Three Things Thursday

1. With yesterday’s MWMLR of ten miles and this morning’s 5-miler (we have an out-of-town guest this evening so I have to skip the usual group run), I’ve run a total of 339.2 KM (210.8 mi) for September. It’s not a record (though it is my second highest month), which I knew it wouldn’t be with a recovery week and the beginning of taper. Highlights of the month were our 5-year anniversary, a fantastic 23-miler and of course, a sub-1:45 half marathon.

You know what this means? Tomorrow is October! Marathon month! (and Birthday month…)

2. Unfortunately there has been some backlash toward runners and marathons in the City of Toronto since Sunday’s race. One mayoral candidate seems to think it would be a brilliant idea to move the race(s) to city parks (?!?!). It’s aggravating and saddening that the people of Toronto will not embrace its races like most big cities do.

Yumke wrote an excellent post on the topic if you’re interested in reading more.

3. On a more positive note, 79-year-old local man Ed Whitlock, famous for his daily runs in a cemetery, ran an incredible single-age world record of 1:34:27 at the Waterfront Races. (Story Here) If I’m still able to put one foot in front of the other at that age, I’ll consider myself fortunate!

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Race Report: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Preamble: For some background and race goals, start here.
We headed to the race nice and early, as per usual, with our friends P & U. P would be running the full with hubs and U was there to hold our bags for support. We had plenty of time to wander around, scope things out and use the washroom once or twice over and over again.
It was a perfect morning to run; calm, clear and cool at about 10C/50F. The weather gods must have been on our side because Friday had been 30C/86F+ and Saturday was extremely windy. The previous two years had been warm and muggy for this race, so I was determined to take advantage of these awesome racing conditions.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I knew I had an ambitious goal and I wanted to succeed sooo badly. I just wanted to get started already.
With about 20 minutes to go, I exchanged good-byes and good-lucks with P and hubs and we headed to our respective corrals. (for once I was lining up ahead of them, hehe) Last year the starting area was an absolute zoo, but they changed the location to a wider road, which made things much more manageable. I didn’t find it crowded at all and people had no problem slipping into the corrals up to the last minute.
I popped a salt capsule, paced a little, shoot my legs around, checked my Garmin obsessively; chatted briefly with someone about having a crappy sleep (he caught me yawning).
Finally, mercifully, the gun went off and I shuffled my way to the timing mats.

I knew immediately that I wouldn’t have a good signal on the Garmin thanks to the skyscrapers of downtown. I saw everything from a 3:00 pace to an 8:00 pace during that first kilometre. You can see where Garmin *thinks* I ran:

I expected this and knew what I had to do. It was time to dial in to my pace based on “feel”, to remember all of those tempo runs I completed at this pace. Target was 4:58/KM which made it easy to calculate how I was doing based on my overall time at each kilometre marker (I just used 5:00 in my head). I focused on tuning in to my body, concentrating on each breath and each step. I CAN do this. I just had to get this first part out of the way.
We were now running along Lakeshore and I had a better signal, so I was able to keep an eye on my Garmin for current pace. I kept an eye on overall time at each marker and knew I was right on track. I had finally found my groove and was feeling a little more confident. I had settled in with a “comfortably hard” pace and felt consistent from one kilometre to the next. I had a pleasant surprise when Sarah called out my name – I didn’t expect to see her out on the course cheering and it was a great boost! I took a gel right around 7K.
It was also during this time that I got to see the elite runners headed back toward the finish after the turn-around. What a sight! (They went on to break all kinds of records.)
10K split: 49:36
It felt good to pass the half-way point. I started thinking of the second half as “just a 10K tempo run”. I was working hard, but feeling good. I used some little tricks to break the remainder of the race into chunks, and took it one piece at a time. There was a fantastic cheering section at the turn-around (near 12K). I loved it! And now we were running back toward the finish. Before long I got to see Sarah again and this time I zipped over for a high-five. She asked how I was doing and I said “Good!” I wasn’t lying! I took my second gel around 14K.
I was looking forward to 16 becase then it was just “5K to go”. I was definitely getting tired, but it was manageable. I held onto that pace for dear life, taking it one KM at a time. The markers actually seemed to be coming quickly! I had to tackle one decent uphill, which in reality is not bad at all but felt like a doozie at that point. I was counting down! At 18K I remember distinctly that I finally believed I was going to do it. I felt decent and I knew I could handle the next 3K. “A” goal, here we come! Marky Mark called out to me from about 19K, told me I was looking strong and snapped this pic (thanks Mark!).

