Anyone ever tell you to eat more turkey to make you run slower the next day? It happened to me on Christmas Day. And I refused.
My goal for this year’s Boxing Day 10-Miler in Hamilton, Ontario was to finish in under 1 hour and 30 minutes, but I thought that might be a little optimistic. My PB for this race was 1:31:56, which I did in 2013. Last year I was considerably slower, running the race with a cold.
With unseasonably warm temperatures so far this winter, the forecast for race day was +4 degrees Celsius, with winds around 25 km/h.
A noon race start meant that we didn’t have to get up early! Somehow I had forgotten to register us, so when we arrived at the Hamilton YMCA around 10:30 AM, we did that first (and paid more for the race because of it!).
I discovered that I had forgotten to bring my race bib holder, so I spent a while attempting to attach the bib with safety pins to my shirt, then when it felt all bunchy and annoying below my water bottle belt, I tried attaching it to my thigh. I scrapped that plan when I couldn’t get it to sit nicely, and I worried that it would be annoying as I ran (I’ve never attached it to my leg before). I finally settled on attaching it to my shirt. Later, when I made one of many trips to the toilet, I learned that I had actually attached the bib to my running pants too! That was fun.
There aren’t too many toilets at the Hamilton YMCA where this race starts and ends, but I didn’t find it too bad this year. I found a bathroom in the basement that hardly anyone was using, but when I told other people in other lines to go there – that there was no line-up – they looked at me with suspicion. “Really!” I said. “I was just there!”
Alasdair and I headed over to the Hamilton GO station for the last few minutes before the race, where I made a few more trips to the bathroom! We headed out to the start line, and before long, we heard an announcement that there were 5 minutes to go. I remembered that I had tiny pebbles in my shoes and needed to empty them. I retied my laces and was ready to go! With 30 seconds to go, I realized that I had retied my shoes too tightly! I decided to just leave them, and hope they weren’t a problem…
With a yell of “GO!” (no horn), the race was on! I started too quickly, as always, but it felt good so I kept the pace up. I remembered early on, just like last year, that the distance markers for this race are in miles, not kilometres – and was annoyed once again that I hadn’t memorized my pace times in miles. When I hit 1 mile, I was at 8:12, which meant nothing to me! At mile 2 I was at 16:27, and at mile 3, at 24:55. After trying to do the math in my head to figure out my pace, I realized that all I had to do was keep my pace under 9 min/mile to finish sub 1:30! So far, so good. And of course at the half way point, I would know whether I was on target for a sub 1:30 race.
This race goes north from the Hamilton YMCA on Hughson Street, eventually taking runners onto the Waterfront Trail. It continues on the trail beside Burlington Bay and then Cootes Paradise until Longwood, going up a pretty good hill, along some flat (where I had my one and only drink – gatorade – during the race, handed to me by none other than Gord Pauls of Runners Den fame), and then down a pretty long hill until the Waterfront Trail is rejoined. It was pretty windy along the water, with headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds!
New this year was a 4-mile race option, which heads out the same way as the 10-mile race, but turns back earlier. When I reached the turning point along the Waterfront Trail, a volunteer standing there yelled “4-mile turnaround!” I replied, “I wish!” and the runner just behind me laughed.
Around the 4 mile mark, the lead runners were coming the other way, being led by a small car driving along the Waterfront Trail. It was a bit crazy, in my mind, because the trail isn’t that wide! It had to weave around big orange construction cones as well, honking its horn as it went. I’m thinking that a lead bicycle would be a much smarter option!!
When I crossed the mat at the half way point, I was at 43 minutes and change, so I knew I was on track for a sub 1:30 race, if I could just maintain my pace. To encourage myself to keep the pace up, I was telling myself as I ran, “hills are flat”, and “one foot in front of the other”. I got a really annoying song in my head and couldn’t get rid of it (“…the people keep coming but the train has gone…”). As I got closer, I was telling myself that I just had to run sub 6 min kilometres, and as I got even closer, if I maintained sub 7 min kilometres I’d still meet my time goal.
There is one big hill to climb coming out of Pier 4 park, but once that’s done, there’s less than 2 km of pretty flat road to go. My only complaint about the race was that there was no finish line visible. A group of spectators were (jokingly) yelling that runners were at the finish when they weren’t quite there yet. I would have been pretty annoyed had I stopped there and missed my time goal by seconds! The finish was simply the timing mat, which registers a runner’s time as it is crossed. With just a couple of hundred metres to go, I spotted Alasdair, my swim coach Mat Reid, and his wife Lauren, who had all finished ahead of me.
And just like that, I was done, in a time of 1:27:55, or a full 4 minutes and 1 second faster than my PB! (Alasdair also had a 4 min PB!)
After the race we enjoyed hot Campbell’s tomato soup. There was also fruit, buns, and a package of vector cereal available.
This year, I placed an incredible 14/35 among all women 40-44. This is amazing for me!
Time: 1:27:55 (8:49 min/mile or 5:29 min/km – fastest race pace ever!)
Women aged 40-44: 14/35
Women overall: 66/243
All runners: 289/560
2014 for comparison
Time: 1:36:59 (9:44 min/mile)
Women aged 40-44: 24/41
Women overall: 148/281
All runners: 461/662
We’ll be back!