Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Review

Finishing Together! 21.1km Done!
Sunday, I enjoyed the #STWM Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.  I jogged it, I ran my slowest half time ever...I was basically a tourist taking a ton of crazy pictures & wasn't even tired at the end....and I had the BEST time ever! A couple months ago, an opportunity arose that gave my crazy-busy SIL an actual free/non-work travel weekend that worked for both of us & she asked me if I'd run with her as she attempted her 1st half-marathon.  I was THRILLED at the prospect and we signed up right away! What an honour to help her do this thing!

Separate finish chutes for Half & Full Marathoners
I drove up to Toronto on Friday, making wicked good time (and if you have ever hit the traffic of the Niagara-Toronto corridor, you can appreciate my satisfaction in sailing through it ;)). I got to her place & chilled with the nephews until it was time to go carb-load (Wine is carb loading, right???). (In case you didn't notice, this is part girl-weekend/part family visit).  Normally, about this point I'd tell you all about the expo, however, my BIL was in full-service mode here and not only was he our chauffeur all weekend, but he went and picked up our race kits on Friday for us! So we went dress shopping instead before my nephews birthday party. Full disclosure here: I had never been to a Chuck E. Cheese's before....It is the loudest place on earth! Oh my! But the kiddo's had fun and there was cake, and I love cake.  Yup, pre-race carbs consisted of wine and can be done.

Nathan Philips Square-Start and Finish area

No we aren't sisters, but we feel like it
An early night and I had a pretty good sleep.  C, not so much...but I think that is normal before your first big race.  We were up bright and early and out the door by 6:45.  My BIL was nice enough to get up and drive us to the start.  We left early because we didn't know what traffic would be like with such a big race.  Turns out, there was hardly any and we were plenty early.  It was a little cold waiting for the 8:45 start but we finally made it. The bag check was right in Nathan Philips Square and well organized.  We checked our race issued clear bags around 8ish with no wait and very friendly volunteers.  Already this race feels like a big city well-oiled machine.  Because the start and finish were in the same location, it was nice to be able to scout out the finish area, see where the family meeting area (nicely organized by alphabetized flags) was and you already knew where your bag was going to be. Very nice. There were 5 running corrals and 1 walking corral. We were purple, the last running corral. These are EXCITED people! It was projected times of 2:25 and slower for the half and 4:40 and slower for the full.  Everyone was chatting, excited and nervous! It was neat having everyone start together, but I will say that the half-marathon bibs were much more predominant than the full marathon bibs. One marathoner took a picture of my Wineglass marathon shirt because she loved it so much! We did kind of look like a running ad for WGM! C wore her DNS shirt from a couple years ago too. There were 27000 runners in downtown Toronto on this morning.  9000 for the 5K (that would start before us down on the waterfront and make their way to the common finish), 12000 half marathoners & 6000 full marathoners.  That's a LOT of people! Like triple the population of my town! If that wasn't enough....I saw Kenyans & Ethiopians warming up! At a pace that I couldn't run if I was on fire! It was very cool! Honestly, I think this race is growing on an international scale and is going to turn into the NYC of Canada.  If it sounds appealing to you, I'd think about putting it on your race calendar sooner rather than later.  I can see it getting to lottery entry before too long.

The coveted Blue Track
The waves started at 8:45 and went every 5 minutes.  It was several waves before we even turned the corner and I could see the start in the distance! It took about 20 minutes to reach the start and we were off! We went at a nice easy pace and enjoyed the excitement of the start.  I am navigationally challenged, so I only know roughly where we were, but we started in the northern downtown area by Queen's Park and then went through the University of Toronto campus area.  I had to whip my phone out here for a very bad picture of the UofT Varsity Blues Track for Thing 1.  This is the track he dreams of running on, and will be applying to UofT this month! A Blue track for the Blues...tres cool!

