This year marks the 6th year doing this classic end of winter/beginning of spring race. The weather leading up to this year’s race was anything but spring like, but luckily, race morning brought calm winds, sunny skies, dry roads and a comfortable temperature of about -2 at the start of the race.
As usual, Darryl and I arrived at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton around an hour ahead of the 9:30am start time. We did our normal tour of Copps and visited the facilities before making our way back to our car to get all of our racing gear on and ready for the race.
Just before 9:30 we headed to the race start and timed it perfectly, as we were only standing around at the start for 5 minutes or less before the horn sounded and we were off.
Last year, I went out pretty hard in the first half and suffered a bit in the second half when I went 1:59:27 and broke 2 hours for the first time. This year, I had a goal of going sub 2 again, but wanted to do a more consistent effort throughout, which meant holding back a bit in the first 15K when things are pretty flat and easy. I was hoping this would allow me to be stronger in the hills and still finish with a good kick in the last 3K.
As usual, the race did start out pretty quick, as the first kilometer went by in 3:40 seconds, but this still felt really easy. After that one though, I settled in, running with Darryl Huras, my running partner from New Hamburg and we were ticking off K’s in the 3:52-3:56 range quite consistently.
|The first 5K with Darryl right behind|
|Another shot at about 8K with Darryl|
My nutrition plan this year was to take a gel right before the start, then one at the 10K mark and another at the 20K mark. This would also work out to one every 40 minutes (approx). Last year, I felt like I ate a bit too much food before the race, so this year, I had some oatmeal and a slice of toast about 3 hours before the race, and then only ate a Lara bar on the way down to Hamilton. This left my stomach feeling good and ready to take on the hard efforts ahead.
Unlike last year, where I took off ahead of Darryl and he played catch up in the last half of the race to finish together, we stayed together the entire time. In fact our splits on Sportstats are identical (except for the finish time). This was much more enjoyable, running the race with your training partner, rather than us each doing our own thing. We both went through the 10K point in 38:59 (last year 38:21), which was right on our 39 minute target. Boom!! So far so good!
After going under the QEW and working our way along the stretch of the race on Beach Blvd, we were in a nice pack of about 10 runners all working together to set the pace up front. You wouldn’t think you would get much benefit out of drafting in a running race, but it is mentally much easier to cruise along right behind or beside another runner, rather than slugging it out there all by yourself.
Eventually, we hit the 15K marker in 58:32 (last year 58:00), so we were both still well on target and feeling pretty well for the rollers and hills in the last 10K of the race.
As we got into the back section of the race along North Shore Blvd. I was still feeling pretty good and strong going up and over some of the smaller rollers. We hit the 20K marker in 1:18:19 (last year 1:18:07) so I was steadily making up time over my race from last year. The first bigger climb at La Salle Park went pretty well and it was then that I knew I was feeling stronger this year than last.
We finally made it back to Plains road, where it is mostly downhill until the big climb at Valley Inn Rd. All was going well, but I was noticing some discomfort in my lower left heel as it felt like my shoe was rubbing. It was somewhat annoying, but nothing too major.
The big climb up Valley Inn Rd. back to York Blvd. went really well. Last year, I took two short walking breaks. This year, Darryl and I were both together and managed to run up the whole way. At the top, I was actually still feeling pretty good, so I quickly tried to get back up to speed around the 4:00/K pace.
|Just before meeting the Grim Reaper still with Darryl behind|
It was at this point, that I slowly started losing Darryl a bit. I believe we were together through the 28th K which we did in 4:02, but as we headed down the small hill towards Copps I began to pull away, not intentionally, but I was noticing that if I kept up a good pace I had a shot at sub 1:59, which of course in a new PB for this race.
I was running along with another runner and actually making my way past some other runners at this point. The 29th and 30th K of the race went by in 3:54 and 3:47. My Garmin buzzed off the 30K mark, just before we were to turn down the ramp into Copps (this race is always long for some reason).
|Just before heading down the ramp into Copps|
Eventually, I made my way down the steep ramp into Copps and onto the coliseum floor to the finish line hitting the line in 1:58:50, a new PB, and this only a couple of weeks before my 40th birthday.
Here’s some cool finish line video of me finishing. Darryl comes in 10 seconds later!
|New PB of 1:58:50!!|
|All done! Yah!|
This marks the 6th straight time improvement at this race, which is pretty remarkable and is definite proof that you DO NOT have to slow down as you get older! I ended up finishing in 90th place overall out of 6,850 runners and 9th out of 489 runners in my AG. Funny enough, I would have finished 15th in the M40-44 AG, so things don’t get any easier next year!!
|Here’s a shot of the Sub 2 gold medal and the result of that rubbing on my left heel! Ouch!|
So overall, I am quite pleased with the effort this year and especially given my pacing strategy throughout. Even with the hills in the last 10K, I still managed a 40:20 10K.
It’s always good to get a good race in early that hopefully sets the stage for a solid summer triathlon season. I’ll likely hit up a few more running races prior to the kick off of the multi-sport season at Victoria’s Duathlon in Waterloo. It’s going to be a long year with my A race not till November at Ironman Arizona, so I’ll have to watch things closely throughout the summer.
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