Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon Race Recap!

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Wow, it’s been a long day!

Thank you all for your wonderful encouragement with my race! You have given me the courage to believe in myself and realize that I could achieve something if I set my mind to it. I have awesome readers, that I know!

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Here we go!

Pre-Race Rituals…

I was up at 4:45am and got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. It was much colder than I thought too- a mere -3C/27F when I got up! I drank a ton of green tea.

I did not wake up with much of an appetite at all and I had to force down a Green Monster. It contained 1 large banana, 1 cup hemp milk, peanut butter, wheatgrass, ice, chia seeds, and 3 cups cooked spinach. I also had a Run Glo Bar.

I also had a slight wardrobe change.

I decided to wear my BRIGHT yellow Lululemon running jacket because it has ventilation all down the sides and on the arms. I thought this would be the perfect solution to not getting too hot while running! I got it about 4 years ago…It is a wonderful jacket! It also has a pocket on the back where I stashed my kleenex.

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Eric was excited for the yellow because he would have a much easier time spotting me.

I wore my black long-sleeved long john shirt and a black sweater while en route to the race to stay warm.

When we arrived and left the warmth of our car, my teeth were chattering I was so cold. It was brutal!!!

Getting up with your spouse to support their crazy running addiction at 5am- now that is true love!

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There were a bunch of runners warming up and jogging to stay warm. I preferred to conserve my energy, however. ;)

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It is crazy because this race actually starts on the street we used to live on!! Our old stomping grounds. I used to run all around this neighbourhood last year!

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It filled in quickly!

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Crazy Chickens!

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I also wrote an Operation Beautiful note on my back!

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When I run a race my motto is You are so much stronger than you think, so I thought, why not encourage others too? :)

1 minute until gun time and trying to stay warm:

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Where’s Waldo?

One thing I never would have predicted was that the start-up line was so WARM!!!! There was so much body heat given off of everyone. It was amazing. I was so warm standing huddled next to my fellow runners.

Gun Time and an OB Sighting:

I was close to the start line and crossed it within 40 seconds or so. I started off the run quite fast as I got caught up in the excitement (what else is new!?). Not more than 1 minute into the race, I saw someone with an Operation Beautiful note!!!!!!!!! Can you believe that!? She was ahead of me and I ran to catch up to her, tapped her arm and I gasped, ‘Operation Beautiful!!!!’ It was all I could get out at the time. It was Kristin from Running Songs! I was so happy to run into her because we chatted away and the first few miles passed very quickly. :)

Unfortunately, after just 1 mile of running my horrible side stitch returned! I was not pleased and I hoped it would go away once I got warm. Well, no it did not go away. Little did I know it would be one of the hardest runs of my life.

The Hills:

Around mile 4 we hit the first huge hill! I knew this hill was coming because I am familiar with this North end of Yonge street and I had mentally prepared myself for it. Kristin and I pumped each other up and up we went. It was a very long 1 km climb. When I got to the top I was thinking, ‘There is no way that was only 1 km!!!’ It felt like a mile!

After this big hill, there were large hills following it. Just when I thought I was finished the last hill, more came. It is true that this course has a net downhill, however it sure did not feel like it!

To my amazement, people were not only reading my Operation Beautiful message but they were coming up to me and high fiving me and telling me how much they loved the note!! One lady said to me after a huge hill, ‘Thank you so much for that, you don’t know how much I needed that right now.’ She had a huge smile on her face. It really gave me a kick to my step and got me through some tough miles. Another man came up to me and high fived me and another one chatted with me about it, and I joked with him that I was going to beat him up the hill and he proceeded to leave me in the dust. LOL! Damn men with their insanely long legs!

I freaked out:

At mile 5, my side stitch was still there. It was really painful and I tried stopping to walk a few times and stretch everything out, but it would not go away. I started to freak out a little. I admit, my head was not in the run by this point.

I could not run my best and I couldn’t get into a good rhythm because of this bad cramp! I actually started to think about stopping during a brief minute of desperation. I started to fantasize about going into a coffee shop on the side of the street and just vegging out. This really started to worry me. My mental game was absolutely shot, gone, nadda, zilch.

I thought, What was happening to me?

I knew I was ready for this race, but the fact that I couldn’t shake the cramp was really making it hard to focus. I had to stop and walk much more than I wanted to.

Finally, I saw that I was approaching the 10km marker and I honestly wanted the race to be finished. I wished that I was running a 10km race and not a half marathon. It was really hard to deal with these thoughts in my mind and not feel defeated.

The 10km PR:

I sprinted to the 10km line and was shocked to see that I had hammered (or as Eric says, pummeled!) my previous PRs for the 10km. I crossed the 10km at just 53 minutes or so! I was going really fast and I knew that I was going to burn out in the second half if I didn’t slow it down a bit. I also knew there was no way I was going to have a negative split (faster second half than 1st half).

Hope arrived in the most unexpected place:

Shortly, after passing 10km, I saw a beacon of hope– the beautiful, energetic, and super awesome Alex from Happy Go Lucky was screaming my name and jumping on the sidewalk!!!! I was over the moon!! And I ran over to her and we hugged and then I was off. She yelled at the top of her lungs, ‘YOU ARE SO MUCH STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!!!!’ and I turned around and just smiled and I had a grin on my face for a good 5 minutes. It was amazing. Never underestimate the power of encouragement to someone in desperate need!

