Monday, October 17, 2011

Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Report

Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Report
16 October 2011

I came into my 4th half marathon of the year with very low expectations.  A week prior to the race I came down with a sinus infection that threatened my ability to make it to the start line.  Couple that with a forecast of rain and wind, I held out making my decision to run until Saturday - and at that time I decided to run but would take it easy and not push myself - I will just shoot for sub 2 hours.  I think my husband said "you don't know how not to push yourself".

Race time was a nice, late 9am so the morning was pretty much a normal morning. Up around 6:45, couple cups of coffee and a large bowl of Leaping Leamers cereal (yes, I eat a peanut butter and chocolate kids cereal for breakfast - it's the perfect pre-race food).  We grabbed a cab and picked up Carole and Vic and we were at race site at 8:15.
Barry and I said our good byes to our friends and made our way to bag check - which was pretty efficient to check the bag - more later on the fiasco on retrieving the bag, hit the porto potty lines and then went to get into the blue corral at about 8:45.  The corral was spilling over with a huge mob of people at the little entrance in the fenced in area and NO ONE WAS MOVING.  Well, by this time I was pumped and ready to go and I had my eye on the 1:50 pace bunny as I could feel a PR in the air so I gently started with my "excuse me pardon me excuse me" and slithered myself into the corral and as close to the pace bunny as possible.  I told Barry (who was under trained not trained for this race) that I was feeling good and that I would see him at the finish line.  And with that we were off!

This race was too crowded.  Not just the start, not just the first KM - the entire race I was fighting for space to pass.  It was miserable!  But my legs felt great, I felt great and in my heart I thought perhaps I could finally break that 1:50 mark.  My PR was the 2010 Toronto Goodlife of 1:51:14.  So I ran.  I zigged.  I zagged. And I ran.  Besdies the first km which was 5:44 due to the intense crowd, I averaged 5:15 kms.  I had taken an onza perforance gel prior to the race starting and I took a hammer gel at about 5km in.  I took water at every water station.  My mouth and throat were incredible dry due to the wind and the dry air.

The first 18 km flew by.  I was so excited to see Carole and Victoria on Lakeshore as we had trained together the few weeks leading up to the race.  It was Vic's first half, Carole's second.  It was a PR race for both of them at 2:40!

T H E   L A S T  3  K
Yip, I had one major fail in my race.  Remember I took a hammer gel at 5km.  That's all I took.  I had honey stingers and another hammer gel to take.  I train by taking something every 5km.  So why I didn't I can only attribute to the crowds and being singularly focusing on passing. At at the ramp at 19km my body hit a wall.  My muscles slowly gave up and my pace started slowing.  The 1:50 bunny who I had passed at 1km and hadn't seen all day joined me and then left me in the dust.  I pushed hard and I never stopped running.  I told myself "if you think this is hard, what do you think you are going to feel 19km into the run at the Ironman".  I pushed.

The turn up Bay Street was both awesome and horrific.  The crowds were awesome.  I pulled my ear buds out so that I could focus on the cheers of support.  But it was like a wind tunnel.  I kept my head down and pushed on trying to sprint to the finish but I don't think it was much of a sprint.  The clock read 1:53 as I crossed the line.  I was pretty sure it took me a few minutes to hit the start line.  I wondered if I had broken the illusive 1:50.

I felt pretty rough when I came to a stop.  It was very crowded.  I looked for my buddy Catherine who was handing out medals but couldn't find her. I grabbed a banana and a bottle of water.  Once I got my bearings I decided to recover my bag from back check...

It was a mad house. We were crammed into a very small space divided into to lanes. We stood. we chatted, we shivered, we wondered.  NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.  every 8 mins or so someone would come back with a bag.  We were not moving.  I took this time to check my results on my blackberry.  I was happy to see I PR'd... but didnt' break the 1:50 mark.  I finished in 1:50:22.  Yip. 23 seconds.  So now I'm a little bummed but really pissed off at the bag check and I want to find my husband.

Barry, my husband, is a very resourceful guy.  Knowing I would be in the bag check hell - he climbed atop a mail box and we found each other.  I was relieved that he knew where I was (while I run with my blackberry, he does not).  I had been in the line for over 30 minutes now and it was really getting bad.  About 10 minutes later I hear a cheer, I turn to look and Barry is standing on the mailbox again and he's holding my bag up above his head.  I was overcome with joy that I could leave that mess and join him.  It was no easy feat getting out of that space and while I understand everyone was frustrated with the situation - there were some down right rude people wouldn't let me through.

We made our way over to the post race party which was pretty empty - considering everyone was either in bag check hell or as I found out from my friends were pushed north to Queen street  so they missed that area all together.  We decided to grab a cab on Yonge street and get the heck out of there!

We are lucky to live in the beach, just a block before the turn around point for the full marathon.  So after we showered and got warm we went out to cheer on the marathon runners.  It was inspirational to cheer them on and I know we motivated them just a little bit as the spectators had dwindled by that time and I can imagine that being a pretty lonely time in the marathon with 9km left, into the wind.  Barry and I clapped and cheered on each runner by name.

I'm pretty hard on myself I guess.  Considering leading up to the race I wasn't even thinking of PR'ing, I have beaten myself up over 23 seconds.  23 seconds.  If I had gotten in front of that one guy, or not slowed down to grab that second cup of water at the 4th water station, or not taken water at that last station just 1 km from the finish, or stopped to pick up my arm warmer I dropped at the 5km mark.  So many places I could have recovered that 23 seconds.  23 seconds. Then I think how trivial that 23 seconds is.

BECAUSE - in this same race,

Eric Gillis qualified for the Olympics with 1 second to spare,

 Reid Coolsaet missed breaking the Canadian Record by 46 seconds,

a 27 year old man lost his life and a 100 year old man became the first centurion to finish a marathon!

So, I concede.  23 seconds were not meant to be.  So my next half marathon, which at this time is the Chilly Half in March - that 1:50 mark still stands and it will be there for me to blow out of the water because I think I will have to set my goal for something a little more than 23 seconds.  Sub 1:45 it just might have to be!

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