ATB Race Report (Probably TL;DR)
(Note: TL;DR version: I ran a race. I ran it faster than I expected. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Still a fat hobbyjogger.)
I lined up for Around the Bay 30k (oldest race in North America!) last weekend aware of a few things:
1. I am about 10 pounds heavier than I was last year at this time.
2. My mileage is lower than it was last year at this time.
3. I’ve run like shit lately and had to kick like a fiend to even break 34 for 8k recently.
4. I didn’t really…care about those things.
Nor did I really care about the fact that I was setting off on a 30k loop without any real goals in mind or fuck, any idea of how the damn thing would go. I’d essentially TAPERED for the race just to get to the starting line in one piece. All my long runs recently have been horrible.
Oh no. Just one question in my head:
Why the fuck AM I here?
But of course, it was too late for that seeing that I was on the starting line. Ready to “race” a 30k at…something along the lines of marathon pace?
First 10k: True to what I’d heard, the start was crowded and I had a hard time NOT weaving around people. And a lot of them were relay runners that were going out too hard or people that just should not have been that far up front. It felt hot. Too hot. I couldn’t find a rhythm and immediately regretted the decision to NOT switch my watch to kilometers (Oh yeah, I was in Ontario. Did I mention that?)
First mile was approximately 7:32. Hm. In theory, this seemed reasonable giving that I was looking to test out goal MP, but I honestly felt like I was trying too hard. The course was slightly downhill which made it tough to settle in, particularly because I kept creeping up and racing people. I tried my best to conserve energy but kept picking up just a tad. (7:34, 7:44, 7:26, 7:30, 7:29. 10k in 47:22.)
Next 5k: By this point I was getting antsy. Probably because I HURT. Already. There was a pain creeping up my hamstrings. My back was sore. I wasn’t quite sure what to make out of it seeing that, well, I WASN’T GOING FAST ENOUGH TO BE THIS UNCOMFORTABLE. I knew from reading Yumke’s GREAT description of the course that this was a good time to relax a bit since I had awhile before we hit the “famous” hills.
Up over the bridge. I felt like ass, though I couldn’t help but notice that I was already passing pretty large groups of people. Someone would surge ahead, and within a few minutes…I’d pass them. A tall girl passes me and her coach bikes by to tell her she’s looking strong. She responded with “we’re not even half way!” and it occurs to me that I have not even seen 14k yet. Ugh. We pass a bacon station. (Yes, really.) As good as the salt sounds, I don’t give in. Instead, I take a gel, dump water on my head and try my best to loosen up. (7:27/7:30/7:33, halfway at 1:10:51).
Still passing a lot of people. There are people who are shedding layers, relay runners running a lot slower than those on the previous leg, early starters weaving and my usual foes – middle aged men – left and right. I try to ignore them as well as the fear that I’m going to blow the hell up because really, and I can’t stress this enough, I HURT EVERYWHERE. It wasn’t a “I’m going to pull a muscle” ache. It was really just the “long hard effort in muggy weather when you didn’t eat salt” pain. In some ways, I find that one worse because it’s really hard to stay calm and not just give in. We turn just past an OPP station. (That’d be Ontario Provincial Police to those Americans that’d probably fall for whatever Rick Mercer told them ) I resist the urge to ask anyone if they are down with OPP. (For those not schooled in ’90s rap. ) Instead, I worry my back will not hold up as I run up what appears to be the beginning of some of these hills. I find myself passing people still, no matter how slow I feel like I’m going. (7:31, 7:31, 7:37 – 20k in 1:34:32)
Last 10k: It turns out this course really is perfect for Boston prep because you go from downhill to slightly rolling to a series of hills. Thanks to Yumke, I knew I was going uphill earlier than I think I would have noticed otherwise. I take a look at my 21k split and it’s under 1:40, so I’m on sub 3:20 marathon pace. Hm, am I REALLY in that kind of shape?
The hills are exactly where I expected them, and I just took the damn things. My back kept aching. My ass still hurt. However, every time I felt like I was dying…I’d pass more people. I tried to ignore my watch and just count down the kilometers. The whole “You can do anything for 40 minutes! You can do anything for 30 minutes!” bullshit that somehow works. I started to rally and think I could really pick up some time until the downhill just after 25k. But as soon as I started to stride out…WHAM.
My back SPASMED. There is no way to describe it. But FUCK, it hurt. I tried to open up again…SPASM. Just like getting shot.
Fuck, am I going to have to sit down in the middle of the road??
I let a couple people pass me. I know there is an uphill coming up and try and shake off the pain. Things felt better as soon as it flattened out…but of course, there was a giant fucking uphill staring me in the face.
I gave up trying to overtake people and held back. I recognized people I’d seen miles before coming back. I was afraid to pass them up the giant hill, but eventually just kind of forgot about that. I passed people as I crested and just kept going. There were two grim reapers (one a kid) between 27-28k and I think i must have laughed out loud because the little one screamed “stop smiling!” at me.
I relaxed and kept trying to pick people off. As much as I was afraid of cramping up and ending up in a ball on the side of the road, I just kind of ignored it. Under 2k to go. I could see the coliseum. I kept passing people. I kept thinking I couldn’t speed up…then I’d speed up. We were in the shadows of the coliseum and I’m not sure how far we have to run on the track when we get there. I speed up like it’s a chore, passing several more people. We turn onto the concrete loading dock (ow) and onto the track. The banner is right there…but there are three mats. Where the hell do I stop? I keep sprinting until someone tells me to STOP running. Whoops.
Final damage: 7:30,7:50, 7:36, 7:16, 7:31, 7:27 and 6:59 pace for the last .6 or whatever. 2:21.08, so a slight negative split? Somehow.
-I was expecting closer to 2:25.
-Last year I ran a 30k in 2:20.54 3 weeks before Boston, so this was not far off.
-I liked the course. The Hamilton marathon is my big race for the fall, so now I know how long it’ll take me to drive home when I’m stopping for things like milkshakes and salt on the way home.
-This course was not as difficult as the one I ran last year. And I was slower. I’m guessing last year at this time I would have run under 2:20 on this course.
-I didn’t feel nearly as controlled as I did last year where I ran metronome like splits. Last year? I ran the middle two 5 mile loops in the exact same time. I never really felt GOOD.
-I took a beating. After I got through the chute I cramped up. Again. I stumbled to find Gatorade before stumbling more to find where I left my sweatshirt. I was in agony. Like I’d just run a marathon. I was limping…like I just ran a marathon. I didn’t wear a HRM, but I have a feeling I might have redlined this a bit. Which may not bode well for Boston.
-I can’t remember the last time I had fucking BACK SPASMS. It was strange. I was able to shake them off, but it suggests a weakness of some sort. Maybe it was just the lack of salt, but it wasn’t something I really want to repeat.
No. Really. I’ve gone on too long.