October 2, 2015
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of pacing the Nutrience Oakville Half-Marathon. It was my 3rd time pacing this race, and my slowest pacing assignment yet! I previously I discussed how I “accidentally” registered for this assignment.
|Date||Event||Goal Time||Chip Time||Gun Time|
I felt kind of funny collecting my sunglasses and putting on sunscreen at 5am while it’s pitch black outside, but I would need them later. I wore a pacer shirt I received at a previous race, but had modified it to be sleeveless.
I met up with a couple local friends and we drove to the carpool lot at the Bronte GO Station. Shuttle buses were regular and plentiful. No trouble getting to the starting area on time.
It was a little chilly before the race. I was reluctant to take off my coat to put it in bag check. I did bring a foil to keep some warmth on me until the gun went off. I’ve done enough races to know that cold at the beginning could be quite comfortable after a few miles.
Before the race I had the pleasure of running into several familiar faces including Sarah and Doug who are were also from the Square One Running Room, Claire from Brampton’s increasingly famous “Squatters”, and the trio of Sarah Black, Thomas Tielen, and Helen Tielen who I often see at races.
In the starting corral, before the race I did my usual pacer shtick reminding people to double-knot their laces, make sure their GPS devices have satellite, and generally trying to get a few laughs out of the assembled crowd. I chatted with a few people that had assembled by my 2:45 sign way at the back of the starting corral. One gentleman was Ian who was running his first half-marathon.
The start of the race is an odd feeling when you have to run slower than usual. There is such a buildup at the start of a race, yet the challenge at this point is to let the 600 other runners go and not get caught at their speed.
It thinned out really quickly and a pace group rather roughly formed at this point. Ian and I stuck together for much of the race. I also met another older gentleman named Paul, and a walker named Albert.
Then there was Bryan. We chatted a little bit and then I found out that it was his 60th birthday. Yes, Bryan was running a half-marathon on his 60th birthday!! I think that’s pretty epic!
I must say that it was almost perfect running weather: Slightly cool, sunny, but mostly shaded because of the early hour, and just a hint of a breeze. I was glad to have sunscreen and sunglasses for this run!
A remarkable thing about this part of the course is the ridiculously gorgeous mansions that line Lakeshore Road. These “homes” look more like castles or hotels, with gates and fountains and such!!
Running at a walk-adjusted pace of 7:30min/km was pretty slow and there were very few running at that pace. But, it also meant that it was pretty quiet, which made the run seem all that more peaceful.
I was checking my Garmin furiously to make sure I was in the right neighbourhood for pace. I realized I was often creeping slightly faster than 7:30min/km so I decided I needed some ways to stall for time. One of them was to stop for “selfie breaks” at certain times, and also to walk sometimes to “livetweet” the race. My first such stop was at the 5km sign.
This was a largely uneventful but very beautiful stretch of the course. It went through the quaint little “main street” part of Oakville.
The pace group started breaking apart a lot at this point, with most starting to fall behind me. I was concentrating on trying to stay on pace and hit the kilometer markers as close to my paceband as I could. At one point I turned around and heard Bryan shout “I’m still chasing your wiggling @$$!” So, I was still pacing him, just from further ahead.
Shortly before 11km I was catching up to a lady who was struggling. She said she wasn’t happy to see me. I told her that if she wanted to finish before 2:45 she’d have to stay ahead of me. To my surprise she then sprinted away from Ian and me for quite a while. But she stopped to walk about 1km later and that was the last I saw of her.
I’ve done this race before so I’m well aware of the really long straightaway along Rebecca Street. It’s so straight though that I could often see the distance course markers 2-3 minutes before I get to them. It kind of puts it in perspective when I think to myself that if I’m on schedule I’ll reach that sign in the distance in 120 seconds.
On a related note, the course markings seemed amazingly accurate!! According to my Garmin the course marker signs were all within about 10 meters of the distance I had run!
