Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Hamilton Road to Hope Half Marathon Race Report

After tossing in the towel for the final 5K of Vulture Bait I had a rough couple of weeks trying to maximize my recovery and continue enough running to maintain some level of aerobic fitness.  Just to keep things interesting, Mother Nature decided that a week of monsoon like conditions would be appropriate.  The cold and wet wreaks havoc with me at the best of times, the cold getting into my hamstring started to affect my knee. I really began to question whether starting the race was even an option.  Near the end of the week, I received a thank you card in the mail from Ron.  He had dislocated his shoulder when he fell during the final 6K Vulture Bait and was going to require surgery to have it repaired.

I experimented with differing clothing combinations trying to find something that would keep me warm enough without seeming overdressed.  Compared to my running buddies, I was still way overdressed and freezing.  I packed a number of clothing combinations and waited to see what the weather would be on race day morning as it poured rain day after day after day as the temperature dropped lower and lower.

Up at 3am to pick up Julianne in an hour and drive to St Thomas to catch the bus leaving for Hamilton at 5am with the Run for Your Life crew.  A pit stop to use the bathroom and grab another coffee and we arrived at the Community Center at ArcelorMittal Park with time to spare before the marathon group started at 8am.  

The temperature was tight to 0C/32F with a bit of a wind chill.  Thankfully the sun was shining so I decided to stick with my winter tights and lighten up a bit on the upper layer with a long sleeve shirt and light jacket with removable sleeves.  Heaven forbid if for some unknown reason I ever over heated, the sleeves cold come off.  On the other side, the black jacket would absorb any heat from the sun and give the illusion of warmth.

Heading to the start line I wiggled my way behind the 1:40 pace group and hoped for the best.

I should have wiggled up a bit more, it took until 3km to fall into the back of the pace group. Only a couple of times very near the start did the wind feel like it was behind us, I certainly wasn’t over heating and if I did feel warm, I’d slip my gloves off my thumb and palm of my hand just enough to cool them.  Over the day I must have done this 3 or 4 times but for the most part, the gloves stayed on.

Just before reaching the Red Hill Valley Parkway, I came up behind Terri.  I was surprised to see her knowing she had a 100 miler planned for the following weekend.  We exchanged pleasantries as I hung on to the back of the pace group.   

Once on the Parkway, I had a decision to make.  Do I stay with the pace group or run my own pace down the 7km hill.  I felt good,  a minor side stitch, nothing from the right knee  or ankle, and the hamstring wasn’t bothering me.  Off I went,  to run my pace and take advantage of the downhill.

Only one problem.  The wind was right in our faces or whipping around to the side.  Try as I might to shelter with other runners, I could never totally get out of the wind.  Any advantage from the downhill seemed to be dissipating the further along we ran.  I slowly began to feel like I did running the full marathon last year.  I wanted the downhill to end.  This year I knew about the small trail transition to get down to the water front.  

And again the transition from downhill, to trail, to rolling messed with me.  The hamstring isn’t strong enough to handle rolling terrain.  The brick like heaviness in the legs from coming off the downhill messes with your pacing and what was with that damn wind?  It just wouldn’t stop.  The dreaded feeling of it slipping away began wheedling its way into my head.   While I slowed, I pressed on.
Onto the waterfront bike way, still the wind, the waves I listened to the soothing sounds crashing onto the beach, I fed off the bright sun and tried my best to ignore the dead feeling in my legs.  

The half marathon leaders went by in the opposite on their way to the finish line.

A lot of other people started to go by as well.

Somewhere between 4 and 5 kilometers left the 1:40 pace group went by.  On the plus side, I was still moving forward but it felt so slow.  If I walked I knew it was over.  With about 2km left, Terri went by.

Was she sweating? Didn’t look like it to me.

Another few minutes and I could see the finish line and hear people cheering.  I looked at the ground and saw a painted 700.  WTF?   Still 700 meters to the finish and that turn and uphill (slope) finish.  Approaching the finish line, I heard my name called, looked at the clock, it was still under 1:45 and remembered to stop my watch.  As soon as the medal was around my neck I had a paramedic on me asking if I was OK.  I know he was evaluating my condition as he helped me get into a post run hooded jacket they were giving out at the finish.  
Julianne holding me up at the Finish Line

Never have I ever been so glad a race was over.  I got into the heated food tent and found the soup and made the mistake of sitting.  It took a long time to get back up.

Hamilton, you hate me, three races over three years and all of them in below freezing temperatures. If I could raise my hand, it would have a white flag in it.


James said...

Tough wind on the downhill...and yes, that little trail section before the bridge over the QEW is crap. I knew better from last year and walked the downhill section with the "CAUTION" sign. My quads thanked me. Congrats on the run!

CheapRunnerMike said...

I had thought about doing the marathon but the runner I was going to run with decided she didn't want to do a marathon yet...I think I'm grateful for that now! Good job getting through it in one piece Jeff.