March 29, 2012

Around The Bay 30k 2012 Race Report

Date Event Goal Time Chip Time Gun Time
2012/03/25 Around the Bay Road Race 3:12 – 3:19 3:16:20.9 3:22:03.2


I did not want to be unprepared for this year’s Around The Bay 30k Road Race. I did a lot more mental preparation for this race than I usually do. I had a detailed race plan and even did a reconnaissance mission! It was all for good reasons: I wanted to beat my old time, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the rest of my training season with downtime.

It was nice going with a big group again. I like thinking of running as a team sport. It was especially good because Copps Coliseum was very accommodating for hanging out together before and after the race.

Square One Running Room runners before Around The Bay 30k 2012 in Hamilton, Ontario


First 6km

I had a very specific race pace in mind, 6:38 min/km (6:23 min/km when running to account for walk breaks). I seeded myself way in the back of the starting corral and it took more than 5 minutes for me to reach the starting line after the gun went off. I held back quite a bit to make sure I didn’t burn out too quickly.

From last year, I remember that the starting roads in Hamilton weren’t great quality and that the spectators would be a little sketchy in this area. My handy custom paceband had the water station locations so I set my sub-goals to reach each of those stations. 

I had an unexpected pain in my right IT band near the start of the race. As I expected, the pain went away after I finally warmed up.



When I got to 6km, I noticed I was about 30 second behind my paceband scheduled time. My “virtual partner” on my Garmin said I was similarly behind. At that point I picked up speed, a lot. This 6:23 min/km became a memory and I sped up to around 6:05 min/km. I’m starting to think that 6:00 min/km is below my aerobic threshold.

Around 8km someone running behind me had a bad fall. I was really tempted to stop and see if he was okay, but a group of runners had already collected around him to help him out.

I reached the 10km checkpoint a little earlier than expected at 1:05:08. My plan was to reach that point at 1:06:20. I was happy to be ahead but was worried I was going to fast.

When I got to the 15km point, I sent out a Tweet as planned. To be fair, I wasn’t really tweeting on the fly, I had written this message before the race and merely hit send when I stopped for a walk break at 15km.

On Twitter during the race!



This is traditionally where the course gets more challenge, and I knew exactly what was coming. One thing I didn’t expect was to run into a wall of walkers and slow runners. The roads get a little narrow over this stretch, and it became a bit of a mobile obstacle course.

I reached the 20km marker at 2:11:39, about 1 minute faster than my planned 2:12:40.  That means I did the middle 10km in 1:06:31. I’m pretty happy with that. My Garmin “virtual partner” said I was almost 3 minutes ahead. I don’t know how that happened.

I planned to use this last 10k as the Running With Spatulas ‘virtual race.’ Knowing that the rolling hills were coming I wanted the distraction of my iPod. However, after getting the headphones on while running up a hill, my iPod wouldn’t turn on. Very frustrating! Somehow it turned on after about 2 minutes. Go figure!

Me during Around The Bay 2012

All the hill training I have been doing really paid off. I took off each of those hills like they were nothing. Passed dozens of people along the way.

On an unrelated note, did any one hear else someone yelling “I HATE PAUL RADCLIFFE” at the top of her lungs? I carpooled to the race with someone who was in my previous half-marathon clinic. On the way to the race I said there were only two big hills and the rest were small and little rolling hills. She didn’t think so and apparently got quite upset expressive during the rolling hills. I’ve already received a couple of e-mails from people who said they heard some woman screaming that she hated me. Heh.


I knew Valley Inn Road was coming up. I had myself super-psyched out about this. Talking to some other runners I have heard a lot of new names for this hill:

  • King Hill
  • Death Hill
  • Valley of Death

Do you know any other nicknames for this hill?

And of course I high-fived the little guy (midget) near the base of Valley Inn Road. It’s tradition!

As I crossed the bridge at the bottom of the hill, I was a little discouraged to see a gentleman being carried away from the hill on a stretcher.

As for the hill itself, I didn’t hold anything back. I sprinted up the hill with abandon. On the way up I passed hundreds of people! Going over my Garmin data after the race, my heart rate was around 155 for the whole race, except for Valley Inn Road. By the end of Valley Inn Road, my heart rate was up to 181 BPM! I guess I pushed pretty hard.


27km to Finish!

About 1km after Valley Inn Road, I realized the folly of driving up the hill. My legs felt really, really heavy from lactic acid.  I couldn’t hold a pace faster than 6:30 min/km. I was glad to finish.

It was really hot and sunny. Probably over 10ºC by this point. Very unusual for late March.

My end chip time was 3:16:20.9, about 4 minutes better than my time last year. That means I did my last 10k in 1:04:42! I’m really happy with that time because I beat my old time, but didn’t set the bar too high for next year 😉

Me finishing Around The Bay 30k 2012



I was very happy with the way the finish line went, but there were a few things that really bugged me. The food provided was great, and it was nice that they gave you a bag to hold it all.

I was a bit disappointed at the quality of the shoe chip. Mine had half-broken by the time I crossed the finish line. Someone else in my group had it half-break on them when putting it on their shoe. Maybe Sportstats is getting them from a cheap supplier?

There was a really big mess getting out from under the stands. For some reason, the Copps Coliseum staff blocked one of the two escallators. There was a mass of people trying to get up. What a cruel thing to do to people after finishing a race. It was very warm, sweaty and smelly. I thought the person with me was going to pass out. I hope this gets addressed next year.

The medals this year were a big improvement over previous years. The medal itself is coloured and larger. They even got a better ribbon!

Around The Bay 2011 and 2012 Medals (detail on right)


Nice to know a lot of fellow running bloggers ran the race too, including:


It was a great race, but in the end I consider it a 30km catered training run with 11,000 of my closest friends.

Comments closed


  1. Brianne says:

    *high five* on beating last year’s time!

    My pace was really slow for me…over 7 minute km, but coming off my injury, I was just excited to run! And I love the energy of everyone who participates in the Around the Bay. It really is infectious!

    • There’s no such thing as a bad time! A lot of other runners I follow were way under 3 hours. Crazy people!

      I really enjoy the recreational running community: Surprisingly supportive and positive!

  2. Ali Mc says:

    Nice recap Paul! I don’t like the medals from last year at all….you’re right, a big improvement!

    I can’t wait to run the whole thing (maybe next year) 🙂 maybe we can meet up this time. Let me know what other local races you’re doing!

  3. Hong says:

    Way to go Paul, you conquered that hill like it was nothing! Now why would someone say they hate you? what did u do my friend?.

    Congrats on the run again! all the best! c u around!

  4. Lisa says:

    Woot woot! Great job Paul! You keep improving with every race, I am very proud of you!

    Was I in that half marathon clinic when that person was there? I’m curious as to who it is!

    • Thank you Lisa! I like improving a little bit every time. Small steps towards Boston Qualifying. Ha…

      This person who was yelling was one of the people I taught over the winter for the clinic leading up to Chilly. I don’t think you would know her. She’s pretty embarassed that people running around her recognized my name and e-mailed me

  5. macnic says:

    Amazing job and way to beat that ingoing goal! I agree – it was a catered training run with 11,000 others! Well done!

  6. 51feetunder says:

    John-Scott Esposito? who’s that? Not this guy! I didn’t have any issue with my chip, it’s too bad yours gave you issues. The escalator issue was because they couldn’t get the down escalator to switch directions and it was behaving erradicly…so basially a safety issue. Nice race Paul!

    • Whooops. Let me get rid of that… I don’t actually know your name, so I put the name that matched the time you said on your race review.

      Good to know about the elevator. Hopefully they’ll figure something out next year to reduce the bottleneck.

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