It’s been almost a week since I ran the Around the Bay 30K race. It usually takes me this long to process a race experience and write about it. So here goes…
As I noted in an earlier short post, my finishing time for the AtB was slower than I’d wanted. (I finished with a chip time of 3:16:23, whereas the time indicated in the following finish line photo is my gun time.)
I’m not unhappy at all, though, with the 3:16 finish. For one thing, finishing any race is a joy, as I was told by an orthopedic surgeon five years ago – after breaking my hip – that I would never run again. Secondly, I ran this year’s AtB in a more relaxed state of mind than last year. I much prefer running alone than with other people, and I get nervous and distracted when I run with a lot of people. And there were a lot of people at the AtB – 7,000 in the 30K solo category, and 1,250 in the two- and three-person relay teams. (Another 1,250 ran the 5K event, which started an hour earlier than the 30K.) This year, part of my plan was to run within myself and not get thrown off my focus as much as I usually do.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the people part of the event. Just before the start of the race, I met my friend Len A., whom I race with once or twice a year. It’s always fun to see him, and compare notes about training, goals, etc. I got many positive responses to my Fivefingers KSOs, and had some very pleasant conversations with other runners about them. I even ran with a fellow who was also wearing KSOs – the first time that’s happened to me in a race.
Unlike last year’s AtB, the weather this year was decent. It was 2C or so at the race start, and about 4C when I finished. It rained very lightly about 3K from the end, but that was late enough in the run that it didn’t bother me. (Last year, it rained heavily for the duration of the event.) So the sun shone, and the roads were dry. For the end of March in eastern Canada, that’s pretty good!
I started following the 3:00 pace bunny group, and stayed with them until about the 18K mark. The AtB route is flat until about 17K, and then gets into some rolling hills. I do uphills quite well, but slow down on the descents (can still feel those in my hip, even after five years). And this year, I decided to power-walk up the very steep hill at the 23K mark, reasoning (correctly, as it turned out) that this would enable me to run relatively strongly for the finish.
Why did I finish more slowly than I’d planned? I think I started out too quickly, for one thing. I would have done better to run with the 3;15 pace bunny. And I didn’t fuel as consistently as I might have. Just got distracted, I guess, which is a terrible excuse.
As I’ve said before, this is a great event. The course is a good one, the rolling hills are fun, that climb at 23k presents options re strategy, and the event organization is flawless. The AtB’s usual quirky features were all there – the midget at the 22K mark who you’re supposed to high-five for good luck, the guy dressed as Superman at the top of the long, steep hill, and the Grim Reaper (and his son, L’il Grim Reaper) who greets runners as they pass the cemetery just before the finish.
I finished upright and smiling (well, almost smiling), without pain, and I acquitted myself with honour. That, in the end, is all one can do.
Next year I think I’ll start with the 3:15 pace group, and see if I can do that “power surge at the end” thing. And I’ll remember to fuel consistently. And I won’t get nervous.
And I’ll have fun. That’s guaranteed!