Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon Race Recap!

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on September 27, 2009

I just returned from one of the happiest moments in my life!!

But first, let me explain from the beginning…

This morning I was relaxed, happy, and super excited. The adrenaline was pumping through me. Despite only getting 4 hours sleep I felt amazing.


I did some yoga. I’m such a hard core yogi, I know. ;)


And a ton of green tea ;) I think I had 3 cups this morning. Buzzzzzzzz.


We were running a bit late and didn’t get on the road until 5:55am. The highway was dead so I wasn’t too worried about it. Eric made a CD for the drive there and we CRANKED the tunes!! It was awesome. I was so incredibly pumped up!

Eric was actually in a really upbeat mood too. I was so surprised. He actually got a much better sleep than I did last night. I think he was snoring next to me around 10pm!

Everything was fine and dandy until we hit bad traffic coming off the Gardner at Spadina. I started to freak out because we only had about 45 minutes until the race and we had a far walk to the start line from where we parked (Eric’s work!). It took us about 30 minutes to get 1km.

Once we got to Eric’s work, we made a beeline for the washroom…

This is me literally running out of the parking garage. I was so worried I was going to be late! Not a great way to start a race!!!


Then we speed walked a good 15-20 minutes to the start line. It was actually a great warm-up for me. I felt quite loose and limber! ;) The weather also turned out fabulous- cloudy and cool, but not too cool. It was the perfect running weather.

We made great time and got there with about 10 minutes to spare. It was sooo crowded! Over 20,000 people!!! It was a bit difficult to find where we I had to go. Finally I found the start line and kissed Eric good bye. I was in the Yellow Corral, so I was pretty close to the start. I looked and looked for the 2 hour pacer but I couldn’t find him/her. By mistake, I ended up standing near the pacer who was running a 7 min/mile pace. I was trapped with the hard core runners and it was too crowded to go backwards, so I just stayed with them. I knew they would blow by me anyways!

I chatted with a man who was 57 years old. He was in great shape and had a goal of 1:35. I told a few of them that my goal was a sub-2 hour for my 1st half and they sort of laughed at me. Umm…I wasn’t joking! I thought to myself, I’ll prove you wrong a-hole. ;)

One guy said, ‘For your 1st half, you just smile and look pretty for the cameras.’

WOW! If that isn’t motivation to rock out a race, I don’t know what is!!!!!


And the gun went off at 7:30am…


Note, this picture below was from last year’s race, but I’m guessing it looked the same. ;)


There are no pictures of me because apparently Eric took videos and no pictures. I am way too tired to even begin to look at videos, so just pretend me running and all these fast people blowing by me.

Lesson Learned: Don’t start too close to the front of the pack…


While it was nice that I crossed the start line quickly (crossed in 2 mins), being near people running much faster can really mess up your mental game. For the first couple miles I was being passed by tons of people. It freaked me out a bit, but I vowed to maintain a steady pace and not burn-out. My pace for the first couple miles was about an 8 min/mile. I had to keep forcing myself to slow down and not get caught up in the frenzy.

It was SUPER crowded. A few people ran into me and cut me off. One lady elbowed me and it hurt so much because I had a bruise in that spot! What a rat race!


The First Few Miles Were Tough!


For the first few miles, I was actually quite sore and that really freaked me out and messed with my head. I think I was a bit stiff. Every mile or so, I started shaking out my arms and rolling my shoulders because I have a tendency to stiffen up. It helped tons and I was running much more relaxed after I did it. I did this every 2 miles for the entire race!


Scientific Proof: Clowns Make You Run Faster


Remember this guy?


At mile 4, I passed a PACK of clowns.

All crazy.

I had a big smile on my face running by them. Once I passed the crazy clown posse, I looked at my watch and my pace was 7:20 min/mile!!!!!!!!

The clowns really did make me run like hell! I had a grin on my face for a good km after that. I kept thinking, ‘I’m so blogging that!’

I meant to mention that there were water stations every 3km. I found this was the perfect amount (until mile 10 onward!). I drank Gatorade the entire race.


Approaching the 10k Marker


Mile 5 I don’t really remember because I guess I was ‘in the zone’.

Music cranked.

My soreness was gone (thank you endorphins!). I felt awesome.

It wasn’t until mile 5.5 that I realized I was approaching the 10k! This made me run faster because I wanted to beat my previous 10 k time.

I crossed the 10k mark at 56:11 which is about a 9 min/mile (exactly what I wanted).


You guys made me cry!


Once I crossed the mat, I realized that some of you might be ‘watching’ my time online and I got tears in my eyes! It was a sappy moment.

I just felt so awesome knowing that all of my friends were cheering for me. This moment was definitely one of the highlights of the entire race. Even though I was running alone, I sure didn’t feel that way.

