Around The Bay Road Race

I’ll be posting soon on my theme of ‘Nutrition’ this upcoming week, but first I wanted to get out todays blog about Around The Bay Road Race.

Older than the Boston Marathon, ATB is the oldest road race in North America.  This year was the 120th anniversary.  I’ve run it twice before and like many, it always humbles me.  It’s a 30K race, so it’s not quite as long as a full marathon, but it has its share of challenges.  Hills. Many, many hills!

We drove to Hamilton yesterday morning, which is about an hour drive from Toronto to pick up our race kits.  The process is fairly easy as the expo is held at First Ontario Centre (formally known as Copp’s Coleseum).  We entered the expo and proceeded to the shirt and bib pick up area.  We were quickly done with that, and then spent some time browsing the many vendors.  We even saw Austin Powers!  How bout that!



As you can see from the picture above, the race ends in the stadium. This is a nice treat to be able to finish inside the stadium, and pick up our well deserved medal and take home treats.

This morning was the race. The picture below shows that it truly is Around The Bay.

ATB Road Race Map

ATB Road Race Map

We left our home in Toronto around 730am, and had a flawless drive to Hamilton. After parking, we made our pit stop at the stadium for one last call at the washrooms. Before long, we left the stadium to corral ourselves with the masses. When we had left, the temperature was about -1 degrees, and it was terrible cloudy. I was not feeling the love on this race day. Surprisingly, the run gods seemed to take pity on us, and as we were corralled, the sun came out and stayed for the rest of the day.

I had no plans for this race in terms of a PR. In fact, my goal was to just finish. It’s been a brutal winter and although my running has been on a treadmill, it’s no replacement for cement. I truly paid for it during this race.

I went out at an easy pace. The run was mediocre for me at best. Then, around the 17K mark it turned wonderfully craptastic. Oh yeah, truly craptastic. I started getting a nagging pull at the bottom are of my calf. I haven’t felt it since 2012 during a half marathon race. I got lucky in that particular race as it was near the end, and I was able to finish running, with small discomfort. Today though, I had another 13K to go, and the pain was broadening throughout my calf. I stopped several times to try to stretch it out, however, nothing seemed to work. I had to speed walk a lot, as the pain seemed to settle when I had less speed. Every time I ran, the cramping got worse and worse.

Then came the hills. The last 10K is all about the rolling hills. With a cramping calf with a mind of its own, I considered quitting, but I continued on. I’ve never bonked on a race course before, and I was determined to finish.

Here are some of the pictures I took in the last 10K.

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This guy trained…

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Along the run, is the resting place of my grandparents. As per tradition, this is where I also have my ATB anxiety attack. Next time I do this race, I will sure to bring a paper bag! Not as bad as last time, but still not fun.

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Once everyone gets past the final set of hills, there is a cemetery that runners run by. True to tradition, the Grim Reaper is always waiting.

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I made it past the Reaper, and had one last stretch of road to make it towards the stadium. What a welcome site. I entered in the stadium and finished.

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It was a difficult race. I won’t lie. It’s always been my nemesis in terms of race events, but this year, was bad. Upon arriving home, I noticed a wonderful blood blister on my foot as well. Hee Haw! I use moleskin on a particular area on my foot that is prone to blisters. I’ve never had an issue since using the moleskin, but this year, low and behold, the moleskin was no match for the blister.

Onward and upwards, I always say. It’s the beginning of race season, so I can only do better from here.




Santa 5K

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

and a cold one too, Yikes!

Today’s temperature dropped drastically.  It was -10 degrees celsius, but with the wind chill, it felt more like -18.  We were heading out to Hamilton to run the Santa 5k.  I dreaded running in today’s cold, but the incentive of wearing another layer to my already existing 3 was fuel enough to get me going in the morning.  And to add to that, the extra layer was a Santa suit.  Woot.

When we arrived at the location, we parked our car at the Williams Fresh Cafe where we were able to enter the restaurant to keep warm and use the facilities.  It also was the finish area, so we knew we’d have easy access to our car when we finished the race.  When we were ready to leave and ride the trolley to the start location by the Hamilton Yacht Club, we had just missed it.  Luckily, Kelly from VR Pro was driving over so she kindly offered us a ride so we weren’t standing in the cold.  Minutes later, we entered the Yacht Club and picked up our Santa suits.  It was nice to be indoors for a change before a race to keep warm, and to relax.  Felt so civilized from the regular stand outside routine.  We ended up taking our bag of ‘extras’ from the packet pick up back to our car, which allowed us to take the trolley.  Oh yeah, we got the full Santa experience!

Once we returned to the start location we had about 20 minutes to do any last minute costume adjustments.  Kelly got on the microphone and let us know when we should go outside to corral ourselves for the race.

It was fun being dressed up as Santa for the morning.  The race took us along the Hamilton waterfront/Yacht club area.  There were a few gradual inclines but nothing too extreme.  Of course, I over layered and ended up over heating around the 3km mark.  (will I ever get it right?)  Soon enough we were at the finish, gnoshing on some hot coffee and breakfast sandwiches, compliments of the cafe.

Santa 5K Race - Map

Map of Santa 5k run in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Here’s some pics of our adventure.

Santa Pre Race

Santa Pre Race

Trolley to the start of the race

Trolley to the start of the race


Leaving our warm, happy place to brave the cold


Full out Santa club!


Wait a second…..who’s that? Santa is that you?


Jingle all the way!


Ho, Ho, Ho!


Post run breakfast wrap.

I really enjoyed the morning.  Kelly does a great job at putting together these races.  If you are in the area, check out the VR Pro site.  In fact, I hear there’s still room for the Burlington Santa 5K coming up in a couple of weeks.

Happy Running!