Race Report: 2017 airbnb Brooklyn Half

For the second year in a row, I participated in the airbnb Brooklyn Half. The 2017 edition of this race expected 27,500 runners and sold out in 26 minutes! Luckily, I didn’t have to compete for a spot because the generous folks at the New York Road Runners (NYRR) organization offered me a complimentary spot as a result of some social media work I did for them last year.

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Training

Similar to last year, the airbnb Brooklyn Half fell after my Spring goal race. I believe it was three weeks after my goal race in 2016 and this year it was one week and six days after my huge day at the Mississauga Marathon. I was feeling good and really wanted to run for fun and enjoy the experience; the problem is, I attempted to run this race for fun last year, but my competitive nature got in the way and I reverted to racing. I think the only time I was successful at running a race for fun was the Achilles 5K back in March.

The course map this year was exactly the same as 2016 (and apparently 2014!).

Pre-Party

Just like last year, my son and I flew into NYC on Friday morning just one day before the race; we actually flew into Newark via Porter and instead of getting dropped off at my parents’ place where I was staying, I asked my dad to drop me off at the subway station because I was meeting my friends Sherab and Ray at the pre-party.

The Airbnb Brooklyn Half Pre-Party Presented by New Balance was very similar to last year with a few minor exceptions. Last year there was more swag (New Balance Brooklyn flags and photo booths. There was also a booth to customize your finisher’s shirt) which made the already small “expo” feel even smaller. There were a few fun things to do outdoors at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2, but it was 30 degrees outside!

Sherab and Ray were would be arriving in a few minutes, so I took the opportunity to walk around a bit. The first two people I noticed were Greg and Kelly. I met Greg through my friend Christina and we hung out a bit last year in NYC the night before the NYC Marathon. He’s definitely one of my favorite people in the Instagram running community! Kelly is a superstar in the Instagram Running Community and is absolutely hysterical! She is also doing amazing things for women in the running community!

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Greg and Kelly!

A few minutes later Sherab and Ray arrived! I went inside to grab my own, purchased a couple of cool t-shirts, then left. My brother picked up my son’s bib for his race a few days prior, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Sherab and Ray were waiting for another friend, Michael, and when he arrived, we left the pre-party and headed to Shake Shack for lunch.

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The pre-party was the same day as my nephew’s birthday party, so I excused myself after a few laughs and a great lunch and headed home. Wave 1 started at 7am, so I called it an early night, but not before posting an obligatory flat runner photo on Instagram.

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Reppin’ High Park Rogue Runners!

Race Day

I got up at 5am, polished off a bowl of milk and cereal (something I’ve never eaten before a race in the past), showered, got dressed, and headed to the start line near Eastern Parkway and Bedford Avenue (thanks for driving me for the second year in a row, dad!).

As soon as I got to Easter Parkway, I heard someone yell out “Michele” and for some reason turned my head. When I did, I spotted Michele Gonzalez, one of the most well-known runners in the Instagram Running Community and a really awesome runner! I introduced myself and we quickly chatted about the race. Michele is really cool and I was pretty stoked about meeting her!

I finally found my friends Andrew Chak and his brother Gary. Andrew and I spoke about a race strategy prior to the race and he wanted to hold a 5:00/km pace which equated to a 1 hour 45 minute finish. I don’t think Andrew believed for one minute that I would run with him the entire race, but I would prove him wrong!

Just as I arrived, it started to rain. It was about 16 degrees at the start and the rain did not bother me at all. I’ve run in bad weather enough times to expect anything! Shortly after, our friend Josie Nguyen arrived and we worked our way towards the corral. Runners can not move up in their corral, so we had to move back to the highest letter corral. In this case, it was corral L. I was placed in corral B and Andrew and Gary were in corral G. I made a few jokes about not being able to see the start line. The truth is, I was happy to be positioned where we were as it would really help me hold back!

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Josie, myself, Gary, and Andrew
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Wait for us!

After someone belted out the US national anthem, the horn started the runners. It took over 20 minutes to get to the start line from where we were positioned! We even had time to stop at the port-o-potties and chat for a bit before we made it to the front! LOL! By the time we got to the start line, it stopped drizzling.

I remembered there was a mat on the floor to cover the electric wiring that spanned the length of the course just prior to the actual start line and I let my friends know not to start their watches. A few feet ahead was the actual start of the race and it was time to go. I ran about 500 meters before realizing I didn’t actually start my watch! Oh well.

First 5K splits: 5:04, 5:04, 5:01, 4:51, 4:58

Because I didn’t start my watch at the actual start line, my splits may not make sense. The course is identical from the previous year. The first kilometer is the same 21-meter plunge down Washington Avenue. The crowds are always the best at the start of the race and throughout Prospect Park. The course is also very crowded with runners at this point and I noticed Gary and Andrew starting to work their way through crowds of runners. I was hoping Andrew wasn’t changing his race strategy but chased after them nonetheless.

Even though it felt as if we were running much faster than everyone on the course, we were pretty much locked into a 5:00/km pace. It felt really easy and really fun! People probably thought we would burn out by surging forward too soon!

The next kilometer is a 21 meter climb up Flatbush Avenue. The kilometer after that was one of my favorite parts of the race as the runner’s make the big loop around Grand Army Plaza. The spectators here really energized the runners! The next kilometer and a bit are mostly downhill.

For parts of the race leading up to this point, Andrew and I were moving from the road to the sidewalk to avoid slower runners. This is not something I typically do in a race, but we did start back pretty far which meant we were contending with quite a few runners who were likely doing a 6:00/km pace or slower. At some point, even the sidewalk started to get too crowded!

Second 5K splits: 5:03, 4:59, 5:01, 4:42, 4:50

The next 5 kilometers were relatively flat, followed by a gradual incline, and a few really easy rollers in Prospect Park. We weren’t in the park very long when I noticed my throat was started to close a little bit and I was getting a really bad tickle. Allergies! I developed a bit of a cough at this point and I couldn’t wait to get out of the park! Aside from that, I was feeling really strong. My right ankle was bothering me a bit, but I couldn’t figure out if it was sore from something else or if it was the area on the top of my foot where my laces were tied too tight at the Mississauga Marathon.

At one point, Andrew and I were picking up the pace a bit and I passed in front of a few runners. One of them yelled out, “Hey runthesix!” and I turned around and immediately recognized someone I ran with only once in the past when I joined the Nike Run Club in NYC! Thanks for spotting me, Rob!

We finally reached the biggest climb in the race and I remember telling Andrew we weren’t there yet. I don’t know if it was the fact I was feeling really good or the crowds were not as vocal about it as the year prior. Last year, spectators held signs that read, “It’s a hill, get over it,” amongst other creative signs. They were also cheering really loud in an attempt to push people up the hill. I think we finally crested the hill when I turned to Andrew and said, “maybe that was the hill!”

From that point on, the course is downhill and then flat.

I popped my one and only gel at the 10km mark.

Third 5K splits: 4:39, 4:47, 5:01, 4:48, 4:57

Around the 11km (7 mile) mark, runners climb up an entry ramp that banks left and then downhill towards Ocean Parkway. Andrew and I were running side by side at this point and feeling really good! Last year around this time I was having trouble and had to walk a bit. Not today! I had so much left in the tank and aside from the annoying issue with my foot, I was feeling great! My throat issues also seemed to get a lot better after exiting the park!

There were a few moments when I was running in front of  Andrew and didn’t see him when I looked back. On some occasions, he moved ahead and I didn’t notice and a few times he moved to the other side of me. I always wanted to make sure he was in my sights so we could finish together!

The aid stations throughout the course tend to get a little dangerous as runners often come to a full stop to grab a Gatorade or water. I usually don’t notice this when I’m racing, but it was very obvious on this day. I skipped a few aid stations on this stretch of the course because it was starting to get really annoying and somewhat dangerous!

