December 31, 2016

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon 2016 Race Report

by pyrad
Categories: Race Report
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Comments: 1 Comment

This race report may be over two months late, but better late than never!

I mentioned in my October Review that I successfully paced the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. It was quite a relief that it went successfully because I would have felt bad letting down the people who were relying on me to pace.

As has been discussed in several monthly updates this summer, I did not have a great training season: I had a number of injuries including my knee, back, and ankle. The ankle injury was particularly debilitating. I guess I was also not quite so motivated. I’m glad the goal for the season was attainable. By many measurements, it’s a big step BACK from my success at the Mississauga Half-Marathon in May. But, since it wasn’t a failure, tautologically the season must have been a success.

STWM holds a special place in my runner’s heart because my very first half-marathon, and medal was from the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon in 2010. Since then I’ve run the 5k, the half again last year, and the full in 2011 and 2012.

I think this may also have been the first time they had a 2:45 half-marathon pacer. Lots of people finish this race really quickly, but, as I would find out, quite a few also come in well over 2:30…

EXPO

I went to the Expo on the Friday before the race. There was a nice variety of booths. I was surprised to see a booth advertising The Spartan Race, but I think it’s a nice experience for any runner to try.

The “official merchandise” for STWM 2016 surprised me. There were t-shirts, jackets, and such, but none of them were from name brands. In previous years, Brooks was the proud merchandise sponsor. I guess it’s a subtle sign of the times.

 

Posing in my pacer outfit with John Stanton at the expo of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo
Posing in my pacer outfit with John Stanton at the expo of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo

Posing at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Expo
Posing at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Expo

 

Part of my duties as a pacer is to do a “PR” shift in uniform to answer questions from runners. I stationed myself between the merchandise booth and Running Room booth. Everyone picking up their kits had to pass through there. And I got to be right beside John Stanton! He remembered me, and we took our obligatory photo.

 

 

RACE DAY

The weather was always a question for that race day. It was MUCH warmer than typical for mid-October.  Last year I wore long sleeves and long pants. I wore a tank top and shorts.However, the weather reports predicted warmth and rain. So, I decided a white shirt was a bad idea, and pulled out my slightly modified pacer singlet that I wore for the Oakville Half-Marathon the year before.

 

My "flat runner" prior to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-marathon 2016
My “flat runner” prior to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-marathon 2016

One last selfie before heading out to pace the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Mararathon
One last selfie before heading out to pace the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Mararathon

 

I wasn’t close with any particular training group this season. But, runners often become friends, and I was very much in continuous contact with many running friends. I liaised with my friend, Nagini who wanted to run this half-marathon slowly and avoid injury because she was preparing for the TCS New York City Marathon. I picked her up Sunday morning and we drove to downtown Toronto together. We found a great parking spot and slowly walked towards the starting area.

 

 

Along the way I ran into familiar faces like Nicole and Sam. Nicole says she didn’t have a great race, but she had what I would consider a blistering fast time!

Nagini and I settled into the “Purple” corral WAY in the back. A nice benefit of being so far back was how unbusy the portapoties were. In fact, I think I was the first to use the one I used that morning!

Milling about in the corral was a usual part of the experience. I held up my pacer sign (which was the size of a battleaxe) and the corrals began to fill in with people seeding themselves. I made friendly chit-chat with people and answered questions. I’d like to think I was very positive. Someone even remarked I seemed too cheery.

Nagini said something to me while we were waiting in the corrals: “No matter how many races you do, the feeling of being in the corrals before a race is still very special.” Lots of people all there together, we’ve all worked hard towards our goals, and we gather together to face this course together.

There was no rain all morning. In fact, there were even brief moments of sunlight breaking through the clouds. But moments before we started moving, it started to rain. By the time we got to the 1km mark it was POURING!

Starting the race it was a challenge to hold back on pace, but I had a job to do. A lot of space opened up in front of me, I guess because I was going slower than the people around me.

A lot of people got a kick out of a sign that said “If Trump can run, so can you.”

The pace group kind of coalesced around the 3km mark when we passed Honest Ed’s. There were about 10 people who were staying close to me, and when I stopped for walk breaks I noticed about 10 more trying to keep up behind. I made sure to keep clear of the streetcar tracks on Bathurst Street because those could be especially slippery from the rain.

 

Marker Target Time Chip Time Difference
5k 0:38:51 0:38:02 49 seconds early

 

The period between 5k and 10k felt too fast. It is the most downhill part of the course, so perhaps it’s not my fault that we banked a little more time.

Photo of my pace group around the 7k mark. Thank you to Mark Young for the photo!
Photo of my pace group around the 7k mark. Thank you to Mark Young for the photo!

 

After the course opens wide up and flattened after 8km on Lake Shore Blvd., I made a conscious effort to hold back on pace, even going below my 7:49 min/km to bleed some time and get back closer to where I should have been.

 

Marker Target Time Chip Time Difference
5k 0:38:51 0:38:02 49 seconds early
10k 1:18:09 1:17:45 24 seconds early

 

There’s a little downhill around the 11km mark. I told the people I was running with that there would be an escalator to help them get up the other side :p

 

Around 13km as we went over the Jamieson overpass of the Gardiner expressway a gentleman asked if I was a pace bunny during the Around The Bay 2013. He remembered me from that! What a small world!

 

Marker Target Time Chip Time Difference
5k 0:38:51 0:38:02 49 seconds early
10k 1:18:09 1:17:45 24 seconds early
15k 1:57:00 1:56:29 31 seconds early

 

Another great photo of my pace group by Mark Young around the 18km point. the group had thinned out by now.
Another great photo of my pace group by Mark Young around the 18km point. the group had thinned out by now.

 

From about 15-19km was quite a struggle. The effects of not enough training really hit me in that stretch. I felt fortunate I could hold onto 7:49 min/km pace, we’ll, just barely.

The last stretch of the race felt pretty strange. I noticed too late that my paceband scheduled a walk break in the last minute, at 2:44. I thought it would be silly to walk across the line. So, at the 20km marker I encouraged my group to take off and sprint the last kilometer and get a big finish. I throtted down my speed a lot, and lots of people happily passed me.

Crossing the finish line at a light jog felt interesting. I didn’t feel tired or winded at all.

Date Event Goal Time Chip Time Gun Time
2016/10/16 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon 2:45:00 2:44:42.4 3:06:31

In the final stretch of Bay Street, the street is divided between the full and half-marathon courses. It was inspiring to see full-marathon finishers coming in already. In fact, the 3:05 FULL marathon pace bunny finished before me! Wow! Boston Qualifying while pacing a marathon!!

 

In the finish chute of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon 2016

Posing with Nagini at Toronto City hall after STWM 2016

At Toronto City Hall after SWTM 2016

 

After the race Nagini and I took a lot of photos. We also ran into group of familiar faces from the Square One Running Room and we shared congratulations with each other.

Medal and shirt from STWM 2016The aftermath of the race was a little rough. My thighs were thicker and flabbier than usual and rubbed together the whole race. I did apply BodyGlide liberally, but the rain and sweat must have washed much of it off. The chafing between my thighs was severe and uncomfortable. I covered it with medical gauze for a week, and also had to apply polysporin regularly.

 

I was relieved to have finished successfully. I was so worried for so long that I was going to fail and let down people who were relying on me. It was a comfortable time, and I’d be happy to do it again next year!


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1 Comment »

  1. Robin says:

    Better late than never 🙂 Well done Paul! Super pacing