My goal was to match my pace for the second half of the race and not slow down/burn-out. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it or not, but I thought positive.


Having a Goal kept me focused and prevented my mind from wandering


I monitored my pace on my watch. I checked it often to make sure that I was staying on track. Anytime I went over a 9 min/mile I stepped it up a bit.

Having a challenging goal definitely motivated me to do my ultimate best! I am such a goal-oriented person and it really kept my focus.

Miles 6-8 were honestly a blur! I was definitely in the zone. I loved it. I totally had a nice runner’s high at this point in the race.

I had my homemade energy gel at mile 8.5. I had 2 tablespoons of organic brown rice syrup mixed with carob powder. I was so happy I had it with me. It upset my stomach a bit and I had a cramp for about 1km or so. No biggie though. It definitely made me feel more energetic!!

I pushed hard. My heart rate was around 172 bpm for most of the race. Definitely at the upper limit of what is comfortable.


Approaching the 10-mile marker:


At mile 9, I stepped it up to see if I could beat my previous 10 mile time in July (1 hour 26 mins 43 secs). To my delight, I was able to shave almost 45 seconds off this time, crossing the 10 mile mark at approx. 1 hour 26 mins. That was definitely a confidence boost and gave me some motivation to keep going.


Then I hit the wall:


Suddenly, right after passing the 10-mile mark, I started to get ticked off. Where was the water station??? I was cursing under my breath. I needed some Gatorade fast. It felt like it would never come.

My bladder was bursting at this point. It was so uncomfortable. For whatever reason, I could not find a porta-potty for the life of me! I drank probably 3-4 cups of water over the course of the race and I didn’t go to the bathroom once the entire race. Very uncomfortable and distracting.

At mile 11.5, I started to hit the wall. All I wanted to do was stop and walk. I was burning out fast. It took every ounce of strength inside me to keep going and maintain my pace. To make matters worse, there was a huge hill around this point.

This is where my running got ‘messy’. I call my running messy when I start struggling really hard.

My face was intense and I was not running gracefully. I felt like an elephant in a china shop.

My legs felt like lead. I just didn’t want to run anymore.

The Last (long) Mile…


At mile 12, I couldn’t believe that I was going to be finished soon. The race just flew by for me! I was burning out badly though. Somehow I managed to keep my pace of 8:30-9:15 min/mile.

I rounded the bend and the crowds started to get bigger. Lots of cheering. It was the only thing that helped me not stop and walk. I saw a sign that read 500 metres to go and I started to smile with relief. I was so tired and huffing and puffing very loudly at this point.

400 to go, 300 to go, 200 to go. The last 500 metres were such a struggle for me! I thought the last mile was supposed to be easy?? It certainly didn’t feel that way for me.


Sprinting the last 100 metres…


And then I saw the sign- 100 metres to go and I started sprinting with every last ounce of strength inside me. My pace got up to a 6 minute/mile and I was passing a bunch of people. It was incredibly motivating finishing so strong!!! I was on fire!!!!!

I sprinted across the finish line and my first thought was, ‘I didn’t smile for the camera!’ My second thought was, ‘I’m so sore/stiff!’

I walked down the chute in a haze. I honestly couldn’t believe what I had just done. The race flew by. I glanced at my watch and couldn’t believe my time.

My official chip time was 1 hour 57 mins. and 45 seconds.

I beat my goal of 1:59:59 by 2 mins and 14 seconds!!!!! :D Who knew?!

I finished 85th in my division and 580th out of 7,916 women. Not bad!

My average pace for the entire race was an 8:58 min/mile.

The pretty medal :)


Someone whistled and I looked over and saw Eric. He was smiling and yelled congrats to me.

Look who I spotted!!!!

Alex from Happy Go Lucky Alex!! She also had a great run finishing around 2 hours (not sure of the official time, visit her awesome blog for the recap!).


Isn’t she just cute as a button!?

We chatted and I had a banana for some fuel. I also drank Gatorade to replenish the electrolytes. After we parted ways, Eric and I set off for the long journey back to the car.


The Long Walk Back To The Car (sucked)


The walk felt like it was about 3 minutes this morning, but it felt like 3 hours after the race. I was extremely stiff and sore. We walked so slow and every block felt like a mile! Luckily, I had some fun along the way!

I hugged a tree in need.


Eric bought me the flowers. :)

I posed in front of my favourite store in the world:


Unfortunately it was closed!

Then look where Eric took me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FRESH restaurant!


I hate to say it, but I wasn’t hungry at all. I had zero appetite post-race.

In retrospect, I should have gotten a wrap or bowl to bring home with me, but I was still in a haze and was clearly not thinking properly! I would kill for a Fresh wrap right about now!

