Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Oldest Road Race in North America....Older than Boston!

Have you ever gone into a race never having done that distance before, not really knowing what to expect and nor is it anywhere near your hometown?

Well Welcome to the Around the Bay 30K through my eyes!!

Up and at ‘em early Saturday morning, loaded the car, collected Glenda and off we went for our adventure to Hamilton.

For a girl who has been all over the world, who would have thought that I’d EVER get excited about going to Hamilton!!

The six plus hour drive south-west flew by since they have added the 407 bypass around my hometown ~ Hogtown (Toronto) actually chopped almost two hours off of our drive bringing us into Copps Coliseum closer to 2:30 p.m. that the 4 p.m., I had anticipated.

We found our way around the sports expo with the usual merchants hawking their wares. The expo was set up on the upper level of the coliseum so we could actually look down upon the JumboTron that is set up in the middle of the arena and we could see the chute where we would enter the building and run down to the finish line. It sort of gave me shivers to think that I’d be on a jumbtron after running 30K, really who needs to see the pain and suffering on my face that "up close and personal" fired over a huge screen on all four sides no less!!!

Once we figured there really wasn’t anything we needed to buy, we headed off to find our hotel. All of our running buddies were staying downtown close to the action and the Food & Drink Fest, but we were staying out of town so we didn’t get the chance to catch up with anyone until race day.

We did wander through the inside Farmer's Market which was great, because it gave us the chance to savour colours, fragences and tastes we haven't been able to all winter.

We had fun getting lost, finding new ways to get to the hotel and we even found a great, fun restaurant along the way.

We had made arrangements with my marathon running partner Jen to meet up at the Running Room kiosk prior to the race and luckily for us that was located in front of the women’s washroom....sorry Marcy, no washroom shots this trip!!!

Jen had driven down from Ottawa with her sister and was staying with friends close to the race location. It was nice, we had our own stalker paparazzi courtesy of Jen!

Race morning dawned with the hint of sun and seemingly milder temperatures than what we’ve been running in all winter. And NO SNOW!!! How weird is that???

This year’s Around the Bay 30K was celebrating its 114th Anniversary, with the most number of runner’s to date, so it was great to be a part of history. The course description goes like this:

The first 20k of the Around the Bay Road Race is an exciting, scenic, and fast route. The last 10k includes rolling hills through scenic North Shore Blvd.

The race begins on York Blvd., 1 block west of Copps Coliseum.

The race proceeds east on York Blvd. which turns into Wilson Street to Sherman Avenue. At Sherman Ave runners turn north and then east at Cannon Street. Runners stay on Cannon Street which turns into Britannia Ave to Parkdale Ave. Runners then turn north at Parkdale Ave and east bound at Melvin Ave to Woodward Ave, and then north on Woodward Ave to the Beach Strip.

After crossing the Canal lift bridge the race turns onto Eastport Drive to Northshore Blvd. The race will turn west bound onto the rolling hills of Northshore Blvd., and then west onto Plains Rd. to Spring Garden Rd. Just past Woodland Cemetery awaits the Valley Inn Hill leading up to York Blvd. and the finish into Copps Coliseum at York Blvd. and Bay Sts.

are your eyes glazing over yet????

Knowing that we were going to be following our training pace for this race and not actually racing, we headed to the back of the pack.

The elites were wearing singlets and shorts, while I, being really feeking slow, was in layers including my long underwear!

Where is the justice???

Our Garmin trigger fingers were ready as we crossed the start mats and away we went...

Sunshine, warmth, good friends and lots of chatter....the route took us through the older area of Hamilton, the area where my cousins grew up....we ran past Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the Hamilton Tiger Cats Football franchise and along towards Lake Ontario. The kilometres were zipping by because there was so much to see, old eclectic homes along the shores on Lake Ontario, through Tin Pan Alley and up to the Burlington Bay Canal Lift Bridge.

When I first read that we would be crossing a bridge, in my mind I thought it was going to be the Burlington Skyway (now called Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway) which is freeking huge!!!

If we were to run over that, we'd freeking blow off and be found on the shores of Michigan!!!!

As we were getting closer to the lake the wind was picking up and the whitecaps were really making themselves present as the waves crashed onto the pier and shoreline...

Just before the lift bridge we had sort of collectively agreed to make a pit stop at the port-a-potties before carrying on, however, at the last minute we saw the timing mat for the 15K split and decided to keep going.

We were part way across the lift bridge when we heard the horn blow announcing the presence of a Great Lakes steel tanker that was either coming into the bay or heading out....with the sound of the horn that could only mean that they were going to be lifting the bridge so we’d had to get moving otherwise we’d be in trouble........luckily we had made the decision to not stop, other wise we would have been stuck until the ship passed through....

Continuing on we were starting to sense the change in scenery, we had been running through a mostly industrial area, steel plants and smelters, wastewater treatment centres, (hey, you wanted to know the details), etc....

We headed towards the rolling hills, the huge homes and a ton of wonderful, warm, supportive spectators.....everyone along the route was just wonderful...The runner's received unbelievable support, not only from the residents, but from the police who were at every cross street and every main thoroughfare, looking after our safety while we crossed intersections, they were great.