Fourth 5K splits: 4:48, 4:56, 4:59, 4:48, 4:41

The last stretch of running on Ocean Parkway is the most fun because you start to see where runners turn onto Surf Avenue. The crowds, while somewhat thinned out on Ocean Parkway, get a bit louder at this point of the race. I was in great shape at this point and really enjoying every moment! At one point, I lost Andrew again and started running backwards to try to spot him; I did not want to stop! I thought it was funny, but a few people struggling at this point did not. Sorry! I caught a glimpse of Andrew when I turned around and locked him in my sights.

Final 1.1K: 4:30, 7:31

At the end of Ocean Parkway, runners take a right turn on Surf Avenue and a left on W. 10th Street where they run up a small ramp and turn right on the boardwalk towards the finish line. The crowds were really loud and energized! A friend of mine ended the race and was texting me to see where I was. I pulled my phone out and responded, then decided to keep my phone in my hand to capture the moment we crossed the finish line. Did I mention how good I was feeling at this point?!

We took the final turn onto the boardwalk and headed towards the finish. At the finish line of the Mississauga Marathon less than two weeks prior to this race, I was so zoned out, I barely recall finishing. My friend Rose said I looked mad when I finished! To make up for it, I decided I was going to take a selfie of Andrew and I crossing the finish line. Doesn’t get much happier than that!

The Results

This is the one race I will try to do every year! It’s so much fun and I get to see my family at the same time! Let’s hope I can make the 20-something minute cut when registration opens at the beginning of the year!

Official Time: 1:44:05

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Post Race

Unlike last year when I met my dad in the family reunion area and headed home to shower, change, and head back to Coney Island to watch my son race, I decided this time to hang out in Coney Island instead. I miscalculated how cold it would be after the race and unfortunately did not leave a bag at the start line. By the time we finished our race, it was a little chilly and starting to rain again. My family wouldn’t be arriving for almost three hours, so I had to figure out how to stay warm for that duration of time. We spent almost 45 minutes hanging out in the parking lot waiting to reunite with everyone. Ray had a thermal blanket he wasn’t using and that did the trick for the time being.

Once we reunited with everyone, we walked over to Walburgers in Coney Island to grab lunch. We were able to find a table and took our time eating and hanging out. By the time everyone was ready to leave, my family arrived with a jacket so I can warm up and we headed over to the starting corral for the Youth Boardwalk Run.

Last year, my son (then age seven) posted an incredible time (eight minutes and change for the mile long race) at what was then called the Kids’ Boardwalk Run. What we didn’t know, but would find out later, was NYRR did not time the race this year because they limited how fast kids would be running due to the slick conditions on the boardwalk. My nephew beat my son by 4-5 seconds, but it wasn’t timed, so does it even count? LOL! Kidding!!

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Up Next

I’m taking two weeks off from running to rest and recover from a very successful, but very tough Spring race season. I am beyond thrilled with the results thus far and want to take some time to reflect on what went well and what I want to work on for the Fall.

QOTD: Did you participate in the airbnb Brooklyn Half last weekend? If so, how did you like it?

Race Report: 2017 Mississauga Marathon

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The 2017 Mississauga Marathon is the main event for the Spring race season. This is the race I trained really hard for and the one that would hopefully send me to Boston. The good news is I age up for the 2018 race, so my qualifying time is now 3 hours and 25 minutes. Last year I finished the Goodlife Marathon in a time of ran a 3:13:42, so even if I don’t get a PR in Mississauga, my chances to qualify and “guaranteeing” a spot would be pretty good. Of course nothing is guaranteed until I receive the acceptance email from the Boston Athletic Association, but based on the cut-off times the past two years, anything faster than 5 minutes (equivalent to a finishing time of  3 hours 20 minutes) under the qualifying time should get me in.

Training

Back in the Fall of 2016, my buddy Daniel recommended I speak to Colin Murray-Lawson who manages the High Park Running Room. Colin, known as Coach Colin to the High Park Rogue Runners, also happens to be an accomplished runner and is blazing fast! Colin finished the Goodlife Half Marathon this past Sunday in 4th place in a time of  1:09:36! 

Daniel and I met with Coach Colin at the High Park Running Room one evening in late Fall and we spoke about my marathon experience and my goal for Mississauga. Based on my goal and when I would be able to fit my runs in, Colin built a training plan that I could handle and give me the best chance to qualify for Boston.

The first time I reviewed the plan, it was obvious the plans I developed myself for the previous five marathons I finished paled in comparison to Colin’s plan. I would be running between five and six days a week (I ran four days a week for the first three marathons and five days a week for the last two) and there would be two workouts a week plus a long run. In the past, I typically only performed one workout a week plus a long run.

As the weeks of training went on, it was clear I was training harder than I ever did before. I noticed my heart rate was lower on my easy and steady runs than it was in the past. To confirm what I was noticing in my training runs, the results of my Half Marathon and 30K races in March were beyond what I was hoping for and really boosted my confidence.

During the 18 week training cycle, I only missed two days due to a calf injury, one day for another reason I can’t recall, and one day because I was flat out exhausted from work and had no time to run. Other than that, I felt Coach Colin’s training plan was absolutely perfect!

Aside from the training plan, training in Winter weather has its own challenges. Luckily the weather wasn’t as bad as expected and I was able to get almost all of my runs completed outdoors. During the week, I did most of my runs on the Beltline Trail near my home and a few workouts on the track at a local secondary school as well as the local cemetery. Long runs were almost entirely done in the hilly Bloor West section of Toronto with a few taking place near the Lake on the Martin Goodman Trail.

Finally, I must admit I was not at all disciplined when it came to strength training and core work. Over the course of 18 weeks, I may have completed my Runner’s Academy strength training circuit a dozen times or so and did core work about twice as many times. This is one area I really lose focus so it would be interesting how the results would differ if I was actually disciplined in this area.

Pre-Race

Not visiting race expos seems to be the norm for me this year. I didn’t pickup my race kit in the two previous races either. My buddy Daniel made the trip out to Mississauga to pick-up a few race kits, saving me the trip! Thanks Daniel!!

The Friday before the race, Daniel, Dom, Anna, and I met our Kleinburg running friends Rose and Samantha for dinner at an Italian restaurant in Toronto for a good old fashioned carb-load! It was a great opportunity to chat race strategies and enjoy an awesome meal before race day.

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Race Day

With a 7:30am race start, I got up at 4:45am, walked my dogs, and headed out to pick-up Anna, Domenic, and Daniel before heading out to Mississauga. I was feeling good, but also really anxious about the race. The weather forecast in the days leading up to the race called for a chance of rain and lots of wind. While it was a little chilly at the start, the wind didn’t seem to be a big issue and it appeared the rain was going to hold off. Bonus!

We hung out in the Mississauga Civic Centre prior to the start of the race to stay warm and only headed out with a few minutes to go before the start. I started my watch and instantly realized I forgot my heart rate monitor at home. This is the first race I can remember where that happened, but I brushed it off and focused on the plan.

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My plan was to hold a race pace of 4:25/km, but I promised Rose I would hold back at the start (4:30/km). Rose is one of the most disciplined runners I know and is always giving me great advice that I often forget when the horn sounds.

The Race

First 5km splits: 4:20, 4:14, 4:21, 4:19, 4:12

Two kilometers in and I already broke my promise. Runners start at Celebration Square near Square One, then make two quick right turns on to Burnhamthorpe Trail. I went out fairly quick and was trying to reel it in although I was not successful. The first three kilometers are flat and then the course drops 28 meters until the 5km mark. I found myself looking at my watch far too often and struggling to reel it in the entire time; especially on the downhill! I really wish I had my heart rate monitor as that would have given me a good indication of how hard I was working, although it didn’t feel as if I was pushing the pace (that could have been the fresh legs from tapering). Looking back at the grade adjusted pace on Strava, I was running the equivalent of a 4:20-4:36/km pace, so all was not entirely lost.

