Posts Tagged ‘Around the Bay’

Two weekends ago I raced my first long distance event of the season, the Around the Bay 30k (click HERE  for this years results) in Hamilton, Ontario, except that I’ve been pretty quiet on the whole subject…until now.  In short, it was a complete debacle of epic proportions which has ultimately left me very disappointed and discouraged given all the hard work I’ve put into my run training over the past two months.

Seeing as how I finished over 20 minutes off my best time from two years ago (2:31:20), well, let’s just agree that it was a total shit show ending with me walk-slash-trotting at an abysmal pace for the final few kilometers.  In fact, as far as I’m concerned, this event should now be officially renamed the “Painful Shuffle Around the Bay 30k’.

But as the new coach keeps telling me, every failure comes with a new opportunity to learn and improve, meaning, now I’m stuck with the burning question that I’ve been dwelling on for the past two weeks:

What the fuck went so wrong?

The plan was not necessarily to go out and set a new personal best.  No, it was ideally just an ideal “training day” to get a sense how my over all run training has been faring, especially in regards to the whole quicker cadence thing (click HERE).  We agreed then that I should go out sparingly at a comfortable pace of 5:30min/km  for the first 5k, then begin to up my pace gradually over the next 15k or so, before unleashing the big dogs altogether and go for broke over the last 10k to the finish.

Easy enough, right?

Well, the first part of the plan went great and despite the adrenaline and rush of competition, I held myself back just as planned arriving at the 5k mark at almost the exactly anticipated time of 27:30, meaning that I was pretty much bang on my 5:30min/km pace perfectly.  At this point, I was experiencing no issues and was rather enjoying myself.  Well, aside from the fact that I way over dressed for the occasion and sweating like a complete bastard that is*.

But I digress…

After the first 5k I increased my pace by focusing on my “quick feet” just I have been practicing and my pace accelerated to fluctuating anywhere between 5:10-5:20min/km, or thereabouts, depending on the terrain, wind, hot babe runner in tight-tights, etc..  It was still a slower pace than that of my PB pace two years ago, but if I could keep that pace going and then some for the remainder of the race that would put me on a pretty even keel to finishing around the same finishing time having covered more distance in the end…quicker.

“So far, so good”, I thought.

“Yay me!”, even.

Then around the 18k mark the fatigue began setting in, even a little more than you might expect.  Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that running 18k in and of itself is no small feat (well, for me anyway), but this was a different feeling.  My energy began to sap from my body rapidly and all at the exact moment when those stupid long-ass hills started up in earnest along the dreaded North Shore Blvd. portion of the race.  In fact, these hills are what the race is known for.

I knew I was in trouble.

From there is was vicious downward spiral where my quads began to feel like they were being torn apart, and I developed a hot spot in right foot making my keeping any decent pace comfortable.  I knew that my shoes were a bit long in the tooth going in but I figured that they had at least one more long run in them.

Apparently, I was wrong.

By the half marathon mark, I was in big trouble.  From there, well, let’s just say it was a complete and total dumpster fire.  Mentally I had checked out, physically I was broken.  It started by my walking through the aid stations in order to give the burning sensation in my right foot some temporary relief and then graduated to alternating sporadically between a walk and a painful limp for the final few kilometers to the finish.

Here’s the whole shit show broken down pace-wise:

ATB Data

Yeah.

Not pretty is it?

I didn’t even want to collect my race medal when it was all said and done and instead of allowing the volunteer to place it valiantly around my neck as is customary, I snatched it out of her hand and quickly stuffed it in my race bag along with the token post-race banana and package of flatbread.  You’d think that she had just handed me porn, or something.

Fuck that.

Anyway, back to the question (blown shoes aside) – what went wrong?

Piecing together the day, it all started off pretty much like it does on any other given race morning.  One bowl of whole oats with brown sugar upon wake up, a toasted bagel and cream cheese about an hour later with the usual cup of coffee, and then starting about an hour before the start of the event I started nursing my premixed bottle of E-Load performance drink.

What I didn’t do however, was much fueling after that.  Once the race started I just got into my rhythm and blew through the aid stations as I hate jockeying around with 2000 other runners for a glass of whatever, so I tend to just move over to the right (or left) and carry on my way unencumbered.  And this was great for the first 15-18k, no issues.  I think the only thing I had to eat was a single dried honey date around the 7k and, maybe, the 13k mark.  By the time I had reached the hills, I was running on empty.