The medical teams on bicycles were always cheering us on (maybe because I looked like I needed help, they were hovering).

The supporters with their boomboxs’ blaring, the high fives from the man in the wheelchair, I could go on and on...the support is wonderful. Every once in awhile we would be coming around a corner or running up a hill and who would be ahead, cheering us on with their camera’s in hand? Jen’s sister and her friend who were following us around the great is that?

By 21K I knew I was starting to have some trouble with my left foot, not sure if my shoe had been tied too tight, but it was definitely starting to give me some grief. We were also well into the "rolling hills", yikes, they had bigger rolls to them than my stomach!!!

Onwards past at least a half dozen cemeteries, I’ve never seen so many cemeteries in a row....then headed towards Heartbreak now we were running with the same pack of people, so we got a chance to chat with some and it’s amazing how runner’s support one another.

One of the runner’s that we were running closely with was legally blind, she had two "guide runners" with her, can you imagine running a 30K race, blind? The Amazing Spirit award would definitely go to her!!! We were always cheering her on....

It was at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill I had to stop to adjust my running shoes and socks because of the discomfort. Even with water and gator aid stations every 5K or so, I was really starting to feel dehydrated, I think the wind was sucking the moisture right out of me....Carb-booms were helping but I needed more, I think because of being sick earlier in the week it took more out of me than I thought it would.

Glenda was really trucking along, she is such a strong, fast walker, that when the hills started getting tough, she would power walk up them faster than anything, she is truly amazing!!

Jen has been so diligent in her hill training that by the time she got to Heartbreak Hill she was just heating and beating up the hills....she ran up the whole way, WAY TO GO JEN! You’re going to ROCK the Marathon in May!

Once we got to the top of the hill it was literally all down hill from there....we crossed over a huge overpass, and believe it or not, ran past another cemetery where we ran into the Grim Reaper....too funny!!!

He was way too cute to be the Reaper.... in a sick, morbid kind of pale way, rather like a Morticia Addams attraction don't you think???


Jen could have had a much better time, she is strong and ready to go, but being sensible and a good runner, she stuck with her long slow distance speed.

As for me, I was starting to struggle what with having trouble with my foot for the last 5K, but wasn’t going to give up....heck, it’s all about the BLING.

We saw the Coliseum and the chute leading us into the arena, it was such an amazing feeling to think that we had Run 30K Around the Bay and we finished upright and smiling!!!

To get a really great description of the race through a younger more articulate runner, check out I Run for Life , Tiger has a great, keen sense of running and a spirit for life!!!

On a side note, after the race we got totally lost heading back to our hotel, after many miles, many "Fbombs" on my behalf and many missed turns we made it....

So, there you go, rather like a version of War and Peace, but none the less, we will go back next year and enjoy it all over again!!

Life's fun if you don't weaken!!!

Enjoy your journey one step at a time......



Nat said...

All about the highs and lows. :) Congratulations. Nice bling.

I think it's on my list for next year. I'm just not sure. :)

Rudy said...

great recap. probably as close as I get to running heh

I love the pics

congrats again *BLING*

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Tin Pan Alley, Love it!

I was told that in 1998, that bridge opened, and the first group of elites got across, but the mid pack, including the lead female runner got stuck on the other side. Since it was exactly the 15k from the start, the turned around and ran back and were disqualified.

Very very nice race report. LOVE The pictures:)Thanks for the link to my blog!

And to answer your question, my next race is the Mississauga Half in May, with my highschool science teacher! I think it's the week before Ottawa!

Rest up:) You deserve it!

AddictedToEndorphins said...

P.S. I'll be there next year too:D

Marcy said...

CONGRATS CHICA!! What an excellent report (even without the BR shot LOL)! It sounds like it was an awesome race and I can't believe there was actually not a SINGLE flake of snow in any of those pics LOL You rock!!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

FANTASTIC!! You rocked. Hope your foot is okay.

Nice report.

Anonymous said...

Nice report! Enjoyed the run-a-logue approach...
Good for you... rest up that foot and look after yourself

Lily on the Road said...

I know Marcy! NO SNOW, but then Hamilton is in the "banana belt", not like up in "Snowville" where I live ...


Foot is fine, just had my sneaks wrapped too tight!

Already logged many more miles on my tender tootsies since Sunday, but thanks everyone for your concern....

No rest for the wicked!!! Just trying to dump this horrible gorp out of my lungs.....

triguyjt said...

awesome race report and i am very proud of you....way to rock...and holy smokes did you get some nice medal to wear...congrats...
andkeep kicking ass.

Anonymous said...

I loved your "war and peace". TY so much for taking the time to write it out so that we could live vicariously through you.

What a fine piece of bling it is!

~ blondie

David said...

Um, where's the s-word that's supposed to be all over the ground, roads, trees, and buildings? Oh, you drove 6 hours toward civilization (read: away from polar bear natural habitat) to the race. Okay, I get it now... LOL

Way to go, and yes it's all about the bling! Those crappy winter runs paid off, huh?

Database Diva said...

Congratulations on completing your first 30K. I hope your foot is feeling better so you can get on with your marathon training!

BarkerBitesBack said...
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Mendy said...

Very nice race report! You did awesome and thanks for sharing pictuers with us!