The anti-stick with a pack agenda – Around the Bay Recap

I will forever be dramatic. But three months ago I half-heartedly told my parents that I was going to have to retire from running. I had been out with plantar fasciitis for thirteen weeks, with minimal improvement and no end in sight for the vast majority of that time.

A month later, I ran my first kilometres post-injury. Initially I was just happy to be out frolicking in the snow, taking a cautious approach with my training and several days of rest each week. But after four weeks of building back my uphill/downhill strength, my attentions were turned toward Around the Bay 30k. I cautiously built some speed work into my training (again mostly on uphills and downhills), and ran two 30k practice races in under 2 hours 15 minutes.

Even then, I knew that if I wanted to reach my initial goal of running under 2 hours, I would have to run a blisteringly fast speed that I rarely even reach during strides. So I tried to do as much race-specific training as I could in the short build (both pacing and fuelling), getting as much of what I call “intentional training” as I could.

Then came the week of race day and I spent most of the week out sick, even losing my voice halfway through an impassioned speech to my class. “I promise I’m not crying!” When I woke up this morning, I had already mentally adjusted my goals, and just wanted to finish the race.

Then came those first few kilometres, and everything changed. I felt fresh as a daisy, and started harder than intended, but at a conversational pace with the other runners nearby. In the midst of strategy talk, a fellow runner named John mentioned “stick with a pack.” I responded with the good old rouse of “Definitely.” But I knew that if I was truly going to run my own race, I couldn’t get caught up in trying to stick with others. So I focused on enjoying the moment, snapping those tasty XACT Nutrition electrolytes out of the outstretched hands, and just let others go like Elsa and Anna.

Just before the ten kilometre-mark, I met a guy named Patrick, who I could tell wanted to catch the group ahead. He was so relaxed and kind that I even thought about sticking with him and seeing what could happen, but I knew that I wanted to take a cautious approach leading into the second half, and then pick people off when I could use my strengths on the downhills and uphills.

The plan worked to perfection. Every single time a pack of runners ran by, I continued to let them go, knowing I could catch them in the final five kilometres if I was still feeling good. I only focused on my pace and effort in the moment, and conserved energy knowing that I still just wanted to finish in under 2 hours. Then came the long-stretched downhills, and I leaped and bounded down, picking off entire groups. Then came the long-stretched uphills, and I caught at least one runner every single time.

Even toward the end, I conserved energy more than I might have normally, starting my kick with only the final 500m to go, and ensuring that sweet sweet sub-2-hour 30k finish (1:59:44 for the 30km & 30.2km total in 2:00:25). Patrick saw me at the finish line and jubilantly mentioned that I celebrated quite loudly. I think it’s important to celebrate the BIG and the SMALL victories, especially knowing that I didn’t even know if I would make it to the start line until the moment when I made it to the start line. I far surpassed my expectations, and that was certainly worth celebrating all the way to the line.

It’s onwards and upwards from here, and after resting my foot, it’s definitely time to amp up the climbing and start to do the type of training I truly enjoy. See you at Sulphur Springs 🤘

If you are also running Sulphur Springs and want to connect ahead of the race, feel free to reach out!

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Strava Profile | Rhys Desmond


My method for optimal recovery: POSSM

In my own recovery journey and subsequent battles through injury, I’ve developed my own acronym for how I want to recover in time for the next effort. I call it ‘POSSM’.

My theory on race stimulation: 2x race practices

For every short distance run I’ve done over the years, I’ve always held onto a critical rule of thumb. Sometime in training, usually with three and then two weeks to go until race day, I practice my race distance at tempo pace. The point of these runs is not to actually test the intended race…


One response to “The anti-stick with a pack agenda – Around the Bay Recap”

  1. […] credit this as one of the main reasons why I was able to recover so quickly from injury to run a sub-2-hour 30k at Around the Bay. I practiced two 30k’s in the weeks leading up, both at a sub-2:12 time (20s slower per/km). […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: