Yesterday I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5k and then went out to cheer on the rest of the athletes. It was a day of new experiences and appreciation for the sport I love. This is a rather long post with lots of photos!
Before anything else, I want to say a HUGE thank you to the organizers and volunteers that made this event possible. From what I understand there were over 3000 volunteers involved! The scale of this event is enormous, so I appreciate the humongous effort required to pull it off successfully. Alan Brooks and the whole Canadian Running Series team organize great races, and this was no exception.
As I mentioned in my goals and prep post before the race, I really appreciated how this event was much better publicized. After the Chicago Marathon last year where the whole city embraced the event, I felt let down coming to Toronto where the race was barely noticed. This year I certainly noticed a heightened awareness and buzz in the media about the event! I give full credit to the organizers who must have put a lot of effort into the media blitz!
And I appreciate that this year the focus was on the charities and many stories of ordinary people achieving a triumph. I liked the buzz about 100-year-old Fauja Singh “running” the marathon 2 years ago, but I am even more fond of how the event this year was about the charities.
Getting There is Half the Race!
I got up bright and early for the race before 4:30am. I didn’t sleep to well and kept waking up every hour or so. Could I really have pre-race jitters for a 5k?!
I drove downtown to find parking. As I went north on Spadina Avenue I was surprised by all the school buses. There were dozens! They took out a whole lane from Richmond to Queen on Spadina, and the length of Queen Street from Spadina until about University! They were shuttle busses to get 5k runners to the start line. There were lots of buses!
There was plentiful signage on directing 5k runners to the shuttle bus pick-up. As I rode one of these buses there was some funny chatter on the radio of bus drivers trying not to block driveways and such, but it seems everyone survived.
It was really cold in the morning. I think it was about 3 degrees Celsius. I’m reminded of the Mississauga Marathon in the spring where we trained all season in the winter, then had to worry about sunscreen in the race. This was like that, with the opposite! I almost wished I had a scarf or something to keep my nose warm. I had a foil from a previous race which kept me pretty warm. I looked at some of the other runners wearing heavy jackets with pity because they would get WAY too warm when the actually started running.
Getting off the shuttle bus around 7am, I happened to walk into Roxane and her mom. I was originally worried we’d have trouble finding each other in the sea of 6000 people! We eventually got into the corral and noticed it was much warmer surrounded by people!
Roxane and I seeded ourselves right to the back of the red corral. I had some trouble with my Yurbud headphones. The rubber things kept dethatching themselves from the earpiece. Even after the gun went off I was trying to fix them.
Only a 5k!
|Date||Event||Goal Time||Chip Time|
|2013/10/20||Scotiabank Toronto Watefront 5k||< 30:00||29:51|
For the first few kilometers I was trying to keep a pace close to 6:00 min/km. It would be easy to burn out early. After the usual shuffling in the first kilometer it turned into a situation where everyone around me had similar pace. I also discovered that I warmed up really quickly. I was glad I didn’t have any extra layers on!
Around the 3km mark there is a rather steep onramp. At that point, my iPod started playing the main theme from Pacific Rim. I took that as a sign to start picking people off, much like “hunting Kaiju” in the movie! (I’m such a nerd) I passed quite a few people on that uphill.
Almost right after that song, my iPod just froze. It just wouldn’t play anymore or respond at all. So I took of my headphones and just sang to myself as I ran the last mile. Maybe it was just a way to make sure I wasn’t wearing headphones for the finish line photos
I looked down at my Garmin at the 4km sign and noticed it said exactly 24:00. I was exactly on pace to meet 30 minutes! However, my feet started to hurt so I stopped to walk for a few seconds. I then gunned it up Bay Street in a desperate attempt to make up the time and beat 30 minutes. I felt like I was “hauling @$$” up that hill! The signs saying 500m to go and such were nice, but I just became increasingly desperate. When I crossed the line and looked down at my Garmin I was very happy to see I beat 30 minutes by 9 seconds!
After crossing the finish line, there was a really big traffic jam at medal pickup. I hope they figure this out for next year, since it was freezing cold and getting people to stand still was BAD. The rest of the finish chute was really nice with water, Gatorade, food and BAGS for the food. I didn’t like that the 5k runners didn’t get foil blankets, but I understand they’d want to conserve them for the half and full-marathoners.
