Race Report: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Preamble: For some background and race goals, start here.
We headed to the race nice and early, as per usual, with our friends P & U. P would be running the full with hubs and U was there to hold our bags for support. We had plenty of time to wander around, scope things out and use the washroom once or twice over and over again.
It was a perfect morning to run; calm, clear and cool at about 10C/50F. The weather gods must have been on our side because Friday had been 30C/86F+ and Saturday was extremely windy. The previous two years had been warm and muggy for this race, so I was determined to take advantage of these awesome racing conditions.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I knew I had an ambitious goal and I wanted to succeed sooo badly. I just wanted to get started already.
With about 20 minutes to go, I exchanged good-byes and good-lucks with P and hubs and we headed to our respective corrals. (for once I was lining up ahead of them, hehe) Last year the starting area was an absolute zoo, but they changed the location to a wider road, which made things much more manageable. I didn’t find it crowded at all and people had no problem slipping into the corrals up to the last minute.
I popped a salt capsule, paced a little, shoot my legs around, checked my Garmin obsessively; chatted briefly with someone about having a crappy sleep (he caught me yawning).
Finally, mercifully, the gun went off and I shuffled my way to the timing mats.

I knew immediately that I wouldn’t have a good signal on the Garmin thanks to the skyscrapers of downtown. I saw everything from a 3:00 pace to an 8:00 pace during that first kilometre. You can see where Garmin *thinks* I ran:

I expected this and knew what I had to do. It was time to dial in to my pace based on “feel”, to remember all of those tempo runs I completed at this pace. Target was 4:58/KM which made it easy to calculate how I was doing based on my overall time at each kilometre marker (I just used 5:00 in my head). I focused on tuning in to my body, concentrating on each breath and each step. I CAN do this. I just had to get this first part out of the way.
We were now running along Lakeshore and I had a better signal, so I was able to keep an eye on my Garmin for current pace. I kept an eye on overall time at each marker and knew I was right on track. I had finally found my groove and was feeling a little more confident. I had settled in with a “comfortably hard” pace and felt consistent from one kilometre to the next. I had a pleasant surprise when Sarah called out my name – I didn’t expect to see her out on the course cheering and it was a great boost! I took a gel right around 7K.
It was also during this time that I got to see the elite runners headed back toward the finish after the turn-around. What a sight! (They went on to break all kinds of records.)
10K split: 49:36
It felt good to pass the half-way point. I started thinking of the second half as “just a 10K tempo run”. I was working hard, but feeling good. I used some little tricks to break the remainder of the race into chunks, and took it one piece at a time. There was a fantastic cheering section at the turn-around (near 12K). I loved it! And now we were running back toward the finish. Before long I got to see Sarah again and this time I zipped over for a high-five. She asked how I was doing and I said “Good!” I wasn’t lying! I took my second gel around 14K.
I was looking forward to 16 becase then it was just “5K to go”. I was definitely getting tired, but it was manageable. I held onto that pace for dear life, taking it one KM at a time. The markers actually seemed to be coming quickly! I had to tackle one decent uphill, which in reality is not bad at all but felt like a doozie at that point. I was counting down! At 18K I remember distinctly that I finally believed I was going to do it. I felt decent and I knew I could handle the next 3K. “A” goal, here we come! Marky Mark called out to me from about 19K, told me I was looking strong and snapped this pic (thanks Mark!).

At this point, I said to myself (softly, but out loud): “2K to go. 10 minutes, that’s it.” [Side note: This is how I know I had a great race. I have run countless half marathons where the last 2K feels like an eternity. This time, it didn’t seem that long at all.]

The 20K marker fell right on the corner where we turned left to begin the slight incline toward the finish. I checked my time, but the display was set to hours:minutes and not seconds, so I wasn’t sure how close it was going to be. There were signs posted for 500m to go, 400m to go, etc. and suddenly it seemed really, really far. There was one final turn and the finish line was right there. All I know is that my Garmin showed “1:44” and I was gunning it with all I had.
My Garmin had gone berzerk and seems to think I took a few detours on this home stretch. I have never seen maps this crazy! It would have been nice to know my final split, but Garmin clocked a 3:43, which is clearly not accurate. Let’s just say it was fast. 😉

Crossed the mats, hit stop, looked down: 1:44:48

Chip time – 1:44:48
Pace – 4:58/KM (7:58/mi)
W25-29 – 32/887
Women – 156/4441
Overall – 870/7894


(Can you tell that I love this top? I’ve now raced in it 6 times this year!)


54 thoughts on “Race Report: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

  1. Holy FAST!! so I can tell from this that you are planning to BQ at your Marathon so you can hang with me in Boston?? RIGHT??Love your focus, no idea how to read the report written in K's.. This inspires me to go for a PR myself. HUGS!

  2. Your pink top is your good luck charm now!! Sometimes I wish we had km here instead of miles – would make it alot easier since we always do interval training in meters and kilometers! Congrats on an awesome race! You have trained so well!

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your race reports! Each one is so inspiring and motivating!!And you look fresh as a daisy out there too! All smiling and happy! Hubs must be wearing off on you!!PS Pink is THE BEST race colour. Everyone is successful in Pink.

  4. how do you get garmin to show different colors on the map? what were you doing running on train tracks? that's dangerous marlene… good thing there were no trains!anywho. big ol' fat stinkin' congrats!!! i had some m&m's to celebrate – sunday, monday and today, don't worry. it's like mardi gras, but for you.

  5. Very proud, having watched your progression over the years. You are having a banner year, and your running times are dividends from the work you put in. It's work AND talent that got you here. Now lets attack that marathon!

  6. You always BEAM in your race photos!! Huge smile, every time 🙂 I'm SO happy for you and your A+ goal accomplishment! It's always interesting to read your recaps in terms of KMs and 5:00 m intervals 😉 Congrats, again!

  7. Another Great race report. Awesome job! I so enjoy reading all your reports especially if I've run them as well. Hopefully will catch up to you someday. Keep up the great reports. Everytime I don't want to run, I pull up your blog to get me off the couch.

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