Several weeks ago Marci mentioned the 88th Annual Boxing Day Run, which immediately caught my interest. I typically spend Boxing Day lazing around the house recovering from the previous day’s festivities and I knew this event would (a) get me off by butt and (b) keep me running over the holidays.
My preparations for the race were certainly not typical – I spent most of the afternoon nibbling on chocolate, feasted on turkey with all the fixins for dinner and even had a few glasses of wine. Nonetheless, I climbed into bed at 10 to ensure that I at least had a good night’s sleep. And that I did! I slept like a rock and woke up at 7 feeling refreshed (one thing I love about winter races – they don’t start at 7).
We picked up our friend U. and drove to Hamilton where we picked up our bibs, used the washrooms and kept warm at the YMCA until the 11:00 AM start.
Being my first 10 miler, I took comfort in knowing I would have a PR no matter what. Still, I set a somewhat arbitrary goal of 1:30. I was really looking forward to the distance because in all three of my half marathons, I have ‘bonked’ around the 10-mile mark and struggled to the finish line. I had low expectations, but hoped it would be a good race.
We certainly would not complain about the weather. In fact, we overheard some runners discussing the fact that they had not had such perfect conditions for the event in years, right around zero Celsius (32F) and overcast with only a slight breeze.
Hubby (speedster that he is) took off ahead, while U. and I stuck together. During the early miles, we continuously reminded each other to watch our pace and slow it down. We were targeting 5:30 kilometres (8:51/mi) and kept catching ourselves getting caught up in the masses, closer to a 5:00 (8:03) pace.
Still, we were feeling pretty good and comfortable enough to maintain our conversation, so we just ran with it. (heehee)
The route took us primarily along waterfront (paved and cleared) trails and the scenery was beautiful, especially through the marina. We faced several climbs (some steep, some gradual), but also enjoyed some nice downhills.
Our pace remained consistent as the miles ticked by, and we hit the half way point at 42:31, way ahead of schedule for my targeted 1:30:00 finish. I started tiring slightly and slowed a little, but U. kept me going and stuck by me, even after I encouraged him to go ahead. I was definitely thankful for the company and managed to keep my pace up. We walked briefly through each of the three water stations and I took one gel around the 6 mile mark.
And then came mile 7 with a long, steep climb up the
mountain escarpment. It was ridiculous. Almost everyone walked, but I kept running – although it was more of a shuffle and I certainly wasn’t moving much faster. Not surprisingly, this was our slowest kilometre split at 6:01 (=9:41/mi).
The next mile or so took us along unpaved trails, which were pretty slushy and muddy. Being so late in the race, I really didn’t mind getting a little wet/dirty. I found that I had an extra bounce in my step (either the Gu kicking in or the knowledge that we were getting closer to the finish, or both) and made up for any time lost on the
mountain hill with a 4:59 kilometre (=8:01/mi).
We soon passed the 9 mile marker and found ourselves back on local streets. We took advantage of a nice decline a clocked our fastest split approaching the finish. I saw the clock and was pleased to discover that I came in way under my goal.
Chip Time: 1:25:10
F25-29 Place: 8/28
Overall Place: 325/753
Here’s a quick pic that U. snapped of hubby and I at the finish:
We took advantage of some yummy refreshments being offered at the Y (hot soup, buns, fruit and gingerbread cookies!) before heading home for a relaxing afternoon. This was definitely a good way to spend Boxing Day and I hope to do it again next year… to set a ‘real’ PR.