Sunday, September 24, 2006

Race report: Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
No, that's not me in the picture. I thought this was really cute. A mom was just finishing up her marathon (around 4:15) when her two kids joined her and helped her finish. Or, rather, she dragged them across the finish line. Click on the picture for a few other meagre shots from the start/finish area well after my race.

Anyways, here's the race report and it's long, i'm sorry: I knew going into this race that it'd be a good test before the Chicago Marathon. I could practice pacing, hydration, drafting, advancing from group to group. In other words, racing.

I prepped the same way i would prep for other races. I took a few days off running to get the tired legs some breathing room (I ran a 24 miler last Sunday). I carbo loaded late in the week and on Saturday, I did a lot of lying around and ate a nice meal.

Was in bed early and up very early to get my pre-race meal of a bagel and a banana, then was up again at 5:30. I left home at 6:20 and was at the race site about 20 minutes to start time. Wow, tonnes of people and it was dark since I was wearing my shades and the sun wasn't up.

I found an area to line up between the 1:30 and 1:40 zone, waited patiently and was very nervous. Not because of the racing, but I thought I had no sufficently done 'my business' and didn't want to hit the portapotties during the race.

My half marathon history puts my times at between 1:34:30 and 1:36:30, the latter is how I did this race last year. The big difference this time is that I'm not training for the half (my other halves were my 'big races' so I had trained for them). Therefore, I had not done enough long pace runs at 4:30Ks, as opposed to my marathon pace of 4:45K.

Off we went, and I tried to hold back. While everyone was wildly jockeying for position, I just found a good area to run in and find suitably fast people to run near. By about the 2K mark, the field was starting to thin out a little (only a little) and I spotted Frankie at the spot where he promised to be. I shouted 'frankie!' he waved and I was off.

Kilometres 3 to 12 were due west. Problem was, a very strong wind was going due east. This wasn't good. We started running in little packs and I was trying to find the right group to pace off of. I picked a duo who were doing the marathon (they started both races at the same time) and they seemed to be doing 4:30s. In retrospect, we were a bit slower.

This time was pretty uneventful, just logging the kilometres and trying to not lose focus. We had a few hills and the wind was constantly a challenge. I found it hard to take in water at the water stations. I really have to learn how to walk through them.

In my head, here was the strategy: Make it to the 12K mark a bit behind pace, then make up for it in the last 9K. I figured out that I could do it for two reasons. 1) Because of the wind, I was not going all out. I figured it would be a waste of energy to fight the wind to try to log the 4:30s. 2) Use the wind to my advantage in the last 9K. It was more or less pushing me.

According to my splits, I ran the first 12.1K in 56:12 for a pace of 4:39 and I ran the last 9K in 39:29 for a pace of 4:23. Hello negative split!

I ran behind, then passed, one of the jogglers at around the 14K mark. He was amazing, able to juggle and entertain the runners on the other side of the out-and-back. In fact, for about 2 minutes after I passed , I heard a lot of cheering. Not for me but i'll take it.

By the 15K mark, I was now running alone, trying to catch up to a big group. At the second-last big hill, I made up a lot of ground and started to target runners and picked them off. This continued for pretty much the rest of the race. It was an amazing feeling having the stamina and ability to kick up the gears. One runner actually said to me, as I was passing him on the final hill with 3K left, 'Nice push". I thanked him and I silently thanked all those long runs of the past 3 months. I passed a lot of runners, which is the exact opposite of what used to happen.

Compared to last year, I was flying and I have proof. Here are last year's times for the last 4K that are accurate: 4:38, 4:48, 4:41, 4:22. This year: 4:23, 4:24, 4:19, 4:19.

Anyways, by kilometre 20, I knew that it would be very difficult to go sub 1:35, but I bared down and ran. I thought about letting up, and I did a little, but I passed the finish line happy and satisifed.

Because this isn't the big race. The big race is 27 days from now, and I think i'm almost ready.

By the way, at our post race brunch, Frankie, who had done 18 miles for the day, told us about ice baths. So I decided to do it. It hurt. I had to bite down on a towel. I couldn't feel my toes. But my legs feel so good. Amazing. I'll do an epsom salt bath tonight to complete the therapy.

Final (chip) time: 1:35:16:05
Place overall: 214/4458(95 percentile)
Place men: 185/2013 (91 percentile)
Place group: 33/319 (89 percentile)


Sonia said...

Congrats on the half!!! What an awesome time although it isn't a PB, wind can really slow you down!

Nice negative split in the end, you are really ready for marathon day!

Frankie said...

Those late race split times are so far ahead of last year's! Nice job. That's progress!

Dave said...

Nice job on the half marathon! Great times...I really think you're ready for the big month exactly...yikes!

Arcane said...

Great effort! I couldn't imagine trying to run into that wind. Looks like you're well prepared for race day.

Triseverance said...

That is very strong running Yumke. Congrats on an awsome race.

jellypepper said...

What can I say that I haven't said already? You're my running hero.

Bender said...

Hey Kenny,

Found your blog by accident while doing a search for photos from yesterday's race on Flickr. Got to reading it and turns out... I think I'm the dude that gave you the "Nice push" comment. If it was just before the 19km marker by the Skydome and the guy was wearing a black t-shirt with "Canada Orienteering" on the back that was me. Judging by your finish time it would make sense as I finished 19.5sec behind you in 34/319 in our category; small world! ...and 'yes' I do recall you thanking me for the comment ;)

Congrats on the nice run!

yumke said...

Hey everyone!

Sonia, waiting for your report on your race..

Frankie, Dave, Bob, thanks, at first I was bumed about the time, but in perspective, it was a great run.

Arcaner, that wind was killer, but since I live on the waterfront, i was probably prepared for it.

Bender, that must have been you! it is a freaking small world. Congrats on your time. It was a good day for running. Thanks for the comment on the race course, it gave me added confidence.

Anonymous said...

Awesome job on the race and great report. I can't wait to read your marathon report in a few weeks. Good luck with the rest of your training

yumke said...

Thanks runnergirl, hope you get back on track soon