After the cancellation of the NYC marathon, I started looking for an alternative. By being in NYC that weekend we missed out on the Hamilton Road2Hope marathon. After that, well, in Ontario, the next marathon isn’t until May and I couldn’t justify the funds to travel far afield anytime soon. When I saw a new half marathon was starting at Downsview the next weekend, I decided it was pretty much my only choice. I just needed to race to feel a sense of closure for the year.
Fittingly, the race was on Remembrance Day this year and we had the privilege of running through the military base, along the runway and through the new revitalized park lands. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny November day, reaching highs of 18. However, there was a chill in the air when I got there and I actually had trouble staying warm. We were corralled at the start line and after a brief Remembrance Day ceremony including a moment of silence, we were off.
I had decided to go for a big PR and try to run under 2 hours. I know I am fully capable of this and even though I hadn’t specifically trained for it , I gave it a shot. The route is basically an out and back, first through the slightly hilly park lands, through the base and down the runway, into a residential area and back again. My pacing was on the mark for the first half of the race but it was becoming a struggle to keep the speed up. My pace started dropping and I was starting to get really hot. I was over dressed (seriously 18 degrees in November?!). Eventually my pace settled into what I would have run for the marathon. I simply couldn’t go any faster. I think the month long taper, the marathon specific training and the heat meant I wouldn’t meet my sub 2 hour goal. In fact, it was my slowest half to date. After the race, in the community centre, there were door prizes and tons of food, including baked beans, traditional army food.
Overall, it was an enjoyable race, although the route was a bit boring. Downsview has come a long way but the truth is, most of it is still industrial/military lands. Fan support at the start/finish was energetic but non-existent elsewhere. However, it is mostly on closed roads and paths and is a great late season option for a half or 5 km.