Instead, I settled on the Immune Boost juice with Hemp Protein powder added to it for muscle recovery.

Untfreshitled I am not a beet fan, but this was fabulous! The apple did a great job of masking the beet taste. It tasted so nutritious!!


Once I got back to the car, I added my Amazing Grass Meal Powder to the Fresh juice, for an extra kick of 10 grams of protein. It tasted pretty darn good, just a bit powdery since I couldn’t mix it well in that cup. I was really happy to get in over 16 grams of protein right after the race. My muscles were starting to forgive me I think. ;)


The drive home was quite uncomfortable because I forgot to bring clothes to change into. As soon as I got home, I had the longest, most fabulous shower ever. I didn’t want to get out.

Around 1pm, my hunger monster finally surfaced!!!!


I had this delicious pita packed with protein-filled mung beans, tomato sauce, and hummus. It was exactly what I needed.


Surprisingly, I am not too tired. I guess the endorphins are still flowing through my blood! I’m sure I will hit the wall later today. I am sore and stiff, but nothing crazy bad. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, I guess!

Thank you all so so so much from the bottom of my heart for all of your encouragement. You just don’t know what it means to me. :) All of your comments, emails, and Tweets brought tears to my eyes!


"What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it." ~Alexander Graham Bell

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

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Jessica September 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

GREAT JOB LADY! I wish I could run with you!


Pam September 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Congrats on a great race!


Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness September 27, 2009 at 10:08 pm

LOL the clowns… I would be running away from them at a faster clip as well! Congrats on a great race!

Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness


Marilyn September 27, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Congrats, Angela! You are seriously so inspirational to me. I really admire your dedication and genuinely healthy lifestyle.

I’m a little bummed because I have a half coming up too, but I won’t be able to run it all like I’d hoped. It’s frustrating :( But reading your blog reminds me of what I want to achieve!


Lele September 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

You go girl! Thank you for the awesome recap!

I can especially relate to it because I HATE CLOWNS TOO!


Melissa September 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm

CONGRATS on the half marathon. I am doing one in November, and this was definitely very motivating. Your time is amazing, and you should be SO proud of yourself!! Congrats again!


Nikki T September 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm

This post SO inspires me to strive to one day run a 1/2 marathon!! It must feel so great to accomplish something so BIG! Great job- I was so happy to see your time! You can cross one thing off the Fitness Bucket List!
Well done :)


Marcia September 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Awesome! I’m so proud. Your post made me all teary. I hope that my 1/2 in November is even close to that good in how I feel (my goal is 1:11:00 – 10 min mile).


Kelsey September 27, 2009 at 10:45 pm

congrats!!! i love hearing about your race and you did amazing. way to go!


Amanda Binz September 27, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Congratulations!!! It is so amazing that you accomplished such a fantastic feat!


Eliana September 27, 2009 at 11:25 pm

WOW, INCREDIBLE!!! I am SO happy for you. I am in Puerto Rico on a mini vacation and all I thought about was getting to the hotel to see how you had done on the race. Very proud of you, you have inspired me to try running again. CONGRATULATIONS ANGELA!!


skinny latte September 28, 2009 at 4:47 am

Great race report Ange – congratulations on a fabulous first half marathon!! I found myself nodding at your commentary on 11.5 miles onwards, it was exactly like that for me too!

You trained very hard and deserved a great result! You should be so proud of yourself!

Hang on to that high for as long as you can. Well done!! xx


Paige @ Running Around Normal September 28, 2009 at 7:54 am

What a wonderful re-cap! I was thinking about you :D I couldn’t believe it when I saw your time – I just thought, holy crap she’s fast!

I’m so happy it was was such a wonderful experience for you. See? All that rest last week did its job! :)


AGS September 28, 2009 at 8:13 am

Congratulations!!!!! Thought you would like this:

“Danger and delight grow on one stalk.”
-Scottish Proverb


Pam at Highway to Health September 28, 2009 at 3:26 pm

What a great recap!! Congrats on the amazing race! A Sub 2 half marathon is awesome!


Lauren @ Team Giles September 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm

AWESOME RECAP! I am so proud of you!


Paula September 28, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Was it not so frustrating to see a red km marker approaching sooner than expected, and then realize it was the sign you’d already passed earlier, but were seeing from the back?! Argh. Happened over and over again.
Great recap. Glad to have found your blog.


Juli February 3, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I know this post was like 10 years ago but I just wanted to thank you for it. It brought back some good, yet painful memories of my first 1/2 marathon. Hitting that wall is a killer…and having to pee at the same time! Oh yes, I experienced it all…except nobody bought me flowers after ;). Thanks for your inspiration!


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