This was later explained to me by the coach:

“When you run out of glucose and glycogen in the muscles, your body switches from using fatty acids as fuel…to catabolizing muscle tissue for fuel.”

What this means is that when your body runs out of other sources of fuel, it will start to use its own muscle tissue for energy.  Isn’t that sexy?  This likely explains the “tearing” feeling I felt in my quads right around the two hour mark.  Obviously, this is not a normal condition, and your body will only start to use muscle tissue for energy under extreme conditions, such as if you are very sick (I was getting over the plaque I had contracted while in San Antonio two weeks before), severely malnourished or not consuming enough calories over an extended period of time to support normal body functions.

Terrific.

You see, every cell in your body needs energy to perform normal body functions such as moving, breathing, maintaining your heartbeat and healing damaged tissue.  And over the course of runner 30 kilometers, there’s lots of damaged tissue going on.  Normally, carbohydrates from your diet supply the types of sugar your body uses as its main source of energy.  To get enough sugar from your diet to supply your body with the energy it needs, approximately half of your daily calories need to come from proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  I likely had enough of these stored carbs from my early morning feedings and the previous evening’s meal.

During digestion, your body will break down those carbohydrates into simple sugars that are then converted to glucose, or blood sugar.  That resulting glucose travels in your blood to every cell in your body, where it is used to manufacture energy.  If you consume more sugar than your body needs for immediate energy (and Lord knows I enjoy my treats), some of the excess is converted into glycogen, a type of sugar that is stored in your muscle tissue.  If your body needs glucose, and no sugar is coming in from your diet, glycogen is released from your muscles and broken down to supply enough glucose for energy to last about half a day.

So when I failed to “stoke the fire”, per se, by replenishing those stores of glucose I had in my body before the race started by providing it with more regular quick burning stores of simple carbohydrates, my body more or less reverted to eating its own muscle tissue in an effort to get the necessary glycogen to keep me going.

So, yeah, great!

My body was basically cannibalizing itself for the last 10k.

Amazeballs.

So, what’s the learning opportunity?

EAT YOU STUPID BASTARD!

So going forward this is my new mission to figure out a proper fueling strategy for both before and  during my long workouts, especially now that I’m heading into my long bike training period as well.  During these training runs (and bikes, for that matter) I will need to begin experimenting more with what I am taking into my body, as well as how often, in order to be able to sustain the required energy level.

My issue with that though, is that I don’t necessarily want to spend the equivalent of the Gross National Product of a small underdeveloped country on gels and sporting supplements to do so.

But the dried honey dates just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Now, given that I “go long” at least twice a week (long, being over two hours), that’s a lot of expensive sporting gels.  Of course, I would definitely prefer real (cheaper) food.  But not only does that “real food” have to be the right type of quick burning fuel, but it also has to be easily portable to boot.  After all, to my knowledge, there is no catering service for long distance athletes that will agree to set up an elaborate fueling buffet station ever 5k or so along my predetermined workout route…is there?

Yeah.

Doubtful!

So let the learning commence…

*This is a long standing tradition I have with this event in my never being able – for whatever reason – to figure out how to dress appropriately for the occasion.

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The first time I met John Stanton it was in the bathroom at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.  No, it was not one of “those” kinds of encounters.  We just happened to end up taking a leak beside one another at the urinals before the Around the Bay 30k event in 2011.  I didn’t know who he was at the time.  I mean, I’d heard about him before but I never paid much attention and I certainly didn’t recognize him at the time.

For those of you who don’t know, John Stanton is the founder and CEO of the ‘Running Room’ and author of several books on walking and running.  In other words, he’s a big shit in the running world. I have a love/hate relationship with the Running Room; I love what they’ve done to promote running in the communities which they operate, but I hate the marketing play of selling hundreds of dollars of crap to newbies who don’t need it, don’t know what it is, but want to fit in.  But that’s neither here nor there in this story.

