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!

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NIGHT! :D

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{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope October 18, 2009

Wonderful post. It is so inspiring! I was teary up reading this entry just thinking about how you have inspired so many people in the blog world and then in real life with people commenting about your shirt quote. I mean, that is amazing. Today I was watching a repeat of Kris Carr’s “Crazy, Sexy, Cancer” on tv and it got me thinking about strong women and who inspires me in life and I don’t know if it is weird, but I immediately think of you. You’re definitely at the top of the list.
Thank you!

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Alex October 18, 2009

well my heart is now a goopy puddle of happy go lucky now- you are too sweet. we need to do the same races at least once a month to guarantee visits!
that course is demanding, despite the net downhill- but lucky! that’s where i pr’d as well. you looked awesome- i never guessed that you weren’t feeling tip top!
xoxoalex

on a related note, anyone interested in bottled happy go lucky goop?

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Lexi October 18, 2009

I’ve been waiting for this all day! Congrats on the PR!!! I know you’re going to sleep so well. What a way to kick off Project Snow!

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Jenny @JennyLikesToRun, on a mission to run a marathon to fundraise for the Breast Cancer Foundation October 18, 2009

Congratulations!! I’ve been hanging out to read this all day :D That’s so awesome to hear how well you did given the cramp you had!
YOU INSPIRE ME!!
You’re an amazing woman!

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nicole October 18, 2009

you did an awesome race!!!!!!

you had fun and kicked butt!

I can’t wait to see what your next running adventure will be!

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Jess (Fit Chick in the City) October 18, 2009

Awesome job! Hard runs feel like punishment sometimes, but they can be as equally rewarding!

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Runnerbelle October 18, 2009

Great job! Congrats on the PR! Despite those side cramps you had an amazing run, you should be so proud of yourself. Yay!!

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Nikki T October 18, 2009

CONGRATS ANGELA!!!
You are Stonger than YOU think!!!
The side stich SUCKS- I get them too and sometimes it really does seem like the world is going to end, but your posts about your races just make me want to run and run!
You are such an inspiration!
GREAT JOB!!!!!!

After your (2nd) Half, my new PR today seems like nothing, but I was quite excited to have run a new distance today- moving up from 5km to 6.7km! WOOHOO ;) haha
I’m still a fairly new-ish runner (just under 7 months into my running career!), so running an extra 1.7kms is a BIG deal!

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Leah @ L4L October 18, 2009

YAY! Congrats! I’m so happy you beat your PR! You did great! SO proud!

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krissy October 18, 2009

Ange! You should be so proud of yourself :) What a great re cap – I wish I could have been there to cheer you on!
xoxo

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Erika October 18, 2009

WAY TO GO ANGELA!!! If you were even half way close to where I live, I would have been on the sidelines cheering for you :) And just so you know, you put the bug in my head, so now I’ve gone and signed up for my second half marathon…it is in 6 weeks, so lots to do, lol….but i’m excited. Thanks for the inspiration….I needed this….BIG HUGS

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Sarah October 18, 2009

Congrats Angela! I ran this race last year and really enjoyed it. We also used to live in North York, so it was super-convenient! It’s great you set a new PR.

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Michelle Gay October 18, 2009

you amaze me. congrats woman.

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Gillian October 18, 2009

Woot woot! Congrats lady!! – I had the same thoughts about the never ending finish line loop when I ran this race a few years ago – just BRUTAL when all you want to do is be DONE!! I wish I could have been able to get prepared for this race to run it – it was an awesome day! Maybe next year!

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Christina October 18, 2009

You are amazing, congrats!!!

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Brynne October 18, 2009

Congratulations Angela! That’s so amazing that you set a PR on what you felt was an awful run – you’re a great inspiration!

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Marilyn October 18, 2009

Congrats on your PR! That is awesome :) I’m sorry that parts of the race experience were so bad, but it seems that everything worked out well in the end :)

I also ran a half today… my second. It was awesome and felt so good! It took me 2:36, but I’m hoping that by the time I run my next half (probably in June), I’ll run it in under 2hrs like you :)

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Jolene October 18, 2009

Congrats Angela!!!! A new PR – that’s awesome!!! You rock girl!!

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Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness October 18, 2009

Congrats on overcoming that side stitch and your PR!

I am the marketing manager for Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon (2 years now!) and though come race day, I have no work left (we always fill up 4 months ahead of time), I organize a cheer section at Mile 24 because people really need the encouragement at such a crucial stretch of mileage. I completely agree that a little encouragement from spectators can make a huge difference!

