Running can sometimes be seen as a solitary activity. Many runners run at different times of the day, at different speeds and at different distances. All of this makes it more likely that one would run when they can and how they want, rather than running with a group. Usually those group runs happen on the weekend for long runs and once a week in the evening for run clubs. I run on my own most of the time because I tend to run at abnormal times and find it hard to make it out to pre-arranged ‘running group’ times. So when an opportunity comes along to run with running friends, I jump on it. Run Ottawa arranges for an annual trip down to Hamilton for Around the Bay, the first big spring race of the year. For a number of years, I wanted to take the bus but couldn’t make the arrangements or it was easier/cheaper to stay at my parents house in Mississauga (I have run the 5K at ATB twice before). But now that my parents live in the Ottawa area, there is no more free place to stay. When the time came to sign up for the Run Ottawa trip, I jumped at it. Which was good because the first bus sold out very quickly.
There were several Ottawa area running friends going down on the bus, including Suzanne, Brianna, and Katrina. We decided before the bus had even left Ottawa to call ourselves “Team Troublemakers” and sat in the back of the bus like troublemakers do. We did live up to our name, especially on the bus ride home (more on that in a bit). The bus ride down was fun – our ‘bus leader’ Dave had trivia games and movies for us to watch. We mostly just chatted in the back, giggled about what the Nuun samples looked like and complained about Toronto traffic when we inevitably hit a sea of cars. We arrived in Hamilton and checked into the Sheraton (which is located right at the start). The expo was right next door so we picked up our race kits. I had already dropped down to the 5K, but Suzanne and Brianna ended up running the 5K as well. The race shirts were alright – I think the 30K shirts made a bit more sense design wise. The race kits also included a year’s supply of body wash (I’m not joking) and a hat. After the expo, I went on my own to McMaster (where I completed my undergrad). I had not been to McMaster in several years, so it was nice to walk around and see what had changed. My old office when I was working there was gone and now a lab. BSB 147 (a main lecture hall) had not changed one bit. I took a number of photos and also bought a new sweater.
After I came back, we ended up chilling in the room for a bit and trying to figure out what to eat for dinner as Katrina was running the 30K and had to fuel properly (Suzanne and I might have been fuelling for the 5K with beer….). If you were watching my Instagram Stories, you might have seen Suzanne and I making an “ice bath” for our beverages. After wandering around and trying to find a place with pasta (which was surprisingly hard) and not booked up, we ended up at a family-owned Italian restaurant. The waitress we had, we will never forget. She was very enthusiastic! Very. We went back to the hotel and possibly had more beer which resulted in Suzanne and I thinking we should create a “hipster 5K” and run in jeans, a flannel shirt, blundstones all while carrying a bottle of Merit Brewing Beer.
The next morning was race day! I set out to warm up by running around and doing some warm up drills. When it came close to race time, I positioned myself somewhat close to the front. The weather was okay. It was not warm enough for capris, so I wore leggings, a long sleeve and my NYC jacket. We started the race and off I went to attempt a 5K PB. Unfortunately 1KM in, I knew it wasn’t my day. My legs didn’t feel all that great and I felt sluggish. The first part of the course is a steady climb and I could feel it right away. I ran the first KM in 4:48 which isn’t too bad, but the 2nd KM was 5:19, way off where I normally should be. But, by the time I turned around and started downhill, I started to pick up the pace. I ran faster in the second half (which is rare for me), running 5:10, 5:02 and 4:57 for the last three KM. I finished the race in 25:35, which honestly isn’t that bad for a spring race. I placed 67/1674 for Females and 6/160 in my category. I will take it! Speaking of the running with blundstones, someone must have heard our idea because Suzanne and Brianna said they saw a woman running in blundstones.
After the race, I quickly showered and went to Merit Brewing to meet my brother for breakfast. They were doing a pop up breakfast because of the race. Merit brewing even had a 4-pack Around the Bay beer selection that I pre-ordered to take home with me. I had a stuffed hashbrown which looked awful but was actually quite delicious. A few of us who ran the 5K patiently waited for “beer o’clock” to happen and eventually I enjoyed a beverage before heading back to the hotel.
We managed to catch a few runners finish the 30K, including long time running-teaching friend, Lauren. When it was close to leaving time, we all went to Jackson Square Mall to get “bus snacks”. We loaded up on food and went to the bus, quickly realizing that “Bus 2” had stolen our bus. Our previous bus was clean and had power for our phones. The bus we ended up on had weird hair all over it and no power.
The bus ride home was – legendary. Team Troublemakers were definitely the loud ones on the bus, but we did end up gaining a few recruits, including running friend Kristel. Let’s just say that we hydrated well and properly fuelled with Burger King at the rest stop. The movie we had was Bohemian Rhapsody, which I made karaoke style with absolutely no apologies to the rest of the bus. It was the best 6 hour bus drive I’ve ever had. I’m sure all of us will be back next year, and if you are an Ottawa area runner, you should join in too. Around the Bay is a bucket list race and Run Ottawa does an amazing job at arranging this trip for us.