John is also the guy who refers to running as ‘baking a cake’, an analogy that just about every runner has heard about a zillion times.  The premise being that in order to make a cake you need different ingredients such as flour, water, sugar, butter, vanilla, what have you, and when you mix them together you get the recipe for the perfect end result – a cake.  Running is similar in that it has its own unique ingredients, namely, long slow distance, drills, tempo work, speed, hills, etc., so that when you put them altogether you have the base for a successful runner where the race is simply the icing on that cake.  This speech has pretty much become the ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’  analogy for runners.

Anyway, back to the story.

So there we were, two strangers peeing beside one another, when suddenly there is this hushed buzz permeating the bathroom amongst the other runners in line behind us.  It was the kind of buzz that happens just moments before a band takes the stage.  I knew it probably wasn’t my wanger that everyone was oohing and awing over in hushed excitement, so what gives?  Eventually, I made the connection that the guy beside me was in fact John Stanton except I hadn’t noticed.  Okay, other runners began addressing him by name so that’s how I figured it out.  Anyway, afterwards we washed our hands and went our separate ways.  This was my first Around the Bay and I was nervous as hell, and while I had acquired all the necessary ingredients to be there, my icing on the cake was getting to take a whiz beside John Stanton.  That just had to be a good omen, right?

It was. I finished survived with a time of 2:39:04, not bad for a first outing.

The next year (2012) I returned to Copps Coliseum again and, yes, I bumped into John Stanton; in the bathroom; taking a piss. What were the odds?

This time, however, I recognized him immediately as one might recognize their own shadow, so I sidled on up next to him and jokingly inquired “come here often?”  Of course the humor was completely lost on him.  How could he have ever remembered?  But John is an affable guy and he agreed that he does come to Copps quite often and that the Around the Bay event was one of his favorites and that he always makes the effort to get down to the Expo and whatnot before he politely excused himself and returned from whence he came.

This year was my second attempt at the Bay and I had trained much better and I successfully completed it with a new personal best time of 2:34:13.  It seemed to me that peeing besides John Stanton was becoming a bit of a good luck tradition.  Some people might have their favorite running socks, or hat, or maybe carry a trinket of sorts in their pocket; my totem was having a pre-race pee beside John Stanton.  Weird, I know.  But who is going to argue the success it had brought me so far?

So, fast forward two years and its 2014 and I’m running the Bay yet again.  I sat last years event out while I taking a break from long distances, recovering from fatigue and injuries after Ironman Wales and, well, just enjoying being lazy.  In some regards, I’ve gone back to square run with my running; I’ve reassembled my cake and I’m trying to put it all back together again.  Fortunately, I’m finally running relatively comfortably after seven months of run-specific conditioning as part of my ‘We Can Rebuild Him’ plan.  This year’s Bay event then is the testing ground.  I’ve completed the training, I’ve restarted my speed work, I’m doing my clams, planks, squats, etc., I’m stretching, hydrating and doing everything I know how to do to keep the plan working, except there’s only one thing missing at this point…the icing on the cake.

So yesterday I drove up to Copps Coliseum to pick up my race packet – as you do.  Of course, I was also looking for my icing.  I browsed through the different booths at the Expo.  I didn’t really need anything but, hey, it never hurts to look (I did find a great deal on Emend formula).  Plus, I enjoy that anxious electricity that moves through the crowd as everyone has pretty much started mentally preparing themselves for Sunday’s event; everyone is all a-twitter.  Eventually, I came to the Runners Edge booth and, low and behold, there he was!  John Stanton.

Okay, now what?  It’s not like you go up to a celebrity and ask if you can take a piss with them can you?  All that’s going to get you is charges being laid along with a possible restraining order which certainly isn’t going to help my cause any.

So I waited.

Yes, I totally creeped John Stanton and waited for him to go to the bathroom.  It’s certainly not one of the prouder moments in my life, but a desperate runner’s gotta do what a desperate runner’s gotta do.  Alright, I didn’t really stand there spying at him from over racks of multi-colored runner jerseys, no, I’m not quite that weird…yet.  I went to the registration desk, claimed my packet and resumed my browsing while keeping an ever wary eye on my prey.  He was signing copies of his book and chit-chatting with passersby.  Again, John is a nice guy.

I was just making my last pass before making my way back to the car, when I happened to notice him excuse himself from his booth and start to make his way to the bathroom nearby.  Booyah!  It’s on.

