So ya, Around the Bay (ATB; 30k), my all-time personal favourite and "North America's oldest" road race, was this morning in Hamilton and in short, I smoked it (fitting perhaps for a Black Lung)!
I ran 1:45:43 which is an incredible 3:31/k or 17.02kph!!! It was also good enough to place me 16th overall (and 15th male as Lanni Marchant ran an absolutely amazing 1:44:40 setting a new course record. Kudos to Terence Attema for his fine performance and finishing kick to win in 1:35:44).
In sum it was a great day for me, being over two full minutes faster than I ever imagined (I was earnestly hoping for a 1:48). Hands down, this was my greatest race/result to date. In the words of Krista Duchene (who ran an inspiring post-injury 1:51:40, good for second place female): "Boy, do I love to run!"
And while all of my BLT brethren opted to do the smart thing and 'pace' the race (they all finished comfortably in under 2 hrs) in order to save their legs for upcoming marathons; I simply couldn't hold back and so "I went for it," giving what I feel was damn close to 100%... and what made me feel like 110 when I finished! I felt great from start to finish and ran exactly according to how I felt (i.e. fit and fast).
Some interesting stats to highlight how to run a smart (and speedy) ATB race: 0-10k in 35:11; 10-20k in 35:07 and the final (very hilly) 20-30k (including a 1:14 flat 21.1k) was in 35:25 making for only an approximately 20 second differential between all 10k splits. The first half (0-15k) was run in 52:42, and the second (hillier) half (15-30k) in 53:01 (again, only a 20 second difference). And while not technically a negative split, this is perhaps as close as you'll come on this course. The lesson here is not to try to "bank" time for later but rather to run a consistent effort throughout. Also note that my fastest km was the first in 3:21; the next fastest was my last (29th... or is it the 30th?!) in 3:24!
So, what's next? With only 3 weeks to go to Beantown, this week calls for a 'mere' 130k but the emphasis will be on rest, recovery, mostly easy running and (as always) not doing anything stupid. My legs took a beating today and although I'll be eager to keep training and move forward, I need to be super cautious, careful, and listen to my body at every step during the next few weeks.
My performance today suggests that a 2:34 marathon is not only attainable but perhaps a bit too 'easy' and so I am now upping the ante and admitting to my ultimate and absolutely ambitious goal of running a 2:32! Note: this is Boston we're talking about here so I do admit that perhaps I am getting greedy but if on April 15th, I feel the way I did today, I will once again 'go for it' and see what happens.
Onwards to Boston. T-minus three weeks...