March 9, 2014

Chilly Half Marathon Race Report

The post painfully overused pun for this race will be that it was CHILLY. But that barely describes it. It was genuinely a very cold day for a race. The weather was ironically appropriate for the Chilly Half-Marathon.

I often tell my clinic members that we train in any weather because race day could be any weather. My clinic has struggles through bitter cold, windchills near -30, ice, snow, uncleared sidewalks, and howling winds. Despite all that, I hope we wouldn’t ACTUALLY have to experience a race day that was THIS wintery!

Months and months ago I had ambitious plans of setting a new Personal Best or even getting under 2 hours. As this Polar Vortex winter continued, I realized that the goal would be very hard. Even harder than that, my sleep and training were disrupted by my PMP studying. It was a personal struggle to accept that I wouldn’t be able to set a new PB in this race. My strategy instead would be to start near the back and pass lots of people.

A whole bunch of photos were previously posted here.

Date Event Goal Time Chip Time Gun Time
2014/03/02 Chilly Half-Marathon N/A 2:17:39.4 2:22:01.22



I had a great carb-loading dinner with my clinic on the Friday before the race. I devoured an entire massive plate of chicken primavera at Peter’s On Eglinton. Then a huge slice of caramel crunch cake. Then went home and ate popcorn…


A clean plate that used to contain a massive chicken primavera
A clean plate that used to contain a massive chicken primavera

A massive dish of chicken primavera
A massive dish of chicken primavera

A caramel crunch cake!
A caramel crunch cake!


I decided to get a really good night’s sleep the night before the race:

posted on facebook befre 8:30pm on March 1
posted on facebook before 8:30pm on March 1



Race-Day Morning

I woke up nice and early to discover about 10cm of fresh snow! And the snowblower broke as I hurried to clear the driveway. What a great way to start the morning!

I met with my group and we all piled into one car and drove to Burlington. We got a nice parking spot and stayed comfortably in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre before the race.

Most of the Square One Running Room's Winter 2014 Chilly Half-Marathon Clinic (Javaid's camera)
Most of the Square One Running Room’s Winter 2014 Chilly Half-Marathon Clinic (Javaid’s camera)

It was a pleasant surprise throughout the day to run into so many runners that I knew. For example, I saw Thomas and his mom, Charlyne, Nagini and others while waiting.

Every time someone opened a door to the Performing Arts Centre, we would feel very chilled. Those cold gusts of wind convinced us to stay inside as long as possible.

On the way to the start, I ran into several other runners including Patty, Phil, and others. I worked my way backwards through the starting corral and settled in with some runners from my clinic who where aiming for 2:45 or slower.


First 10k

I took off pretty fast and started passing people rapidly. I warmed up by my first walk break and took off my scarf. However, I somehow dislodged my headphones and the earpiece fell on the ground. I didn’t stop to pick it up, so my music was uneven-sounding for the rest of the race.

By about 3km, I caught up with the 2:20 pacer and another member of my clinic. I stayed with them for a little while, but felt like I wanted to keep pushing.

Running the Chilly Half-Marathon
Running the Chilly Half-Marathon

I wasn’t looking at my Garmin at all. I wanted to run based purely on feel and not stress about pace. Unfortunately, my feet were getting numb. It’s a symptom of the Posterior Tibial Impingement that plagued me last summer. It was frustrating because I knew I could run faster if it wasn’t the numbness and tingling.

Around 8km, I “ran” into Melissa who was in my last full-marathon clinic. She was doing this race as a long run. She seemed to be going a little slower than I was, so I decided to stay with her for a while until my leg started to feel better. It was nicer running with someone rather than running alone. We chatted a whole bunch, and caught up old times like her new home, and her new running group. At some point, the 2:20 pace group passed us.


After 10k

Getting closer to the turnaround, I started seeing lots of people I recognized: James, Peg, Dilip, Roma, Nicole, Emma, many members from my clinic, and probably lots of others! So awesome! Shortly before the turn I pulled away from Melissa. Sorry Melissa!! Hope you had a good race!

I thought the wind was in my face for most of the race. After the turn, I was alarmed to discover that it was actually a tail-wind and the coldest part was yet to come. It was particularly cold by large intersections where the shelter from nearby homes disappeared.

Shortly after the turn I caught up with Ray. He got back from the Caribbean less than 12 hours before the race! Crazy man! Welcome back to Canada! We decided we wanted to catch up with the 2:20 pacer.

After a short time I caught up with Iva, Kim, and the 2:20 pacer. At that point, I decided I wanted to stay with the group for a while to keep my pace steady and avoid getting lonely in the dying miles of the race.

At one point, I passed a gentleman with a tie-died beard. Melissa said that her new group was called “The Squatters” and they wore tie-tied shirts and one of them had a tie-died beard! It was him! So, we chatted for a bit. That’s the kinda race I had.

I chatted with the 2:20 pacer a lot. I think her name was Fong. We chatted a bit. In fact, and one point she was adjusting her hat and she asked me to hold the pacer sign. Considering the mess last year, it was ridiculously ironic.


Final ‘Kick’

I was cruising along quite comfortably. However, I was starting to feel like I was going to have a lot left in the tank. So, I decided I wanted to finish the race with a ‘kick’. The hard part was deciding when I wanted to take off. If I took off to early, I might wear myself out too early.

At the last walk-break slightly before the 20km mark, Fong said she was way ahead of schedule and would be walking for a while. This was definitely my time to take off.

Funny story with my ‘kick’: Iva was near the back of the 2:20 pace group. She struggled to catch up with me right before I took off. I know I took off pretty fast, so I didn’t hear her behind me desperately trying to keep up. Oops…. sorry Iva.

Finishing the Chilly Half-Marathon
Finishing the Chilly Half-Marathon

Finishing the race with a quick, hard, kick was a good feeling. 2:17-ish wasn’t a personal best, but it’s the best I’ve done in a half-marathon in almost 18 months.

I felt elated at the end of the race. I met up with the rest of my clinic, and after changing we went to one of the local restaurants for Chilly and Beer.




Enjoying the well-advertised Chilly and Beer following the Chilly Half-Marathon
Enjoying the well-advertised Chilly and Beer following the Chilly Half-Marathon


Post-Race Thoughts

Obviously, a new Personal Best would have been ideal, but I’m glad I finished the race and had a fun time. It was an interesting feeling to run the race simply on feel for the purpose of fun.

I was surprised how sore I was the day after the race! Like, super-painful. I didn’t think I pushed so hard, but the soreness told me otherwise!

My race time on the internet results was actually incorrect originally. It seems that the mat didn’t pick up my bib at the start line, so my chip time was the same as my gun time. I guess I was too far to the side at the beginning. I’ll make sure I always cross in the middle of the mats from now on! I e-mailed Speed River Track and Field and they were really nice about adjusting it. I knew I started with two people so I have Speed River their bib numbers and they adjusted my time accordingly. I could have lied to give myself an even better time, but I’m honest and such.

It’s a little bittersweet with the clinic being over. I enjoyed being an instructor again and working with a group. It was really nice to know I’d have someone to meet up with even during the ridiculously cold winter.


Rockin' my new medal and jacket
Rockin’ my new medal and jacket

But I felt good, and feel confident heading into the Around The Bay 30k at the end of March.


Who’s heading to Around The Bay?! A meetup is definitely in order!

Comments closed


  1. Sam says:

    Congrats on a well done race, Paul! It’s always nice being able to finish strong. Hope to see you at ATB!

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