Race Report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon:

On Sunday October 20th I ran my fourth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because of where it occurs in my training schedule it is a race that I have always used for pacing and this year was no different – sort of.

What was different is that since May I have been training with a new team, the RUNWAY,  and so my race strategy was a little more specific then it has been in previous years. With the goal of a personal best at this weekends Road to Hope Marathon, I was under specific directions to run my full marathonrace pace during this half marathon – no faster, no slower – and this was hard – not physically hard, mentally hard.

My plan was simple, stick to a 5:30 pace and keep my walk breaks (which were every 20min -ish) to 30 seconds and come in at 2 hours – no faster, no slower. I came in at 2:00:59.

What was hard about this race was the mental game. I knew I could run faster – but the goal of this B race was to set myself up for success this weekend, for my A race.


The Tribe

So with this Mental Challenge in mind, here are 3 tips for overcoming the mental game while pacing at a race.

1. Have a Solid Understanding of Your Goal aka Run Your Own Race. I was mentally challenged for almost the entire race knowing I could run faster but shouldn’t. But because I knew the importance of keeping this pace I didn’t and no matter how frustrating it was – especially when all, yes all, of my friends ran personal bests, I held back and focused on my goal – slow and steady. So the lesson, don’t be worried if you see a lot of people passing you, run your own race!

2. Start Slow. My previous plan was to just go! I would get caught up in the energy and excitement and even after 6 years of racing and 4 marathons, I would always burst out to fast. But not this time! I used my Nike + SportWatch and kept pulling back and slowing down to 5:30, because that was the plan. So the lesson, listen to your body but take it slow. Remember the goal is to race the entire run, not just the first 2km. So take it slow, and know your body with thank you during the last few kms.

Now I ended up running this race with my friend Jenna, it wasn’t the plan but my pace worked for her race speed (gave her a PB) and the company was nice. So pretty much I broke this last rule, but will definitely be sticking with it this weekend.


Jenna and I, the Faster Dynamic Duo

3. Don’t Get Caught in the Hype. I like to chat, love saying thanks, and enjoy jumping and dancing around on course celebrating my run. When your race is for fun it’s great to get into the groove of the event, when you have a specific goal in mind, that’s where your energy needs to go. So the lesson, stay as calm as possible, resist the urge to high five spectators, bottom line is conserve your energy for the race. My exception – always find time to give thanks.


The Finish Line


Race Report: Goodlife Toronto Marathon

What a scorcher! May 5th marked my first marathon of the season and boy was it a hot one! My goal this year is to race two marathons (up from my 1 a year habit for the past 3 years) so I’m half way there!goodlife_tm_logo

My training for this race actually started in January with my Around the Bay the training. So it was a race 5 months in the making.

The expo for this race was well organized but rather small. They didn’t provide plastic or reusable bags which is great for the environment, but not for the arm fulls of gear people were carrying around – although that being said maybe it worked better for the exhibitors as everyone I was with bought something in order to get a bag for the walk home.

TM4The race started up at Mel Lastman Square. When registering you had the option of buying ($5) a shuttle ticket to be taken up to the start line from Ontario Place (where the race finished). We didn’t do this and bright and early at 6:15am Mark drove us up to the top of the city. We hung out at a mall across the street which wasn’t officially open, but the staff had propped open one of the doors, so we along with a couple other runners, entered taking advantage of the empty bathroom.

My goal for this race was to get my pacing under control as well as my mind games – my plan was to choose to accept how I was feel and be happy with that. For my past two races I felt that I started way to hard, and knowing that this was the long haul I really wanted to manage my pace (I did a better job, but still have room to improve).

I found my spot between the 3:50 and 4hrs pace bunnies and once the race started was happy with my pace as i took on the first 5km. I was using my nike+ watch for my overall time and a Running Room wrist band to watch my pace. At 5km this giant hill I had been anticipating, but had no clue how hard it would actually be (think an even steeper Valley Inn) came and I tried to keep my pace and simply pushed way to hard. My glutes were on fire as I kept on pushing and when I got to the top was just zonked. My pace dropped as I tried to connect back to my body and it certainly took me a while to recoup.

TM5After that hill I remember people holding signs and shouting that it was all down hill from there – it wasn’t – there were a dozen rolling hills which always seemed to come out of nowhere.

By 13km I dropped behind my peeps but did not let it get to me. I was glad to run my own race and to listen to my body. For the next 10km, I slowly moved away from my A+ goal and towards my A goal. I would have moments of “I’m so slow” but would quickly catch myself and realize I was still on track for a PB and my A goal, so snapped out of it and kept running.

