2014 Chilly Half Marathon – Race Report

2014 Chilly Half Marathon finishers medal

Ah, the first goal race of the season: the 2014 Chilly Half Marathon. Like a lot of my runner friends, I find the Chilly Half fits nicely into a spring marathon training program. It’s well organized and a lot of fun, but when you run a race in Canada in March, you’re taking your chances with the weather. This winter has been particularly brutal with extreme cold and lots of snow, so I wasn’t too surprised when I looked out my window on Sunday morning. I was a little disheartened and figured I may as well just run for fun (and post-race beer!) I didn’t think that I’d be able to safety achieve my goal time (sub 1:38) with the slippery roads and -20 C wind chill, but I was determined to stay positive. Maybe conditions would improve for the 10am start?


This was going to be another cold one so I dressed appropriately – compression layer, thermal layer, wind shell, thermal tights, wool socks, hat and gloves. Due to the snow and ice, I decided that I was going to run in my Merrell Barefoot Trail shoes instead of my Vibram FiveFingers. These would provide better traction in the slush but my form would have to be absolutely perfect as they are not very forgiving. I took me a really long time to get used to these shoes, but I’ve doing all of my long runs in them this winter and thought I would manage just fine. After pinning my race bib on my jacket I was out the door and on my way.

The 2014 Chilly Half Marathon

Once I got to Burlington, I met up with some other DailyMiler’s and walked over to the bag check to warm up. Other than spending a few minutes on the foam roller at home, I did a few knee lifts and calf raises while waiting to head to the start line. That was the extent of my warm up. There were a lot of people running up and down the corral but I didn’t think I needed to. I was ready to run! With a few minutes to go I squeezed into the corral and lined up with the 1:40 pacer. At 10:05am the horn went and we were off.


My plan was to adjust my pace to the road conditions but after 1km the roads cleared up a little. After 2km the crowd began to thin out and I managed to get a little bit of space around me. I quickly looked around and saw the 1:40 pacer was pretty far back. It was time to make my move.

30 minutes in

My splits were pretty even and slightly ahead of goal pace. I thought about slowing the pace down but I felt good and decided to see what I could do. I took two sips of coconut water and pressed on. Understandably, the fan support at this point began to dwindle. The volunteers at the aid stations were great though and the fans that did come out made a lot of noise.

60 minutes in

I was still maintaining the slightly quicker pace and resisted the urge to dip into my emergency figs. After the turn around I thought that I must have banked some time and would be safe to slow down and coast at goal pace until the 19km mark. It was hard to ignore that rationale, but I did and trusted that I could maintain this pace for the rest of the run. It’s amazing how your brain tries to make deals with you in order to conserve energy. I took two more sips of coconut water and got in the zone.

90 minutes in

My coconut water was now frozen but I looked at my Garmin and knew a PB was in the bag. The big crowds had returned and that really helped me power through to the finish line. I couldn’t believe I still had that much gas left in the tank running only on coconut water!


My official time is 1:37:05 – a half marathon PB! That’s five consecutive PB’s and three consecutive half marathon PB’s. Below are my splits for the race.

Split Time Avg Pace
1 4:57.2 04:57:00
2 4:38.5 04:38:00
3 4:33.2 04:33:00
4 4:34.4 04:34:00
5 4:33.7 04:34:00
6 4:32.4 04:32:00
7 4:35.8 04:36:00
8 4:32.9 04:33:00
9 4:35.6 04:36:00
10 4:34.8 04:35:00
11 4:41.6 04:42:00
12 4:33.4 04:33:00
13 4:35.1 04:35:00
14 4:33.4 04:33:00
15 4:39.5 04:39:00
16 4:33.1 04:33:00
17 4:36.8 04:37:00
18 4:33.5 04:33:00
19 4:39.2 04:39:00
20 4:33.0 04:33:00
21 4:18.8 04:19:00
22 :39.8 03:52:00
Summary 01:37:05 04:35:00

After taking a minute to do a little victory dance in my head, I downed a banana and a Larabar and waited for the rest of my friends at the finish line. I was blown away at how good I felt after this race. Once all together, we headed over to a nearby restaurant to exchange race stories and enjoy the complimentary beer and chilli.

2013 vs. 2014

This was my third time running the Chilly Half Marathon and I did a lot of things differently than previous years. Here’s a comparison of how I approached the last two years running the Chilly Half:

Training plan

Runner’s World Ultimate Half Marathon
Jack Daniels Marathon Plan A
I used the Runner’s World 9 week half marathon plan to PB at the 2013 Scotia Half so I was definitely going to use it again for the Chilly Half. By using two different training plans (RW for Chilly and Daniels for Niagara 50k) back to back I’m able to get the maximum benefit out of each.The RW plan has a lot more speed work than the Daniels plan, with a lot of mile repeats at goal pace. The Daniels plan uses shorter intervals at a faster pace which I personally don’t find as effective. For example, a typical Daniels interval session would include 4 or 5 sets of 4 minutes at 5k race pace with a 3 minute recovery. The RW plan includes 4 sets of mile repeats at 10k race pace with 400m recovery. Instead of spending 16-20 minutes at 5k race pace, I’m spending around 28 minutes at 10k race pace.

Pre-race meal

2 eggs scrambled in butter, salsa, 1/2 an avocado with olive oil, espresso
Sesame seed bagel with peanut butter, banana, greek yogurt, orange juice, coffee
This is the first race where I not eaten my traditional white bagel, peanut butter and banana breakfast. I’ve really been cutting down on the refined carbs and simple sugars and replacing them with more vegetables, healthy fats and protein. In doing this I’ve been able to sustain training runs up to 2.5 hours (with speed work in the middle) on a breakfast of eggs and avocados and not had to refuel at all. Since I’ve been cutting down the carbs, this also meant cutting out the carb loading (yay!). I just focus on eating well 100% of the time in the week leading up to the race and I feel I performed better because of it.

Race fuel

Coconut water
Dried figs (2 every 30 minutes), coconut water
I wasn’t sure about not taking any fuel during the race so I stuffed a few dried figs in my jacket pockets as a back up. I was counting on water at the aid stations being mostly frozen so I brought along an 8oz bottle with coconut water which I sipped every 30 minutes. Of course I’ll definitely be training for longer distances with food but I felt so good and had so much energy on this run that I didn’t need to break into the figs at all.


Post race chilli and beerThe 2014 Chilly Half Marathon was a strange experience. I think that the weather took a lot of pressure off and people just had more fun with it. There were a lot more smiles on the course than I’m used to seeing and a lot of people ended up setting new personal records. I was having fun because I was able to exceed my goal pace for the majority of the run and didn’t think I’d come close.

With my half marathon training program now complete, I immediately move on to training for my first 50k: the Niagara Ultra in June. My next goal race is the Around the Bay 30k and it can’t come soon enough.


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