Monday, 26 March 2012

Hamilton: there and back again

Sunday's race is over and I'm tired and sore. The race, 30 kilometers in length, did not go especially well (1:48, far worse than my last two marathon splits at the same mark). I did not pass those I would normally would. But overall I am pleased with the weekend for a few reasons.

The race I speak of is Around the Bay in Hamilton. The weather was probably the best it has ever been (for a race in March in Canada outside BC). No rain or wind, a high of 16 and low of 9 with overcast conditions. By all accounts perfect. Reid Coolsaet, a Hamilton native, won the race outright, just missing the course record by a minute. Cut back to me: I started a bit too fast (3:08 first kilometer). Though not outlandish fast thereafter, 15 minutes in I realized my pace wasn't going to hold for 15 miles more. So I slowed down, slowly and inevitably. The infamous graveyard hill came at 26 km in and zapped my final bits of energy. I knew the hill was coming, of course, but stupid is as stupid does.

I could give a point-by-point analysis of how I felt at every second kilometer but even I'd be bored to tears reading it. Not all data is worth discussing.

What pleased me about my performance, or lack thereof, was it proved training works (well duh). I am under-trained right now. Lungs, legs, and arms feel worked today. This can only mean that I would have run faster if I had run more (and faster, i.e. speedwork). Body needs a combination of rest and a kick in the pants. This week I gave it plenty of both. Work the extremes, I guess. Exercise is remarkably like education: you get out exactly what you put in and ATB felt like walking in to a SAT cold. A fool I am, so be it. At least it confirms good performances don't come from from some magical birthright or whatnot. Good news is no injuries, just the anticipated full-body fatigue. Plus an appetite well-appeased by a Chinese buffet [Food: as good a reason as any to exercise].

The race -start and finish- was held by the Copps Coliseum, in fact the final 100 meters finishing inside the stadium floor. Ending a race inside is a brilliant touch for years of less fair conditions, while having thousands of available seats is a boon to waiting family and friends, like my Nana and aunt who came to watch. A stadium also means plenty of bathrooms before the start. The race size was big, but not too big; never felt crowded getting to the line. Race walkers started a full hour earlier and created a nice trail in which to follow. The course was well marked and lined by fans throughout. This race gets high marks from me, and I'm sure they were seeking my approval.

To summarize: Highlights were the pre and post race things while the race itself was the stone in the soup.

Some other bonus details: This weekend was also the NDP leadership convention in Toronto. Thomas Mulcair won of course, albeit after four rounds of voting. I cannot quite explain, but I have reservations about the choice. He will do fine, I'm sure, but the NDP power structure is becoming nearly as centralized as the conservatives and he is not reversing the tide. Already the party platform is shifting centre without whole-hearted party consensus. Thanks to insider info of the nepotistic variety I crashed a few campaign parties Friday night before the vote. The best parties were thrown by the lower-ranked candidates. I was also briefly introduced to Hélène Laverdière, the MP for my Montreal riding. Most of the parties were held on the same floor of the Sheraton Hotel and had free beer, but not Mulcair's. He didn't even even linger at his own event, held down the street from the rest (and fewer were in attendance). One thing I remember about Jack Layton was his ability to dive into a crowd (I once met him at the St John's George street festival). Things are changing left of centre.
Jack Layton paraphernalia being sold during the convention party
Switching gears, I also got to spend time with extended family in Hamilton. I finally finished the Lord of the Rings -after 20 years of procrastination- and started Life of Pi. Saw more family in Ottawa too watched a late night showing of The Hunger Games, a movie better than I was expecting. There you have it. A so-so race result padded with plenty of meanderings.

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