By 23km the race was hot. I saw 3 people pass out and the sounds of emergency vehicles were happening more often then I had heard in any other race.

As I started to feel the heat and fatigue taking over I really tuned into my body, I knew I was loosing my A goal and then slowly my PB but I didn’t mind.  I chose to be where I was and just enjoy the race – I loved racing in NYC because there was no pressure, I was running for fun – so at this point I decided to let go of any pressure – listen to my body, enjoy the gorgeous day and run for fun.

TM1I began stopping at ever other fuel station, I was dumping water into my hat to keep me cool, refilling my belt bottles, and in not that long found myself running down towards Ontario Place.

The route is a bit of a tease as you run behind the finish area and still have another 15km out and back to go. I wasn’t totally sure where the turn around was but knew I’d be heading over the Humber bridge. While running along the waterfront I was happy to run into my friend Vince who had been out on a long ride, while he was taking pics (this pic) I shouted for him to pace me and after a few minutes on my own there he was. He definitely pushed my pace being on his bike but gave me some great company for about 4km (can’t wait to see our race photos!). I then took on the remaining 7km alone.

I was still feeling the heat but after the turn felt energized that the end was near. At this point I wasn’t even looking at my watch – I knew where I was headed and couldn’t wait to get there. It wasn’t until I hit up one of the final water stations (about 5km from finish) and they had run out of cups, that I even realized how far off my goal I might be. The high school volunteers were standing there with the hose apologizing profusely that they had no cups. I didn’t mind, I just grabbed the hose they were holding, sprayed myself down and kept running.

TM6Around 3km one of our family favourite songs came on and I was driven to the finish. I was totally energized, felt great about where I was and picked up the pace. The heat only continued to get worse, so the drenched tank top came off and I laughed at myself remembering how my run peeps had joked about the awkwardness of run belts with only a sports bra on – and I was doing it.

With about 2km to the finish the crowd support was HUGE. The route was lined both sides with TONS of people and it was amazing and energizing, and again I picked up the pace – according to my GPS this pace was as strong as my start.

I saw my family, my friends from lululemon, then heard the cheers of my newest run community The Runways (this was very special as I had only run with this crew for not even a month – so to hear and feel their support certainly meant a lot). Runway run coach Darren even joined me for the 200m run towards the shoot.

ITM2 turned the corner and there was the big finish, I took my soaked tank off from where I had been carrying it looped on my arm and swung it around my head as I crossed the finish line. The crowd got was cheering and I finished feeling amazing.

I didn’t meet my goal time – this was my second fastest marathon to date – but I listened to my body and didn’t let my emotions get the best of me and that made this race a success.

toronto marathon.

Toronto Yonge Street 10km Race Report


On Sunday, April 21, 2013 I joined over 7,000 runners in downtown Toronto and I ran my first Yonge Street 10k. It was a lot of fun, very fast, and  I cannot wait to run it again next year.

photo(1)I was honoured to be asked early on to become one of their Digital Champions which meant I was blogging and tweeting about my experiences leading up to the race and during the many community runs. That being said I had already paid my race fee prior to the race as part of my training plan to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon, if you want to race fast…then you have to race fast! Overall the organization,  course, and pre and post race festivities were a lot of fun.

photo(2)With some of my Toronto running family we hit up the pre-race Friendship run and did the shake out 3km on Saturday morning. There were about 20 other runners there with the staff from the Running Room. We had a wonderful run through a random April blizzard  and enjoy post run treats provided by sponsor Subway. We grabbed our race kits and took part in many of the expo festivities which also included a “spin-the-wheel” Commit To Fit adventure where I challenged a giant sandwich to a push up contest – I won a $5 Subway gift card, yum!

Race morning was FREEZING. Like many of the other runners we wore our yellow and blue in support of Boston and took part in the moment of silence prior to the race. The fast 10km starts just North of Yonge and Eglinton and with only 2 small hills at 1 and 2km in it’s all down hill.

photo(3)I started off to fast (still working on that trick) and by 6km was starting to slow down. Happily I finished (like MANY other) with a personal best in a time of 49:02. This was my first time racing a 10km run in 2 years, so while I was happy for the PB, I love running downhill and look forward to better pacing next year and shaving even more time off.

The post race festivities at Fort York, were full of fun and food. Live music played, there were opportunities to get your race shift personalized, and shuttle buses to take you back to the race start if that was where you need to go (very thoughtful).

I would highly recommend this race to any Toronto runners. Whether you’re looking for a nice 1st race or the opportunity to crush a PB, this one’s for you!