Sunday, November 2, 2008

Race Report: Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon

I signed up for the Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon very last minute, in a quest to become a marathon maniac by running two marathons on consecutive weekends. It turned out to be a good thing for me since Hamilton is now my new favourite marathon (more on that later).

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is a large urban city, probably best known as a steel manufacturing mecca that has since past its prime.




Although Hamilton has a bad rap for being a not-so-pretty city, it actually has many beautiful spots for running, and being set in the Niagara Escarpment, it has some beautiful running trails and views.

Hubs and I picked up our race kits just in time - 3pm on Saturday afternoon. The race kit was non-existent. It was simply a chip, bib and a rather ugly ill fitting T-shirt. RD if you read this - please something other than a shirt!! Please! Anyway, that said, the volunteers were super, and it looked like everything was organized, set, and ready to go.

After kit pick-up, Hubs and I checked into our hotel room at the Sheraton (which I stole on Hotwire for $66). Its only about an hour and twenty minute drive for us, but I was going to my friend birthday dinner downtown Toronto, so this allowed us time to attend her birthday dinner and still get a decent night sleep.

Speaking of dinner, I basically did everything you are not supposed to do. Since I decided this wasn't an "A" race, I had a large beer (I have never liked beer, but lately I have craved beer - in fact I'm sipping one as I write this race report), salmon, and creamy risotto. I did drinks lots of water, and had a good nights sleep (loved the clocks going back!).

Race morning Hubs and I awoke and considered skipping the race. Had I not laid down $170 dollars ($85 each), and proclaimed my intentions on this blog, there would be no race report. We drove to finish line of the race (Confederation Park), arrived just in time, and then we were bussed to the start line.

It was chilly this morning. About 2C(36F). I layered another long sleeve shirt on, wore gloves, and shorts. I shivered as I waited in line at the porta-potty. All of this made me grumpy and made me question why the heck I do this to myself.

Before the race started I ran into Marlene, which was nice. I expressed my doubts to her, and wished her well. We also ran into a few running friends from our local Running Room.

Before we knew it, we had to head to the start, which was annoyingly about 1km from the school. In fact as we approached the start, the gun went off, and we had to scramble to get going. We were amongst the last to cross the line, and were even behind the police sweeper truck! LOL.

I struggled right off the bat. I hadn't yet got my mind around the marathon. I think I was cold to start and my muscles tightened right up. We ran past a few runners that we knew that had run the Niagara Half Marathon last week, so I felt at least I wasn't the only crazy one out there!

The first half of the race was on quiet rolling country hills, which was nice and tranquil. The sun was out, and I started to feel warm. My pace was around 5:47-5:50 kM/min, slower than last week, but I just went with what felt comfortable. I had no intentions of going for a PR. Around 7kM, Hubs and I ran into a few runners we knew, and relaxed and chatted. Before I knew it, we hit 10K (58 min).

Hubs had pulled ahead past 10K, and I decided that I was going to keep him in my sights, if I could. In fact I followed him past the half way. I crossed the half-way point at about 2:02. I felt O.K, but I really wasn't pushing, and felt that a PR was unlikely. I just wanted a decent race with no major crashes.

Past the half-way we ran on a free way that the RD had shut down for the race. The scenery was stunning, and it was a HUGE net downhill, about 5kM worth! I glided down the hill and caught up to Hubs around 25K. Hubs was impressed and commented that he thought I would get a PR. I wasn't so sure. I didn't know how my body would react to those later kilometers. Hubs and I ran together until 30K. He had to go to the porta potty but told me to go for it. We reached 30K at 2:52. Only a minute off of Niagara.

It was at this point that I knew that a PR was possible. I had tanked the last 10K of Niagara last week, but this week I was blister free. I would say that I felt slightly more tired than in Niagara but my legs were fine - no stiffness whatsoever. I reached 32K at 3:03 - the same time as Niagara. It was on, I officially was gunning for a PR!

I ran steadily with a few small walk breaks to 34K. I felt pretty good, and wondered, how long can I do this for? I decided to try and run as much as possible, with short walk breaks at the kilometer markers. This seemed to worked. My watch went dead shortly after 34K, and I thought, I have to dig deep, I have to listen to my body and do my very best.

Past 36K, we turned and ran along a lake shore path that would take us to the finish. It was stunningly beautiful, and pancake flat. The wind, however, was wild!! I felt chills to my bones and for whatever reason - I began to cry. Crying and running marathons seemed to go hand in hand for me. Today my tears were a result of reflecting on my life thus far, the people in it, and how happy I am to be running. For whatever strange reason, pain makes me grateful because I know, I am alive, AND I'm living a less than ordinary existence.

Spectators, however, took my crying as a bad sign and one nice gentleman on a bike pedalled beside me and we chatted for a few minutes, and he told me some jokes to make me laugh. Past 38K, I asked a fellow runner what her gun time was and she told me 3:42. Now math and the marathon are never a good mix, but I guessed that if I could run the next 4.2 at about 6kM/min, it would take me 24 more minutes, and I would finish in about 4:06-4:07.

By this time though, I had to walk frequently. I was tired, I tried to keep the walk breaks brief, but those last few kilometers seemed to take FOREVER! I had no idea of my time, until I rounded the bend to the finish line at saw 4:09-- on the clock! I darted towards the finish line at finished in 4:10:17. My chip time results are 4:09:20. I still can't believe that I shaved 6 minutes off of my time from seven days ago!! Other celebratory facts are that this was my 10th marathon, and I am now officially a Marathon Maniac.

So I am very happy that I got up this morning! It was tough, but really not bad until the very end. I am less sore than Niagara and no blisters! Although this event has a few bugs to work out, I would recommend because of the variety of scenery and the time of year it takes place.

Thanks for reading!

