Yesterday was my first time running Around the Bay. As previously mentioned, my plan was to run it at my goal marathon pace of 4:30/km which would bring me in just under the cut off for silver medals. The timing of the race made it my first 30 km run ahead of May’s Ottawa Marathon.
When I registered for the race my wife and I decided to make it an extended trip and spend a couple of days doing some sightseeing in Toronto before heading to Hamilton for the race. After a couple of great days in Toronto we headed down the QEW for the race.
It was cool yesterday morning and I was worried about over dressing and being too hot or under dressing and being too cold. I debated whether to wear a long sleeve shirt or a pullover on top of a short sleeve shirt. Thanks again to Kenny over at A whole lot of soles who suggested a long sleeve shirt and a pair of gloves. This turned out to be the right call for me. I ended up turfing my gloves ended turfing my gloves at the 10 km mark but having them up until that point was a smart move.
Given my half-marathon time from last year’s Run for Reach I was able to register for the A corral at the front. This allowed me to spend a little extra time with my family before the start and keep warm with my jacket on before I left them.
I’d heard this course was a difficult one because it is flat until you start hitting hills around 21 km once you turn on to North Shore Dr. in Burlington. By the time we reached this point I was still feeling good. Having never done this race before I was not sure what to expect from the hills that were ahead. I managed to get through the first few hills without much difficulty.
I knew the last hill was going to be the toughest one but I was surprised when we went around the corner and the incline on the other side of the water came into view. For those of you who have never run this race before let me explain. As you approach the last hill you descend into a bit of a valley. Halfway through the descent you turn right and the ascent on the other side of the water comes into view. At the bottom of the road the course crosses a small bridge then begins the ascent. Here is a video of the ascent…
Once I got to the top of the hill my legs feeling it and I was thankful the we were on a flat part again. I’d heard the last three km of the course were mainly downhill and knew at that point I was going to meet my goal. I took off from the pace bunny at the 28 km sign and finished on my own crossing the line in 2:14:13 for an overall pace of 4:29.
There were a couple of things I really liked about this race. First, the fact that the race finishes indoor at Copps Coliseum meant that my wife and kids did not have to wait in the cold to see me finish.
I also liked the fact that since the course is a loop around the bay there are a few spots where you can see other points on the course allowing you to see how far you have run and how far you still have to go. In particular, seeing Copps Coliseum across the water with about 6-7 km was a positive for me because it was an indication that I was getting close to the finish.
All in all it was a positive experience for me. I met my goal for the race by completing my first 30 km training run for the Ottawa Marathon at my goal marathon pace. Hopefully I will be able to build on yesterday’s result as I move into the second half of my marathon training.
One thing I will mention for people travelling from out of town for this event, we stayed at the Best Western on Queensway Dr. in Burlington. The location was fine because it was close to the 403 and a quick drive into Hamilton. On the downside they were not willing to allow a late check-out and we had to check out before driving to Hamilton because check out was at 11:00. I know there were several other runners staying at the hotel but I am not sure there is that big of a demand for hotel rooms in Burlington on a Sunday in late March.