So, second attempt at the exam is tomorrow and I think that success is at hand. I went back to basics and worked my way through all the problem areas, trying not to think I was too smart to start with 1+1=2. We can get into a lot of trouble thinking we are too smart to start with the basics, with the structure of whatever we are trying to build - a garden shed for example, or the risks and rewards of option trading, or gosh, a banking system. So I took my conservative Canadian banker self to the desk and did the grunt work. Please feel free to plead on my behalf to any deities. I'm a great fan of deities.
In addition to my scholastic awesomeness I also obtained great glory on the streets of Hamilton during the annual running of the Around the Bay Road Race - tagline, older than Boston. Makes you feel older than Boston anyway.
Like all great human athletic endeavours this one started with a drunken pledge between 2 newbies, 1 junior runner and 2 sceptical Ironmen. The sceptical Ironmen (husband and I in case you're not getting it) were really looking forward to a winter off formal training but the drunk newbies were so cute, well, we agreed to sign up once the drunk newbie names appeared on the confirm list. Weeks went by, no newbies on list but then suddenly the junior signed up and changed the game. I really couldn't let such a trusting soul down and so entered Ironhusband and self.
Twelve weeks before the race I get a 12 week half marathon plan and proceed to modify to cover off a 30 k race. We started out on the program with just one newbie (almost puppy like in his energy and enthusiasm) and the junior who is moving up to the big times with her first full marathon, one Ironhusband and self. And gosh, we have fun. When we started out this journey it was just the two of us training and I'm so happy that as time has gone by we've managed to gather up a crew of like minded fools for this ship. We run the trails that have opened up the ravines of Toronto, we spend time on the waterfront following the Humber River north past very lovely homes that will have to wait for our next life, we exhaust ourselves and the resident Irondog. But still, I just can't get into the long weekday runs and I decide to lower my expectations and add in 2-3 lunchtime treadmill workouts alternating between 30 minute hill workouts and 40 minute run ladders.
One benefit of all this rest is that I arrive at the race for the first time in 4 years with no injuries whatsoever. None, nada, rien, nichts. Honestly. Winters traditionally have been spent battling IT band issues, Plantar Fasciitis, Irritable Wife Syndrome, all the stuff you read about in the running magazines. I've always found that triathlon training with limited running and lots of cross training to be considerably easier on the body so I'm pretty stoked to feel so good.
None of that changes the fact that THIS RACE IS A BITCH - and not in a cute cuddly new female puppy way. The first 19.5 km is lovely, if you consider running past drunks and a very smelling water treatment plant lovely. If you do, you should move to Hamilton. It's very affordable.
Oh now I've gone and slagged Hamilton which is not fair, I love Hamilton. We train there, the Maple Leaf Pancake House rules and our house would be about a quarter of what it costs in Toronto. If we didn't like walking to work so much we might be tempted.
Right, so back to the race. Alex had come down with a nasty stomach bug, combined with too much travel and decided that he really didn't have anything in the bank so race morning found us with his cyclo-cross bike strapped to the Subaru for Sherpa and cheerleading duty.
Newbie and junior were pumped. Oh, maybe that was me yelling "RACE DAY" just as they sat down in the car but well, they were pumped after that.
The weather was perfect, just slightly overcast, about 4 C, the promised rain holding off for the morning. Newbie, being young and male, seeded himself well ahead of junior and I. Junior looked me in the eye and assured me that 3:15 was absolutely obtainable given the paces we had been running on Saturdays and I believed her and shoved myself in just in front of the 3:15 pace bunny. We took off and it felt great. Now, the ugly truth is that races can be boring so the first 20 km were really just about monitoring how the body was feeling (awesome), was I too hot (off with the arm warmers), what flavour of Gatorade did the aid station have (pleasantly varied amongst all the colours of the Gatorade rainbow), what kind of pace booty was ahead (sorry but triathlon has the best looking men), you know, all the sort of stuff.
So, around 20 k the hills start and happily that's about when I saw Alex. That was also the last I saw of Junior until post finish line. But that was ok, she got me to 20 k in 2:06 and I felt lots left for the hills. I had worn the Ironman finishers shirt that I bought and I've got to tell you it's not conceit that had me choose it but both the opportunity that it gives in terms of opening up a dialogue with people in the race about what I truly believe we are all capable of and also, reminding myself of what I can accomplish. That second purpose really came in handy as I pushed myself beyond what I think I would have done had I been wearing a generic shirt. I was very publicly an Ironman and had to make sure the brand was well represented. The shirt and I dug deep and I came in sprinting (cause that's the way I roll) and in the end I took about a minute off my best time ever, and more importantly, placed well beyond what I had done in the past.
So, here's the dilemma - that was going to be my last Around the Bay road race for the foreseeable future, but, well, I PB'd large on minimal training (and not much later it became obvious that I had also picked up Alex's stomach bug and presumably been working on that during the race)...damn, I'm so going to have to do it next year.
PS - Junior and Newbie rocked the course. Unbelievable!
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