Right from the start, I noticed my friend Jarek Zlamal (we ran a very similar race at Around the Bay)  and again we ran in very close proximity to one another. He was going for a 3:06 which concerned me because there were a few times I was running out in front of him!

Second 5km splits: 4:25, 4:19, 4:22, 4:15, 4:16

At the 6km mark of the race, runners make a left on to Mississauga Road and head towards the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. Just over a kilometre down the road, runners veer left and head around the campus. At this point of the race, the course drops 7 meters then another 5 meters before making a left turn back onto Mississauga Road where the biggest drop of the course (19 meters) occurs.

I remember two things about this part of the race: first, the University of Toronto Mississauga campus is beautiful and I would have loved to taken it all in a bit longer, but I was running too fast. Second, I was running a perfect pace if this was a half marathon; however, it wasn’t and again while the grade adjusted pace had me in a good place, I was still moving really quickly. One last 9 meter drop in elevation and we’re at the 10km mark of the race. I crossed the 10km just under 43 minutes.

I took my first gel at the 8km mark.

Third 5km splits: 4:36, 4:23, 4:19, 4:27, 4:21

What goes down, must come up, right? The first real hill of the race occurs around the 11km mark where Mississauga Road veers left. I was most thankful for this hill as it would allow me to slow down a bit; however, I ended up flying up the hill and then finally backed off a bit on the next few kilometers. We were nearing the point where the marathon runners break off from the half marathon runners, so I was starting to play a game in my head where I guessed how many runners would be left on the marathon course. This sort of distracted me for a bit and my pace, while still a bit too quick, settled down a bit.

Mississauga Road winds to the right around the 14km mark and heads under the QEW. Just shy of the 15km mark, runners make a quick right onto Indian Road. I could see 3-4 runners ahead of me and about the same amount behind me (including Jarek). There was very little crowd support and the only time I really saw anyone was when I crossed a busy intersection where the police were ensuring cars didn’t plow through the course. Occasionally there were volunteers near the kilometer markers and a they would yell “good job” or “slow down Jonathan!” I’m making up the last one, but it really would have been helpful if they yelled that out!

Fourth 16km – 21.1km: 4:29, 4:27, 4:29, 4:31, 4:29, 4:23

I don’t know if it was the lack of crowd support, the lack of runners, or something else, but I started to reduce my pace at this point. I was no longer feeling pulled by other racers and I was feeling really good with one exception; my right knee, likely my IT Band, was started to get sore. This happened in quite a few races in the past, so I was used to it.

At the 18km mark, runners make a left onto Lorne Park Road and then a quick right onto Truscott Drive. Having not run the course before and barely studying it in the weeks leading up to the race, I was handling the tangents pretty well. I passed the halfway mark at 01:32:22. At this point of the race, I was projected to finish in  a time of 3 hours 7 minutes. Too fast.

Crossing the midway point of the race, I did a full body scan and everything felt really good; my knee was getting more and more sore as I ran; however, I wasn’t getting tired yet and started to focus on the next milestone for me which is the 30km mark; this is where I really started to fade last Spring at the Goodlife Marathon as a result of going out way too fast.

I took my second gel at the 16km mark.

22km – 30km: 4:15, 4:22, 4:24, 4:27, 4:32, 4:32, 4:38, 4:37, 4:29

This next segment of the race really has its ups and downs; literally. Around the 21km mark, runners make a left onto Southdown Road. This is the exciting part of the course as runners make their way towards a turn-around point and, if you’re lucky (or going out way too fast), you get to see the elite runners coming towards you.

At the 24km mark, runners make a right onto Lakeshore Road West and then hit the turn-around point midway through the 26km mark. My right knee was still feeling pretty sore and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to stop to deal with it.

I took my third gel at the 24km mark.

Heading back on Lakeshore road West, runners make a quick right and work their way around Lakeside Park and then pop-out on to Southdown Road and back the way we came. There’s a pretty decent 10 meter climb up Southdown Road and I was really feeling it! Getting a little tired at this point, but not enough to cause any concerns.

Before turning off Southdown Road, I saw a few friends heading out to the turn-around point, including my buddy Dom!

At the 29th kilometer mark, runners turn right on to Orr Road.

The 30km mark of the race was in the back of my mind for most of the race. When I hit it, I was feeling pretty good although a little tired. I wasn’t about to slow down and start my usual power walking at this point the way I did at the Goodlife Marathon, but it did start weighing on my mind and I started to think about Boston and all the work that led up to this point. This kept me going a bit longer. My projected finish at this point of the race was 3 hours 9 minutes and looking back on Strava, I hit the 30km mark of the race around the exact same time I finished the Around the Bay 30K race last month; obviously I had no idea at the time, but still interesting nonetheless.

I don’t recall seeing many race photographers on the course and there really aren’t many race photos from the event, but someone was snapping photos at the 30km mark of the race. We found each other on Instagram (IG\thegivingtri) and he sent me the following photos! Not only do I love the sequence of photos below, but they are a perfect depiction of what goes through my mind when I run a race. Thank you Andrew for these awesome shots!

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“30 Kilometers in. 12 to go. Getting tired. Please DO NOT stop running”
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“Oh look, a photographer! Hi! I feel amazing! People are going to think I’m running so strong when they see this photo!”
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“Keep smiling, he’s still snapping photos.”

31km – 42.2km: 4:38, 4:33, 4:53, 4:30, 4:46, 4:30, 5:02, 4:57, 4:43, 4:57, 5:00, 4:45, 4:53

At the 31km mark of the race, runners make a quick left on to Meadow Wood Road and then another quick right onto Lakeshore Road West.

Somewhere around the 31-32 kilometer mark, I had to pull over to the side of the road to stretch my right knee. It was bothering me enough that I was starting to spend too much time focusing on it. I pulled over to the side of the road and propped my foot up on a fire hydrant and stretched. The entire process took just a few seconds and I was off again. From that moment on, my knee stopped bothering me and thankfully I wouldn’t really experience any soreness again for the remainder of the race.

This next section of the course features a few decent hills and it’s the point on the race where most runners bonk. While I wasn’t having any physical issues (calves, hamstrings, and legs felt tired, but good), I was overall getting pretty exhausted. The last 10 kilometers of the race were a combination of my typical power walking, running, and even stopping once to catch my breath at one of the final aid stations on the course.

I took my fourth and final gel at the 32km mark.

At the 33 kilometer mark, runners turn right off Lakeshore Road West at Owenwood Drive and then make an immediate left onto Echo Drive and then another immediate right onto Parkland Avenue. I remember seeing traffic cones continuing East on Lakeshore, but a sign pointing runners to make the right onto Owenwood. This really confused me at first and I almost panicked thinking the sign was wrong, but once I made the right turn, I noticed a volunteer waving at me and pointing towards Echo Drive. As soon as we were on Parkland Avenue, I noticed the Jack Darling Memorial Park I read about some of the race reports I read in the weeks leading up to the race.

As soon as runners reach the trail at the end of Parkland Avenue, they get a clear view of the Toronto skyline. I was exhausted, but seeing the CN Tower got me really excited! I actually waved and mumbled “Hi Toronto!” I probably looked and sounded like I had issues to anyone who was walking and running through the park, but thankfully they would have seen I was wearing a marathon race bib which would have confirmed I do, in fact, have issues.

