First and foremost: Congratulations to all and a shout out to Mitch Kosny for placing 2nd in his category in the Hamilton half!
Having bonked in Chicago three weeks ago, I knew Hamilton would take all the strength I could muster. I had my goals: dream finish, okay finish and just-cross-the-finish-line finish. I had my game plan: stay on pace on the first 22k flat, gain some rest/time on the down-hill and then back on pace.
In my short running life, the marathons I’ve completed (Chicago 2013, Mississauga 2014, Boston 2015) have been story-book perfect. Crowd support to make me feel like a super star, beautiful weather and nice finishing times. This is what all marathons are like, right?
Hmmm…now to Hamilton. No security check, no start corrals and no big red blow up Start sign. We start (no gun…just some dude that shouts ‘go’) and BAM!…hurricane wind. Within 5k, I knew a pb was not possible because I was running 15-20 seconds slower than target. No worries, I said to myself….focus on goal #2. A little pat on the back for adjusting on the go! And after all, we’re doing a loop and soon, the wind will be behind us.
Wrong. With the open farmers’ fields, even when we turned a corner, it was still head on. I fought it for 22k and dreamt of reaching the Red Hill Valley Parkway. That’s 6k downhill and should help with picking up the pace, right? Another hmmmm….it was a tiny relief but the pounding on my feet hurt like hell.
Nearing 31k, I’m sure the wind will ease because we’re entering the city and should be sheltered. It did a bit….downgraded to tropical storm. But short lived because at 35k, we ran along the lake. Whitecaps on the water. Goal #2 gone!
I was exhausted and started walking. That sucked the air out of my mental strength because I’ve never walked in a race before. I was confused. I trained for this. What is happening to me? On to goal #3.
By about 39k, I didn’t care anymore. Then, I heard my name. I must be delusional because no one here knows me. Then I saw two BRC jackets. I couldn’t make out the faces because I was not in a good place. Shook my head, focused and hey, it’s Mark and Christine! They didn’t say much and just ran beside me. Somehow, I picked up my pace. Soon, Mitch joined us.
Well, I crossed the finish line with a disappointing time. And with my outside voice, cursed a bit….ok, a lot.
I came home and being a numbers geek, went straight to the results. A bit of internet creeping and I knew it wasn’t just me. The wind had effected everyone. A few quick calculations and I realized that my finish was comparable to other races in terms of overall, age and gender category placement. I felt better and would live to run another marathon.
I learned a lot from Hamilton: I can’t expect a pb every time (damn!); run each race on its own merit; runners are the best.
I know the last to be true. Even as I write this, I hold back a tear because when I was down and defeated, BRCers carried me and made this the best race I have ever run.