I sneakily followed in after him looking all casual and uncontrived n’ shit. Fortunately, we were the only two in there.

Perfect!

Here’s where it really gets a bit embarrassing. There is an unwritten rule of the mens bathroom that when it’s not busy, you choose a urinal as far away from your neighbor as possible.  I broke this rule and totally sidled right up next to him with a huge shit eating grin on my face.  No words were ever exchanged, but he eyed me suspiciously as I flashed him my best ‘hey, how you doin’?’ look.

Kinda like this:

…but not as creepy.

I’m sure he gets it all the time.

So anyway, yeah, mission accomplished.  I’m registered, my cake is baked and the icing has been obtained.  I’m ready to go.  I’m not sure what my strategy is at this time or whether I’m going to go balls out for a PB, or simply run strong and comfortably and simply see what happens.  This is my year to rebuild after all.  Having said that, now that I’ve had my pre-race tinkle with Johnny S, who knows?  Shit, I might even qualify for Boston.

Around the Bay 2012

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Races
Tags: ,
  • Around the Bay 30k (click to see stats & route)
  • Chip Time = 2:34:13 (click to see race stats)
  • Category Place = 198/454 (M 35-39)
  • Overall Place = 1617/7000
  • Overall Place (by gender) = 1243/2967
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 160 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 168 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:06 /km
  • Max. Pace = 3:27 /km
  • Calories = 2880
  • Temp = 14º
  • SOTD = ‘The Wicked Messenger (live)’ by Phil & Friends

The good news:  I bettered last years’ time by just less than 5 minutes.  What’s the bad news?  Well, I damn near killed myself doing it.  But that’s just how it goes sometimes in this crazy world of endurance sports I guess.

The day started out early with even less of an idea on how I planned to run today’s event than I did last night.  Kelly and I were up and packed to go by 6:30am,  including my having two changes of possible running attire, a post-race recovery ensemble and even more possible clothes to stretch in later at the gym (we never made it there).  By the time we peeled out of here at 6:45am  I may as well have been Paris Hilton embarking on a month’s road trip to Rio de Janeiro for all the clothes I was carrying.

You could say I was a bit undecided as to what would have been the most appropriate thing to run in today.  The weather called for a late morning high of 14º with gusts of wind and possible showers.  So warm and breezy with possible chances of wet and crappy.  How does one prepare for that?  In the end, I settled on my running tights, a base layer long sleeve shirt with a light windbreaker…and I damn near ended up dying of heat exhaustion.  But that story to come shortly…

Getting to the event was pretty uneventful thanks to a volunteered free parking pass right across from Copps Coliseum from a friend of mine who works in the immediate area (cheers, Jeremy!).  However, first we were able to quickly meet up with some other colleagues at the Grimsby YMCA to pick up my race kit before stopping off quickly at Tim Horton’s to pick up my pre-race usual of a toasted honey wheat bagel with cream cheese and a small cuppa’ joe which I affectionately refer to as ‘Poop Juice’.  Hey, don’t laugh as that’s exactly what it is.  I don’t want to be carrying any extra weight if necessary during the race so to aid in the process a little (besides giving that little extra perk prior to the race start), a small cup of coffee helps me drop this unnecessary load and get down to my proper ‘race weight’ if you will.  And, since I’ve brought it up, any bathroom will inevitably smell like the 8th Circle of ‘Dante’s Inferno’  approximately 30 minutes before any event giving credence that I am not the only one who swears by this routine; it’s a raw combination of nerves, adrenaline and a caffeinated shitstorm that becomes the true bouquet of long distance athletics…make no mistake.

With about 20 minutes to go prior to the race, I made my way out with the other 7000  or so participants to the starting point approximately a block away from the actual finish line at the entrance to Copps itself.  Now, I don’t know why I do this but I fall victim to this at nearly every event: I misplace myself towards the back of the field and yesterday was no exception.  No sooner do I join the herd before I realize that I’m also going to have to maneuver myself through this enormous crowd of people for the first 7-8k  or so.  F-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-n-g!

