Sunday, I ran Around the Bay, the 30K race in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario, that I’ve been writing and worrying about here for many, many months. Let’s just cut to the chase.
I ran the 30K in 2:57:18.  That’s a PR for me, partly because I’ve never done a 30K (18.6 mile) race before. In fact, it’s the first time that I’ve run longer than 14 miles . . . ever. I’m happy with the time. I’m happy with how I managed my diabetes during the race. And I’m happiest that I finally met two of my diabetes best friends. (My “dia-besties,” if you will.)
I’d been thinking about how to approach this unknown race during each of my training runs over the last couple months. My thinking involved this rough plan: Don’t run too hard for the first 20K, suffer through the 6K of hills, and then see what I had left for the final 4K to the finish. I was hoping for about 8:30-9:00/mile all while keeping my heart rate around 150 BPM. Several times on most of my recent training runs you could hear me saying (quietly) to myself, “Slow the fuck down!” (I seem to have a potty-mouth when I’m by myself or in similar company.)
On Sunday, the first 20K were actually pretty good. According to my Garmin, I was doing about 8:30/mile but at a slightly higher exertion than I was hoping: about 155-160 BPM. Unfortunately, my Garmin lies, and I did the first 20K at a very, very consistent 9:25/mile. Oh well, I still felt really good. Then the hills arrived, as I knew they would. The first couple weren’t so bad, but by the end of the second kilometer of hills I was hurting. I kept going, but the last four kilometers of hills were just plain brutal. In fact, they were bad enough that the 4K (allegedly) downhill run into the finish was an ongoing dialogue between my brain—which knew that the finish was drawing ever nearer—and my body, which just wanted to walk for a little bit. The last 10K took exactly an hour—which is only 20 seconds per mile slower than my earlier pace—and I made it to the finish with enough left for a good kick. See, always listen to your brain. “Shut up, legs!”
I survived. My joints didn’t fall apart. My conditioning wasn’t as bad as I had feared. And my diabetes regimen was on-track. (I was 200 mg/dL at the start, 180 at 12K, 140 at 24K, and 125 at the finish. That’s 11.1 mmol/L, 10.0, 7.8, and 6.9 for my Canadian friends. Yay!)
That was the race. Now for the good stuff!
Céline and Scully convinced me last year to do this race last October, and I had been super-excited about it since then. I love going to Canada. Heck, let’s just say that I love Canada. Period. It’s the people and point-of-view mostly. So I had hoped this trip was going to be a great mix of fantastic people, beautiful scenery, tasty food, a fun race, a whiff of international intrigue, and—what’s this?—curling.
After a very short flight to Buffalo and a short drive, I was viewing Niagara Falls, a beautiful and impressive force of nature. So much water. So much spray. So much noise. Unfortunately, the short flight messed with my already messed up sinuses, and my hearing was off all weekend. I guess I’ll just have to go back another time (with Lisa, of course) to hear the full rumble of all of the water going over.
I was a little late getting to the curling rink to meet with Scully and Céline because I had to sit in the rental car for a little while waiting for my blood sugar to come up after it went over the falls in a barrel.  I knew next to nothing about curling on Friday morning, except that Céline does it and that I would meet her and hang out with Scully while she did her slippy shuffleboard-thing with stones and brooms. Fortunately, one of their common friends came along to explain the whole thing.
Afterward Céline’s Doug posed an innocent question: “Would you like to throw a stone?” (He might not have said “throw.” I made up a lot of descriptions about what was going on, to everyone’s amusement.) When in Canada, do as the Canadians do, eh? Yes.
Let me tell you, it’s a lot more difficult than it looks. Coordination and balance are not my best attributes. Plus, curling ice is literally more slippery than a hockey rink because it’s all bumpy and stuff. And it’s all because of this guy:
rock stone weighs 20 kilos (44 pounds) and takes a bit of work to get moving. Well, not so much work if you know what you’re doing. Then you can make it look easy. Eventually, I actually got one all the way down into the box on the other end of the ice. Before going out on that high note, though, Doug had to chase one down before it went into a neighboring lane. And I looked like this a lot:
But look! I think I’m ready, Céline. Just don’t ask me to go out and
The rest of the weekend I spent with my Dia-besties. After picking up our race numbers and swanky “Older Than Boston” shirts, we set out to do two very important things: buy chocolate and buy cheese. We drove all over the Niagara region, chatting the whole time as if we’d known each other for years.
Even though I’m home now—and it’s time to give my passport a bit of a rest for a while—I think it’s worth saying again: I had such a great time this weekend!
Stay cool, Canada.
1 — Fortunately I’m mostly fluent in converting between metric and ‘merican for all the important measurements: temperature, distance, weight, diabetes, etc. [Back . . .]
2 — Plus, I got a little confused getting back to the QEW. [Back . . .]