Around the Bay with Team Awesome

30 Mar Around the Bay with Team Awesome

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Last last fall my friend Wendy asked if I would like to join herself and daughter Colleen in a 3-person Around the Bay relay team. Sounded like the perfect opportunity to experience the oldest road race in North America in a team way—the ‘Team Awesome’ way. I jumped at the chance. ‘Count me in. Honoured. Sounds like fun’.

Was it fun? Would we do it again? Read on…

 

Linda (1st ‘Awesome’ Runner)

 

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Linda gets the team off to an AWESOME start!

Training for a race is easy compared to that tricky decision: What to wear on race day? I dislike feeling cold and yet I perform best when I dissipate the body heat created when racing. ‘Linda’s Race Dress Rules’ to the rescue:

  1. Above 0 degrees C, it’s shorts. (Underdressed beats overdressed.)
  2. Keep the body warm prerace.

Early Sunday I headed out for an easy ‘wake up the body’ jog. My tunes woke up the brain. Overnight ‘race elves’ had erected white metal barriers, orange pylons, and portapotties, transforming the city streets into a race course. Things looked good; things felt good. Liked that a lot.

As first runner on the team, I lined up in the Start Corrals downtown. Loud cheering arose as we passed a gigantic Canadian Flag over our heads. Start! About 2.5K had to unzip the long-sleeve tee and vest. Peeled my arm warmers off but my efforts to toss them to the sidelines failed…the wind took charge and flew them to parts unknown.

My goal for Sunday was to run a 10K tempo with a controlled pace. My focus on rhythmic breathing, quick turnover, and relaxed body put me in the zone, the process. ‘Landing lightly, Osprey fly, Fast feet, Fast feet, Through the sky’. Didn’t’ matter to me that the only birds I could see were the seagulls whizzing by in the NE 33K wind. Lucky seagulls—they had the wind at their backs. I didn’t! But…must admit, there was an exhilarating freshness to those never-ending strong spring gusts.

Before I knew it I was approaching the finish (ah, the beauty of the relay). That’s when I misjudged the exchange location and started my 800m sprint way too soon. Holding my pace while climbing the long overpass gave me a chance to see what I could do. Did it. Spotted Colleen.  In a jiffy she transferred the timing chip to her shoe and was off. Good luck! Waved her goodbye with a smile on my face–a smile knowing I had run well and had made my best effort for the team–Team Awesome! Yes we were.

Colleen (2nd ‘Awesome’ Runner) 

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Colleen prepares to run an AWESOME 2nd Leg!

This was my third time running the Around the Bay Relay. I’ve always had a positive experience at Around the Bay and this year really solidified it for me. In the past, I have often run it at the behest of my parents – both formidable and seasoned runners, and although I do value these events, I often wouldn’t do them without their encouraging nudges. But at the end of this year’s run, I really felt like I wanted to do it again.

I don’t think I will be waiting until my Mom sends me gentle text message reminders or flat out bribes me to join by paying my way (the relays are ridiculously expensive, let’s be honest) because I believe I’ve discovered how to train and race in a way that benefits me. I built my own training schedule from an old MacMillan link my Dad had sent me, and instead of doing the mandatory 3 runs/week, I did just 2, plus a dance class for cross-training and a weekly at-home core session. (Serious runners may want to stop reading now.) I’m a young working mother of two who is trying to build her own business in her spare time, and this WORKED for me. My mileage may have been less, but my speedwork was aggressive. Twice a week was mentally feasible for me and I stuck to it.

I have also learned that races can make me anxious, so I don’t fuss about them anymore, and I do a lot better. I don’t worry about my diet, my hydration, my clothing, my Garmin. I have a plan and a pace in mind, but the rest is just noise. Enjoying myself and being proud of my effort are the main focus. This is what I did this year and I’d like to do it again and again and again.

Wendy (3rd ‘Awesome’ Runner) 

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 Wendy sprints the team to an   AWESOME finish!

I love Around the Bay and I have run every possible distance it has to offer. And, without a doubt, I enjoy the 3-person relay the best. Being part of a team just makes it that much better. No matter what my distance, there is (almost) always a point when that voice in my head tells me I should walk. I have to fight really hard to “override” that desire. Knowing that Linda and Colleen would have given their best in their leg of the race helped to spur me on and hold my pace when the going got tough at the end. I could not let the team down!

 

Each leg of the relay has it advantages and disadvantages.

Disadvantages of Leg 3:

  • you don’t get to start until almost lunch time so you have a long wait at your exchange zone.
  • you get “the hill”

Advantages of Leg 3:

  •  as a “fresh” runner you will pass lots of tired runners on the rolling hills of Burlington
  • you can high five the gentleman who plays “We are the Champions” as you descend down into the valley before the infamous climb up
  • you can high five the Grim Reaper at the cemetery
  • your downhill finish ends with the glory of crossing over “centre ice” in the coliseum
  • if you are lucky, they announce your name over the loud speaker as you cross the line. Woo hoo!

Will I do it again next year? For sure!

As you can tell, we are fans of team racing. What races have you run as part of a team?  Share your stories here.

Cheerios, ~Linda

 

 

 

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