36 comments:

Jenny said...

WOW!! I mean, really... WOW!

That is so cool! Congrats! Not only did you complete the darn thing, you got a 6 minute PR?!

What a maniac!

J said...

Congratulations!! Wonderful race report and great job on the PR!! You made the marathon seem so easy!

Marlene said...

OHMIGOSH, I did not expect to read that, especially based on your doubts this morning.

CONGRATULATIONS on your 10th marathon, becoming a marathon maniac and a new PR all in the same race. Nothing short of amazing.

Loved your report and I agree, it WAS a great race.

Melanie said...

Great race report Marci! I still can't imagine that you ran a marathon last weekend and then again today! You are amazing! Too funny about the beer cravings lately... and with that cyclist telling you jokes. that's great. Enjoy your victory! You deserve it.

AddictedToEndorphins said...

OMG! MARCI!!!!!!!
:):):):):)
Sometimes the days you don't feel like running are the best runs we have!!!!

You inspire me:)

P.S. When you said: For whatever strange reason, pain makes me grateful because I know, I am alive, AND I'm living a less than ordinary existence

I Know exactly what you mean!:)

Ali said...

Congratulations! You Rock! Wow what an awesome PR. I had a friend run the half, she was just telling me about the crazy wind on the last 5k.

Anonymous said...

A triple threat day!
10 full marathons (double digit milestone),
first back to back,
and a PB on top of that!
Congratulations!
What's your Mainiac #?
(Hubs)

Blyfinn said...

Great race report! How do you make it seem so easy?

*aron* said...

you are soooooooooooo awesome!!! CONGRATS CONGRATS!!! you must be so excited and proud :) YAYYYYYYYY for you!

Run Mommy said...

That is spectacular!! I am really happy for you Marci! Isn't that always the way...when you least expect it. I loved your post and can't wait to have the same experience. 6 minutes is a LOT! WEll done and let's chat soon!

Jess said...

Congrats on a new PR, becoming a maniac, and running your 10th marathon! Great report.

Marcy said...

I think this is a sign Marci. YOu need to keep doing marathons weekend after weekend to keep bustin your PRs. Seriously, this is the second PR in 2 weeks, right? You were born to be a maniac, baby! LOL

Erik said...

Absolutely amazing!

My new hero!!

What a great report, I always looks so forward to your reports...

Congrats!!

E

Vava said...

That's amazing! A PR, crying from feelings of gladness, and becoming a marathon maniac all in one shot - a day to remember for sure. Well done!

therunningaddict said...

Wow!

You are AMAZING!

Kim said...

GIRL!!! Awesome job! Congrats! You amaze me. PB after PB.

tfh said...

That's incredible! Congratulations! It must have been such a challenge to stay strong in the end despite a strong wind and dead watch-- and YOU DID IT. Way to go!

Lily on the Road said...

WOWZAAAAAA!

Awesome job girlfriend!! when you least expect it you snag a PR...good going! You ran the gammit, crying, laughing, life reflections...all in all sounds like the perfect race!!

Congrat's

Denise said...

This gave me chills..."Today my tears were a result of reflecting on my life thus far, the people in it, and how happy I am to be running." I often think/feel the same way when I run.

CONGRATS!!

Michelle said...

Great report!

Kim said...

You've been tagged my friend.

Julianne said...

Congrats on becoming a MM! And amazing PR congrats!!! 6 minutes from last week?? Wow, you totally rock!!

Btw, my hubby and I have contemplated skipping out in races a few times, too. As a matter of fact, we've skipped out on at least 2! Yikes!

Runner Leana said...

That's awesome! You are a Maniac, and you PR'ed! Good call on running those back to back marathons. It sounds like it was a terrific race for you.

Heather said...

That's amazing! Congrats!

Nat said...

You are amazing... I think we paid $199 at the Sheraton during Around the Bay. (I think I'm running that this year.)

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations, Maniac! I'm glad you didn't take my advice about taking it really easy! Congrats on the PR. Amazing!

D10 said...

Congratulations on completing your 10th marathon. Awesome time too!! Way to shave off 6 minutes. You are a marathon maniac. Well done.

joyRuN said...

Hi there! Wow you're doing Philly too!!! I think we'll have to set up a blogger meet-up or something. This is too cool.

CONGRATS on becoming a marathon maniac, AND on hitting a PR on a back-to-back marathon :)

WOW is all I have to say...

bill carter said...

Hi Marci

Huge congratulations!! It is really hard to believe how different your body can react from one race to the next. It sounds like you just had one of those days and your body reacted well. I hear you on the emotional thing as I often get that way during a marathon. It could be the scenery, some thought I am having, or even the runners around me, but it often happens.

So what is next you maniac?? I don't know that I will ever attempt anything like back to back marathons...my body is so beat up!

Yeah... 4:09!

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE JOB!!! Way to go!!!

Congrats!!

Girl on Top said...

That was nice of the man to tell you jokes. That made me smile.

Wow, great job for the PR! Now, I wonder how you would do if you sign up for another marathon...

Charisa said...

congrats!!! You can always do more than you think you can :)

Melanie said...

Congrats! That's SO totally awesome.

Sonia said...

OUTSTANDING RESULT!!!!!!!!! What a great PB!!! And you're a marathon maniac now =) This is completely awesome!! So happy for you =)

Laura said...

Marci, sorry so slow, but CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am so impressed that you PRed the week after Niagara (though I told you that wind really slowed us down and that you would have had a much faster PR if conditions had been great). But most of all, WELCOME TO THE MANIACS!!!!! Yay :)

Meg said...

Congratulations! That's fantastic, and to think it was only a week after Niagara! I've driven by Hamilton so many times on my way from MI to NY, maybe I'll have to make a stop for the marathon next year! :)