And so it began, with me dodging, darting, veering and steering my way through the dense pack of runners looking for the 2:30:00  pace bunny I was hoping to find.  No luck though.  I did navigate around (or in some cases, through) runners in some pretty remarkable get-ups though, including girls bright neon booty shorts (okay, I ran behind them just for a little bit first), Elvis, and a guy wearing a helicopter costume.  Over all, it was like being beamed directly into a forward-only game of ‘Frogger’.

In case you’re wondering what the start of an event 7000 strong looks like, here’s an idea:

It also became clear to me after the first 5-6k  that I was completely over-dressed and I began to expunge gallons and gallons of sweat.  My base layer absorbed moisture like a sponge and my jacket had saturated itself straight through, and I became aware of a serious stink emanating from body.  Oh well, it couldn’t be helped now so I made a conscious effort to stop at aid stations for water where I typically wouldn’t bother.  I knew though that without that sweet, sweet, precious liquid the chances of my dehydrating by the 20k  mark and turning into a quivering pile of protoplasm by the roadside were quite inevitable.  So stop and drink I did.

The “Reward”

Over all, the first 10k  went pretty well, resulting in a 2 minute improvement over last year, not to mention a new personal best for the 10k distance with 49:33.  In fact, all my splits this year were faster; 1:14:39 vs 1:18:00,  and 1:40:45 vs 1:44:28 .  However, the real difference was that I was feeling a bit stronger heading into the hills this year and I was able to reign in nearly seven minutes in total through the difficult hills in the last 10k.  Of course, it might not exactly have seemed that way at the time as my legs felt like cracking lead.  I didn’t high-five the karaoke midget, I didn’t bother with the numb nuts coaching people up the hill at 26k, I didn’t take in the motivational slogans on each kilometer marker, nor did I notice many spectator signs this time (although the guy trying in vain to coax runners in his ‘Quitter’s Throne’  at the 21k  mark seemed pretty enticing).  Instead, I hammered on even though I felt rough.  In fact, I was even beating myself up at the time for not feeling stronger, being able to go faster, what have you, but the data suggests something else quite different and you can’t fuck with the numbers.

Maybe this improvement in the last portions of the race was better conditioning on my part this year to deal with hills, my emphasis on speed work this year, or perhaps just the benefit of another years’ worth of racing experience under my belt paying off – I’m not entirely sure.  But I am happy with that end result.

So where do I go from here?  Well, it’s onward and upward in my training for Ironman Wales, where the run course is also known for being hilly and challenging.  So I predict many more hard, hilly and painful runs in my near future such as this one.  At least I know they’re in my ability to do, I just have to focus on getting stronger, work on my pain threshold a bit and get comfortable in coping with that, as well as developing my overall confidence level a bit.

Where the Around the Bay  last year, represented a break from the real  long distances, this year it marks only the beginning; and what an eye-opener it was.  God help me.

  • Easy Run (click to see stats)
  • 4.89 (27:33)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 144 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 169 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:38/km
  • Best Pace = 4:57/km
  • Calories = 462
  • Temp = 22º
  • SOTD: ‘Diddy Wa Diddy’ by Captain Beefheart

Tomorrow I’m running in the Around the Bay 30k race again for my third straight year and I’m not more looking forward to it than I have in the past two.  It’s common knowledge by now that I’m no lover of running but do it more out of necessity than I do for the passion of it.  What can I say?  Running sucks; particularly at distances that make your legs feel like they fell off somewhere behind you along the roadside, yet you kept plodding along.

This is my first ‘A-Race’ event of the season and my first test this season at long (you can read that as “really long”) distances and, as per usual, I don’t have a race strategy yet.  I seldom do until the gun goes off and I actually cross the Starting Line; I’m just more of a ‘compete by the seat of your pants’ kind of guy I guess.  But that didn’t stop me from thinking about one on my last short training jog this evening.

Given no unforeseen problems or mishaps, I know I CAN beat last years’ finishing time of 2:39:04, but do I really want to?  I mean, at this point last year this was going to be the longest run all season before looking forward to culling it back down to the 21.1k  distance, where this year it’s just start of many more long distance hauls to come; most of which will be conducted after long rides to boot.  Let’s look at the data, shall we?

