I went downtown with a couple friends on Friday after work to pick up my race kit. No race expo, but we did get some goodies and a nice shirt.
Being my 4th half marathon in 5 weeks, I didn't have any specific goals or expectations for this race. I wanted to have fun, enjoy the firefighters and chocolate and see what I could do.
The alarm went off at 5AM and I was excited. We were out the door (hubby being chauffeur) at 5:45 to pick-up my Mom and the rest of our cheer squad (little sister and her boyfriend). We arrived at Sunnybrook Park around 6:30 with plenty of time to spare before the 8AM start.
After the heat in Ottawa last weekend, I welcomed the sunny but cool morning (about 6C/43F at the start). Thanks to my support crew, I was able to keep my 'warm-ups' on until the last minute.
The starting area was well-organized, with the exception of not enough toilets. I know there never seem to be enough toilets, but there were only 8. I mean, come on!
There were no other issues and we just hung around for a bit before I met up with my friends who were all wearing matching costumes. Here we are when we finally got brave enough to shed our warm layers.
Those of us in the first wave lined up to start just before 8AM. Here we are shivering as we waited for the gun to go off.
Those are my fast friends, Natasha and Paricia, who easily run 1:45 halfs. I had decided to start the race with them, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up. I was hoping we could get a picture together on the course, which I think we did.
I held on for a few kilometres before backing off when I remembered that I didn't want to die during the second half.
(Patricia went on to run a PR of 1:42, placed 2nd in her age group and 22nd overall!)
The course followed paved park trails and consisted of more than one out-and-back. It was fun because I got to see familiar faces along the course, which proved to be a great distraction from feeling tired. I even got to see Marci a couple times (and tried, but failed, at a high five... more than once).
The path was somewhat narrow but didn't pose much of a problem, except for a few sections when it was pretty crowded. There were several sharp turns, bridges and short but steep hills throughout the course, which made it a bit of a challenge but kept things interesting - just how I like it.
The best part was the 10K aid station (which we passed again around 16 or 17K) - shirtless firefighters handing out gatorade and water. It was so much fun!
Quick note on fueling: I followed my usual HM system of 2 gels, one at 7K and one at 14K. I took a few sips of water at each aid station and gatorade a few times. No dumping cups of water on my head this time. I didn't have to walk once, which was a big improvement over last weekend. I think I'm getting better at drinking from the cups while running, too.
I felt okay, but my average pace gradually slowed as the kilometres ticked by. Around the half way point, I knew I couldn't PR (<1:52:29), but I also knew I could easily finish under 2:00, which was a great feeling.
Between seeing friends along the way and receiving tons of compliments on the outfit from spectators, volunteers and fellow runners, the time was flying by. Surprisingly, the skirt didn't bother me at all. Actually, I can't wait to wear it again!
Before long, I approached the 19K chocolate station. "Dark chocolate on the left, milk chocolate on the right!" I took a piece of milk chocolate, but it was way too dry and I had to throw it away after a small bite. I also grabbed a wrapped Cadbury Thins bar, which I held onto for the remainder of the race.
Before long, I could see the finish line. I picked it up throughout the last kilometre and gunned it when I saw the clock ticking toward 1:55.
Chip time 1:54:59
It was my second-fastest half marathon and I'm definitely pleased with the result. After number 7, I've really grown to love the half marathon distance, but I have a few fun races coming up and then it's time to officially begin training for redemption.
Thanks for reading and for all of your comments on Mom's race report yesterday.