Monday, 6 May 2013

Toronto Half Marathon- race recap

I will start this post saying that I am thinking of and praying for the family of  Emma van Nostrand of Cape Breton NS who died Sunday while running her first marathon in Toronto.  Emma had run several half marathons and this was her first marathon, which she was running with her parents. 

Also in my thoughts and prayers are our niece and nephew and the rest of our family in New Zealand.

So long before I had ever run my first half marathon, I had a plan to run at least 3, the Army Run, the Disney Wine and Dine and the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon weekend.   The Army Run would be to finish upright and smiling, the Disney Wine & Dine would be for fun and the Toronto Half would be for Team Diabetes and for time.  I completed the first 2 as planned and in January I started my training for the third.  I knew I would have challenges training for this Half Marathon but I was determined. I knew it would be challenging because I was training in winter and in Ottawa, the winter means I spend a lot of time running alone on my treadmill.  Also the  January to April training schedule would coincide with my busiest work months but I was ready.  I saw this on someones Facebook wall in January and laughed...maybe I shouldn't have. 

January was a struggle, adjusting to a new coach and training plan, I was being tested in ways I had not considered and I was not sure if I could actually do it.  In February an injury sidelined me and my training plan, no running for 4 weeks.  All I was able to do was swim 3 times a week and spin once a week.  I had resigned myself to walking my Half Marathon for Team Diabetes, they would come first.  I decided to part ways with my coach, there was no point wasting her time or mine and suddenly my calf came right and I could run again.  I was advised to keep my running to a minimum, no more then 3 times a week; that and swimming 3 times a week would have to be enough. I had 6 weeks to get it together, I hoped it would be enough.  

In January I set a time goal of 2:20 or less for this run, 15 mins less then my Army Run time.  I ordered a personalized pace band from a company that would be at the expo and planned to execute it.  Well I have learned that things never go as planned and that was certainly the case this time.  We had trained in one of the snowiest Winters and coldest Springs in years and then a week before the race, summer arrived and the race day temperature was scheduled to be 22-25C and sunny.  OK I told myself, have a  backup plan and do the best you can on race day.  I went to Toronto with my friend Barbara (who was running her first Marathon) a few days before the race, time to relax and see a show.  We had a great day Saturday and before we turned in for the night I decided to check my Facebook one more time, I wish I had not. Some bad news from home was not what I expected the night before my race and now that I knew, I had to do the best I could to compartmentalize and focus on my race, there would be time for sadness later.  

Race day came and we went to the start line for the start of the marathon, I saw Barbara off for her run and headed back to the hotel to get myself ready.  I was trying to focus on running for Team Diabetes and my friends with Diabetes whose names I had written on my tank.  I added one more name to my tank, read an email from Neale and headed off.  Standing on the start line in my tank top, already sweating from I heat, I knew it would be a hot run but I would do the best I could.  I was told that this race course was flat and downhill, yeah right, there were more then enough hills to be run and I had not done enough hill training.  Despite all the obstacles  I beat my 10K split time per the pace band for my time goal by 30 seconds and was on target up to 15K and then the "SUCK" happened.  I had experienced the "SUCK" before in the Army Run, I had hoped to avoid it this time.  

That is what I kept telling myself before the race, I would not let the last 5K beat me this time.  Well lets just say it did not beat me totally but I did not conquer it either.  I ran the last 5K non-stop but way off my goal pace and I sure did not feel great doing it.  It was hard running in downtown Toronto with the traffic fumes, the heat and the street hazards,  cracked pavement, TTC rails and stupid people trying to cross the street ( trying to run here, get the Fu@K out of my way).  

Eventually the finish line came into view and I saw I was in reach of my back-up goal, a time under 2:25 and I sprinted the last 500m, it is the closest I have ever come to throwing up at the end of the race.  Once I crossed the finish line, the tear flowed and I finally had a moment to mourn the lose of our sister-in-law, whose death I had read about on Facebook the night before.  She will be missed by so many, especially our niece Kirsten and nephew Adam. RIP Karen, we loved you.

The final result was 2:24:43 and a pace of 6:52.  Barbara finished her first marathon with an awesome time, I was so proud to be part of her day.  

Next up is 10K in Halifax on May 19th.  Lots of hills that I am not ready for but I will do the best that I can and try to have fun....and a donair ....and more then a few beers with my friends.


  1. Im so sorry to hear of your loss, Allyson. What a heavy heart and mind to conquer while running! The fact that you persevered, through all of the obstacles and where your heart and mind must have been is a testament to your character. Well done! Sorry again, to all who love Karen.

  2. Loved reading that, love race day reports, takes you there :) So very proud of you, not an easy race at all. I loved that you said "get the F3ck of out my way" too by the way I always think or even say that when someone dumb does that. Well done, very well done :)

    1. Katie, you would have LOVED the guy who went off on the cop that let cars go through an intersection as we were crossing it. We had to slow down or be run over. He went right up to him and yelled, surprised he did not get arrested.

  3. Gosh I'm an ass, I was so focused on the race deets, I missed the sad part :( Very sorry you had to run with the loss of a family member on your mind.

    1. I would never think that Katie. I tried really really hard not to think about it until after the race. There was nothing I could do about it, so I focused on what I could do.

  4. So, SO very sorry to hear about your loss and yet so very VERY proud of you and what you overcame these past few months! You truly are an inspiration. (Hugs)