Even though it was a crisp, windy morning, there were still a number of non-runners on the trail. Not enough to cause any concern and they were all really cool about staying out of the way. I did have to contend with a number of half-marathon runners, but even they were cool about staying to the far right of the trail.

I got in a few decent power walks through the park. It really is a nice space!

At the 39 kilometer mark, runners weave through the Port Credit Harbour Marina. Crowds really start to pick up here and thankfully I didn’t have to yell at anyone to get out of the way. Non-runners were really cool about the race cutting through this busy space as well!

This was also the part of the race where Walter Faoin passed me right around the point I needed to slow down. I knew it was Walter who was coming up behind me because he yelled out “FUCK YOU, Brooklyn!” to get me moving again. Anyone who knows Walter knows he’s not only an inspiration to many runners, he’s pretty good at motivating people when they need it most.

After passing the marina, runners enter Cumberland Drive and then back through the Waterfront Trail. For the final time in the race we had to cope with Half Marathon runners as well as non-runners walking around the marina and trail. At one point a father was yelling at his son to move to the side of the trail so runners could pass and the poor kid had no idea why his dad was so upset. At this point I knew I was making great time and it really took everything in my power to say something to the father, but I figured it would take too long to stop so I kept going.

At the 42km mark, the course takes us along Beach Street which makes a big right turn towards the finish line. At this point the number of spectators really pick-up and I noticed a bunch of friends from the running community. As soon as I saw them, I started waving my arms like a goose trying to land on a lake and started yelling, “I’m going to Boston!” over and over again. My friend Eric took a slow motion video of me and I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it afterwards. I apologize if any geese were offended in the process.

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The race ends at Lakefront Promenade Park. Runners head down a narrow stretch of path towards the finish line. I ran over 42 kilometers and can vividly recall most of it up to this point, but the last hundred meters of the race was a complete blur to me. I did notice my friends who finished the Half Marathon earlier on the side of the course, but I honestly don’t remember crossing the finish line. This is very unusual for me as I am always looking for the clock to see how I did.

After the race, my friend Rose said I appeared to stop at the timing mat and I simply walked across it. I don’t even remember doing that, but it’s hysterical!

The Results

I crossed the finish line in 3:11:17 which is 2 minutes 25 seconds faster than my personal best time I achieved at the Goodlife Marathon last Spring. As a result, I beat the Boston qualifying time by 13 minutes 33 seconds! For those wondering, I’M GOING TO BOSTON in 2018! Actually, it won’t be official until I register in September and BAA sends me the acceptance email shortly after. According to the BAA website registration will open on Wednesday, September 13 for qualifiers who have met the qualifying standard by 10 minutes, 00 seconds or more (if space remains). That’s me!

September 13th can’t come soon enough!

Now that I had some time to reflect on the race and what I accomplished, I keep asking myself if I could have done better. Absolutely I could have! I did not run a disciplined race at all. I didn’t stick to the pace plan and was really hanging on for the last 10 kilometers. The Mississauga Marathon was my 6th attempt at the marathon distance and each time I run a marathon, I feel as if I ran it for the first time. At some point, I’ll need to trust the process and my training to run a disciplined race. Perhaps I’ll give it a try at the Chicago Marathon in October.

Here are the details of my results:

  • Overall Place: 47 out of 795
  • Gender Place: 45 out of 484
  • Category Place (ages 40-49): 9 out of 156

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Post Race

After the race, I walked over to the spot where my friends watched me finish. Anna had my checked bag and I threw on my sweatpants and a jacket because the winds were really picking up and I was getting pretty cold! We waited for Daniel and Dominic to come in and unfortunately, they did not make it in the time they needed for Boston and that really broke my heart. They worked so hard and both had challenges on the course. Dominic ran Boston in 2016 and has been my inspiration to train harder ever since I met him. I know he will be back! I also know Daniel will get there as well. his work ethic is incredible! These guys truly inspire me and I am so glad they’re part of my running family.

When I finished the Goodlife Marathon last year, I was amazed at how many people said I should run Mississauga this year instead of attempting Goodlife again. While Goodlife is more convenient (the start line is really close to my home), I thought the races were very similar; both had a wicked downhill at the start, a decent climb (although the Goodlife climb is around the 5 kilometer mark) early in the race, and finally a good amount of rollers towards the middle/end of the course. Hopefully next Spring I won’t have to run either of them again!

Once everyone came in, we hopped on a shuttle back to the start and grabbed lunch and a pint to celebrate the fact we all finished in one piece.

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For fun, I’m posting the race photos from Marathon-Photos to prove I take horrible race photos!

Up Next

I’m really going to enjoy running for fun for the next few weeks. Looking ahead, my next 18-week training cycle for the Chicago Marathon would likely start on June 4th. I am racing the Brooklyn Half on May 20th, but I don’t anticipate I’ll be going for a Half Marathon PR. A course PR is a different story!

The only thing left to do now is wait until September 13th when I can enter my name and finishing time on the BAA website and find out for sure whether I’ll be going to Boston in 2018. I did book a hotel room already, so there’s that!

QOTD: Did you participate in the Mississauga Marathon or Goodlife Marathon last weekend? If so, how did you do?

 

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 17

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! We’re in the home stretch with six days remaining until the big day! I was much more anxious about this race last week, but I decided to stop reading race reports and just chill out. I’m not thinking about this race nearly as much as I was before. It’s only positive reaffirmation and vibes for the next six days!

This will be the last Mississauga Marathon training update I post on my blog. By this time next week, I’ll be working on my race report which will helpfully include some awesome news!

[ week 17 / 1 (6 days) week until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W17D02 – Steady Run – 10 kilometers/36:50/4:36 pace. We’re in full-on taper mode, so runs are starting to dip into the single digits. Feels strange mapping out routes less than 10km long! Started this run before dawn and took a few splits pretty quick while still in control and steady. When I got home, I was alerted to the fact I hit a new VO2 max! I know VO2 max data is controversial when reported by smartwatches, but I’ll take it!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W17D03 – Workout. I had to get this workout in early and headed over to the cemetery. I expecting the cemetery to be open so early and I only had to run 400s which I planned on doing on the Beltline next to the cemetery. I was surprised to see people walking through the cemetery (the gates were locked where I was running), but decided to keep the run on the Beltline and figure out how to get in at another time.

The workout was tough, but not as tough as last week’s killer workout! I was happy to hit my last 400m interval at 3:23/km!

Workout: 8 x 400m, 1:00 rest

Strava Run

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Thursday – W17D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/31:43/5:17 pace. Legs didn’t feel heavy after the hard running the last two days; this is a good thing! Took it nice and easy today. Happy with how disciplined I am during my recovery and easy runs in this plan. I was always going out way too hard on my runs during the last Spring race.

It was absolutely beautiful outside today and I got to wear my High Park Rogue Runners singlet today! I’ll be wearing this singlet next Sunday!

Strava Run

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Friday – W17D05 – Easy Run – 6 kilometers/31:18/5:13 pace. The plan called for an easy run today. I started at our home, ran around our hood, and ended up at my son’s school. I’ll do this more often in the Summer when the weather is nicer and it also gives my son an opportunity to run with me a bit.

Strava Run

Saturday – W17D06 – Long Run – 16 kilometers/1:17:16/4:50 pace. This week’s long run moved from Sunday to Saturday. I believe the purpose of this is to ensure I had enough time to recover ahead of race day. I went out a little too fast in some of my splits, but I was feeling good!

Strava Run

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Sunday – W17D07 – Easy Run – 6 kilometres/27:27/4:45 pace. Not going to lie; it was nice sleeping in a bit and only running 6 kilometers on a Sunday! Weather was really crummy today. Thankfully my race isn’t until next Sunday!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 49.4

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

T-6 days!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 16

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! Only two weeks remain in my training plan and it’s starting to feel really real! The next two weeks are going to feel like an eternity as I obsess over things outside of my control (weather) and things within my control (not getting caught up in taper madness and staying healthy)! I am starting to get anxious about race day and can’t want to get to the starting line!

