2016 marked my third Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon and fourth STWM race. This year was extra special as I was a Digital Champion as well as a participating as a part of JPsTeam.
After two not-so-great half marathons earlier in the year, I'd made STWM my goal, thinking that the familiar course and focused training all summer would be my best bet for a personal best (PB). I'd thought, if I don't manage a PB here, I won't get one anywhere. I further thought that without a PB maybe I would forgo this distance in the future.
A lot of eggs in one basket!
And of course despite taking every cold prevention possible, I caught a cold a week before the race. The rest of the week I went into operation cold recovery. I sadly chose recovery over the Torch Relay launch on Thursday night.
Feeling a bit better, I attended the race press conference and expo on Friday and easily could have seriously spent the entire day there. You can read about me playing media girl here.
I woke up race day feeling good, and calm. I hadn't run since early in the week. My cold symptoms had decreased, but I had no idea what running 21.1K would do.
Melly and I wanted to see JP finish his third marathon on Sunday morning, so we met on the dark closed streets near the race finish. We found Mary-Anne who looked remarkable for someone who had had no sleep. We came across Alan Brookes and wished him luck on the day ahead.
After wandering and waiting on empty Bay Street, JP turned the corner with his running entourage (he never ran alone for any of the marathons in those 24 hours). After quick hugs, we watched him cross the finish in the dawning light. Off to the elite area he went to regroup for marathon number four.
With selfies and a group shot acquired, we dispersed to our various corrals. Pretty much as soon as the first corral was released, it started raining. I was glad that I hadn't overdressed, as more clothes would've meant more weight once they were wet. As my corral was released, I actually laughed out loud because they were playing Dancing Queen over the speakers. At the Mississauga Half earlier this year, it had been a song on iPhone that had derailed me remembering the loss of my little dog. This song was another reminder of fun days with her, but this time I was able to smile, laugh and push on.
Having run this course two times previously, I knew the parts I'd done well on, and where I'd struggled. I was happy with my pace up University as I managed to stay steady and not go out too fast. My pace and energy were okay along my favourite sections across Bloor and down Bathurst. Not as fast as previous years, but perhaps the steadier pace would help me in the last kilometers.
I reached Lakeshore, happy to see that I was in time to watch the women's leaders passing. This is another favourite section for me. I enjoy seeing runners pass in the opposite direction, looking for familiar faces is a great distraction which tends to give me a boost.
I reached 10K and checked my time. I'd just managed to hold my pace to stay within PB reach, but I was finding it extremely hard to do so. I was already running 30-45 seconds slower than my coach had told me I could do based on my fitness. If I could maintain the same pace for the next 11.1K, I'd see a PB. But I was headed into the hardest part of the course for me, complete with a couple inclines. I took inventory of how I was feeling... basically wiped, slightly lightheaded, with both knees getting increasingly sore. Knowing my family was tracking me online, I decided to see how the next 5K went and then reevaluate. Over those kilometers I quickly realized there was no way I'd be able to hold on. At the 15K mat I decided that was it.
Racing a half marathon after being sick all week was ambitious but looking back, I'm glad I took the risk and am really proud of pushing and achieving as much as I had in the first 5, 10 and even up to 15K. I had no qualms about finishing the rest of the race as slowly as I needed to.
I gave JP the other medal we'd made which was on behalf of JPsTeam for his incredible accomplishment. A few more tears were definitely shed by everyone. 24 hours. 4 marathons. It was impossible to not be impressed. It was an amazing way to finish an incredible day.