Last year I maintained an average pace of 5:19/km  over 30k  which, at the time was very good for me.  Just weeks before I ran the Grimsby Half Marathon in 1:47:05  requiring me to keep an average pace of 5:02/km – then a personal best.  This year, I’ve already murdered that time in the Chilly Half Marathon with 1:39:30  which, truthfully, I didn’t know I had in me.  That’s keeping a 4:43/km  pace!  Fuck me.  During all my training runs so far this year, which I don’t push to full race potential, I am now keeping a comfortable 5:00/km  pace, or just below that.  So even if I kept that 5:00/km  pace, this gives me a potential finishing time of 2:30:00  on the button.  Hell, I can even stop and enjoy some jellybeans handed out by the crowd or stop and shoot the shit with the Karaoke midget, whatever, and still make better on last years’ time.

Of course, anything can happen and this is all just an ideal world we’re talking about here, but it is in my ability. Thing is, should my intent be on Sunday to attack the course and go after the 2:30:00  that I think I have in me, or do I concentrate on finding that comfortable pace that I can maintain, not just for 30k  but for 42.2k, which I can expect to run in Wales, and make peace with it instead?  In other words, use the day as more of a mental conditioning and physical experimentation day?

Who knows?  Only time and will tell.  I guess I’ll just have to wait until I first cross that Starting Line to see what happens.

Around the Bay

Posted: March 28, 2011 in Races
Tags: ,
  • Around the Bay 30k (click to see stats & route)
  • Chip Time = 2:39:04 (click to see race stats)
  • Category Place = 201/412 (M 35-39)
  • Overall Place = 1672/7000
  • Overall Place (by gender) = 1238/2963
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 164 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 176 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:16 /km
  • Max. Pace = 4:19 /km
  • Calories = 2866
  • Temp = -8º
  • SOTD = ‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC

Everything you need to know about yourself you will learn in 30k

(12th kilometer marker)

Truer words were never spoken – believe me.

If my training days up to this point have provided me the opportunity to peek inside the Hurt Locker a little bit, then today was the chance to throw open the door, jump inside and make myself cozy before slamming it shut again.

I successfully completed (‘survived’ might be the better word) this race last year, and now I return with the added pressure of having a time to beat (2:56:00).  And to make things perfectly clear, I didn’t want to simply improve on last year’s time – I wanted to destroy it.  As someone once explained to me, “sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.” Or, as I prefer to think of it today, sometimes the bear calls you a name so you incredulously ask, “what did you say?”, and the bear says, “you heard me,” before adding under its breath, “bitch”, and then when you stand up and politely request to take it outside it swiftly ninja kicks you upside the head until you fall flat on your back.  Then it proceeds to kick you in the nuts, spit on you when you’re doubled over in agony, and kicks you once more in the ass just to add embarrassment to injury before it says, “What now, huh? What now?” And when all you can do is groan back a meaningless reply it says, “Yeah, that’s what I thought” before bending down to steal your wallet.  Around the Bay is like that.  Sure I’m confident in my abilities and I’m proud of my accomplishments this year, but this race is hard.  It’s not quite a full marathon, but it can still break you.

It wasn’t specifically one of my designated Fitness Goals for 2011, but in my mind this race would be testimony, or some sort of validation if you will, to the effect of my weight loss and working towards the master plan.  I shaved off 20 minutes from my half marathon time last month and I nearly accomplished just that again today (17 minutes) from my 30k time.  Who’s tha man?

The starting line was a zoo.  A complete unsettled sea of neon running jackets, black leotard, and the odd nut job dressed only in short shorts and a t-shirt braving the minus zero temperature.  Why?  Anyway, to give you some scope about what competing in a 7000 competitor race is like, once the preliminary ceremonies and shit had commenced and the horn had sounded the ‘official’ start of the race, it took me nearly 7 minutes of walking from where I was positioned in the scrum to actually step foot on the starting matt to begin my run or, in other words, invite the bear to dance.

10k (51:52)

As usual, the race started rather quickly but instead of observing my usual cautious approach to pacing, I decided to push it early and just go with the flow for a change.  I managed to keep up with two of my faster peers (see Fitness Goal #6) for about the first 7k before sensing I was at risk of petering out prematurely so I backed off a little bit to begin saving something for the race’s notorious torturous second half.  The result, however, was an impressive (for me) 51:52 split time for the first 10k.  Compared to last years split of 57:39, I was already ahead of the game…but the bear was just getting warmed up.

