Monday, October 27, 2014

Race report: The second time was way more fun than the first

Yay me!
On October 19, I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half marathon – two years almost to the day from the first time I ran the same race.

It was a cold one. Just 3C – which is fine if you’re dressed for it, but I was wearing just capris and a long sleeved run shirt.

Ryan and I started the morning off by meeting up with my teammates at the Fred Victor office. I wasn’t planning to run with them, but we all fundraised for the same cause so it was nice to get together before hand to motivate each other and take a few pictures. And our team captain had bright green Fred Victor tech-T’s for us to wear for the race.

Team Fred Victor is ready to go!
When we got over to the start line, I felt much calmer than I ever had before a race. I had this ‘Bring. It. On” mentality, rather than one of fear, which is how I felt two years ago. There was no doubt in my mind that I could cover the distance this time, and I just wanted to get started.

That and I was freezing. Once in my corral, strangers simply started huddling together to keep warm.

Finally, my corral start time came and we were off. I was feeling pumped and before I knew it I had covered the first kilometre, with my RunKeeper app telling me it was at a way faster pace than my normal pace. As I passed Ryan (who was looking for me, but didn’t see me until I yelled at him), I tried to tell myself to slow down. I still had 20K to cover after all.

The obligatory selfie. Bring. It. On.
At 2KM, we turned onto Bloor where friends of mine were standing by the side of the road scanning the crowd for a glimpse of me. Their screaming gave me a boost and helped me settle into a rhythm.

Along Bloor and down Bathurst – this is my favourite part of the race and I flew through it easily. The onlookers cheer for everyone and it's so easy to just suck up their energy. I was having so much fun that I barely noticed I was running.

It’s here where it became apparent that the GPS on the RunKeeper app was off from the actual race markers. It was ahead by about 50 metres. Let me tell you, 50 metres is not a big deal at 1KM, but it’s cumulative – so by the time I got to 20KM, it had me ahead by a whole kilometre! (Now that’s frustrating when you’re exhausted – but I’ll get to that part later.)
Me and my race stalker

Ryan, who once again was amazing and chased me by bike for the entire 21.1 kilometres, showed up again as I was running down Bathurst. I was about 6 kilometres in, feeling good, and thinking “I’m ok, I'm having fun, I don’t need you to motivate me through this (but it sure gives me a smile and a boost to see you).”

Kilometre 6, 7 and 8 also flew by and I actually had to remind myself to stop and swallow a gel pack. And then I was on Lakeshore. This was the part of the race that I was least looking forward to, as it’s an out and back to Ellis Ave. And let’s face it; Lakeshore – with the lake to one side and the Gardiner to the other – isn’t that interesting. But I kept going, and as I passed the 10KM mark, I realized (according to my not-quite-right RunKeeper) that I was ahead of my target pace (My official 10K time was 1:09:31 and I was targeting 1:10).

The fatigue and the dreaded wall started to set in soon after that and I was relieved to see Ryan again after a 5 or 6 kilometre break.

Kilometre 14, 15, 16, 17 – they all started to look the same. Because this was on the way back on Lakeshore (with a bike path alongside the road), Ryan was there to cheer me on a lot. At times he was encouraging me (or taunting me) every 500 metres or so.  I even got a little chatty with him as I ran by.

But as the kilometres went on, my chattiness turned to a simple nod of the head acknowledgement of his words of encouragement. He was shouting “you can do it” and I am so grateful to hear it coming from him and not just the random strangers.

By 20 kilometres, I was done (especially since my RunKeeper was telling me that I was), and what motivated me most at this point was being relatively confident that I was ahead of my target pace – meaning if I could just keep it up for 1 more kilometre, I’d come in at around 2:30.

Turning up Bay Street (from Lakeshore) towards the finish there’s a tunnel. It was dark in there – in fact it almost felt too dark. And then suddenly, you’re on the other side and people are lined up along both sides of the street cheering as you run your final 1K.

Ok, yup. I'm exhausted. But I did it!
It was exciting and suddenly I found the strength I'd been having trouble finding for the last few kilometres. As I got closer to the finish line, the crowds increased, as did the noise. And I was scanning every person as I ran – two years ago, I couldn’t find Austin and Alexandra in the crowd and I was determined to see them today.

And there they were, 100 metres from the finish line and yelling like crazy with my sister and brother-in-law. I smiled. I couldn’t wave. I just had to keep going.

Two years ago, I ran this race in 2:31:45 – this year’s goal was 2:30.

Finishing time: 2:27:23!

It’s official, I think I’m addicted – because I’m getting some crazy ideas of what race to run next. There’s a half marathon in Ottawa that looks like fun.

Team Fred Victor post race: Check out all those medals!

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