At this point, I said to myself (softly, but out loud): “2K to go. 10 minutes, that’s it.” [Side note: This is how I know I had a great race. I have run countless half marathons where the last 2K feels like an eternity. This time, it didn’t seem that long at all.]

The 20K marker fell right on the corner where we turned left to begin the slight incline toward the finish. I checked my time, but the display was set to hours:minutes and not seconds, so I wasn’t sure how close it was going to be. There were signs posted for 500m to go, 400m to go, etc. and suddenly it seemed really, really far. There was one final turn and the finish line was right there. All I know is that my Garmin showed “1:44” and I was gunning it with all I had.
My Garmin had gone berzerk and seems to think I took a few detours on this home stretch. I have never seen maps this crazy! It would have been nice to know my final split, but Garmin clocked a 3:43, which is clearly not accurate. Let’s just say it was fast. 😉

Crossed the mats, hit stop, looked down: 1:44:48

Chip time – 1:44:48
Pace – 4:58/KM (7:58/mi)
W25-29 – 32/887
Women – 156/4441
Overall – 870/7894


(Can you tell that I love this top? I’ve now raced in it 6 times this year!)

Hubs runs a marathon!

Before I get to my race, I wanted to share a quick report on hubs’ run yesterday.

Some of you may recall that he had a disappointing DNF due to injury at this first marathon attempt last November. He went on to run his first marathon with me and our good friends P & U as part of the Goofy Challenge in January.

Unfortunately he was then sidelined for several weeks with another injury. Thankfully he bounced back quickly and his training has gone really well this summer.

The original plan was to seek redemption at the Road2Hope Marathon this November, but he decided to add the Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a training run. He managed to convince P to join him (this girl doesn’t know how to say no), so they ran together yesterday.

The plan was to cruise at long run pace for about a 3:45 finish.

waiting to start

After finishing my run, I met up with U and we grabbed a spot about 600 metres from the finish. We cheered our heads off for everyone as we waited for hubs and P. (I love spectating/ cheering!)

When we saw them coming, I started jumping and screaming like crazy. I was so excited!!

 here they come! (yes, they matched on purpose)

Hubs looked like he had been out for a stroll in the park and the first thing out of his mouth when he saw me was “How did you do??” I think he was more concerned about my race than his own. (Awww.)


Chip time: 3:36:57
1st Half: 1:51:01
2nd Half: 1:45:56

As it turns out, they had gotten a little “bored” with their long run pace and picked it up for the second half. They ran the last 7.2K at a 4:54/KM (7:54/mi) pace!

This is a one hour and 12 minute PR for hubs, and he makes it look easy.


Flashback Friday: Toronto Waterfront Marathon Edition + Race Goals

This Sunday is the 21st annual Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and mine and hubs’ 4th consecutive year racing. Back in 2007, the half marathon was our very first race.

I went on to run my first and second marathons at the Waterfront (yep, I wore the same shirt; it has since been retired).

Something lures us back to this race years after year. Of course it will always hold a special place in our racing hearts for being our first race, but it also has that “big city race” appeal, drawing 20,000+ runners and dozens of international elites. It’s a great feeling to be a part of something like this and I’d hate to miss out on the opportunity, especially since it’s so close to home.

[ I do hold a little bit of resentment toward the Waterfront Race this year for strong-arming (in my opinion) the original Toronto Marathon out of its long-standing place in October (it will be moved to spring next year, on the same day as the Mississauga Marathon, unfortunately). But I won’t get into marathon politics in the City of Toronto!]

This weekend, hubs will be running the full marathon with our friend P as a training run for his goal race in November (aiming for about a 3:45), while I tackle the half.

This will be my (lucky?) 13th half marathonand hopefully my fastest! I’ve been hesitant to post my goals because to be honest, I’m intimidated! But here they are:

A: 1:45:00 (this has been a pipe dream goal for a long time. While I do believe it is attainable, it won’t be easy. It’s not supposed to be easy!

B: PR sub-1:47:41

C: not acceptable

Here goes nothing!