- What? Toronto GoodLife Half Marathon
- When? May 7th, 2017
- How far? 21.1km
- Where? Toronto, Ontario
- Website: http://www.torontomarathon.com/
- Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/975246808
I haven’t been following any formal training plan. Between men’s league hockey, playing rugby, and family commitments, I like having the flexibility of setting my own schedule. That being said, I’ve been trying to follow the following schedule as much as I can lately:
Monday – 10k Tuesday – 14k (AM), 8k + rugby practice (PM) Wednesday – 16k (AM), hockey (PM) Thursday – 8k + rugby practice (PM) Friday – 10k hill repeats Saturday – 10k with my dog Sunday – 20-30k long run
Rugby practices started up mid-April. I go for a 8k warm up run before practice because of where I live and where I work, I don’t have enough time to go home in between, but I really have too much time to hang out at the field. So rather than sitting in my car with a book, I run around the neighbourhood. My men’s league hockey is usually fairly late on Wednesday nights, so Thursday mornings is my sleep in day. I’ve been on a run streak since the beginning of the year, so this is the closest I get to having a day off (well days when I skip my regularly schedules run are really my days off and I take more of those than I’d like to admit).
Woke up way too damn early for this race. My wife was doing the 5k at the same event, so she had to drop be off at the half marathon start line uptown, then drive downtown, park and be at her start line for an 8:00AM start. So basically I was at my start line at 6:45AM for a 8:30AM start. Luckily there was a Tim Hortons around the corner, so I sipped on a medium coffee there and read a book on my phone until I had to head to the start line.
The biggest problem with these races are figuring out how much to wear. I know you’re supposed to “dress for the end of the race”, but knowing that I’d have to spend more than an hour near the start line in single digit temperatures (Celsius), I opted for layers that could be taken off.
With about half an hour until the race start, I made my way to the start line, made sure I wasn’t carrying any extra weight in the port-a-potties, and found my corral. With the national anthem playing, I realized I should probably not have my bib on my jacket if I was going to start stripping off layers, and at the last second, switched it to my pant leg.
The race got off to its usual start of dodging people slower than me, but once we were on Yonge Street, the main north-south street in Toronto, and where half of the race was taking place, we were able to spread out across all three southbound lanes, and I settled into my groove. As expected, I started to warm up quickly and within the first 3k of the run, my hat and gloves were stuffed in my pockets, and I had taken off my thermal layer and tied it around my waist (thank god I had moved my bib before the race started).
Just before the 5k mark is the only real hill in the run: a 30m steady uphill in an area called Hogs Hollow. Keeping my exertion level constant, I powered up the hill and noted on my watch that I managed to maintain my B-Goal pace, which was a good sign. Once you crest that hill, the rest of the course is essentially all downhill or flat, so I settled back into my regular pace, and started cruising down Young Street.
I would like to take a second to apologize profusely to the old man who I accidentally spit on. I was just clearing my throat and spit to the side, but that loogie floated far more forward than I expected it to. I think it got caught in a wind current. Thankfully you were in front of me, and couldn’t see it. And thankfully it hit your shoe and I don’t think you noticed at all. I still feel bad though.
My strategy for this race was just to run the race. I had my B-Goal which was one I knew I could do if I put in a solid effort. My A-Goal, I wasn’t sure if I could hit, but it was there for the challenge: If it missed it, no harm, no foul. But I was just out to race myself. I wasn’t going to try to keep up with anyone else, and if I couldn’t maintain my pace, I’d slow down a little bit. That being said, when I suddenly heard a thunder of footsteps behind me, and glance back to see the 1:40 pacer and a pack of runners surrounding him, it did light a fire under my ass to stay ahead of them.
At around the half way mark in the race, the course veers of Young Street and meanders down the very scenic Rosedale Valley. We pass the 10k start area and it was at this point where we started to slam in to the slower marathon runners and a few people who were walking the 10k. Mostly this isn’t a big deal. You just have to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge around people like at the start of the race, but the frustrating part for me was that I had to skip most of the water stations for the rest of the run because people would come to a full stop when grabbing their water. They really need a section of water stations that are for people who aren’t slowing down.
1:40 pacer guy caught back up with me and I ended up running with him for most of the Rosedale Valley and Bayview segments. Obviously we were working too hard to have any in-depth philosophical discussions, but we did chat a little bit about his pacing strategies. As the course turned to head West towards the downtown core, my pace increase a little and I drifted ahead of pacer dude. As with most people’s GPS, running through Toronto’s downtown core, with its ever increasing number of skyscrapers caused my GPS to have a small stroke. I was pleased to see I apparently hit a 1:15/km pace at one point, but knew it was too good to be true, and now my distance and average pace fields on my watch were corrupt and unreliable.
After the core, the race enters its final stretch as it passes by the historic Fort York and heads towards the finish line at Ontario Place. 1:40 pacer dude caught up to me again, at the 20km marker sign, and told me his watch had a freakout going through the core too, and he had no idea if he was on pace any more or not. I pointed out the 20k, sign and told him my watch just flipped over 1:35, so we had 5 minutes to finish the last 1.1km, which meant that we were both right on the money pace wise, he thanked me, and I started pushing it out for the last kilometer, leaving it all on the course.
I crossed the line with 1:39:54 on my watch (1:39:52 chip), and a smile on my face. I took a second once I crossed the line to catch my breath, and rub the back of a girl who’d just thrown up next to me, before getting my finisher’s medal, making my way to the food tent and finding my wife, who I saw taking pictures of me near the finish line (she had set her own PR on the 5k). We briefly checked out the race expo, before walking back to the car and starting the drive home. I was pretty tired, but happy that I wasn’t as mentally drained/dopey as I was after my marathon the fall before.
After this, I did my first ultramarathon (Conquer the Canuck) in June. I’ll have a race report for that shortly. I also have the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.