Desperation set in:

After mile 7, the crowds thinned out and this is where it got really challenging for me. The side stitch was still there, slowing me down, and throwing me off my game. I started to feel desperate. I couldn’t shake it for the life of me! Was it the cold? The Gatorade? Me running too fast? I had no clue. To make matters worse, I also felt a bit sick to my stomach.

I felt very much on my own for this part of the race. I tried so hard to stay positive. I focused on the gorgeous weather outside.

Somehow I managed to get to mile 10 and that is when I took my Homemade Energy Gel. I had about 2 tablespoons of it and couldn’t stomach the rest. After the gel, I felt a bit better energy wise and I hoped that it could carry me through the last 3 (long) miles.

Around mile 11, I met up with Kristin again! Thank goodness, as I needed a distraction. We were both ready to be finished. Less talking, more huffing and puffing.

The never-ending loop:

Finally, we got to the last street and I thought Only a few minutes and I will be done. Well, little did I know that the finish line was on the other side of the street (it is a loop)! I kept asking myself where the finish line was, as I couldn’t even see it!!!!! Side stitch was getting worse. I was ready for this race to be over.

And then guess who I saw again? Yup, Alex!!! ;) She had taken the subway to get to the finish area. She was jumping and screaming when she saw me!!! I didn’t even believe it was her at first. I was thinking, ‘There is no way she got here!’ but yes, it was her and I ran up to her and gave her a hug and she said, ‘RUN, you are amazing!!! you are almost there!’ and I swear that got me through those last painful few hundred meters. I ran and ran and pushed hard. No finish line in sight. No meter markers either. In my last race, they had signs counting down from 500 meters. 500 left, 400 left, 300 left, 200…100…it was amazing. This race did not have that and I was really missing it! Finally I rounded the bend and I saw the finish line. I looked at my watch and I saw that I was going to beat my previous PR by over 1 minute!

I had my GAME face on!!!!!!! I don’t even remember seeing the crowd or hearing them.

Focus. Focus. Focus. In the zone.

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Then I saw Eric waving at me! I got a huge grin on my face and ran hard!!!

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HAPPY FACE!

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Whizzing by Eric- Almost there!!! Grinning. Relieved. Couldn’t wait to walk.

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I grinned all the way across the finish line. I set a new PR and I had gotten through the hardest run I have ever done in my life. I was so happy and I grinned my little heart out the whole way down the chute! :)

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My Half marathon stats:

  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Chip time: 1:56:33 (previous half = 1:57:45)
  • Avg pace: 8:51 min/mile (!!!!)
  • Max pace: 6:53 min/mile (guessing finish line?)

[No heart rate stats because my battery died last night.]

Check out this bling! It is heavy!

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Fueled on plants, baby!! I had a huge banana immediately following the race and lots of water.

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I can’t believe it but I’m not sore AT ALL. After my first half I was immediately sore and stiff, but after this one I honestly didn’t even feel like I ran a race! I guess my body is used to the distance now? It is such an amazing feeling to not only bounce back from an injury but to feel that your body is stronger than ever. It is still hard for me to believe that I can actually run distance now.

We took some pictures while waiting for a train:

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Finally we made it outside again. Look how gorgeous it was outside! I love fall. :)

Crunch, crunch, crunch!

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The start line was a complete ghost town by 11am- they packed up fast!

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Once in the car I had a high-protein Renew Glo Bar and a high protein pita- about 21 grams of protein chugging along to my muscles.

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I came home drank a ton of water and immediately had a steaming hot Epsom salt bath, followed by a cold shower. Nothing is better.

And then I baked the entire day. I was not happy about having to bake 11 batches of bars, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

Now I am finally going to pass-out. I may not wake up until Tuesday. ;)

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Stay tuned Monday or Tuesday for a sale on my special Halloween Chocolate Lovers Glo Bar Pack!

Coming soon to Glo Bakery…spookycomingsoon

NIGHT! :D

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Stef November 24, 2009

I just found your blog and am thoroughly enjoying it! I just completed my first half a bit over a week ago and know exactly how you felt in this post. A side stitch wasn’t getting me, it was a pain radiating from my hip down to my knee (I had just gotten out of a boot for tendinitis less than 2 weeks prior). Though I’m not officially a vegan or vegetarian, I try to eat a vegetarian/vegan diet as often as my body craves. I’m definitely going to adapt some of your recipes for our Thanksgiving dinner! Thanks for the inspiration.

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Kristen November 17, 2009

this was the most amazing and inspiring blog i have read and it is EXACTLY what i needed! I am running a half marathon in las vegas in memory of my friend’s dad in a little bit over 3 weeks and trying to maintain my training and my spirits after suffering an injury to my achilles tendon that won’t seem to let up. I have been trying to read up on other people’s experiences and most are intimidating- mostly seasoned distance runners, which i am not! i love how “real” this was- the good AND the bad of the experience really helped me put things into perspective and realize that my mental/emotional/spiritual state is a huge factor in all of this and it will be the one thing that will make or break this for me. Thanks so much, I’m really pumped!

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Paul October 24, 2009

I was googling to see if I could find pics of the race and came across your blog. Congrats on your race, despite your struggles. The reason for my post is that I just wanted to say thanks for the distraction near the finish. I approached you from behind, trying to read your shirt as I was struggling around the 18-19 km mark on University Ave. As I got closer, gasping for breath and trying to focus, I made out the message on your back…and I powered through the finish. As I ran alongside you, I wanted to acknowledge and thank you for your message, but figured you were probably focused on your own battles at the time. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you, and I’m glad I found a way to do so!

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