Ian started struggling shortly after 11km. He said something in his stomach area was really bothering him. I wanted to slow down to stay with him. But, before I paced A Midsummer Night’s Run 30k in 2012 the pacing organizer said it’s more important to stick to your pace than to stay with people. The organizer said that people may still be tracking you even if they aren’t right beside you. It turns out that was true because Ian said he kept me in sight through most of Rebecca Street
Around this time I started to notice a lot of fallen leaves on the sidewalks and lawns adjacent to the course. There were a lot of oak leaves, which have a very distinctive shape. It occurred to me that there aren’t many oak trees where I live, but lots in Oakville. Perhaps that’s why it’s called OAKville. I also not recognize why oak leaves are featured predominantly on the medal, as well an acorn because it’s an oak seed.
Somewhere along this stretch a lady caught up with me. She was pretty fast. We had a chat about how she was faster before kids. It would have been nice to stick with her but I knew I was going above pace so I bit her adieu, slowed down, and watched as she took off.
15k to Finish
I actually lost quite a bit of time stopping at the 15k sign and posting that selfie to twitter. Surprisingly I had to catch up with my scheduled pace!
Some police officers I had seen earlier in the race who were blocking traffic commented that it looked like I lost my group or was looking lonely. :p I retorted that they were behind me somewhere.
Shortly before crossing Third Line I passed a lady who was struggling. She was being accompanied by some friends jogging on the sidewalk. I joked that I should poke here with the stick of my pacer sign to get her going faster. Her friend facetiously commented that her friend liked getting poked with a stick… I’ll let your dirty imaginations figure out the context of that comment.
Around 18km, I caught up with a lady who I had been slowly gaining on for about four kilometers. She was obviously struggling a lot. I think her name was Denise and she said that her IT band was really bothering her.
Coming down the last kilometer or two I realized I was going to be a bit off from my goal time. My paceband assumed I would take a walk break at 2:44, essentially moments before the finish line. Walking across the finish seemed a little silly. I also thought about accelerating to try to finish right at a gun time of 2:45, but I didn’t know how far behind GUN time I was. So, I decided to stick to 7:30min/km and try to see where that finish was.
After the Race
After finishing the race and winding through the finish cute I doubled back to try and see some of the pace group finishing:
- Albert came in seconds after me. I passed him not long before the finish line.
- Denise came in less than 3 minutes after me.
- Paul came in shortly after me. He was pretty happy with his time.
- Ian came in about 5 minutes after me and he was really happy to finish his first half-marathon. He said they didn’t have a finishers medal for him but that they would mail one to him later.
- Bryan finished just under 3 hours, and he finished really strong, saving himself for the big sprint to the finish. That’s quite a great way to celebrate a 60th birthday!!
The Sportstats results show that only 15 runners and 7 walkers officially finished after me. There are almost 100 that were listed as DNF which seems a little odd. Maybe they just didn’t start.
I felt really, really good after the race. It was almost as if hadn’t run at all. If only I could do all my races at a pace so comfortable that I don’t even feel it!
I have been dutifully tracking my calories for several weeks on MyFitnessPal. So, even though I burned about 2000 calories during this run, I still wanted to track what I ate during this cheat day. I was very happy to cheat and munch a Panera’s Asiago Cheese Bagel in the finish chute. Reviewing my nutrition overall for that day, it seems I ate much of the 2000 calories I burned on the course during or immediately after. So much for running for weight loss…
I was contacted by Rachel Schouten (@RachelSchoutsen) of The Weather Network on Twitter shortly after the race. She also ran the Oakville Half-Marathon in a personal best time of 1:57:40! She wanted to use my posted selfie from 15km on The Weather Network segment called #weatherselfie. I told her I would be honoured. A few people say they saw it on TV Sunday evening. I was already fast asleep by the time those segments would have aired.
And of course, thank you to the organizers, Landmark Sport Group, and Race Director Krystal Duz! So, all in all, I had a great experience and would gladly pace it again!!
So, all in all, I had a great experience and would gladly pace it again!!