Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Race Report: Toronto Women's Half Marathon

I'll start by saying that this half marathon was very different from the Princess Half.  I was on my own but with friends, I was in a familiar environment on a familiar course (5k of it anyway, from last year's Toronto Women's Runs 5k events) and I had done this once before so my nerves were a different sort of nerves- more the known than the unknown.

Pre-race I found Lyndsey near the baggage check where we had planned, more or less, to meet up.  I had also planned to meet up with Andrea if possible, but we didn't find her until we were in the starting corrals.  The American and I had thought we left plenty of time to find parking but apparently we were wrong- our parking spot was super far away (though near a real bathroom with no line!) and we were pressed for time once we got to the starting area.  I was still feeding my headphone cord through my shirt as we rushed off to our corral.  We grumbled about wearing our fuel belts but I was so glad to have mine during the race, despite the extra weight.

Lyndsey and I ready to go (almost)!

For the first 9km or so I ran with Lyndsay and Andrea.  I was really glad I found them both before the race and that we were able to keep each other company for the first half or so of the race.  We chatted a bit and all stuck to 5/1s, keeping a decent pace while running.  I was trying to stay on pace to finish in 2:30 and by the 10k mark I was right on target.  I had my 5/10/15/20 splits written on my hand with the pace I needed to run to meet my goal.  At the 8k mark we had a party because I wasn't throwing up.  WIN.  (Spoiler alert because this is the only picture I have of my splits- I didn't meet my goal.)

My finish time, my STRENGTH bracelet and my splits/pace.

At some point in the first 10k, my brother who lives in Toronto passed us on the route.  I got a high five while he "cheered embarrassingly loud" as promised.  Seeing him during the race was such a neat and unexpected moment.  I knew he had run all the way out to Sunnybrook, changing his morning run plan so he could cheer me on, and I felt pretty lucky.  Later in the route, around the 10k point, my brother found me again and ran with me for about 15 minutes.

At this point, I lost Andrea and Lyndsey because they were slowing down a bit right when my brother was making me speed up.  Between an injury for Lyndsey and Andrea running another half only a couple weeks ago, who could blame them?  They were superstars for running at all.  I would have DNS'ed the heck out of the race if I were them.  The course was a Y-shaped out and back which means I got to see both of them a couple times during the remainder of the race which was great.  Lyndsey even got a picture of me on the course.

Clearly rocking out.

My brother and I got to chat a bit and he showed me how fast I am capable of running.  I thought a lot about how I never would have imagined running with him, let alone running at all.  I maintained a good pace for a while after he left me.  At the 15k mark I was only about one minute off pace from meeting my goal time.

Image Source: Ryder Photography

Somewhere around the 18k mark I started to fall apart.  I had had a few rough moments prior to that, walking for 2 minutes instead of 1 minute or walking up a particularly hard hill (I'm looking at you, 16k mark...)  Prior to the 15k mark, my average pace for each 5k split ranged from 6:39 to 6:48, which would have been good if I had managed to maintain it for the last 5k split.

Unfortunately my right knee was starting to really hurt and the sun was beating down on me.  I got to that stupid parking lot that is right near the finish and couldn't muster the enthusiasm to run through it.  Stupid parking lot.  My average pace for the last 5k or so was 7:36.  I knew at the 20k mark when I was already past 2:25 that I wouldn't make my goal, but I also knew that I would finish - a strange feeling to be disappointed and proud of myself at the same time.

Image Source: Ryder Photography

Running through the crowds towards the finish was an amazing moment for me.  I could hear the crowds cheering and the announcer.  I was getting goosebumps, thinking about how far I had just pushed myself and how far I have come in the last year.  In fact, it was exactly one year ago that I had crossed the finish line of my first 5k ever.  It was surreal.

Running into the finish

A contemplative moment I think :-)

Coming across the finish I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.  I was pretty close to doing both.  The woman next to me said "great job" and we high fived and got our finisher's necklaces.  I went to find The American so I could cheer in Andrea and Lyndsey while getting some much needed snacks and water.  When I found him, my right knee was toast but I was ecstatic.  Regardless of my finish time, I had done it.  I had faced a challenge, and while I was helped along the way by good friends and my brother, at the end of the day I had to find it in me to push to the finish and I did.

Andrea and I after the race

Andrea, Lyndsey and I after the race
he official stats:
  • Official time: 2:43:28.1
  • Chip time: 2:36:50.1
  • Category place: 104/120
  • Overall place: 949/1165

As far as general comments about the event, I loved it which didn't surprise me.  The Toronto Women's Runs events are really well organized and enjoyable no matter your speed.  The race kits are great (water bottle, Luna bar, Foxy Originals coupon, tech t-shirt) as are the sponsors and people involved in the event.  The volunteers are fantastic, as is the location.  We even got a beautiful necklace instead of a medal for finishing.  The only thing I would change is the tech shirts, as they never seem to fit quite right, running on the small side.  Overall though I'd definitely recommend their events.

And my reward for finishing my second half marathon?  Another race entry of course!  Andrea and Lyndsey both mentioned running the 15k at the Midsummer Night's Run in August and I had been talking to a friend about running it, plus it's on my race bucket list.  I finally signed up on Monday.  Now I just have to order my fairy wings and I'll be set!

(Image source for all race photos is Ryder Photography.  As in previous Toronto Women's Runs events, I was very impressed with them.  They take great photos (partially because you can see where they are and you're "ready" for them) and lots of them, and the service as far as getting them up and indexed is really fast.)


  1. Those are great race photos! Congrats on your second half!

  2. Great report! I know how you felt at the end. You may not have made the time goal you had in mind, but you were still so proud which is how it should be. I hope to see you ladies at MSND. I'm running the 30k and it will be so much fun to meet up with peeps before as I'm not sure if anyone I know IRL is running it.

  3. Great race recap! It was hot out there which didn't help things! Congrats on getting it done! Sounds like you need to run a race with your brother! I bet that would be a great experience for you guys!

    I just signed up for the 30K at MSNR so hopefully I'll see you again. And actually know who you are this time! LOL

  4. Great recap! It was great seeing you again. MDNR will be fun!