I’ve never been so ready to run a race in my life than I was for the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. When I last ran the Scotia Half back in 2011, I had such a terrible experience (i.e. bag-gate) that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run it again. They must have listened to the complaints because this was one of the most organized races I’ve ever been a part of, and the changes to the course made it even more enjoyable. I’ve ran three races this year and set three new PBs, and with this race I was looking to make it four in a row. Here is my Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2013 report.
An 8:45am start time meant waking up at 5:45am to fuel up. This is my never fail pre-race meal:
- sesame seed bagel with peanut butter
I did a proper carb load program beginning on Thursday, so that coupled with the pre-race meal should give me plenty of energy for the run. After spending 10 minutes on the foam roller and some dynamic stretches I picked out my race attire. The forecast called for cool and clear conditions (i.e. perfect race weather) so I decided to wear a thin long sleeve and shorts. My previous three races were in my Vibram Bikila LS, but this was going to be my first race in my Vibram KMD Sport LS. They’re newer so they’ll grip the road a bit more. For race fuel I packed one ziplock bag with 4 figs and another with a hummus and olive wrap, cut into bite sized pieces. I’ve been eating real food on training runs and races all year and I’ve never been let down. The hummus wraps are fairly new to the rotation – I’m trying to get out of the cookies.
Since there’s no subway service before 9am on Sunday in Toronto, I had to drive to the race. When I got to the start line, I packed my warm-up pants and a hoodie in the provided bag and checked them in. Bag check this time around was super organized and fast with all of the bags being numbered and stored in accordance with your bib number. Kudos to the race organizers for making it so easy and efficient! After that I went to look for some place to keep warm and do some more stretching. With about 15 minutes to start time, I headed to the red corral start (sub 1:45 finish.) I was really itching to get going, and based on how my training went, I could feel another PB.
The 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon
My plan for the race was to run an even pace of 4:40/km, fuel every 30min and sip water at the half way point, and if I feel good at the 19km mark, pick up the pace to the finish line. I definitely want to be running at goal pace at the 14km mark.
Like most big races, I found it pretty hard to get through the clusters of people in the first few miles. If I found an open lane I would shift into a higher gear and make my move. I think all of the 30-20-10 workouts in the summer helped me stay on pace for the first little bit. The first third of the race was all down hill so my pace actually ended up being a little bit faster than I had planned. I was just hoping that I’d still be able to hang on to my goal pace ’till the end. The new Bloor St. addition to the course made it feel not so much like a “Lakeshore Blvd.” out-and-back.
The Lakeshore part of the course is mostly flat but does have a few slow, burning hills. They aren’t steep but they seem to just keep on going. By this point I’d already eaten a few figs and coming up on the half way point I decided that I was going to take some water. I’m pretty accustomed to eating and running now so I’m not worried about slowing down or losing any time. Shortly after I ate the rest of the figs and judging by where I was time wise, I realized that I wasn’t going to need the hummus wraps.
I’d made it 2/3 of the way through the course and my splits were almost bang on pace every time. I felt great, my PB was in reach and I still had plenty of gas in the tank. Going through the Marathon / Half Marathon split was fun. I remember hitting the split while running my first half marathon and thinking that there’s no way I’d ever be going that way. I’m sure a lot of people running through it thought the same thing. Anyway, the end was nearing so I upped the pace by a few seconds and pushed on. I knew it would be up hill all the way to the finish line and I was prepared for it. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for was the GPS blackout in the tunnel on Bay St. My Garmin kept losing signal and auto-pausing so I just had to feel the pace until I came out of the tunnel. On exiting the tunnel I saw the 500m marker and pushed harder. I didn’t even want to look at my watch any more, I just wanted to finish strong.
My previous PB was 1:41:34 so when I turned the corner and saw the clock I was all smiles. My official time is 1:38:24 – a 3min half marathon PB! I ended up averaging a 4:39/km pace which was a full second under what I was aiming for. My previous half marathon PB was done at a 4:48/km average pace.
This was such a fantastic race and I’m really happy that I stuck to my plan. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made at the Toronto Marathon and follow a pacer going out too fast. I knew exactly what my pace needed to be, and when the 1:40 pacer started to pick up the pace I relied on my Garmin to get me through. After cooling down, devouring the post-race snacks and a few cups of water, I made my way back to the bag check and met up with some other DailyMilers and my brother in-law – who just ran his first half marathon in 1:42. It’s always fun to hear how everyone did and share stories about the race.
What an incredible year this has been. PBs aside, running in 2013 has taken me to a whole new level in terms of form, breathing, nutrition, recovery, speed, endurance and most important of all happiness. I don’t know how 2014 can possibly top this year, but I have a feeling it will.