it was all over 2 hours and 7 minutes.
I'm definitely glad I ran it again,it's amazing how far things have come since 2009. I think the biggest change has been the mental side of running and how to drop the negative feelings,every race has a low point or tough spot but being able to put it aside and not dwell on it has made a huge difference. It doesn't hurt that I have realized I can't charge out full speed and expect not to turn into a stiff legged zombie at the finish line.