Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pre Run ATB Race

Disclaimer - Long blah blah rant detailing a Perosonal Distance Record training run. Something for me to remember it by :)
It wasn't a good inidicator of my potential race time. First - I wasn't looking forward to it. I dreaded doing this long run so mentally I was in the wrong place but I think this makes for a good opportunity to HTFU in a painful way. Second - I did not anticipate the number of street crossings, stoplights, monstor snow melt puddles, mud and 50km/h gusting winds. That was fun. I think.

Admittedly, a 31Km Pre-Run of the Around The Bay Race course may be a little much for a training run. I justify it by referring to a marathon training program that ecompasses such a killer run about a month out from race day. I merged that training plan into the JPO program and such a distance is the last long run of the plan, it's pretty much taper from here with distances down to 18-22Km at most on weekends. ATB is 30Km, not nearly a full marathon but you can't go wrong training for the longer distance in this case. I suck at running, so the experience is much needed!

So to kick the run off, I drove the race course first. The course map showed where the 8 water stations are going to be so I would pull off to the side of the road and 'hide' a bottle of water or powerade in the bushes. Sometimes there was no bush so I laid it in plain site alongside rubbish on the side of the road. I had a bananna and maple cookies in some of the bags so I did run the risk of rodents beating me to my feed station but oh well. I got some strange looks from people when making my drops.

The run started off beautiful. I think this was one of the warmest days of the winter sitting around 8 Celsius. It felt like summer, albeit the 50km/h gusting winds. Not a huge problem as the majority of the run will be a tail wind, and by the time I make the loop back into it I will be hidden away in some residential areas. I hoped.
I stripped down to my most base layers. Worried I would be cold from that wind, I kept my wind shell on. Not even 2KM into the run I was cooking. I took my gloves and hat off and they remained off for the rest of the run. I couldn't believe how warm it was out! Even the wind was warm! This got really really really annoying though. I had cycling mid layer and shell that had back pockets already semi-full with backup foods and stuff so the additional weight from the now soaked gloves and hats meant my jacket would bounce and flop around for the entire run with too much weight. That drove me nuts. It would tug on my jacket and strangle my neck, and when I tucked the inner layer into my pants it would push my outer layer pants down so I kept having to hike them up. I'm usually really good at dressing myself but today I was completely off the mark. I was really worried about that intense wind combined with running right beside the lake which should drop things a few degrees. I was very wrong.

Laundry Day

Anyhow, running through downtown Hamilton stinks. Literally. The buildings are fugly, the people sketchy and apparently it was laundry day. Almost every home I passed all I could smell was air from laundry dryers. It was gross. I didn't forsee the number of street crossings so while I felt ok, I never did get into 'the zone' with all the speed changes.
Then I got to the industrial area. The sidewalk was destroyed from trucks and the laundry smell was replaced by diesel fumes. And it was loud. I ran out of sidewalk but not before lakes of water blocking my path forcing me to run along the grass which was actually quicksand in disguise. My brand new white shoes were no more.
Finally I made it to the beach, almost halfway! The traffic noise got louder from the overhead skyway bridge. I can't believe people can live down their it was deafening. We were definitely downwind now from the Steel mills, as that replaced all other smells. The sun was shining and I could finally get into a uninterrupted grove. I set my pace and felt 'ok'. I rarely looked at my watch for pace, I just took it easy and whatever speed my body wanted is what I did.
At the halfway point I packed a small lunch. I ate it while I walked, and enjoyed the view over the lake. By the time I was done eating, I had practically walked the entire leg of this part of the trip. I was suprised how much distance I covered while eating just a bananna, cookies and a bottle of water. This was a great example of why stopping is not worth it. Just keep moving forward, walking covers more distance than I thought. A welcomed rest.

Finally some peace and quiet as I ran through burlington lakeshore. Although quiet and no smells, it was time for lots of hills and no sidewalks. Barely even a shoulder to run on. That's ok, by this point I was getting tired. I ran every single hill but I was fatigued. I was perplexed as to why I was feeling so exhausted already. My long training runs at 22km felt easier than this course at the same distance and those training runs had way more hills. I am guessing that because I did those training runs on country roads where I could mindlessly enter 'the zone' and pace out my miles, it made it easier? All this stop and go and traffic watching and sidewalk puddle jumping, mud slinging obstacle course has taken it's toll. Barely any steady long zone running. On race day these streets will be closed off for the runners I think, so it WILL be better.

