Mar 26 2013

Around the Bay 2013 – Race Report

Another year, another Around the Bay Road Race, but this time without IT band issues, without any significant upcoming races, and completely fresh.

This winter, there was more muscle and strength training, intervals on the bike trainer instead of speedwork, a lot more cross-country skiing, but a lot less running mileage. I was curious to know what, if any, effect this would have.

Race Start

This year, race organisers implemented a strict corral seeding policy. Participants first had to request corral placement from the director, with proof of previous results. Then on race day, security guards were placed everywhere to ensure no one could sneak into the corrals. I had to show my bib to no fewer than half dozen guards before arriving at the start pen.

I think that worked well. Most runners were running at similar paces from the start, and I didn’t need to move around any slow moving walls at any point.

Km 1 to 10

Somewhere in HamiltonDespite sub-zero temperatures at the start, I warmed up quickly – wearing shorts was the right decision.

I was hoping to hang around the 2h30m pacer, but due to the crowds all round, the rabbit was elusive. I could see the rabbit ears occasionally, then finally I lost him somewhere near the second water station.

From the on, I checked my own pace often to keep it the 4:50/km range, and planned to keep it until the rolling hills then take off from there.

Km 11 to 18

At the halfway mark was the lift bridge, where I saw barefeet runners tiptoe across the unforgiving road surface last year.

At some point after that, my buddy James caught up to me. He had to start from the back because he did not have corral placement. I let him set the pace while I stayed behind and kept him in sight.

Km 19 to 25

While the first 18km or so were somewhat boring (I caught myself daydreaming a few times, letting my pace drop…), the last 1/3 of the Around the Bay course has lots to keep me focussed.

James and I played a fun game of cat and mouse here. He was faster going downhill, and I was usually able to catch him on the next uphill. All this while both of us gradually moved ahead of people around.

On Valley Inn RoadLater he mentioned his strategy was to speed up going downhill to take advantage of gravity. For me, Hamilton Road2Hope marathon was still on my mind, so I didn’t want to go full out on the downhills and fatiguing my legs early.

Thank you to the people handing out bananas at the bottom of the last rolling hill! That stuff is like rocket fuel. Someone should make a banana belt so I can carry some during my runs.

At around 25km, in front of Easterbrooks Hotdogs, friends from my Running Room club who didn’t race were there to cheer for everyone, no doubt having a footlong or two. Thanks for the support!

Km 26

Valley Inn Road. Been there, done that 😛
It’s really not a big deal if one realises that the steepest part on the last curve is no more than 50m or so, and one will get lots of time to recover at the top.

Going around the girl wearing a lifejacket and into Copps ColiseumI punched over the top, opening a gap with James and didn’t allow him to bridge up.

Km 27 to 29

I found this section the toughest mentally. The route was on a wide open York Boulevard, completely exposed on both sides while crossing a bridge, with no finish in sight and only the Grim Reaper was there to keep things interesting.

Km 30

Any matches I had remaining was burned up with the sprint to finish. Final time was 2h26mins.


Apparently the photographer was right in front of meMy performance statistics showed I was running almost completely even pace throughout the entire race, even though I thought I was pushing harder in the latter stages. Perhaps a bit of fatigue and lactic acid builup made me think I was worker harder.

Heart rate was stable, except for increases during the long gradual climb from Lasalle Park, punching through the top of Valley Inn Road, and picking up in the last km. I was happy it did not take long to recover after each of those instances.

This was the first time I raced with a footpod. As it turned out, my average foot cadence was in the low-80 steps per minute per foot, quite a bit lower than the good runners.

I want to try working on bringing up the cadence, which would mean shorter strides and landing further back, something that should improve efficiency.


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  1. Robin

    Fantastic result Henry. Great job. You ran even paces but increased effort on those hills I’m sure. Well done. I find that stretch of road between 27 and 30 for me, quite taxing. Especially the last 2. Nicely done. Heading back to Mississauga this year?

    1. Henry Lo

      Not officially confirmed, but I’ll be pacing Goodlife Toronto Marathon, either 4 hrs or 4:15, for a friend running his first marathon.

  2. Paul Radcliffe

    Way to go Henry! I guess you missed the train!

  3. Lyndsey

    Great race and recap Henry! I love the photos, you look strong!!

  4. Nadiya @ Milk and Honey on the Run

    Awesome blog :) Haha Mississauga 10K was also the first official adult race I’ve done which was a year ago. Hoping to do a triathlon in Toronto this summer and I’m loving all the biking info on your site 😀

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