Pretty soon it was time to line up. We probably waited a tad too long and had to worm our way through from the back, but this ended up affording me the opportunity to run into Aneta, Cynthia, Hunnybee and Lish in the process. By this point, my friends were asking, "Is there anyone you don't know?!"
|Marlene, Sam, Cynthia, Aneta|
photo stolen from Aneta
At 5:30PM, we were off! And right off the bat, we knew it was going to be one humid run. As I mentioned on Friday, I didn't have great expectations and I was already thinking it was going to be quite a slog.
The first 12K or so takes us through industrial areas with a short stretch along the water, then looping back past the start again as we gradually make our way toward the famous Leslie Street Spit (a headland in Lake Ontario, aka Tommy Thomson Park).
*salt at start
We enjoyed a bit of a breeze as we ran along the water, but the air was thick and we were all drenched with sweat. I was running with 4 others at this point and went along with their 15:1 run/walk ratio (which is clear from my splits approximately every third KM) so I could enjoy the company for a while longer. We were maintaining a good clip and I knew I would be pleased with my result if I could maintain it.
|even Coach dressed up - that's him in red|
The turn-around for this "leg" of the race was at the lighthouse and immediately after circling around it, the breeze was gone. I was hit with a wall of hot, heavy air and it did not feel nice. I reminded myself to drink frequently and stuck to my planned gu/salt schedule (gu every 5 miles, salt every 10K). I kept telling myself not to let it get to my head. Just run.
I gradually felt myself pulling away after this point and knew I needed to start running my own race. I was feeling better than anticipated and it was time to pick it up and see what I could do.
There are several out-and-back sections on the route and it was fun looking out for people. I got to see lots of friends from my training group as well as Kenny and Laura (she does exist!) out on the spit. It gave me a great boost each time I spotted a familiar face.
I hit the half marathon timing mat (1:51:21) just before making my way off the spit toward Lakeshore Boulevard.
I was holding my pace pretty steady and focusing on mini milestones to keep going - gu at 24K; just 5 to go at 25K; counting down the KMS from there. I did catch myself slowing down a few times and had to focus on finding that pace again. I have not been practicing this pace at all, so I was pretty surprised that I was able to pull it off with relative consistency.
We ran all around Ashbridge's Bay park for a few loops and it was packed with groups out enjoying picnics, beach volleyball or a stroll on the boardwalk. It was definitely crowded and required some dodging on the paths (and the BBQ smells were torturous!) but made for some good people-watching.
The route can be confusing through here and it was getting dark, but the volunteers were easily visible in fluorescent tops positioned at every possible turn. Unfortunately something went wrong with the route this year, and it was cut short. The 25K marker came about 500m early.
Looking at the official route map and the route recorded by my Garmin, it's clear that they cut off a small section of the park.
Of course, I didn't realize this at the time so I spent the rest of the race wondering if/when we were going to give back that distance. It wasn't until the home stretch toward the finish that I realized the course would finish short. I was pooped and ready to be done, but it's still disappointing and discredits everyone's race to some extent.
2:03 for 470m (=4:21 pace)
I picked people off over the last couple kilometres and knew when the finish was just around the corner. I was able to speed up and finish very strong, knowing I had crushed my previous PR of 2:42 and my course PR of 2:49, even when adjusting my time to reflect a full 30K.
Official Chip Time: 2:33:10
Average Pace: 5:06/KM (8:12/mi)
Adjusted 30K Time: 2:35:30
Actual Average Pace: 5:11/KM (8:21/mi)