Inhale…..exhale. Relax.

[ week 16 / 2 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W16D02 – Steady Run – 10 kilometers/47:37/4:46 pace. Got my early morning run in! I was working from him in the morning, so I was able to start a tad later. This meant I could run the Beltline trail which would usually be much darker if I ran earlier in the morning.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W16D03 – Workout. What a workout! After the intervals were done, my legs started shaking and I had to stop for a moment to collect myself before I ran the cool-down segment. I tried to remember the last time Coach had us do a workout without stopping between intervals and couldn’t. Even though the workout called for jogging between intervals, the legs kept moving for 5km and I was wiped when it was over.

Workout: 4 x (2:00, 1:00 jog | 1:00, 30s jog | 30s, 30s jog)

Strava Run

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Thursday – W16D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/40:51/5:06 pace. Surprisingly, my legs were a little tired from yesterday’s workout, but didn’t feel as heavy as I expected. Took it nice and easy on today’s run to keep the legs moving, but not overdo it! It was pretty chilly, wet, and windy on today’s run and it started to give me flashbacks of my marathon last May!

Strava Run

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Friday – I only missed 2-3 days of training in the previous 15 weeks due to injury. Something I’m really proud of because it’s often difficult to stay healthy during a tough training cycle; especially at my age!

I’m sad to say I missed today’s run, but thankfully not due to an injury. I came home from work absolutely wiped out. I went back and forth a dozen times trying to decide if I should drag my butt out the door to run. If I did run, it would need to be after dinner as I didn’t have time between getting home from work and picking up my son from after-care (the window I opportunity for most of my runs). At dinner, I had a glass of wine and that sealed the deal. I was even more tired than I was when I got home! Not going to dwell on it!

Saturday – W16D06 – Easy Run w/ Fartleks – 10 kilometers/46:37/4:40 pace. The plan for today was to keep it nice and easy for 6 kilometers. After missing yesterday’s workout, I decided to mix things up a bit by tacking on 4 additional kilometers and adding in some fartleks.  I have some speed work in tomorrow’s long run, but it felt good to get the legs moving a bit after missing a run.

Strava Run

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Sunday – W16D07 – Long Run – 25 kilometres/1:57:30/4:42 pace. Last long run of this training plan! Dom, Daniel, and I were joined by Anna as well as our running family from Kleinburg today! It was really awesome running with these awesome people for a bit before Dom, Daniel, and I sped up for our speed work portion of our long runs. We ran the first 8km easy, the next 10km at MP, and the final 7km easy.

Afterwards we have brunch and chatted about Boston, of course, training, and life in general. It was great to see everyone again!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 62.5

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 15

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It’s Marathon Monday! I wrote a quick blurb on my Instagram page about what this day means to me. Good luck to everyone racing in Boston today!

15 weeks down and three to go. This past week was by far my biggest week since I started running! I am feeling so good right now and can not wait to race! Let’s look back at what happened this past week.

[ week 15 / 3 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W15D02 – Steady Run – 13.5 kilometers/1:02:03/4:36 pace. The runs this week are a little longer, which means I really need to plan them out. There’s usually a small window between getting coming home from work, walking my dogs, and picking up my son from aftercare for my runs. With a 14km run scheduled today, I was fortunate enough not to have any late meetings. I also forgot to unpause my Garmin for 500m, so I ended up with 13.5km! I also ran a tad quicker than I should have!

Strava Run

Wednesday – W15D03 – Workout. I did this workout last week and forgot the last part of it. Even without that last part, it’s a tough workout! I did my workout in the cemetery today. It’s so peaceful running through there; there’s just a number of tight turns you need to navigate when your workouts stretch over 800 meters! After running yesterday’s steady run a little quicker than I should have, I was not sure I would have the legs for today’s workout. Thankfully, I was wrong and I felt great!

Workout: 2 x (1000m, 2:00 rest | 800m, 2:00 rest | 400m, 1:00 rest | 200m, 4:00 rest), 4 x 100m, 100m jog

Strava Run

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Thursday – W15D04 – Recovery Run – 12.0 kilometers/59:53/4:59 pace. Slowing down for recovery runs is one thing, but when it’s a 12 kilometer recovery run and you have things to do that don’t involve running, it can be very easy to speed up! Thankfully I kept it nice and light today! I didn’t notice any issues with my legs feeling heavy after two days of hard running; that’s a good sign, right?

Strava Run

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Friday – W15D05 – Workout. Today’s workout consisted of a light warm-up, 7 kilometers at marathon pace, and a light cool-down. I took the bookends fairly light, but did go a little quicker in the marathon pace section. I ended up running between marathon pace and half marathon pace. I still have a lot to learn about pacing!

Strava Run

Saturday – W15D06 – Easy Run – 8 kilometers/40:08/5:00 pace. Easy run today and I kept the pace nice and light. I caught some flak for posting such a serious photo on Instagram today, but I’ll chalk it up to being in the zone and ready to go! Feeling really solid after a big week and I still have a long run tomorrow!

Strava Run

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Sunday – W15D07 – Long Run – 32.4 kilometres/2:30:04/4:38 pace. WOW! What a run! Dom and I ran together for our last long ass run of this marathon training plan. Since Coach Colin called for segments of the run to be done at marathon pace and faster than marathon pace, we decided to take the run down to the Martin Goodman Trail. The plan for today’s run was to complete the first 10km at easy pace, the next 10km at marathon pace, the third 10km at easy pace, and the final 2km at faster than marathon pace. I felt great the entire time and when it came time to the last 2 kilometers, I still had enough energy to drop a 4:17/km and 4:25/km pace! In the past, I dreaded these long runs, but today, I embraced it!

Dom also had an amazing run which really has me hopeful for what we can do in three weeks!

I closed the week out with the highest kilometers I ever ran in my life. This week was such a confidence booster! I can’t wait for race day!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 86.8

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

I’m off to track a bunch of amazing people run the 2017 Boston Marathon!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 14

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! With just four weeks of training to go, it’s really starting to sink in that I am going to put all of this training to the test! Next Monday is the Boston Marathon and I can’t wait to track everyone I know who will be participating. It will also be perfect timing as I’ll be coming off my final long run of this training plan and will need a good shot of inspiration for the final weeks of training.

[ week 14 / 4 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. Feeling really good lately!

Tuesday – W14D02 – Steady Run – 12 kilometers/56:43/4:43 pace. Another early morning run for me. I’m going to the Leafs game tonight, so I won’t have time to run after work. I know, poor me! While it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be converted to an early morning runner, I do enjoy these quieter runs with less traffic.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W14D03 – Workout. Today’s workout called for long hills (500 meters), but because I had to run first thing in the morning and I didn’t want to run 3 kilometers to the closest hill, I cheated and ran up the hill down the street from me. The hills is not as long as it should be for this workout (only about 300 meters), but it will have to do. I get enough hill work running through Bloor West every Sunday! Sorry Coach!

Workout: 8 x Long (short) Hills, 4 x 400 meters | 1:00 rest, 4 x 200 meters | 200 meter jog

Strava Run

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Thursday – W14D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/43:23/5:20 pace. My glutes are really sore from yesterday’s workout! Thankfully today was a recovery run which I took nice and slow. Going to my second Leafs game of the week. For those who know me well, I will never convert from being a die-hard Rangers fan, but I do enjoy Leafs games; especially when they are trying to clinch a playoff spot!

