Takeaways from Hamilton’s 2022 Around The Bay 30K Relay Road Race
The Around The Bay Road race in Hamilton: a 30K individual race, 3 x 10K relay, or 2 x 15K relay. I signed up as part of a 3 person relay with folks from the Crossfit Colosseum running group, and I’ve got to say, this was probably the hardest 10K I’ve run in ages.
I haven’t been running a long time, but 10K has become a distance that I don’t think much about anymore – that is it’s one I can typically just go and run it without too much effort. This time was different. It was a slower, more painful run than I was expecting.
To start the day we all met up at Crossfit Colosseum, to carpool our way to Hamilton from there. It’s about a 45 minute drive.
It was cold, too cold. The week prior I had done the St. Patrick’s day 5K in Toronto in shorts, and while it was a little cool, it wasn’t bad. Themis day was different though. The high of the day was something like -4 C, and it was snowing. I’m mostly ok with cold weather running, having run through the last two winters, but maybe because it had been so warm the week before it just felt really cold.
After arriving in Hamilton we assembled at First Ontario Place, where the finish line is, before heading out to our assigned start locations. Those running the full distance, or the first leg of the relay, started from nearby, while those of us running the second or third legs of the relay were bused out to the transfer points. The race started at 9:30, so at 9 the buses headed out. I haven’t been on a school bus in a while – those seats are tight! If you haven’t sat with your knees up your nose for a while, try getting on a school bus.
Next came the wait. I was in the third leg, so with the race starting at 9:30 I figured my team would get to me somewhere between 11 and 11:30. So that meant something like 2 hours sitting around on these buses. We were free to get off and on as we chose, but it was damn cold outside. I did get out for a few stretches, and about 15 minutes before my teammate arrived got off and started warming up.
The race had a great app for tracking runners, with seemingly real time updates, so knowing where they were and how long I had was really easy, and at 11:08 the relay belt was handed off to me.
I’ve heard the third leg described as the prettiest, and it was pretty. It was also really hilly. Not giant hills – well one maybe, but lots of rolling hills through suburbs. I like – or at least don’t mind – running hills, but after a few kms I was feeling really beat. I was a little pissed off – I hadn’t run nearly long or far enough to feel this way.
At about that point on the course they were handing out some energy snacks and I grabbed one. Different from the gels I’m used to, this one was more solid, and had to be chewed. That brought my pace down to a walk. Chewing, breathing, and running all at the same time isn’t in my skill set. So I finished what was in my mouth, put the rest in my pocket for later, and started running again.
The temperature started to become less of a concern – I generally run pretty hot – and I soon had my hat and gloves off and stuffed in my pockets. Towards the end of the race I removed my jacket as well. Hot.
What was starting to become more of a concern was the need to go to the washroom – not a quick visit behind a tree, but something more substantial. Having a “sit down” outside of my home is one of the last things in the world I want to do, so I typically stop eating solids early on the day before a race, with the hopes that everything will be cleared out in the morning before I leave. This day had seemed to be a success, but apparently not so. Not that I stopped to use a portapotty, but it did make for a more uncomfortable time.
The final few k involves a very long downward sloping run, followed by a much shorter, steeper climb. Then its pretty much flat out for about the last 2k to the finish line. You run past a cemetery, followed by some folks dressed as grim reapers, and then as you get closer to the stadium you start seeing more and more people cheering you on.
Actually there are people cheering almost the whole way along the course. You run past a lot of peoples front yards, and they’re out in lawn chairs with signs, bells, etc. I really can’t understate how much it helps to have people out cheering, particularly when the race is a bit of a struggle.
Then you turn into the stadium and burn it for the finish line.
In the end my avg pace was 5:58/k, which is on the right side of 6, but I was really hoping for more like 5:45, or if a miracle happened 5:30. My average at the St. Pat’s 5k the week earlier had been 5:00/k. I’m not a fast runner, but I like improving.
So here then are my takeaways to be able to better/more satisfyingly in the future:
- Avoid long periods of sitting all cramped up before running a race.
The next time I do this one I’ll either want to do one of the earlier relays, or perhaps the whole 30K.
- Warmup, warmup, warmup.
My warmup for this race – after getting off the bus – was running around the parking lot a few times. It’s a big lot, but at the last week’s race we’d run a 2k warmup, and my times were way better.
- Take every opportunity possible to “lighten the load” before a race.
At the stadium before we headed out on the buses there were real toilets – and while public washrooms aren’t high on my list of place I want to use, they are miles above portapotties.
- Don’t try new snacks during a race.
Maybe take them and stick them in my pocket for trying later, but only consume the ones I’m familiar with during the race.
Been there, done that? How did it go for you?