Holy Smokes, that was tough!
This time around, my race experience was much different than my first Half Marathon (race recap here). It’s hard to put into words the feelings of running a race but it was definitely bittersweet. While the feeling of accomplishment fills my body, there is a part of me that is a tad disappointed, which I’ll lay out for you in this post. Don’t get me wrong I loved this race and nothing beats that feeling when you cross the finish line, but at this very moment my body doesn’t have the slightest urge to run a race longer than my beloved Half, especially if it entails intense training over the deadly winter. Conversely, there is a part of me that wants to tackle this beast again next year to beat the goal I originally set out for (I swear it’s a sickness, isn’t it?) – We’ll see!
After gruelling winter training, I was set on completing North America’s oldest race, Around the Bay, with a completion goal of 3 hours. That was what I hoped for and what I knew I could accomplish. It did not seem out of reach at all, especially when finishing 21.1K in 1:54, 5 months prior. While training was tough with frigid temps and no training buddy this time around, I was certain my goal was realistic and achievable, my progress along the way was great. I woke Sunday morning and was delighted that race day had brought bright blue skies with the warm beating sun, which is always my saving grace. Minus periodic high winds, running conditions were rather ideal. This set the right tone for the day as I ventured off to Hamilton.
7,277 participants gathered in excitement, all out to conquer 30K. In hindsight 30K is plain CRAZY. Admittedly so, runner’s high got the best of me post half marathon, with making this kind of commitment. But committed I was, I had this done.
The energy moments before the race begins is incredible, in my opinion equally as gratifying (if not more) as the finish line. There’s a personal, meditative moment to savour as you prepare for the challenge ahead, reflecting on how far you have come in preparation, training and sacrifice, leading up to this single moment. Taking time to be aware of this gift; of health, of strength, of wellness, of soul. Seeking fulfillment in this journey and giving my body what it needs to get through the next 3+ hours. Acknowledgement that I deserve to sweat, strengthen, meditate, and breathe. To love myself in this moment and press on when it gets tough. That personal moment combined with the reflective energy of thousands of runners setting their own intentions is just miraculous. And at 9:30 am we were on our way.
The first 20K were exciting, scenic, and fast. I was holding strong up until the 22K mark and for some reason when my knees started to hurt it was all I could focus on, that, and the hills! The last 10K included rolling hills through scenic North Shore Blvd, that were truly killer! Mixed emotions flowed through me at this point when the pace bunny I had stuck close with for more than two thirds of the race slowly started to disappear out of sight. I kept trying to keep focused and concentrate on the positives, but it’s maddening when you see your goal slip away so rapidly and literally right before your eyes. The next 2 kilometres I silenced the mind and put full concentration on finishing strong, just another short 5K to go. My legs were slowing, my knees were aching and physically I knew I was just about done. I slowed down for a quick stretch, shake out and continued on. It was time to mentally push on through. Let’s get this over with!
At 3:12:44 I crossed that finish line. The finish of this race is pretty special, running into First Ontario Place to cross the finish line with a stadium filled with spectators cheering you on. It’s celebrity, big-league treatment, your final move up on the big screen, your name being called out by the announcer, it makes you feel like you’re kind of a big deal. Which you are! And as always having your #1 fans there to cheer you on is just the best. Thanks Mom & Dad for carrying me through this one!
While I didn’t finish in my hoped for time, I kept my eye on the prize and finished 30 freaking kilometers! Another run goal to check off the list! I’m looking forward to getting back to shorter runs and working on my pace. However, I did catch myself looking into potential Halfs coming up this year, so some things to look forward to. 🙂
To those who encouraged me along the way and wished me well, I truly send my thanks to each one of you. xx!