The week going into the race, my main concern was the weather. Obsessively checking each morning and evening, and it didn't give me what I wanted until the night before the race! -4 by 10am (race start was 9:30), and 20km/hr winds. SHORTS MY FRIENDS! You can do all you can to train for a race, but then having something you can't control ruin it, like the weather conditions?! Ugh. With the last piece of the day that had been causing me anxiety resolved, I was feeling confident on the ride to Hamilton.
I completed bathroom trip #3 (who wants to have to stop running to use a washroom?!), and dashed to Corral A with 3 minutes to spare. A warm up should have occurred, but washroom lineups are brutal. I considered my running back and forth a pathetic attempt at what should have been a 5-10 min warm up. Oops!
When the gun went off and the fun began, my watch still had not found a GPS. I programmed it to only give me 1km splits, and elapsed time. Looking down and seeing a pace stresses me out, and wastes my mental energy. As usual, I went out too fast. (oops #2) My watch picked up GPS maybe 400-600 metres into the race, and says I ran the first km in 4:01. I think it was probably 3:xx if it had started at the beginning. Too fast! I intended a 4:20/km pace until 10km then pick it up a bit. In every race, going out too hard is something I have to work on!
Fellow GRE teammate Mike Thornton found me about 1km in. I knew he was aiming for a 4:02/km, so I stayed with him briefly and then fell back to my 4:15-4:20 pace. I wish I knew I could have kept up with him. Having a teammate beside me, even only briefly was a great kick of energy.
I felt great until about 18km, when I felt some strange spasm/burning in my left foot. It seemed aggravated by the inclines. It became too much, and for the first time EVER, I stopped in a race. I whipped my shoe off, and had to massage it out. The pain gave me a 4:42km, and the stop gave me a 5:06km. It came back again around 22km. I stopped for a 2nd time, massaged it out. This gave me a 4:44km. I had to stop one more time at 25km, did the same thing again, and ended up with a 5:14/km. Precious seconds were adding up!
Once the rolling hills were over, it was mostly downhill to the finish, and the foot didn't seem too bad on the downhill. I was able to pick up the pace and book it to the finish in the last 2km. This makes me SO HAPPY, as in past races I have never had a finishing kick. Always just tired. So after 28km of running, I still had a 4:17km and a 4: 20km in me makes me feel great!
At about 29km my husband and fellow GRE teammates Mike, Josh, and Tanis were all there cheering me on. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for this support, and the feeling you get when you know others are sending you some energy to finish strong! They snapped this picture of me, and at one glance it is screaming BAD FORM! I know I was tired as it was the end of the race. But this is very poor running form. I have made an appointment for a gait assessment at a friends recommendation. He believes with a few small tweaks to my form that I can reach a whole new level. Hoping that the foot issues can be resolved by this as well.
My chest should be forward, my shoulders back. I should also be landing softly under a bent knee, not overstriding (like above). I still have not mastered avoiding a heel strike as well.
Despite my stops, I still managed to finish strongly in 2:13:22. The Bay awards medals based on time. Women who cross the finish line under 2:15 are awarded a gold medal. So for my first crack at a distance longer than a half marathon, 3 separate stops, and some strange foot pain, I am beyond happy and pleased with my result. Hard work really does pay off. If you had asked me last year if I thought an average pace of 4:26/km for 30km was possible for me, I would have laughed!
Averages for the last 3-4 months
75-80km a week
5 days per week running
1 spin day
1 complete day of rest with yoga for recovery
2 easy runs per week
1-2 speed workouts (tempos, 1km repeats, etc)
1 long run each week of 28-32km
I lost 9 days early February due to an ankle sprain that thankfully has not given me trouble since. I don't believe that I could have gained any more fitness in those 9 days.
It is strange that it is over now. I have never ran this type of mileage, or completed numerous long runs of this length before. AND made it to the start line with a healthy, injury free body. I did not have a goal time for this race, simply to feel good throughout, and finish strongly. I am happy to say both those wishes were fulfilled! This week I will focus on recovery. Even though I am sore and tired (stairs?!), I am still very excited to become stronger. After Toronto Yonge Street 10km recovery, I am already planning the build to a strong fall half marathon.
The support and inspiration these 3 give me is unbelievable. Our first (definitely not last!) photo all together! Mike finished with an 8min PB in 2:03! Josh placed 4th in the 5km amongst a very competitive field. Tanis would have torn through the Bay, but is coming off an injury. Mississauga half will see her!
Congrats to all the fellow ATB racers!