What an AMAZING day and race this turned out to be.
I picked up Vicki and Mike so that we could all drive down to Hamilton together. For some reason I missed the turnoff to Mikes house and then ended up driving all over Newmarket trying to find him again. A bit anxious I guess.
I’d stayed in bed all day Saturday after spinning so that I could try to get rid of this darned cold I’ve picked up. I normally would have filled up the gas tank the day before heading out, but I had to fill up with everyone in the car. Not a great organized way to start the day. The weather was foggy and cold. Several times along the way I felt like I’d gotten lost in the fog. By the time we got to Hamilton, and found a place to park that didn’t have a ‘around the block’ lineup of folks trying to pay, I was stressed even more.
We checked our bags with the Girl Guides and wandered out to the start line about 10 minutes before the race start. I was cold. I didn’t have on as many layers as I usually do, but the weather forecast said it was going to be warm and sunny. We haven’t’ seen that sort of weather for months to run in, so, I had a hard time deciding what to wear.
The gun went. We stood there amongst 5000 other folks about 3/4 of a block away from the start line. It took us a full 4 minutes to make our way across it.
The three of us stuck together, keeping our heart rates low (as per Adam, THE coach!) for about the first 6-7 K. We started to separate a bit around that point. I’d pushed a bit to pass some folks three or four times. I turned to see where Vicki and Mike were, but I couldn’t see them. I selfishly didn’t want to stop completely, so I kept going.
I got to the 10k mark, 1/3 of the way in 1:01. That’s a bit fast for me, but I felt good. I was thinking about the Peterborough 1/2 a few short weeks back where I did about the same pace, but blew an ankle at the same time.
I was feeling great. We turned north along the edge of Lake Ontario, and I just kept slowly passing as many folks as I could. It was a bit frustrating when the relay folks started off to be passed by these folks who had just started to run, but I took some sort of sick glee in thinking that, “They may be quick, but they are only running short distances.” I’ve taken, and still do take great pleasure in looking at all my training folks times, most of whom run like rabbits, and telling myself I’m doing my personal best and no one else matters, so my thoughts about these other folks are a bit of a twisted double standard. I’m OK with that though. Whatever keeps me going down the road is OK in my mind!
Around the 18K mark, someone pulled up beside me and asked if I was Greg. My first thought was “What, is my butt that weird?”, but maybe it’s the hair! It turned out to be Valerie, who turned out to my “Pace Bunny Angel”
I’d met Valerie at the fund raiser a few weeks earlier at Timberlanes, and I’d picked up race kits for a number of folks, many of who I didn’t know, and it turned out I’d picked up hers too.
We ran together and chatted about running. When we got to the first water station, Valerie stopped and I kept going. When she caught up to me in a a couple of short minutes, I realized she could run a lot faster than I could. She said to that if She was holding me back to feel free to take off. I laughed. I was pushing really hard just to keep the pace I was at.
We got to THE HILL. The hill is .5K long and very steep. Everyone told me to walk up the hill. I’d just get my heart rate going too high if I tried to run it. Valerie was running, so I tried also. Running quickly turned into speed walking. We turned the first bend. My heart rate was supposed to be in the low to mid 4’s, was 5.6! I couldn’t keep up, so I yelled “See you later” expecting her to keep going. She stopped. Explained that she didn’t care about the time. She’d run the race several times before, and really just wanted to finish feeling strong, so she’d walk with me. That helped keep me walking faster than had I been by myself!
We go to the top, had a big drink of water and started to run the final 3.5K. I looked at my Garmin and saw that, if we (well, me really) could do the next 3.5 in 18 minutes, we’d crack the 3 hour mark. When I started out, I’d expected to do 3:30, but was hoping to crack 3:15.
Valerie told me to go ahead and set the pace. I couldn’t really go much faster. I was tired. I hurt just about everywhere. So we carried on, just a tiny bit faster than we had been doing. I noticed several times that Valerie picked up the pace, just a bit, but I think she did that a half dozen times along the way.
We were beside Copps Coliseum, with the finish line being inside as 3:00:12 passed by. Down the ramp. Around the corner and into the stadium. The place was full. The loudspeaker calling out names. Pictures on the big screen. It was AMAZING. Valerie was ahead of me, but I took off for the last 100 yards with everything I had. I grabbed her by the elbow when I caught up. I think we finished neck and neck!
What an amazing feeling. I’d finished. I’d never run 30K even in training before, and sure as hell never with a pace of 6:02 per K for anywhere near that distance ether. I’m sure if it wasn’t for Valerie, I would have been another 5 – 10 minutes longer. It would have been so easy to just drop the pace for those last few k. I’d been told I would probably run the race in about 3:30. I was hoping that I could bring that down to 3:15. In the end, 3:01 was amazing!
We split up inside. I grabbed the free food. Drank a bottle of water in one long gulp. My body was stiffening with every step I took. I ended up holding myself up on the edge of a garbage can while I eat something. I say Phil and Christine a ways down and made it over to them. I hugged Chris, who ran the best time she ever did, (unfortunately, as someone else!) and just hung on for dear life. I could have just fallen to the floor.
We talked for a minute and then I left to got find Vicki and Mike. I worked my way into the stands which was no easy feat. In places I had to step up a 6″ step, and almost couldn’t! Vicki and I found each other almost immediately. We waited for Mike, but were freezing standing by the ice. We decided to work our way up to our bags so that we could get dry, warm clothes. Mike called us just as we got there.
Dry clothes, a walk to the car, a ride home, and the day was over! We all talked about what a blast that was. We all did better than we’d possible imagined. Vicki knocked 20 minute off her best time. Mike finished earlier that he thought, and (again) he trained probably only half as much as he should have.
These green shirts sure turned from being the ugliest things I’d ever seen to being absolutely beautiful in 3 hours.
Amazing, simply amazing!