Last weekend, I ran my 12th half-marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half. I had originally planned to do the full at this event this year, but backed out due to some poor dedication to training and an overall lack of commitment. I was much happier that I switched to the half.
I stayed downtown the night before, which I can’t recommend more, as sleeping in until 6:30 am on race day is a luxury I am not accustomed to. Everything laid out, I had a nice quiet night and a great sleep.
I walked to meet up with a friend in the dark, and after 3 failed attempts, finally made my way to bag check through the centre of Nathan Phillips Square and found her. We fairly quickly ditched our bags and put our throwaways on, and then went off to meet up with some other DailyMilers. After a round of introductions, a quick chat about the weather, how we’d dressed, and goals for the day, Em and I snuck off for a last minute bathroom trip inside the Sheraton Centre and stayed warm there until 15 minutes or so before the race.
This is maybe the first race I can remember that Em and I were not in the same corral (she’s been working hard this year and killing her race times, I, on the other hand, have not been) so we had an early high five and I headed to my corral solo. It felt like forever waiting to get started, but in reality it was probably 25 minutes, and then I was off!
It was pretty packed at the beginning, and I was FREEZING. Seriously at this point, I was contemplating wearing my oversized hoodie for at least 5K. I talked myself out of it about 500 or so meters in and removed it successfully while continuing running. Pretty impressed with myself, clearly.
From the start of this race, I promised myself I wasn’t going to push too hard, knowing my body just isn’t there right now. I promised that I would try to enjoy it and not want to quit every time I saw a new kilometre marker. And it worked!
I REALLY enjoyed this run. While it was a little packed at the beginning, it opened up going down Bathurst (4K or so) and I didn’t feel crowded for the rest of the race. The course is flat and surprisingly picturesque on a sunny day coming back along the Lakeshore. Having lived in Toronto for more than 5 years now, I’m officially a bitter citizen that doesn’t always realize that great things we have at our fingertips. This reminded me of one of these things. The initial piece going West on the Lakeshore was a little boring, but the scenery on the way back more than made up for it. Going up Bay, I was worried that I was going to get stuck in a wind tunnel, but the wind didn’t get bad until much later in the day so it ended up being a great finishing stretch. I didn’t have a ton left in my legs at the end but I managed a bit of a finishing kick. I finished pretty much alone so it was kind of nice to have the glory to myself while the announcer called my name. I finished about 6 seconds faster than the disaster of a race I had in Montreal, so not really an improvement, BUT I finished feeling good, in minimal pain, and not like I wanted to collapse in a fit of tears. I chalk this race up as a win!
What surprised me about this race was the number of awesome spectators. Going back to being bitter about Toronto, I really didn’t expect that many people to be out, especially given that it was kind of chilly if you weren’t moving. There were TONS of people with great signs and lots of general awesomeness about them. I loved it. I particularly loved the guy dressed as a bottle of beer somewhere between 18K and 19K with a sign that said ‘Are you ready for me yet?’. I watched him high five and actually pick up and twirl around a complete stranger. Awesome in a jar. Or a bottle. (Groan)
This is the first time I’ve run any distance on this particular race day and I have to say, Canada Running Series did a GREAT job. Everything was very well organized and streamlined. The changes they made to bag check in recent years have really paid off in efficiency and the course was very clearly marked with plenty of volunteer marshals. My only complaint is that my race shirt was rather massive for a woman’s shirt AND there were no cookies or spoons for yogurt by the time I finished, which was depressing. Because who doesn’t want a cookie after running 21.1 km?
I highly recommend this course and frankly, any of the CRS races in the area. I think I’ve run all of them and they are generally all very well organized. Go sign up for something!