This was my second time running the Chilly Half Marathon and the first since transitioning to barefoot running. I was really excited to see just how far my running has come in the last year. I’ve been rocking all of my training runs in Vibram FiveFingers, logging more mileage and eating like a real athlete. Without further adieu, here is my 2013 Chilly Half Marathon race report.
Let me just say that the 10am start time is awesome! A normal 7:30am start time means I’m getting up at 4:30 – 5am to eat. 10am lets me sleep until 7am, which is when I usually wake up. After a solid 9 hours of sack time, I prepared my pre-race morning meal which consisted of:
- sesame seed bagel with peanut butter
- a banana
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- small glass of orange juice
- cup of coffee
This is what I usually eat before a race and it’s been working well for me. After breakfast I did a light, dynamic warm up and spent some time with my best friend, the foam roller. The forecast called for clear conditions but a biting wind chill, so I decided I was going to wear what I have worn on my last few training runs:
- thermal tights
- long sleeve base
- thermal long sleeve
- light jacket
- smart wool toe socks
- gloves, hat and sunglasses
For race fuel I packed a ziplock bag with 6 figs, filled an 8oz bottle with coconut water and put them in my jacket pocket. After pinning my race bib to my jacket, I was out the door and ready to head to the start line.
My lovely wife dropped me off close to the start line so I didn’t need to worry about finding parking. I then headed to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in search of warmth and a bathroom but it was way too crowded. I found a Second Cup on Lakeshore Rd that was all but deserted, so I hung out there until it was closer to start time. After an easy back and forth run on Lakeshore, I headed to the start line and met up with a few running friends. After a few minutes, the race had started and I was on my way.
The 2013 Chilly Half Marathon
My plan for this race was to ignore everyone else, run a little slower for the first few km, then gradually speed up to race pace. I found it extremely difficult to get up to race pace near the start due to the log jam of people, but in the end it worked out to my advantage. There was a lot of gear shifting and weaving going on until about 3km when I was able to find some space and break out. Once I got into the zone, I stayed there for the rest of the race.
Bringing my own fuel meant that I could avoid wasting time stopping at the water stations. As per my race plan, I took a few sips of coconut water every 20 minutes or so to stay hydrated and ate 2 figs every 30 minutes. This was my first race not taking gels and I didn’t miss them one bit. The figs, coupled with the pre-race meal, gave me enough energy to finish the race strong.
Speaking of strong, my form was nearly perfect in the FiveFingers. I didn’t need to think about it or refocus, it all came naturally. Barefoot running has made me such a better runner than I ever thought I’d be. My pace dipped a little bit after the turnaround, but I was able to pick it up again after a mile or so. The second half of the race seemed to go by a lot faster than the first, and the 20km marker came up really fast. I looked at my Garmin and knew I was close to my goal time so I picked up the pace, and ended up sprinting the last hundred meters to the finish line. My official time is 1:41:34 – a new PR!
I’ve never felt this good after a race, ever. After my first few half marathons, I felt totally destroyed and had painful blisters and black toenails. After running in the VFFs, I felt like I could have run another 10km and still finished strong, not to mention my feet are totally fine. I hung around the finish area for a bit, then met up with my wife and son at a local pub. After all, It wouldn’t be the Chilly run without complimentary beer and chili! Some friends dropped by and we shared stories about the run. It seems like everyone had a great race and most set new PRs.
To sum it up, this was hands down the best race I have ever run! It’s now a day later and I feel like I do after any other Sunday long run. I really can’t believe I feel this good after taking over 3 minutes off my PR. I owe it all to believing in the training and sticking to my race plan. I’ll be running the Chilly Half Marathon again next year, looking to take some more time off of my PR.