Strava Run

Friday – W14D05 – Workout. The winds today were absolutely brutal. Coach had us doing a 12km Progression Run with a cool-down at the end (I usually add 2 kilometers as my cool-down). I battled the winds most of the run and I was flat out exhausted by the time my pace started to drop to 4:10/km. Instead of 12 kilometers, I barely hung on for 11 and then added another kilometer for my cool-down. Not the way I wanted this to play out, but it felt as if I was running with a parachute on my back the entire time!

Strava Run

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Saturday – W14D06 – Easy Run – 10 kilometers/47:01/4:42 pace. I was only supposed to run 8 kilometers today, but I added another two because I missed a couple of kilometers yesterday. My legs felt really heavy from both workouts, but I still kept the run a bit quicker than an easy run.

Earlier in the day, my wife, son and I headed over to the Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto convention Centre. I went to meet the Buddha Brands Company team and hang out for a bit to give them a hand. I’m a Buddha Brands Company Brand Ambassador and have been a huge fan of their coconut water and coconut chips. It was a lot of fun talking to people about these awesome products. While I was hanging out with the team, my wife and son were picking up products to do our part for a greener, healthier lifestyle!

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Strava Run

Sunday – W14D07 – Long Run – 27.0 kilometres/2:17:04/5:05 pace. My legs were fried from five days of running and two hard workouts. I started off feeling sluggish, but over time found my legs and dropped a few decent splits. The route was pretty hilly and a few times I actually felt myself speeding up which felt great!

It was also really great running with the High Park Rogue Runners. They’re one of the greatest bunch of people I ever met and I learned a lot running with them! I picked up a singlet in the morning which I will be proudly wearing at the Mississauga Marathon!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 78.3

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 13

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! After a super exciting week 12, this week will be pretty tame in comparison. It’s a recovery week and the lowest kilometers run since the end of Feb/beginning of March when I ran the Chilly Half Marathon. 13 weeks in the books, which means there are now 5 weeks until race day!

[ week 13 / 5 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. My right ankle is pretty sore from yesterday’s race and there is a wicked blister on my left baby toe. I popped the blister and it’s more annoying than the ankle, which is a good sign because the blister will heal pretty soon.

Tuesday – W13D02 – Steady Run – 6 kilometers/30:21/5:03 pace. Legs feel really good today. The ankle is barely bothering me, but the blister is still a little annoying.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W13D03 – Workout. This workout was pretty easy which I expected coming off a big race. Legs still felt really good and the blister on my toe is almost gone! The ankle is also feeling really good. The steady run was supposed to be 10km, but I was running out of time and needed to get back to pick up my son from aftercare. He also has keyboard lessons on Wednesdays so I don’t have a lot of time to squeeze in a run!

Workout: 4 x 200m | 200m jog, 9km Steady

Strava Run

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Thursday – W13D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/43:23/5:20 pace. Ran this one at the crack of dawn because I had a work event to attend to later in the evening. At 3 degrees, it was the chilliest day of the week. Later it was actually supposed to snow, so I’m actually glad I moved my run to the morning! Out of the way and the whole day ahead of me!

Strava Run

Friday – W13D05 – Workout. Cold, raining, and really windy. I contemplated skipping this workout, but once I reminded myself why I was training so hard, I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. The run was very wet and a little cold thanks to the heavy winds, but I got the run done! You can choose the races you want to race, but you can’t choose the weather that day. My first BQ was in awful weather, so days like this only make me stronger!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W13D06 – Rest Day – No running today which means this is really going to be a light week of running!

Sunday – W13D07 – Long Run – 20.0 kilometres/1:37:18/4:52 pace. Super easy long run today. Feels strange to only run 20 kilometers on a long run, but like I said, this is a recovery week. Need to let the muscles recover after a hard race. I would see other runners cranking out 30+km runs and think, “maybe I should be doing that;” then I realize, my coach knows what he’s doing and after smashing my first two races this year, I am confident this plan is the best I ever followed!

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Strava Run

Total kilometers this week – 55.8

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Race Report: 2017 Around The Bay 30K

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Race #2 of 2017 is in the books and this may have been my best race ever! I know I said that when I finished the Chilly Half Marathon exactly three weeks prior, but the Around the Bay 30K is a really technical course (at least the back half is!) and can be difficult to tame. Just a warning, there won’t be many photos in this race report of me running because after seeing my race photos on Marathon Photos, I could not justify spending the money to purchase them. They’re awful!

Training

Similar to the Chilly Half, this race falls within my 18-week marathon training plan. This means I treated the race as a long run (albeit a speedy long run) and I did not taper; in fact, I ran five days straight leading up to this race. My plan for the race was to run at marathon pace (MP). As of now, my planned MP for my Spring goal race is 4:25-4:30/km, but that may be adjusted now that I am feeling stronger than I did last year where I followed the same pace strategy and was very successful. I finished the 2016 Around the Bay in a time of 2:14:21. Men who finish between 2:00 and 2:15 earn a silver medal, which I did! I went into the race hopeful to improve my time, but would be equally happy if I was within reach of last year’s finishing time as that would mean I would be in really good shape for my Spring goal race.

Pre-Race

For the second race in a row, I didn’t visit the expo. My wife, son, and I had dentist appointments around Noon and I would not be able to make it out to Hamilton in time to pick-up my bib. Thankfully, Stu from High Park Rogue Runners offered to pick-up a number of bibs for the crew. This meant I only had to travel as far as Bloor and Keele to get my bib instead of Hamilton. Thanks Stu!!

The weather forecast leading up to race day was calling for rain with temps close to zero. I didn’t stress out too much about the weather and was pretty happy when I woke up and it wasn’t raining. It also wasn’t very cold so my long sleeve with singlet over top and shorts would be perfect.

I picked up my buddy Domenic at 7:30am and we headed out to Hamilton. The race was scheduled to start at 9:30am. About halfway into the drive, I started to have troubles with my car. I now know the issue was the water pump and I could have blown the engine! Thankfully, that didn’t happen! Luckily we left early, so we had plenty of time to push the car if we needed to. Kidding, I would have just left the car on the side of the road and run to Hamilton!

We arrived around 8:15am and spent the good part of 25 minutes or so trying to find a spot where we wouldn’t get ripped off (lots closer to the start were charging $20 to park, but we found a lot two blocks away charging $10). Once we parked, we headed into FirstOntario Centre to meet-up with the rest of the High Park Rogue Runners. The coolest part of the race is it ends inside the FirstOntario Centre and runners who arrive early not only avoid having to stand outside, they can get a glimpse of the finish line which ends inside the arena.

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High Park Rogue Runners! Photo Courtesy of Ricardo Medford

The Race

Again, my goal was to hold a 4:25-4:30/km pace. My buddy Daniel and I discussed running together prior to the race and we confirmed that would be the plan when Dom and I met up with him and the crew. We hung out a bit, then headed out to the start line. We didn’t even make it outside of the arena when I lost Daniel! I searched for him for a bit, headed over to my corral, searched a bit more, then decided I may as well settle in and get prepared to start. I did spot Meghan, Sam, and Stu from the crew so I moved up in my corral to run with them.

First 5km splits: 4:23, 4:19, 4:16, 4:19, 4:22

The first few kilometers of the race are pretty quick. You feel as if you’ve been shot out of a canon and it can be difficult to hold back if you’re in the red (first) or blue (second) corrals. After about 500 meters, the race makes a left turn from York Blvd onto James Street N. In the previous two years, runners head up James Street N then made a right turn onto Burlington Street E. From there it’s a straight, relatively flat run for the next 8 kilometers. This year, before making the right turn onto Burlington Street E, runners head North a few hundred meters, then turn right onto Guise Street W and wrap around Eastwood Park before making a left onto Burlington Street E. This was my third year in a row running this course and I immediately noticed the change. At one point, I turned to Sam and asked if he remembered making as many turns last year.

