As Alasdair put it, today we out-toughed a half marathon.
With extreme cold weather alerts on tap this weekend, I was keeping an extra close eye on this morning’s predicted temperature in Grimsby. Yesterday, the forecast called for -21 degrees Celsius feeling like -28 with the windchill. This morning when we woke up at 6:30 AM, it looked like this:
At breakfast (oatmeal, yogurt and a banana for me), Alasdair mentioned that he wouldn’t be heartbroken if we didn’t race, but I’ve been training in the cold, wind, and snow all winter, and I wanted to race! I knew that if we dressed in lots of layers, we’d be fine! I wore long johns + racing pants + windbreaker pants on the bottom, and long johns + 3 running tops + 1 merino wool base layer + a running coat on top, plus a headband, balaclava (which I didn’t actually use to cover my face – wasn’t needed), fleece hat, and 2 pairs of running gloves. I also had extra fleece gloves in case I needed them! “Experts” always say to never try anything new on race day (new clothes, new food, etc.), but I broke that rule today by wearing brand new never before worn long johns – that thankfully weren’t itchy – and Alasdair’s running coat – the zipper broke on my running jacket this morning – wouldn’t budge – so I wore Alasdair’s old coat, which he thankfully found this week after having lost it and gone out to replace it a month or so ago.
So, we left the kids sleeping in bed and headed for Grimsby. It wasn’t until we reached the gym doors and read the note posted that we learned the half marathon was cancelled due to the weather – we later learned the decision was made because it would have been too cold for the volunteers manning the aid stations and directing runners at intersections (understandable – we would have been running, while they would have been standing still for hours)! We were rather annoyed though that we hadn’t received an email notification, given that the race organizers (Subaru of Hamilton and Niagara Running Series) had our email addresses and sent out a final race email just a couple of days prior. In any case, it didn’t take us long to decide that we would switch to the 10k race (a first for me). Unfortunately, after going to the registration table like the notice told us and standing in a long line up, we were told once we got to the front of the line that we had to go find our race bib with timing chip on it first, and then go to the back of the line! Alasdair politely complained and we were told to just get the bibs and go back to the front of the line. After that was dealt with, we picked up our race shirts, used the bathroom a few times, dropped our bags off at the baggage check, and headed for the start line.
I had completely forgotten about my hip flexors, which I don’t normally feel but could Sunday after Saturday’s partner yoga session with Alasdair at the Yogashala in Waterdown. I had been hoping they wouldn’t cause me trouble… and I think Alasdair was feeling the same way about his hamstrings and groin, which got a workout holding me in the air (we had tons of fun but also learned that we have a loooong way to go before we can even attempt many of the partner poses that Meagan and Chris make look so easy!!).
We didn’t want to go outside too soon, but it turns out we left it a bit late! At 8:56 AM Alasdair decided to stop for a last bathroom break, and once we got outside we realized the start was around the corner (not right out front of the school). We turned the corner and the horn sounded – the race was on and we weren’t at the starting line! Unfortunately in this race, the gun time was the official start time, not the moment you actually cross the starting mat (there wasn’t one). So, we ran to the starting line and lost between 10-20 seconds right off the bat. It also meant we had to weave through slower runners as we made our way forward. Lesson learned!
The roads were mostly dry – except for the smaller roads, which were covered in hard packed snow – and the course was relatively flat, except for the bridge that went over the Queen Elizabeth Way. I didn’t notice any wind, but I did enjoy the full sun and the view as we ran along Lake Ontario. The weather really wasn’t bad. I had cold fingers on my right hand for a bit, but I scrunched them into a fist inside the 2nd glove and they warmed up quickly. Later I did the same on my right hand when just one finger felt icy. My butt did feel cold for a bit, but not too cold (I would have thought it would be pretty warm!). According to Alasdair, one man ran in shorts, but THAT is crazy!
Given that we were running a 10k and not 21.1k, I decided to run at a faster pace. My first couple of km’s were around 5:15 min/km, which is very fast for me! I ran 3k in about 16 min, 5k in 26, and 6k in 32 or so. I was moving! I didn’t stop at all, and didn’t even slow down to get water/gatorade at the aid stations. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep the pace up, but I intended to try. I had a side stitch for 3/4 of the race, so I was just on the fast side of what is comfortable for me, but it was minor and I was able to just ignore it. I was doing the math in my head and hoping to finish in less than 56 minutes. My 10k PB for a triathlon run was last summer in Wasaga Beach, when I ran it in around 54 minutes. But, I haven’t been running fast lately and have been feeling as though I’ve lost all the speed I had in the fall. With just a couple of hundred metres to go, I spotted Alasdair and he said, “Kyra?” (remember, I wasn’t wearing my usual coat, and as he said, there were lots of blue coats in the race!) I waved, and then he cheered for me and one of the volunteers did too. I just had to turn the corner, turn the next corner, and run across the finish line. I knew at this point that I wasn’t going to be sub 56 minutes. But, I was still happy with my finishing time of 56:57 (official gun time). In actual fact I was 10-20 seconds faster. My legs felt great today, and as usual, my cardio was the limiting factor.
Total time: 56:57
Age group placement (women 40-44): 8/10
Gender placement: 26/39 all women
After getting my race medal, I went into the gym and changed into clean dry clothes. Runners were given pizza, bananas, apples, donuts, protein bars, pop and coffee. I rarely drink coffee but felt like a warm beverage, so I had one today.
We stayed for the awards, and while waiting for them to start, Alasdair checked the results board and saw that he was 4th in his age group but would have been 2nd if he had registered for the 10k (we were competing against half marathoners who switched to the 10k, not those who registered for the 10k originally). He was pretty happy with his 4th place finish out of 8 or so runners… and then… when the winners for his age group (men 40-44) were called up, 2nd place was from Waterdown, and then the announcer said 3rd place from Waterdown… and Alasdair was wondering what the chances were that there was someone else from Waterdown in the race… and then they called his name! It’s just the 2nd time he’s been on a podium for a running race (the other time was the Santa 5k in Hamilton in 2013 when he ran at Keaghan’s pace and came 3rd in his age group). He’s now declared that his new hobby is going to be finding obscure races and getting on the podium!
Here are the finisher medals:
And here is the race t-shirt:
We were disappointed that the half marathon was cancelled, but I’m pretty sure Alasdair wouldn’t change a thing (except maybe running faster if he had known how well he was doing relative to the field)!! And next year, he said he’s signing up for the 10k!
The next race for us is MEC race #2 in May, a half marathon in Hamilton!