Toronto Waterfront
C & the Inukshuk we passed
We then made our way south towards the waterfront.  The crowds never really thinned out, but neither did the crowd support.  There were people lining the streets the whole way. I had my music turned on, but I wasn't really hearing it and eventually just turned it off and enjoyed the crowds and bands/music along the course.  The water stations were every 2.5km which was a good spacing.  Well stocked with Gatorade and water....and with so many people, the ground was a paper cup wasteland by the time we got to the water stations.  The Gu stations were actually sticky underfoot! We hit the 10km mark around 1:11 and C's side cramp was finally gone.  That is hard right out of the gate, but she didn't stop or walk, she just worked through it nice and steady.  She was doing so well!  It was starting to get a little harder here for her but she had 3 amazing things to look forward to in the next 4km....seeing her husband & 2 kiddo's! We saw them at the High Park cheering area around the 11km mark and it really boosted her spirits & kept those legs strong! We ran along the waterfront from around Ontario Place to just past High Park and then looped back so we saw them again around 13.5km or so.  They were cheering like crazy and it was awesome!  As we were heading back along the waterfront it was SO beautiful.  It really was a pretty perfect running day weatherwise, and it was in a perfect setting.  The boats and sunshine on the water were amazing! In this stretch we had to go up 2 hills.  They weren't huge but they were long enough to make you question whether you could get to the top.  Basically, I ran in front of C and told her to just look at my back & shoes and follow me. We didn't walk and we got up those inclines nice and steady.  At about 15km, she had a huge cramp in her hip that we stopped to stretch out for a moment, but it was only for a few seconds, then we were off again.

Just finished! 
With our #1 fan
Only 6km to go and we start heading off the waterfront back towards the finish.  The full marathoners split from Half just before the 20km mark and went on through some pretty culturally diverse and unique areas of the city.  It looks like a very nice (and flat) second half.  Our pace slowed a bit but we were still running. No walking for us! We did stop to stretch at 20km for just a second then we went strong into the homestretch.  I was so excited and proud of C! She had no real time goal (except she thought she would be around the 3 hour mark) but she wanted to finish without having walked at all.  The crowds were amazing and the last half km, while slightly uphill, was marked out in 100 meter intervals, which made staying focused on finishing that much easier.  We just went sign to sign.  When we turned the corner and finally saw the finish line, C grabbed my hand and we finished side by side crazy happy! I was so proud of C for doing this! She met her goal of finishing without stopping! And the best part was just after we finished we heard the shouts of congratulations from BIL & the kiddo's and she & BIL were happily chatting about how she came in just where she thought she would, I had to interrupt and tell them that the time they saw on the clock was from the first wave & her time was actually 2:35! It was awesome to see her face when she realized she had run 20 minutes faster than she originally thought!  Loved it! Thank you Garmin! And Thank You, C, for allowing me the privilege of being your cheerleader, drill sergeant, goofball running partner! It was amazing!
Nice tech T (Full had blue long sleeve)

And yes, I am definitely putting this on my running calendar for the full.  Overall, I prefer a smaller race, but for a big race, this is definitely a well oiled machine.  Can't really think of anything that was bad about it. Post race, they kept you moving down the block, first stop was medals...and they are one of the nicest I've ever gotten....I REALLY want the big gold full marathon one now.  Then you continued on through the food station.  No stopping though.  They gave you a bag first and you filled it with bagels, bananas, yogurt and kept moving.  Once we made it back to the square there was ample milling around space, booths and entertainment.

Overall, A+ race.

Nice heavy detailed medal (full was gold & bigger)
And if you want to see a couple of crazies finishing the race, check us out here: (click the finish clip) Race video of 10KM and Finish


Coy Martinez said...

That's awesome!! You guys look so happy! Having family along the route seems to help things sometimes :)

Jamie said...

Yay!!! Congratulations to your sister-in-law, that's great!! I'm glad you guys have such a great relationship.

I definitely want to run this, probably the marathon distance, sometime in the future!

Jose said...

Congrats to you and your SIL !!! This one will go in by "to do" list. Looks like an awesome race!

Michael said...

That looks like so much fun!!! I really love that finish picture of you guys...really captures the moment.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

What a nice weekend for you and your s-i-l!

TriMOEngr said...

Makes me think that if I want to tackle a run like this, I totally need to find a drill sergeant/cheerleader like you! Looked like a ton of fun! That is an awesome first half time! Congrats to her!

Unknown said...

Looks like you had a blast. Congrats on your finish and your time!