Road2Hope Hamilton – Race Experience
Yesterday’s Road2Hope Marathon was (IMHO) a resounding success. I’ve thought about discussing it in km by km sectional breakdowns, but to be perfectly honest most of the miles were repetitions of the same feelings/sights/experiences over and over again. As such I’ll touch on a few highlights, a low light, and look at a few points that popped up on Dailymile in the post race discussions.
As my last post so eloquently(ha!) pointed out, I was stressed about this race. I had set a goal, actually put in the miles to make it happen, and simply had to execute on the plan. As it so often happens, the temptation to deviate from the plan cropped up again and again. Some of you gifted individuals can get away with that, but this guy…is still stinging from the last few times I did that. Let’s just say that all that stress I was feeling…was a fantastic motivator to stick with the plan.
I wanted to maintain a reasonable pacing for the entire length of the race in order to achieve my overall time goal, instead of going out fast and crashing horribly (like I in Ottawa). The exception to this was a section with a significant downhill for 2km, that eased out, back in to mostly flat 1 km or so later. I gave myself carte blanche to run comfortably but within myself here. As soon as the terrain evened out again I was back on target. This tactic worked GREAT for me, and by the end of the race I still had enough gas in the tank to increase my speed over the last 4km….even though I was huffing and puffing like Darth Vader doing a stress test. My wife met me on the back stretch along the lake and cheered me on for a 100m or so, and let me know that I was only a “couple of minutes” back of a pace bunny (the one 10 minutes below my goal time). As soon as I left my cheering section behind, I zoned my eyes forward and went “Wabbit Hunting” .
Much like Fudd, I never caught the wabbit, but I know I made some serious gains, and the pursuit ultimately propelled me across the line. Anything to keep you going in those last desperate KMs.
One last note on my run, there was NO WALKING for me(except a couple of steps to drink at the water stations). I don’t have any issues with people doing walk-run programs, but for me personally this was a benchmark of how my fitness has developed over the summer, and how my sacrifices have ultimately paid off.
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!-
Although the race finished really well for me, not everything was smiles and sunshine. There is an out-and-back section of the course that was added near the start date to deal with some municipal construction in the area. It wasn’t ideal, but it was great to be able to see the lead runners fly by. As a confirmed mid-pack runner, you rarely get to see these guys in action. In addition it allowed me the chance to look for faster friends in the crowd and pass along some encouragement (you know, pay it forward ;)), and as such I was running close to the road center line. Nearing the 13km mark I found myself boxed in between the center line and a few fellow runners who, until that time, were keeping a good pace. Suddenly they slowed by 30sec/km on a small uphill section. All I could do was wait for a gap in oncoming runner traffic, and when the gap appeared, quickly scoot around them.
Now let it be known, I did not cross the center line. I came close, but made every effort to pass cleanly, quickly, and not impede anyone (Anyone I was passing, or anyone coming towards me)…..what I didn’t realize (I should have noticed this before hand) was that the road was cracked along/around the center line, and as I “made my move” I stepped on the edge of one of the crevices. My ankle rolled. Hard. A quick swear word, and a self-deprecating joke to the runners around me and I made my pass, luckily I have flexible ankles (read: weak) and the roll didn’t effect me past 10 steps. I certainly feel it today, but during the run it didn’t bother me one bit. As if my blunder wasn’t enough, the runner I passed made a comment that I’m still not exactly sure about…but I’m leaning heavily towards “Guess that’s what you get for running on the line”. Awesome. So much for community. I let it slide, but I‘ll be honest….it did feel little vindicating to watch him finishing the race as I was getting in my car later. What can I say? I’m human.
Construction – I’ve heard some discussion about the construction along Woodward avenue, and how some runners found it difficult to race on, or hard on the body. I understand where they are coming from, however it’s hard to blame the organizers of the race for this. The municipality dictates it’s own infrastructure schedule, and unfortunately these two events coincided. At the very least, there was a concrete base; I did a training run on that section of road a few weeks prior and had to dodge huge holes in the ground, ripped up sidewalks and mud everywhere! It’s regrettable that the road was in poor condition…but it could have been a hell of a lot worse.
Course Distances – Some runners have been questioning the distances near the end of the race, i.e. – The last km was too long, etc. I was going to discuss that in this post, however this piece is already too long, and I’d really like to formulate those thoughts into clearer post of their own. Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait, and perhaps, garner some discussion on the subject.
One point I will leave here is: course lengths/routes are set by the organizers, but VERIFIED by an independent 3rd party. This is how they can have a certified “Boston Qualifier”. So if the distance(s) were off, where did things go off the rails? Was it human error? GPS measuring error or confusion? Personal course meandering? Or a combination of factors?