That sub 2 hour half marathon is so close…
Today was to be my 1st time participating in the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, put on by the Running Room (it was the event’s 20th anniversary). In the past, basketball tournaments conflicted, but this year, I decided to sign up anyway (and missed the Flamborough Fire Major Bantam Boys’ bronze medal game in the Grimsby tournament because of it – sigh).
The weather forecast for this morning’s 10:05 AM start was perfect – around the freezing mark, with very little wind (enough to eventually force me to carry my hat), clear, dry roads, and sun!
With a late race start, I was able to sleep in until 7:30, which was great after last night’s late basketball game! I had already picked up my race bib and shirt on Thursday evening at Mercedes-Benz Burlington (no race day pick-up), so I didn’t need to arrive too early. I parked in one of the many City of Burlington public lots, and didn’t even pay a cent (no charge on the weekend). There were also shuttle buses to/from some local hotels, and also to/from the Aldershot GO station.
Just after 8:30 I arrived at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, where runners could stay warm pre-race and use the bathrooms. I might have lined up multiple times. I kept an eye out for my friend John, who, along with my husband and I, made up team JAK’d for the Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon relay last summer (he was our runner). Unfortunately, I never did spot him (I found out later that he didn’t make it inside because of a race bib problem!). I checked my bag and made a small donation (not sure who the money was going to, but there were cadets manning the bag check).
Runners were to head to the start line for 9:40 for opening ceremonies – one start line for the half marathon runners, and one for the Frosty 5k runners. I stopped to use a portapotty on the way to the start line, which took about 15 minutes because of the huge lineups! I made it there with 5-10 minutes to spare before the race was to begin, and found myself a spot behind the 1:55 continuous pacer but ahead of the 2:00 run/walk pacer. I was hoping to finally finish sub 2 hours.
O Canada was sung, and before too long, the ran began!
It was one of the slowest starting races I’ve ever been in – we walked pretty much right to the timing mat at the start line before we were able to run. The course started at City Hall on Brant Street, went south to Lakeshore, west to Beach Road, along Beach Road and back, east on Lakeshore, turned almost at Burloak, continued along Lakeshore until Brant, and finished back at City Hall. It was pretty flat, with some gradual uphills and downhills along Lakeshore.
I started out too quickly – as usual – running the first kilometre in 5:10. I knew I had to slow down. I did, but not by much for the next couple of kilometres. At the beginning of the race, I ran for a couple of hundred metres just behind Kat Clewley, who runs backwards (for the heck of it)!
By 2k, I had to remove my gloves, and by 4k, my headband. I would have been comfortable in a t-shirt and running jacket. I felt good at the start, but soon realized that today my legs just didn’t have speed in them, and after the first 4k, I started slowing down. I felt physically tired, and didn’t have the mental strength to make myself go faster. By 8k, which is about where I had a gel, I gave up on a PB and started treating the race as a training run. I hadn’t closely looked at the course beforehand, so it seemed a very long time before we reached the turnaround on Lakeshore. I imagined quitting but there was no way I was going to do that. I walked through a couple of aid stations so that I could drink – mostly water, but at least once the awful orange gatorade. There were lots of aid stations and opportunities to drink (and use portapotties) during the race.
The last 8k seemed to take forever. At some point the 2:00 run/walk pacer passed me, and then later, the 2:05 pacer. I half expected the 2:10 pacer to pass me too! This was turning into a pretty disappointing race, in particular after running a 5:24 min/km 8k and 5:23 min/km 10k recently. At one point, a side stitch was so painful that I had to stop to walk for about a minute.
At 19k, a woman on the side of the road said to me, “Are you Alasdair’s wife?” and I replied, “Yes.” She said, “Awesome! Go Koalas!” I have no idea who she was! Thank you, whoever you are!
In those last few kilometres, my pace times were as slow at 6:24. I did pick it up for the last kilometre, and in the end, finished in a disappointing 2:07:59, almost 7 1/2 minutes slower than my half marathon PB (2:00:31).
Just past the finish line, runners were given apples, oranges, granola bars, juice boxes and water. I didn’t take advantage of the free chili and beer offered at four local restaurants after the race, nor did I watch the free concert happening at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre this afternoon. I was ready for a shower and dry warm clothes!
Time: 2:07:59 (6:04 min/km)
Women 40-44: 96/184
All women: 592/1099
All runners: 1433/2155
The medal is quite nice – a spinning red chili pepper. The long sleeved zip shirts are awesome!
I will definitely tackle this race again – hopefully, with better results!