Thursday, 28 March 2013

Down By The Bay....

I want to start this blog off with a confession. I have spent the last four days pretending like running 30km on Sunday was easy. It wasn't. It was the hardest physical test I have ever had in my life. But when people ask me about, I feign coolness and say things like "It was fun" or "It wasn't that bad" or "We just ran it at a training pace". Don't be mistaken, it was a ton of fun, it really wasn't that bad until my legs started burning when the race was over, and we did run it a training pace, Lexie's training pace. So here goes!


I got up before my alarm went off, I'm sure it part excitement, part fear, but probably mostly because I had to pee. I hit up the washroom, hung out in there a while, gave myself a pep talk, did some other stuff and got changed. We had to get the boys ready to drop off at Brooke and Jeremy's house (Thanks guys!) so I was moving quickly (this would be the only time all day). Luckily Cooper sleeps on his floor these days, so he was already up. After dressing, I scooped him from his room and headed downstairs so I could feed him and pack up some stuff (fuel belts, change of clothes, shoes, throwaway clothes, phone, headphones, race stuff). Lexie was upstairs getting ready during this time. Since she is faster than me, I assume during this time she was completing some important pre-race rituals that allow her to be so speedy. I'm not saying she was taking PEDs, but I am also not saying she wasn't.


We finished getting ready, and by we I mean I was ready so I spent these 10 minutes telling Lexie to hurry up. We loaded the kids up in the car to drop off at Brooke and Jeremy's and Lexie took off for their house to get them settled while I finished packing up.


During this time I was loading up the other car and starting to head to Fergus. What she forgot to tell me was that Lexie was planning on heading to Fergus via Orangeville (important note: that is not a real thing, Orangeville is waaaaaay out of the way).


I sat around waiting for Lexie's tour of Dufferin to finish and we finally dropped the kids off.


We spent this time driving to Hamilton while I complained that no matter how pretty Dufferin County is, Lexie should have saved her detour for another time because we were going to be late. We weren't.


We found a sweet parking spot near the starting line at the Hamilton Convention Centre. We changed into our race outfits and start walking to the starting line. On our way to the starting line we stopped for a potty break at the cleanest place we found find (McDonalds of course!) and by the time we (Lexie) waited in line it was time to head to the starting line.

Neither of us had any inkling of how large this race actually was until we started to head for the starting line. There were just slews of people heading towards the starting line so we just followed along. By the time we had made it to the starting line it was almost time to get going. We were lucky enough to fall right into a good place in the start line, right around the 2:45-3:00 hour pace group. Now I wish I had taken more pictures so I could have made this post a little more aesthetically pleasing. My apologies. But the start looked something like this:

We tucked our way into the group and within a few minutes the gun had sounded and it was time to roll. It took about 3 minutes between the gun going and us crossing the finish line. But we were excited to be crossing the mat to tackle this:

The Around the Bay Road Race Map
The first 3 miles were pretty busy but went smoothly. We were right on target, running mile splits in around the 9:40 range. It was also during these first three miles we realized we had overdressed for the race. I had put on running tights, shorts, a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a pull over and a running toque. I could have done without the tights and the pullover because I was already sweating by mile 2. Lexie was wearing a similar outfit minus the shorts over the tights, but since she is a Sprickerhoff, she was sweating before we got out of the car. We had come so accustomed to running in freezing weather, we weren't prepared for what seemed like the first sunny above freezing day in months. Lexie later commented when she went to do the laundry from the race that our clothes were sopping wet. I just figured they were dripping with awesomeness.

Miles 3-9 went smoothly, we followed our fuelling plan, drank some fluids, chatted, and took in the sights of East Hamilton. As we made the turn toward the Bay, we saw this:

Okay that is not actually what we saw, just an artistic representation. But true story, we had to stop in the middle of the race for a train. I guess this annoyed some people, but it was alright with us, we were only there for 3-4 minutes. We kind of hoped we would get a freebie out of it from the race directors. No dice, but a boy can dream.

At this point we started to head toward the bay and passed the 10km mark right around an hour into the race, which meant we were on pace to finish in our goal (under 3 hours). It was also at this point that Lexie's hip started to bother her. We had been running on tapered roads for most of the first part of the race and it was taking it's toll.