20k (1:44:28)

My second 20k split of 1:44:28 was nearly eleven minutes faster than that of last year and only slightly more than my first split…no negative splits today but that’s still pretty sweet.  I’m also on pace with my half marathon PB last month…double sweet!  But around the 24k mark things were beginning to get decidedly, well, ‘ouchie’ for lack of a better word.  I noticed that the sole of my left foot was beginning to burn a little; a tell tale sign of blistering.  I made a mental note that it might be time to invest in a new pair of ‘lucky socks’ and tried to put it out of my mind.

However, just before we descended down into a steep valley we were greeted with a simply breath-taking view out across the Bay.  Awesome…but then you see it:  this teeny…weeny…Technicolor dotted line…working its way back up the other side of the valley.  Ho-lee shit.  Uh huh…that’s right….runners.  I guess in this case, what eventually goes down must eventually go back up and, unfortunately in this case, it happens to go up along what is affectionately known in the race as ‘Heartbreak Hill’.  My quads were already burning and my calves felt like they had been molded of cheese, and thoughts of ‘how in the Sam hell am I ever going to get up that fucking thing?’ began to circulate through my head.  For a brief moment I mentally thanked my coach for making run so many God-damned hills this year (actually there have been several times, but I don’t like to mention them all lest they should begin to go to her head) and then got back to ‘Embracing the Suck’ (to outright steal a term from Carolyn at Eat Well).  Lucky for me though, two other things also occurred at exactly this moment as well:

  1. AC/DC started up on my iPod’s playlist.  Hells Bells is my favorite ‘tough guy’ balls-to-the-wall music anthem.  Isn’t it for all guys?
  2. I got to high-five a midget.  Yup, that’s right…in all its delicious irony.  Truthfully, though, this midget, dwarf, little person, whatever, didn’t really have anything to do with my particular mindset at that time but, really, how often do you get to do something like that?

So, just as I try to do in training, when I reached the bottom of the hill – I attacked.  What the hell?  This is why I ran all those hills in the first place, right?  I took the opportunity here to pull away from those dozen or so runners I had settled in with over the last few kilometers.  In my head I’m always ‘racing’ and I’ve learned to accept this about myself.  Although I try to never let it cloud my perspective about why I’m doing it in the first place, or how I relate to the race with others afterwards, when I’m racing I’m always trying to beat the other guy – period.  What can I say?  I have a competitive nature.  It helps move me along the course and enables me to cope with discomfort and even outright agony at times.  It serves me well.

The final 4k was an exercise in pure agony.  The bear had completely risen up in my path and was ready to rain down with some serious hammer blows…I just had to hold on…a bit longer.  I realized that although I would probably fall short of my Dream time (2:30:00) that my Goal time (2:45:00) was still well within reach…so it was time to get moving.  There’s no rest for the weary in running I’m afraid, so after reaching the summit along Valley Inn Road I kicked it into overdrive, judo-chopped the bear in the throat Samurai-style and started the final 4k dash back to Copps Coliseum.  My legs felt mangled.  Not because of the distance so much, but the pace I was trying to maintain after nearly 11k of hills.  Although my 5:22 /km pace at the time wasn’t the strong 5:10 /km I had started out with, it felt like the absolute wind right then and it was all I could muster through the home stretch to keep it up.  Having two members of the Kincardine Triathlon Club also pounding pavement behind me certainly helped stoke the pride embers a little bit and gave me that last ounce of gas to the finish line.

30k (2:39:04)

So I now have myself a new Personal Best at 30k, as well as a new bear skin rug to boot.  But it’s particularly hard to fathom right now as I type here in my pajamas loaded to the tits on ibuprofen, that come this time next year this race will not be the main goal in itself, but only a stepping stone to completing a full marathon prior to competing in my Ironman event in September.  What will Thunder n’ Lightning feel like then?  Right about now, that thought alone scares the living bejesus out of me…but it’ll be an interesting adventure nonetheless.

Upon later inspection, I realized that I had not, in fact, developed any blisters at all.  I guess that was just the bear toying with me.  I’m still going to buy new socks though…