Race Report: Chilly Half Marathon

On Sunday March 5th I did my first race of the season, the first of 4 half marathons on the schedule, the Chilly Half Marathon.

My training hadn’t been ideal after a week+ with the flu and a couple weeks away from the long run because of work, so personally my expectations weren’t high – my coach on the other hand expected much more and left me with two words as I approached the start line  “be aggressive”. FYI: Me and “aggressive” don’t have a great relationship. I hate having to “sit” in the uncomfortable feeling of a “push” and to do it for up to 2 hours – no thanks! So I really wasn’t excited about what was in store.


My goal pace according to coach was 5:30, the goal pace I set for myself was 5:40. I ran the first 2 km easily. It was FREEZING cold (like seriously why is this race always SO COLD). And when I’d look at my watch my pace was around 5:20, I knew in the end I might be paying for it being to tired, so found myself going between thoughts of slowing back to 5:30 (which I did), and just running at that pace because it felt OK. I kept my eye on my watch and kept trying to slow myself down.


There was a head wind after the first turn as we headed back towards downtown Burlington along the beach strip. It was cold and windy and felt tough. The crowds in the downtown area were lively as we made our way along the short rollers. This course is a double out and back with one side being much longer. This has advantages and disadvantages as it’s a long time without any turns of excitement. So good, because it’s quick and easy to know where you are, bad because it’s sometimes boooring.

I started to feel some pain/tightening in my left inner thigh around 12km, then my left glute, and eventually my left ITband. As I haven’t been feeling great my strength training hasn’t been consistent and my little weaknesses are starting to add up. I just kept focusing on my knee lift and keeping my left ankle (the one I sprain all. the. time.) straight, something I’ve been working on with the Runners Academy for the past three weeks. I’ve found recently during my training runs that focusing on better running form is making me faster – because I’m running more effectively, although I need to keep it in mind until it becomes second nature. My plan: whenever my watch would beep for km or I thought of it I’d count myself 30 seconds of a stronger knee left during my stride.

Around 17km I started to slow down (5:39- so not actually as slow as I thought). I got passed by some friends I started with and began regretting the 5:20 at the start thinking it was doing me in. I started doing my numbers like crazy in my mind – knowing I might be close to my 1:55 if I could just get myself back under 5:30. My mind was racing to make this happen. Be Aggressive.

I ran upon this old dude who seemed to be holding a solid 5:25, so tucked in behind him like a shadow and held on and it felt ugly.

My brain kept trying to convince me to slow down – as I mentioned, I am pretty sure I intentionally do everything I can to avoid that uncomfortable spot I need to be in to “be aggressive”.

After two km behind this old dude and only 2 km to the finish I pulled ahead and turned my music on crazy loud to get to the end. I don’t usually run with music – spent 4 years not, but I did in Barbados and it was a good distraction for my brain to disconnect from my body. My finish line jam – click here.

So I grinded out that last km at 5:16 and finished at 1:56 (a 5:30 pace – guess coach knows) – just off my personal best, a time set here in 2013 for my seconded fastest half marathon.

I’m happy with how I raced. I’m glad that I now have an accurate race pace to apply to my training, and I look forward to this upcoming season and finally chasing down that PB.


Chilly Half Marathon Race Report

On Sunday March 3rd, I kicked off my 2013 race season with a brisk – very very brisk – half marathon, The Chilly Half Marathon. As it’s so close to my hometown, I was fairly familiar with this race as a tune up event before the Around the Bay Road Race (end of March), and as one of my goals is to race more this year, I figured I’d sign up.

The Route:

I was told the route was fast and flat, a better description would’ve been fast with rolling hills – about 16km of them actually. I checked the route and knew we were headed for 2 out-and-backs, wasn’t to sure of the distance of each, but being along the waterfront I wasn’t to concerned. It was nice to be near the water and also run through the residential area of Lakeshore Rd. The giant houses provided lots of look at, and apart from the rollers, it was quite a pleasant route.

Race Kit Pickup:

Kit pick-up was very easy. It was located at the The Waterfront Hotel in Downtown Burlington, parking was for a fee, but i didn’t pay (he he). The vendors were minimal, mainly the sponsors, but lots of samples and opportunity to grab last minute gear if needed. There was no line when I arrived and everything was very well marked.


I was surprised with the amount of swag included with this race. We received a sparkly chilli medal, jacket in either men’s or women’s sizing, and a chilli cowbell.  There was fuel along the route provided by eload, free coffee prior to the race, and free post race chilly at a number of local restaurants.

How Did I Do?:

I wasn’t to sure how my first race of the season will be. I only raced three times last season and two were with a group.  I’ve been training on my plan which will hopefully have me qualifying for Boston in November. I’ve bumped my 15:1s up to 20:1s and in training runs it has been going well. I was very cold before the race started. There wasn’t really an inside to hang out in and we were asked to be at the start line for 9:30 (races start 10:05). My goal for the race was to finish in 1:54min, and while I felt challenged by the pace I was happy to finish in 1:55:07. This is a personal best for me, beating my last PB in a half which was two years ago. The rollers were killer, but with my Around the Bay training I felt prepared physically, although maybe not mentally. I am happy with the start to my 2013 season.

What Else:

The race is smaller than many in the GTA, so one of the benefits (and something Burlington did really well), was the connection made to the community. It seemed as though the entire downtown was involved in race day and the after party.  Lots of fan support on route (most wear snow pants and ski jackets – brrr it was cold!). A few more musical acts would’ve helped to pass the time and liven things up. There was plenty of free parking and many portva-potties. Definitely a fun and chilly half.