We continued to hold a steady pace through the first 11km. Somewhere between kilometres 11 and 13 we stopped quickly for Lexie to stretch out her hip. When we did, some kind runner offered us some salt tablets, aren't runners cool? and nice? We also saw two guys around this time running barefoot (like literally no shoes or anything) and in kilts.

Kilometres 13-15 were eventful and we hit the 15km right around the 1:30 mark on our watches. Just after the 15km marker we ran over this:

Hamilton Lift Bridge

This was both fun and weird. It was weird because it was clearly not designed for feet. There were large sharp ridges on the metal surface of the bridge. We took our time and made it over. We also felt very sad for the barefoot guys.

We were still feeling good and kilometres 15-19 were smooth sailing. Lexie's hip felt better when she sped up a bit so we pushed a pace a little during this time, which may have came back to haunt me. One of the things that I thought was neat about this race was the amount of spectators. Hamilton really showed up to support this race. There were loud and excited spectators everywhere, it was pretty motivating. There were also large packs of runners around us the whole time. I didn't mind this, and even enjoyed it, Lexie did not. She is accustomed to running solo, so running with all those people was a little bit of a change for her.

Around the 19km mark is where the hills start. Kilometres 19-26 were all rolling hills. We were happy that we train a city with a good number of hills because we saw a lot of people people who really struggled during this stretched. I had actually run this part of the course before during the MEC 10km race I did with two of my colleagues in August (Hey Matt and Victor!).

Things were going well until about the 24km when my calf started to cramp. I think it was a combination of overdressing and therefore excess sweating, and not replacing the salt I was losing as a result. We stopped twice for 20-30 seconds so I could stretch and that seemed to help a bit.

Before we knew it we were about to head up the "Big Hill" that everyone had told us about. Lexie and I decided at the bottom that we were going to push it up the hill, and push it we did. We KILLED it. We passed a ton of people on the way up and were passed by no one. It was a good confidence boost. The confidence boost didn't last too long for me however as my cramping returned quickly after my celebration of killing the hill.

About 500 metres after cresting the hill, I felt a strong cramp coming on in my hamstring. I tried to run through it but it was too bad. We were close to the end so I told to Lexie to head on and pulled over to stretch. She was feeling strong and I didn't want to hold her back. I knew I just needed some salt, so I took a few of the Power Bar Energy Blasts and hobbled my way to the 27km water station were I promptly downed 4 cups of Gatorade. This game me some much needed electrolytes and my cramp dissipated.

It was just after this that I came across one of the neatest traditions of the race. The Grim Reaper.

I gave this guy the best high five ever, I assume.

This guy stands in the middle of the course giving out high fives to runners as they pass him. He also tries to convince them they should just turn right into the cemetery we were passing. One of the first things Lexie asked me when I met her at the finish was if I high-fived the reaper. Of Course I did!

The last two kilometres of the race are downhill which is much better than uphill, but downhill doesn't feel as good at the end of 30km as it does at the beginning. Both Lexie and I picked up the pace in these last two km's and ended had them as two of our fastest miles in the race.

Another fun thing about Around the Bay is the finish line. The race finishes inside of Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, right on the ice surface. This years finish line looked like this:

It was very cool to finish inside an arena full of cheering people. Now I know how Usain Bolt feels, kind of. But the uncool part was running down the ramp into the arena. The last things my legs wanted to see was a steep hill on a smooth surface. But we both bombed it down the ramp and into the throngs of people cheering for us all the runners.

We had done it, we ran 30km! After we finished we were herded into the backstage area where we collected our food and medals.

We moaned and groaned as we made our way back to the car. For the first time in our racing careers, we were too spent to really bask in the glow of our post race high. That would come later.

Overall it was a great challenge for us. We both hit personal distance records and we had a great time running (most of) the race together. It was a well run, well staffed race and there is no doubt we will be back again.

Finishing Times:

Lexie - 3:03:08
Leigh - 3:06:23

Check back later this weekend where Lexie will share with you all the things we learned by running ATB and some more tidbits from our experience.



  1. Congrats guys, a huge distance accomplishment! Love the race recap.

  2. Ps above post is from your east coast running cousin xo AM