Accomplished a few firsts today...first race with more then 200 folks, first time running in Toronto and first time doing a Half Marathon!
The day started very early, the alarm was set for 3:00 am. As is usual I had trouble sleeping, managed about 4 hours and woke up at 02:20 pumped and ready to go! I totally skipped my normal morning routine, I quickly dressed and out the door I flew at 02:45. Stopped twice en route at 03:00 am I hit Tims in Durham, Large Coffee, OJ and an everything Bagel toasted with Butter. I also brought home made Oatmeal cookies ... now my new super weapon food! Munched on them with the coffee. Made another stop in Orangville, another large coffee and I was off.
Arrived in the city at 05:00, I was going to park in the lot where some friends were staying but it was closed. I made my way up to Nathan Philips Square and found the North Entrance to the parking lot, literally right under the race ! I walked down York St to the Strathconna Hotel and met up with Ed and Gordon. Ed had picked up my race kit for me the day before. We sat in the lobby for about 30 minutes chatting and getting ready then we made our way up York at 06:45. Folks were just starting to make their way to the starting corals, there was the Elites, Red, Yellow, Blue then another colour then Purple in the back. If you didn't put down a time you ended up in the Purple coral. Walked with Ed and Gordon to there respective starting point , that would be the last I saw of them until after the race. I made a quick trip to the bathroom and made my way top the Yellow gate at about 07:15. By starting time it was wall to wall runners , a thousand in front of me and at least ten thousand behind. I guessed that my time would be 1:45. The Yellow coral was for those folks that would do the half in 1:35 to 1:49, I made sure I was at the back of the Yellow pack!
The race started at 07:30, it took me a 2 minute walk just to make it to the Start Finish. As I got close to the mat all the heads started bobbing and down as folks were able to run. The sound of all those soles hitting the pavement was unlike anything I have every heard , kinda like a human rain sound. It was elbow to elbow first few Ks, I had to be careful not to step on anyones heals. After the 3K mark things started to spread out a bit but there was always someone within arms reach. We weaved our way East and then South though the downtown then ended up heading West on Lake Shore. The pace picked up a bit and I was running around a 4:30K, I put the brakes on and slowed down to a 5:00 pace where I would pretty much be for the rest of the race. At 5K I took my shirt off and started on the Sport Beans. I didn't stop at any aid stations , I brought a bottle of Heed which I figured would be just enough for the 21.1k. The first half was relatively uneventfull, passing over the Gardener was fun, folks were honking at the runners. Turned 10.55K at 52:14... perfect pacing maybe a wee bit fast but I was satisfied. I started to feel a bit tired but managed to maintain a 5:00 pace. At around 18K the Marathon and Half Split , I really enjoyed the last few Ks. I really thought I was picking up the pace but as it turned out I was actually maintaining the 5:00 pace , my perception was a little different then the reality. With 3K to go I spotted the 1:45 pace bunny a couple to hundred meters ahead , I spent the next 1.5K catching up to him and then continued to pass him. All I could hear was chants and cheers for the Bunny all the way up Bay St, now and again the cheers got closer to me so it was a real motivator to pick it up again .... there was no way that I was going to be passed by him !!! There was a big young fellow, mid 20s I had been following for the last couple of Ks. Had to pick someone to race at the end and he was my target! After 1km of GO BUNNY I was down to the last few hundred meters. At 200m I started to pick it up and with 50m to go I passed my target and crossed the mat in 1:44:48 ..... beat the Bunny and the Big Guy!
At first I was pumped that I had a negative split as it turns out I was wrong , it worked out to 52:14/52:33 DARN... I so wanted a negative split ... close but at least I was close and I did break my 1:45 goal . I was satisfied ! Got a nice medal , a foil blanket and after a half K walk a Bagel and Water. I quickly proceed to the catwalk above the start finish and watched the sea of humanity crossing the finish line! Got a real thrill watching the Elite Marathon Runners finishing.
Overall a great day, I would like to return next year for the Full Marathon. Go BUNNY !