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Jessica October 18, 2009

That story was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! Made me want to go for a run!! :) I remember feeling all those feelings when I did my first few races (no 1/2 marathons but a 10k) I totally teared up reading your recap too, you are really an inspiration!!

Thank you and CONGRATS!

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Amanda October 18, 2009

Thats awesome that you have such amazing friends that were there to encourage and motivate you exactly when you needed it. I know you must be so proud for pushing on and finishing, and even setting a new PR. I can’t wait until the day when I run my first 1/2.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) October 18, 2009

How awesome that you beat your time even when you thought you were having an aweful run. You really are stronger than you think.

Get some good rest!

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*Andrea* October 18, 2009

congrats!!!!!!! that’s a FABULOUS time – and an improvement – amazinggggg. i adore your workout outfits :)

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Mama Pea October 19, 2009

I’m so impressed that you just made up your mind to run this race and just did it! Why would I ever expect anything less of you? :)

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Leah @ Simply Fabulous October 19, 2009

CONGRATS on such a great race. Even though it seemed awful at the time, you sound so excited about it. I wish I was there to support you!!

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maria October 19, 2009

Thanks for the recap. That’s awesome about your race. Glad you beat your old time! You are right. Encouragement means everything. Sometimes when a run is rough for me I just think about my husband cheering me on and I know I can push forward.

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Emily October 19, 2009

I think that might be the best race recap I’ve ever read! Congratulations on your new PR too.

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Diana October 19, 2009

Good job Angela! I’m proud of you. :)

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Runningwriter October 19, 2009

Well done! I’m glad you had such great support :)

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haya October 19, 2009

sounds like you had a great (if painful at times) race!! congrats.
we managed to wake up 70 minutes late! what a nightmare. luckily we only had like 10km to drive and there was no traffic. let’s just say there was a bit of 90km/h driving going on ;-) got to the start about 20 minutes to 8 which worked out fine because standing around in the cold wasn’t fun!
(that’s so cool that you used to live around there. that is a few blocks away from where i work!) we parked for free at finch and walked the 10 minutes for a short warmup.

i’m still trying to decide whether i’d run this one again (i do scotiabank like every year). i think so. even though there were hills, i did take almost 4 minutes off from scotiabank and i felt much better the whole way. plus i kind of liked the smaller race atmosphere and the lack of crazy crowds.

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Shannon October 19, 2009

Congratulations! I was supposed to run my first half yesterday, but we had a Nor ‘easter in New England. It snowed all day! I ran my 13.1 miles on my own the day before because I new I wouldn’t be able to run the race, but I was so disappointed. I’m glad you had better weather :)

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 19, 2009

Congrats!!!!

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Recipes for Creativity October 19, 2009

Angela, you are awesome! I can’t believe you PR’d even with that terrible side stitch! Yesterday morning I was out running (just three miles) in 32C temps and thinking of you and the winter challenge, and I got home to see you were out running a whole half marathon in even colder temps! You go girl!

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Niki (Running In Pink) October 19, 2009

Angela, you are amazing!! This was just the inspiration I needed after having a crappy running day yesterday and getting ready to run a half marathon on Saturday. I’m definitely going to be thinking about this recap when I run my race!

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Paige @ Running Around Normal October 19, 2009

I love reading your race recaps! I can’t believe you felt horrible the entire time, yet beat your previous time! How freakin’ awesome is that?! Way to go:)

Love the Operation Beautiful stories, too:D

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Bree October 19, 2009

I can’t believe that you beat your PR with a cramp! You really are stronger than you know! You have inspired me to think about doing a race, we shall see…

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Small Town Runner Karen October 19, 2009

Great job! I ran a half marathon this weekend too, and also managed a PR. (Although my PR is about 45 minutes slower than your PR, I’m still proud of it!) No side cramps for me, but my hips started to ache at mile 3, and I had to just push through. WE ARE STRONG! (:

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Lindsay (Foodrun) October 19, 2009

All that and you still got around to answering my shipping charge question?! Angela, you are such an inspiration. I’m working on running my first 5k and I love reading what you have to say. I’m definitely going to tell myself “you are so much stronger than you think” when I run!

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Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life October 19, 2009

Great Recap!! You truly are an inspiration.. I am running my first half in march and I am soo scared!! It is so far away but it doesn’t make it any easier.. Reading your recap make me so happy and give me the strength to know I CAN do it!! Great Job Angela!

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brandi October 19, 2009

congrats!!!! That is awesome :)

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