Once in this quiet neighbourhood I did put in some decent uninterrupted splits. With 5km to go I even caught and passed two groups of runners. hah! That felt good. I then tackled the 'big hill' at the end of the race course that everyone talks about. I don't know if it's because I took a small walk just before it or what, but it was not that hard at all. Actually I enjoyed it since by the time I was at the top, my muscles all stretched out and my pace picked up for the remainder of the run. Race day might be another story, I mean I did go very slow for this run. I'm sure there will be plenty of suffering. In the meantime it was easy but I was warned about the final stretch. Its waaaay longer than I thought. I figured once at the top of the hill you are pretty much done. No, its still a long ways. That was a mental drain, when you think the end is near and you anticipate it but it never comes. This was probably the best thing I learned about the course. It's not over, until its over.

Looking back at what I learned - I would have to say I was whooped by the 20km mark. That is with walking the feed stations and waiting for lights. I was more tired than I expected. My nutrition did me well, I need to hammer-gel up earlier than the 10km mark. Banannas and maple cookies work well, not that I know how I'm gonna pull that off on race day lol. I had moderate foot pain at the start. By the end it was a 6/10. I've damaged something in my left foot, this is pain from the previous weekend's long run. I have a chance to let it heal now, the upcoming week is a rest week and my run will be in 'taper' mode from here on in. I need this to heal. I anticipate the weather on race day to be very similar to this day. What a great opporunity to test equipment. I will be well prepared clothing wise. Actually, I'm hoping for snow, rain, sleet, hurricane on race day. I've done so many bad weather runs this year that I am infinitely more battle-hardened than some of the runners so that should give me a decent advantage. :) One thing I might not be prepared for is the crowd. I see pictures of what a running race looks like, with all those people - I have never run in such a big group before. That is scary! Looks scarrier than a mass swim start in my opinion. I worry that the mental game will be similar to the battle I just did with the street crossings and traffic. All those distractions make for a hard time to 'get in the zone' and stay focused. I need to be ready to block out those around me and run my own race and pace. I need to find a way. Its my first running race EVAR - I have no idea what I'm doing lol.

Across is that 'big hill' everyone talks about


Rough Looking Finish.
Gotta stop procrastinating and get that haircut already lol

Run - 3:30hrs


  1. Good run! Now you know what to expect. I've never done ATB and I'm going to find out the hard way what its like

  2. NICE RUN! well done my will totally be ready

    also great pics

  3. Mental toughness buddy. The race starts usually thin out around mile 6 or so. Usually its a giant cattle herd... sucks.

    I have never run a long distance race course prior to race day... wonder if that would help with confidence or not.

  4. Nice run dude. Good read, very epic. Damn it was windy from what I remember. Now go get a haircut. haha


  5. Good job! A long training run like this with the refreshment breaks is good. I think you'll find that adrenaline will help to carry you on race day as well.

    Also, mass run starts are not even close to being as scary as mass swim starts, at least in my opinion. Just don't drop anything -- a few years ago at the Chicago Marathon, I dropped my sunglasses around mile 2 and stooped over to pick them up and nearly got trampled.

  6. Except my foot, I felt great the next day! Thanks for props and advice! :)

  7. Your a maniac! I won't even drive a race course, let alone do a training run on it. I just look at the topography map and trust it's honest about the hills.
    As for the race start, here is my two yourself properly for intended finish time, that's the best way to get a clean start (neither tramipling people or being trampled). The other thing is to NOT waste your time dogging and weaving around people in the first two km. It's a huge waste of energy.
    p.s. - here is a thought - do the 5km at the Chilly Half. It will get any pre-race jitters out and get your confidence up when you clock an awesome 5km time.

  8. Why does your hair look green in that one pic?lol

  9. Thankfully the start of the race is decent once you have the full road to work with and police managing traffic. The first part isn't pretty, but you are running with others then which helps. I got caught up with slower runners once at the start and dodged in and out for a while (bad) - might help calm your initial race day adrenaline surge if you just go with it. I agree the last bit is long - at least you know that now and it won't be demoralizing on race day :-) You sure you found the right hill? Good luck!



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