Someone I was running next to me pretty casually turned and said, “Hi, RunTheSix.” It turned out to be a runner I know from Instagram (hongsolooo)! I really enjoy bumping into (not literally!) people I know from the running community at races because it takes your mind off the task at hand for a bit.

The first three kilometers of the course are relatively scenic as you run through a residential area with a good number of people cheering, then you quickly hit the industrial area of Hamilton and it starts to get a little drab.

My splits at this point were a little quick, but I was barely paying attention.

Second 5km splits: 4:21, 4:23, 4:33, 4:32, 4:19

Somewhere around the 7km mark, Burlington St E turns into Nikola Tesla Blvd, but I assure you, there is nothing electrifying about this part of the race. See what I did there? The race does open up a bit as people spread out across the boulevard. At this point, Sam and I started to ease into our desired paces and we were on the heels of the 2:15 pace bunny. At one point Sam said if I tried to pass the bunny, I’d be on my own! I was in no rush and we were only 1/3 of the way into the race.

At the 8km mark, there is a 10 meter climb, something I don’t recall from previous races. I checked the elevation map on Strava and it definitely was not there in previous races. Nothing to get too worried about, but I did notice it!

The winds were also picking up a bit at this point and I distinctly remember hearing the bibs pinned to runners flapping around in the wind.

I passed the 10km mark at 45:23. A few seconds over my goal time, but in a really good spot!

Third 5km splits: 4:22, 4:14, 4:18, 4:16, 4:17

Just past the 10km mark of the race, runners exit Nikola Tesla Blvd and make a jug handle turn onto Woodward Avenue. At this point of the race, you pass the first relay runners waiting on the side of the road. There are 2-person (15km each) and 3-person relays (10km each) and they are great supporters of runners who run past while they wait for their relay partners.

After 400 meters or so, runners turn right, go under the QEW and make a quick left onto Beach Blvd. The next 6 kilometers is one of the longest stretches of the race, but one of the quietest. There are a few residents hanging out in front of their homes, but the weather usually doesn’t get a lot of people outside on this stretch!

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I started to pull away from Sam and started to push the pace. I honestly didn’t even think about it at the time; it just sort of happened. By the halfway point, I was at 1:06:01; almost 3 minutes ahead of my goal time. I had another 5 kilometers to go before the rolling hills of N Shore Blvd started to chew up runners who went out way too fast. Plenty of time to settle back into race pace!

Around this point in the race, perhaps sooner, I spotted my friend Jarek Zlamal, someone I ran with often in the past. For the remainder of the race, we ran side by side. We paced each other and kept each other honest!

It was also around this point in the race when someone pulled up next and said he recognized me from this blog. I’ve had people recognize me from Instagram, but to have someone tell me they read my blog was really awesome! We briefly spoke about the blog and our goals for this race (Marwan really wanted to run a sub-2:15 to earn a silver medal), then kept on pushing along. We ran pretty much side by side for the remainder of the race!

Fourth 5km splits: 4:14, 4:20, 4:29, 4:17, 4:13

So much for settling into marathon race pace! Just past the 17km mark, runners make a left turn onto N Shore Blvd. This is the infamous part of the race where runners get a taste of the real features of the course; the rolling hills! The elevation changes are very subtle at first, then they come on fairly strong around the 19-20km mark. The first time I ran this race, I ended up walking up the hills a few times. Last year, I ran through the hills but had a good walk or two once I exited this part of the course because I was gassed. This year, I didn’t speed through the hills; instead, I ran with the same effort up and let gravity take me down.

Around the 18-19km mark, I started spotting friendly faces on the side of the course, including Coach Colin and some of the High Park Rogue Runners. I tried my best to smile, but all I wanted to do was get past these hills and on to the biggest feature of the course, “The Hill” at Valley Inn Rd.

I hit the 20km mark at 1:28:02; 4 minutes ahead of my goal time.

Fifth 5km splits: 4:27, 4:32, 4:20, 4:24, 4:24

At this point of the race, you feel like you’ve been climbing forever. The elevation changes from 70+ meters to 107 meters over the course of the next five kilometers. Play it smart, and you’ll have enough energy for the final hill and very subtle downhill home, but don’t play it smart and you’ll be questioning your life choices for the remainder of the race.

At the 24km mark, North Shore Blvd W makes a right turn then a quick left onto Plains Road W. The second to the last climb happens when runners make a subtle left onto Spring Gardens Rd.

Final 5km splits: 4:19, 4:33, 4:25, 4:30, 4:16

At the 26km mark of the race, runners plunge 26 meters down Spring Gardens Rd and at the 27km mark of the race, runners face their final challenge before heading back to FirstOntario Centre. “The Hill” as runners affectionately refer to it, is a steady 28-meter climb that feels like it will never end. It’s not a massive hill by any means, but after running 26 kilometers, 4-5 of which were just through rolling hills, this climb feels like you’re ascending Mount Everest!

I really wanted to experience this hill because it was removed the previous two years due to construction and I was tired of people saying, “yeah, but you didn’t run Around the Bay with The Hill!”

I approached the hill like any runner should. Head up, body straight, and a steady effrot. I didn’t panic and when I finally ascended the hill, I expected the worse, so the 4:33/km pace I clocked at the 27km mark was a huge victory! No question I was gassed, so when I made the final turn, a left onto York Blvd, I did everything in my power to just run. Last year when the rolling hills of North Shore Blvd W ate me up, I walked along the medium of York Blvd for a bit before regaining some energy. This year would be entirely different.

I was starting to get really gassed at the 28km mark, but this is a very popular part of the course for spectators and race crews. Everyone from Tribe Fitness, Parkdale Road Runners, RunToBeer, and others can be seen cheering on their crewmates and other runners who need all the support they can get for that final 2-kilometer push to the finish line! At this point in the race, I wasn’t able to completely fill my lungs with air and was forced to take shorter breaths which bothered me at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. Any thought of stopping was pushed to the back of my mind.

FirstOntario Centre is clearly visible at this point of the race. Once I saw it, I knew I was almost home.

With just over 1 kilometer to go, I spotted the RunTOBeer crew and a few hundred meters later spotted the Tribe Fitness crew. I got my power-up high-five from my friend Allison (I’m losing count of the number of times Allison gave me a high-five towards the end of a race!) and the final turn taking runners inside FirstOntario Centre was now visible less than a kilometer away.

As I was huffing and puffing in the final kilometer, someone I was running next to said something to the effect of, “Hey, you’re Greenwald, right?” I don’t think my brain was able to process anything other than “RUN!” at that point, but he did mention he was following me on Strava. Thankfully he reminded me later in the comments of my Strava run. It was great to meet you on the course, David!

Somehow I dropped a 4:16 pace in that final kilometer, made a right turn into the service entrance of the arena and heard the most amazing sounds you ever want to hear towards the end of a race; especially this one. People were cheering inside the arena and someone on a PA system was calling out the names of runners entering closing in on the finish line.

A few meters later and I could finally see the finish line and the clock above. I crossed the line at 2:12:30 (2:12:16 chip). I beat last years time by about 2 minutes and earned back to back silver medals!

Marwan and Jarek came in right behind me, easily earning their own silver medals. Congrats guys!

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The Final Push. Photo Courtesy of Tribe Fitness

The Results

I lost track of the number of races I’ve done since I started racing in 2014, but I believe it’s just North of 20. In just about ever race with the exception of two I can clearly remember (Chilly Half Marathon 2016 and 2017) and possibly one 10K, I typically end up walking towards the end. In some cases it’s only for a few seconds, other times I simply stop moving and need to recover at an aid station. It’s partly my inexperience with racing and perhaps partly my respiratory or cardiovascular systems trying to keep up with my fast legs.

