Race report: Boxing Day 10-Miler

“It is not so much that I began to run, but that I continued.” – Hal Higdon

Unfortunately, this year’s Boxing Day 10-Miler in Hamilton fell at the tail end of a (seemingly never-ending) cold, which lingered by way of a congested chest and had me coughing up a lung in the night. I decided to run anyway, because really, I was fine during the day, though slightly lacking on the cardio front. I knew that realistically, a PB was not within reach this year, but I was going to try to run as fast as my recovering body would allow me!

This was to be my 2nd running of the Boxing Day 10-Miler, and Alasdair’s 1st. We brought the kids with us to the Hamilton YMCA (“race central”), and left them to shoot hoops in the gym or read while we ran (membership privileges!). After multiple trips to the bathroom, Alasdair and I headed over to the Hamilton GO Station, which had additional bathroom facilities and was conveniently located at the start line!


At the start line

Apparently the weather for this race was the best it had been in 10 years – the roads were dry, there was a forecasted high of 5 degrees Celsius, and there was sun (we’ve been a bit lacking lately). It was perfect running weather.

At 12 noon the race started. I ran beside Alasdair for the first few seconds, and then he was gone. Once again I had to do quite a bit of weaving around people, but eventually the pack spread out and I settled into a steady pace. I wasn’t overtaken by a running talking Christmas tree this year (I think he started ahead of me!). And I never did see the running penguin during the race either (only afterwards). It wasn’t long before I removed my gloves and flipped the ear parts of my headband up. I was wondering if I had overdressed! It seemed to be taking a while to reach the 1 km marker, but then I saw the 1 MILE marker (this was the 10-Miler after all, though I had forgotten from last year’s race that this was how the course was marked) and I was relieved, knowing that I had already run 1.6 km and wasn’t plodding along as slowly as I feared. I had RunKeeper going on my phone but I couldn’t hear it, so I struggled the entire race knowing exactly where I was – I didn’t notice all of the mile markers, don’t know my pace per mile anyway, and am convinced that there wasn’t a marker at every mile. I soon heard two runners discussing their pace, and when I heard it was 5:33/km, I knew I should slow down.

The first 5k went relatively well, and it was somewhere not too far after this point that the race leaders zoomed by me going in the opposite direction. The man running just behind me yelled, “Awesome!” As he got closer to me I turned and said to him, “Awesome and depressing!” to which he replied, “We’re not all paid to run!” So true.


Race course

Just past 7 km there was a very short out and back section, and then a climb up a hill into Westdale. I hate that hill. But as I ran it, I thought (and almost said to those around me) “This isn’t heartbreak hill!” (from the Around the Bay race) so really it should be easy! It wasn’t long before I realized that I must be half way done the race, and though I felt that my pace was slowing, I was still moving along at a pretty good rate. I ran across a timing mat and figured it must be the 10 km marker. Turns out it was the 6 mile marker or 9.6 km. Then I saw a young woman who was running while apparently trying to get rid of a cramp. I reached her and said, “You and me both!” to which she replied, “Stupid stitch!” I had cramps for part of the run – the worst around 4 km I think – but they didn’t last long and weren’t too bad.

For the rest of the race, I spent the time knowing that I was slowing down, but determined not to stop running (it’s always so hard to start up again). I did stop to walk once, at around 13 km, for a cup of gatorade at a water station. And then I was back at it, knowing that the end was near. With just over 1 km to go, there is a short-ish, steep climb up out of Bayfront Park. I ran it but many people were walking. I felt like I picked up the pace for the last km, but I’m not sure I actually did. It might have just been an increased perceived effort!

As I approached the finish line, I heard Alasdair cheering for me, and then just like that, I was done! A full 6 minutes (5%) slower than last year, but I’ll take it. And next year, I’ll run for the PB! (It was only once I stopped running that I started coughing uncontrollably!)


Just past the finish line

We headed back to the Y for some delicious canned Campbell’s tomato soup, crackers, a bun, and fruit. (The only negative of the whole experience was the garbage left behind in the gym by some of our fellow – selfish – runners. Cracker wrappers, banana peels, crumbs, water bottles, you name it left all over the bleachers! Disgusting.)

2014 Stats:

Time: 1:36:59

Pace: 9:44/mile or 6:05/km

Women 40-44: 24/41

All women: 148/281

All racers: 461/662


Back at the YMCA

2013 Stats:

Time: 1:31:56

Pace: 9:15/mile or 5:46/km

Women 35-39: 17/44

All women: 111/321

All racers: 357/684


Race medal


Sporting our new (huge) sweatshirts

Alasdair had a great race, finishing in 1:19:59. We’ll both be back next year – chasing down PBs!

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