Race Report: 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Let’s cut to the chase. It was a great day, perfect for running. I ran a strong race and came up seven seconds shy of my half marathon personal best. I’m happy.

Pre-race

I met up with Miguel near the start chute and we walked up to the red corral to get ready to go. I had forgotten my gels in the car, but I grabbed some banana loaf at Starbucks and figured that would be fine since it was the half, and not a full marathon.

In the corral we found Jeffrey, Emily, Sean, Heather and a few other friends from the Downtown Yonge Running Room. We all talked about running a 1:40 and made plans to go out at about 4:40/km pace.

It wasn’t long before the anthem was sung and we were off.

The Route

Start to 3km

The first kilometre or two is uphill, so I planned to take it a bit easy and make back the time down Bathurst St. We ran the first kilometre in 4:51. Not bad, but Miguel decided we should make that up right away and picked up the pace. Emily and I dropped back a little bit and I yelled up that we didn’t need to gain it all back right away.

Kilometre 2 was 4:46. Again, reasonable. We were a bit behind, but there was no panic since the next file kilometres were pretty much all downhill.

Then the pace picked up. 4:38 for kilometre three.

Down Bathurst and past Fort York

Here we go. 4:25, 4:22, 4:20 and we were almost at the Lakeshore in much better shape thanks to some nice downhill running. It felt fast, but not too fast. I did say to Miguel that I didn’t think I could hold that pace to the end. But after seeing that we had been running 4:20/km, I felt better. I didn’t need to. That 4:20 is likely not quite that fast as we ran under the Gardiner here and the Garmin track was a bit off.

Lakeshore heading west

This part of the route is kind of dull. We weren’t passing the runners heading back yet, and there’s not much crowd support. But that let me settle into a groove. Miguel ran away a bit here and I spent some time running with Andrew Young who was running the full, and with another couple of friends.

4:27, 4:42, 4:44 and 10km was done. I felt like I was slipping a bit and made the decision to push the pace a bit and see whether I could make a run at a PB. I took a gel (picked up at the aid station) and immediately regretted it. Yuck…salty and gross. It turned my stomach a bit later on as well.

Lakeshore heading east

After the turn I picked up the pace and time passed quickly as I spent the next three kilometres scanning the throng heading the other way on Lakeshore. I saw a few friends including Laural who was running her first full marathon.

4:35, 4:37, 4:38, 4:44 and 4:45 through 15km. Now we’re moving and making good time. And getting a bit concerned about a little hip thing I’ve got going on.

Heading up the hills, I felt little twinges from my left hip. I made the mistake of hopping on a weird zero impact treadmill machine at the expo and strained things a bit in the few minutes I “ran” on it. Dumb.

As long as I didn’t push too hard up the hills, it was fine. I used my right leg to push forward and everything was fine. But in the back of my mind I kept worrying that when the time came to push to the finish that it would leave me hobbling.

To 20km and the turn north

4:44, 4:47, 4:40 and 4:37. The 4:47 was the uphill by the Rogers Centre. I decided to start pushing at 19km to try and hit the PB time of 1:38:25. I remember the turn at 20km where the marathoners went south and the half marathoners went north. I was happy to be making the left turn.

Finish strong

The tunnel under the tracks on Bay messes everything up on the Garmin and coming out of there, the buildings of downtown does the same. I have no idea what my split was here as a result.

1km to go

When I got to 20km, I knew I really needed to go to get the PB I was after. I saw some friends cheering on Bay and gave a glance and a quick little wave. No time to say hi…there was work to do.

500m to go and I remember looking down at my watch and realizing that I probably couldn’t make it to the finish in time. I hoped maybe I started the watch a few seconds early and pushed harder.

200m to go and I made the left-right turn and saw the finish. Shit…not enough time to get there. But I kept going and ran across the line. 1:38:32.

Seven seconds

Seven seconds off my PB set a couple of years ago in Hamilton. That day I ran well through about 18km, and then held on through the finish. Today, I ran strong from the very first step right through to the last. The course was tougher, and my running was better.

All in all, a great run on a great day.

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