I didn’t stop at any point in this race and for that I am incredibly proud!

In the two previous years I completed the Around the Bay 30K race, I questioned how the hell I was going to have enough energy to run another 12 kilometers to finish a marathon. After this race, I got really excited about what I can accomplish with less than 6 weeks to go before the big race!

I love this race and will want to do it every year! If I do make it to Boston 2018, I may not want to do the 30K next year, but would be interested in doing the relay! The volunteers, course marshals, and everyone else who bring this great race to life are amazing. The Around the Bay Road Race started in 1894 and is the oldest long distance road race in North America. It’s no wonder why it’s also one of the most popular!

Last year was full of PRs, a BQ, and a ton of confidence building. This year looks to be a lot of the same with even more success. This race has me very hopeful for what I can accomplish!

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Post Race

After the race, I went down to towards the finish line to cheer on the runners. I saw a lot of people I knew and it was great to see them finish!

Dom and I met up with our friends from Kleinburg after the race. Unfortunately it took forever for our food to come and we were all getting pretty groggy, but it was great to spend the time with friends we haven’t hung out with in a while!

On the way home, my car started acting up again, but thankfully we made it home!

Up Next

In less than six weeks, I’ll be racing in the Mississauga Marathon. Everything I’m working for now will be put to the test. My goal is simple: BQ with enough time to earn a spot in the 2018 Boston Marathon. I can not wait to toe the line!

Thanks for reading!

QOTD: Did you participate in this race? If so, how did you like it?

 

 

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 12

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! I’m am on cloud nine right now after yesterday’s incredible race! It was a HUGE confidence booster and I can’t wait to get started on the race report. In the meantime, there’s still a week of training that happened, so let’s get to it! Last week I was in a leadership development program at work that ran all day so most of my runs were after dinner. Not ideal, but I got it done!

[ week 12 / 8 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W12D02 – Steady Run – 8 kilometers/37:23/4:40 pace. It’s been really windy the past few weeks and today was no better. It’s pretty difficult to maintain your pace when every now and then a gust of wind pushes you back! Better it happen during a training run than a race!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W12D03 – Workout. I totally botched today’s workout. I struggle with pacing and while this training plan has helped because I have been doing most of my runs by feel, when I need to hold a certain pace, that’s when things get wonky for me. Perhaps it was the fact I was feeling rushed, partly the fact I just ate and would much rather be relaxing after a long day, or I just plain suck at pacing, but I ended up doing the marathon pace (MP) portion of the workout at HMP. I also ran 6.4km instead of the 8km the plan called for. I doubt this will have any long term effects.

Workout: 4 x 100m | 100m jog, 8km @ MP

Strava Run

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Thursday – W12D04 – Recovery Run – 6.0 kilometers/30:50/5:08 pace. Nice and easy today! In three days I’ll be racing and since I’m not tapering for the race (it’s a training run for me!), I need to make sure I take my recovery runs nice and slow!

Strava Run

Friday – W12D05 – Steady Run.Fridays are usually workout days, but Coach Colin has me doing a steady run today to conserve some fuel in the tank. I’ve been using the workout and steady runs the week to break in my Saucony Kinvara 8s. The Kinvara has been my go-to race shoe the past 3 years and I’m really excited to see how this newest version performs. They also match my red hat really well; to me, this may be more important than PRs. LOL!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W12D06 – Easy Run – 6.0 kilometres/31:04/5:11 pace. In the past, I NEVER ran the day before a race. I know many people who do shakeout runs the day before, but I never did it because I felt as if I was wasting energy. In fact, I usually take the two days off before a race to rest. When coach had me run me run the Friday before the Chilly Half Marathon earlier in the month, I was a bit nervous about it. This time, I was REALLY nervous about running the day before a race; even if my plan was to hold MP and not go too hard. As I’ve been saying all along, sometimes you just have to trust the process!

Strava Run

Sunday – W12D07 – Around The Bay 30K Road Race – 30.0 kilometres/2:12:17/4:22 pace. In a few days, I hope to post my race report which will explain the euphoria I have been feeling from the moment I crossed the finish line. I planned on running the Around The Bay 30K road race at MP (4:25-4:30/KM). I wanted to run with my buddy Daniel to see how long he can hold that pace. It was also a good test of my fitness, but considering I smashed my half marathon three weeks prior and still feeling really strong, I wasn’t as concerned about holding the pace. I lost Daniel before the race even started and while I tried really hard to hold the pace, my legs really wanted to go. I ended up finishing with a 2 minute PB and had one of my best races EVER! Look for the race report later in the week!

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Strava Run

Total kilometers this week – 67.1

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 11

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! I had a huge week and finally hit 80 kilometers! I should have hit it a few weeks ago, but I missed a few runs after sustaining a calf injury. I’m so happy with the way this week panned out. Let’s see what happened!

[ week 11 / 7 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. Legs felt great after yesterday’s long run “race.” Very encouraging!

Tuesday – W11D02 – Steady Run – 10 kilometers/53:42/5:22 pace. It’s been a while since I hit the Beltline trail and I was excited about strapping on my Saucony Peregrine Ice again! We really got lucky this Winter; at the beginning of the season, everyone was predicting a harsh, cold Winter with a lot of snow. So far it’s been anything but!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W11D03 – Workout. I haven’t done much hill work this training plan. The first time my plan called for hill work, I was in Punta Cana and run up and down a ramp leading to the front of the resort because it was the closest thing to a hill in the area. The second time I missed the workout because of a calf injury. This time, I was not going to miss the workout. The only issue I have is the best hill in my area is 3 kilometers away; add another 600 meters to get to the bottom of the hill and you’ve already done a big warm-up!

I didn’t have much time, so I had to improvise by removing a hill repeat from the first and second round of hills. Still, the workout was a killer! It’s been really windy in Toronto this week, so that added to the challenge!

Workout: 4 x long hills (500 metres), 4 x 400m | 1:00 rest, 2 x long hills

Strava Run

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Thursday – W11D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/40:49/5:06 pace. I’ve been nailing my recovery runs in this training plan, but today’s run felt a bit off. My heart rate was a bit higher than I would have liked and I’m not sure if it was due to the nasty headwinds or something else. Still felt pretty good! The temps were on the plus side for a change, so I decided to protest all this wind by wearing shorts!

Strava Run

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Friday – W11D05 – Workout. I’m really starting to enjoy progression runs and I think today’s run was my best yet! The progression is much smoother than my previous attempts which I am really happy about! It’s still pretty difficult to maintain the specific paces I need along the way, but it’s starting to get a little easier!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W11D06 – Easy Run – 8.0 kilometres/40:23/5:03 pace. Ran this a little faster than I would have liked, but still kept the pace over 5:00 so I can’t really complain. Always remember, easy runs are supposed to feel easy!

When I came back from my run, my wife surprised me by making coconut balls from the Buddha Brands Company website! They were absolutely amazing!

Strava Run

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Sunday – W11D07 – Long Run – 30.0 kilometres/2:29:31/4:57 pace. Hammered out a really great long run with my buddies Dom and Daniel. It’s been a few weeks since we ran 30 kilometers, so it was great to get the mileage in today. The weather was nearly perfect, a little cool at the start with some icy patches, but it ended up getting warmer as the day went on. At one point, we stopped to take a photo at a mural and my buddy Daniel noticed a nail piercing his Saucony Kinvara 7s! Fortunately, it didn’t hit his foot!

I finished the week off with 82.5 kilometers; the most kilometers I ever run in a single week! Next Sunday is Around the Bay, my last test before my goal race in May! Wish me luck!!!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 82.5

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!