The last time I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon the year was 2011 and I was just about to return to work from my maternity leave. I had spent the summer training by pushing Amber in a jogging stroller when I could find the time (aka when I could find someone to look after our other two daughters). I ran the race in 2:00:29 seconds and was super ticked off that I missed breaking 2 hours by a measly 29 seconds….
This year it was time to take my revenge on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Half Marathon. Last year I ran the full marathon, so this year I wanted to run the half and beat my earlier time (foreshadowing). I was super excited to run as a Burnbrae Farms Ambassador. They sponsored me for my personal best half marathon at the Mississauga Marathon Half Marathon, and they graciously sponsored me again for Scotiabank. Eggs + me is a match made in heaven. I was very happy to represent a REAL, complete food and really, who doesn’t love eggs?!? Especially a brand that offers so many kinds of great eggs. I digress…
My training leading up to the half marathon this year was frustrating. I’ve been constantly tired for about two months and every run I’ve done has taken a tonne of effort. I have no idea why. Stress? Overtraining? Menopause? Not getting enough sleep? Thyroid? All of my runs have been ridiculously slow since Ironman Muskoka. I just couldn’t seem to wake them up – all runs have hovered around 6:35/km much to the frustration of my running buddies (though they honestly have been nothing but supportive).
On race morning I woke up to my alarm at 5:27 am. I had laid out ALL of my clothes + packed my gear the night before (rare for me as I usually like to spend a good 30 minutes on race morning nervously hunting for running gear on race morning).
Flat Janice was all ready to race. Champion running tights, no-name running socks, my favourite Under Armour running shirt, my Running Room winter running jacket, a Champion sports bra, Asics Gel Cumulus running shoes, dollar store sport sunglasses, my lucky Ironman visor + some DIY arm sleeves made from a pair of socks.
I put everything on quickly, then made myself a quick Omelette with Burnbrae Farms Omega Plus eggs:
(Picture is actually from a month ago because I was way too tired to think coherently enough to take a picture)
I was out of the house at 6:05 am – a record for me! I drove to the gas station to fuel up my van, and picked up a large coffee from Tim Horton’s (double double!) and a Boston cream donut (my secret race weapon). Thankfully they had my donut unlike when I did Ironman 70.3 Muskoka (still bitter about that). There was no traffic and I arrived in Toronto and was parked before 7 am. Holy moly – what will I do with myself for 50 minutes until I meet Carmy for my race bib, meet up with the other Burnbrae Farms Ambassadors, and meet Cathy (runningdesigner)?!?
Somehow I managed to fill the time reading tweets in the lobby of the conference center I parked at. It was finally time to make my way over to the meeting place. On my way over I took a selfie with the start line:
(I was so early that street lights were still on).
Then I went to the portapotty, which because of the time, was not the least bit lined up (race tip: arrive early for the potty):
I finally meet up with Carmy, Morgan (Wildly Fit), and Phaedra (Blisters and Black Toenails) (my co-Burnbrae Farms Ambassdors). Carmy gave me my bib that she had thankfully picked up for me (thank you so much Carmy!!). We chit chatted about the weather, our race plans and posed for a picture:
Cathy was also at our meeting place and it was so nice to finally meet her too, though in our pre-race jitters we forgot to get a picture of us together. I had worn a lot of layers to the meetup in an effort to stay warm because it was a cool 32F that morning, so I stayed as long as I could, then ran back to my car to peel off the layers, eat my donut, and to use some indoor plumbing for another nervous potty break.
I then ran back from my car to my corral doing strides, leg swings etc to warm up for the race. I was able to squeeze in just as the singing of “Oh Canada” began.
It was finally time to start the race! My plan was to try and break 2 hours. I had gone online and found a pace calculator and determined that I needed to run an average pace of about 5:39/km (9:00/mile) in order to do that. Unfortunately due to the crowds, the gentle uphill start and my sleepy legs I wasn’t quite able to start at that pace, and was much slower than I had anticipated.
Splits 1-5km: 6:48, 5:57, 5:45, 5:35, 5:33
Splits 1-3km: 10:26, 9:15, 9:03
At around the 3km, the race then turns down Bathurst St. at the famous Honest Ed’s. This is by far my favourite part of this course. It’s a gradual downhill for 4 km, the street is narrow and lined with people cheering on the runners. It’s a really fun part to race through which helped me to pick up the pace. My legs were finally awake and I soared down the hill.
Splits 6-10 km: 5:08, 5:08, 5:20, 5:33, 5:40
Splits 4-6 miles: 8:28, 8:17, 9:05
At 7k the race turns out to Lakeshore Boulevard via Fort York Dr. and flattens out. My legs still felt pretty good which was nice because my average run distance over the past 3 months has been 8k with very few longer runs done. At 11k my phone buzzed. It was my awesome future Sister-in-law who is a massage therapist letting me know that she was set up with the other therapists at the finish line and was waiting for me. I had a gel, and sent her a quick text back to let her know where I was on the course. I still felt great and was trying to hold my pace because I could see on my watch that reaching my time goal was gonna be very close as I hadn’t given myself a lot of room to fade.
Splits 11-15 km: 5:18, 6:13 (gel), 5:38, 5:31, 5:40
Splits 7-9 miles: 8:42, 9:39, 8:55
As we turned around from Lakeshore and turned back to the downtown the view of the CN Tower in the distance was beautiful so I pulled out my phone to take a picture.
Kilometre 17 and onwards of this race is difficult. The race goes under the Gardiner Expressway which because it’s dark messes with my motivation. I had a hard time keeping my motivation. The race also starts a gradual uphill.
Splits 16-20 km: 5:31, 5:37, 5:44, 5:38, 5:59
Splits 10-12 miles: 8:58, 9:14, 9;04
Halfway through the 19th kilometer the race turns up Bay St. to run the last mile up to the finish. I tried to dig in and push as hard as I could, but unfortunately there was NOTHING left in the tank. I usually can kick it up a notch for a good 200 meters to the end, but I had nothing. Some people say if you have no finishing kick left then it means you pushed hard through the whole raced and paced yourself well. I’m not sure I agree, but regardless, there was nothing there and I tried my best to cross that line in under 2 hours.
Last mile: 10:13
After the race was done I felt pretty good, a bit tight, but was able to walk fairly comfortably through the finish chute to collect my medal, grab a water and collect my food bag that contained: a banana, yogurt, a pita, and some chocolate chip cookies. I then headed over to visit my future Sister-in-law (Collette) for the best post-race massage ever (seriously, she’s awesome!). She massaged out my hammy’s and quads, and stretched out my low back, IT band, quads & hammy’s. Afterwards it was time to fight traffic to make the LONG drive home. When I arrived home I checked the results…
Official finish time: 2:00:31
I can’t believe I was just a measly 2 seconds SLOWER this year than in 2011. I guess I’ll have to try and come back next year for my revenge!