I had a funny moment in the chute. I was in line for food and I wasn’t sure if I was next or the lady beside me. She told me to go ahead because I had a better shirt. I do quite like my INKnBURN Steam Punk shirt, so it was nice to get a complement.
And I saw Brenda near the end of the finish chute. She was volunteering! She took this great finish line photo of me! Thanks Brenda!!
Onwards to Cheering
After getting out of the finish chute, I made it back to my car, changed into warm clothes, grabbed my cheering gear and headed out. I was constantly tweeting at this point using the #STWM tag. I was very glad to have warm clothes because it was still only about 7 degrees Celsius.
I had a new experience as I walked down Bay Street to my cheering perch. I was watching the 5k ‘runners’ still coming in. Almost all of them were walking. I understand now why I was in the red corral. I spend so much time training with intense runners, I sometimes forget that there are just genuine people doing this event for charity. Many of these people from the purple corral were wearing t-shirts of various charities. There were entire families together. Some children and handicapped adults were using walkers or crutches. There were even some people holding banners and placards like a parade! What a great fundraising idea and photo op! The roads are closed anyways, the charity raises money and the whole family gets to participate in this fitness event together. This was a genuine display of humanity I needed to see.
I got to my cheering perch around Lake Shore Road West and Lower Simcoe Street before 9:30am. That’s about 19.5km into the race course and shortly before the half-marathon and full-marathon courses split. It was a pretty good point to see people coming from far away.
I fashioned a kind of yoke so that I could hang my poster around my neck leaving my hands free for my cowbell, tambourine and camera. I didn’t bring the speakers because my iPod was on the fritz from earlier.
It was cold. I was glad I had a toque and gloves! I figured out how to ring the tambourine and cowbell together in the same hand so that my other hand was free for my camera. I switched hands pretty often because my arm got tired from ringing the cowbell and tambourine. My Chilly Half-Marathon cowbell must be one the highest used ones they gave out at the race!
It was neat to see all the elites go by. There were so many people I wanted to see, but when the crown intensified I quickly realized I was going to miss people. Sometimes there were literally hundreds of runners in my field of vision and picking out particular runners was really hard!
There were lots of people I did see! I saw Nicole but she was too fast for me to get a photo of her. Emma saw me and I noticed Patty with her. I didn’t see Alice coming but she ran right in front me and said hi! I saw a few familiar faces from the Square One Running Room including James, Dilip, Andrew, Zhike and Peg. Zhike even stopped to chat. You’re running a marathon Zhike! GO! I’m sure there were DOZENS of you out there that I missed. But I was there!
One particular runner I’d like to highlight is JP Hernandez who ran the full marathon dressed as Batman as a fundraiser for the SickKids Foundation! I retweeted one of his photos from earlier in the week. When I saw him on the course and cried out “Batman” he graciously stopped for me to take a photo of him. What a class act! I had to donate to his campaign after that. You can too! CLICK HERE!
Here’s a big clump of photos. You’ll see what I mean about the hundreds of people! Click on any photo for a bigger version.
Onwards and Upwards
No personal best, but quite happy with my day. This is essentially a taper for me before the Niagara Half, but I was glad to be a part of the whole experience. And seeing all the charity runners really raised my spirits. I’ve run for charity a couple of times before, but I’m re-energized to do it again. I like the way that STWM has it set-up because it’s easy to support many different charities.
I feel like I gave it my all at the race. Holding that pace for 21km would have me finish a half-marathon in 2:06. With my current fitness level I couldn’t even imagine that anymore.
After walking around with my race shoes, I have a sinking feeling that they’re worn out. That may be why my feet hurt so much. I’m worried because it’s less than one week before the goal race. I am seriously considering getting a new pair of Brooks Ravenna 4’s for Sunday’s race and hoping I can break them in at least a little before the half-marathon.
And my Yurbud headphones are disappointing me, so maybe I’ll get some new headphones too.
I’m happy to have the whole Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon medal set now!