Well, today was the big day. After months of training and preparation, runners from around the world descended upon downtown Toronto for the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (or half-marathon, if you’re like me).

And all things considered, it was a truly excellent event. I am grateful to the race directors and organizers who put on a phenomenal run today. So how did it go?

Warming Up for STWM

Despite an ominous forecast, I was delighted to wake up at 6:30am to dry pavement. I couldn’t believe it. The only other half-marathon I’ve run was earlier in the year, in the rain. I didn’t sleep very well, but that’s to be expected. So I had a coffee, a few slices of toast and chilled out for 90 minutes or so before sauntering over to the race start line on University Avenue.

It was awesome to step outside this morning and see runners everywhere. Race participants were congregating towards the finish line, and as expected it got busier and busier the close we got to the starting line. Due to a last-minute pee-break, I started at the back of the yellow corral. This would prove to be a slight mistake, but it really was no big deal. I was just happy to be standing in the crowd, soaking up the vibes. And then we were off.

By this point, the clouds overhead had started to telegraph their intentions. And we were running through a bit of a mist for the first few kilometres. Memories of the Goodlife half-marathon earlier in the year came rushing back.

ScotiaBank Toronto Half-Marathon Run Report

The #STWM marathon and half-marathon routes were awesome. I felt good shuffling up University Avenue and through Queen’s Park. Being a the back of the corral led me to a slightly slow part. By the time we turned on to Bloor Street, my legs were warm and I was settling into my pace.

Unfortunately I started my NikeRunClub app a bit early. Due to the rain, I wrapped my phone in a ziplock bag and stuffed it into my arm band a few minutes before crossing the start line. The delay was a bit longer than expected and this messed up my split times, especially at the beginning.

Nonetheless, I was glad I’d wrapped up my phone, because the skies started to open up as we turned the corner down onto Bathurst. I leaned into the slight downhill and just tried to keep my steps quick, without increasing my breathing. While I was eager to see if I could set a PR for this run (1:52), my main goal was to run a consistent base and be aware of my breathing. My plan was to go steady for most of the race and try to turn it up towards the end.

One of my favourite parts of the run was turning onto the Lakeshore section. Near the Enercare Centre, I was amazed to see the elite marathoners already on their way back from the long loop out. It was truly amazing, inspiring and exciting. I did my best to stay focused on my breath despite the heat of the moment.

On the run out West towards High Park, and back to the city, I did my best to perform consistently and keep my pace steady. By this point, the initial bad split times were pretty much factored out of my average pace per kilometre, so in addition to listening to my breath I was reassured but the voice in my ear that the pace was consistent.

From there, we steadily snaked back East down Lakeshore. I started trying to crank up my speed a little during the final 3-4 kilometres. I was relieved to see my friend at the cheering station at the base of Bay street. And I felt invigorated to try and push faster up the final Bay Street incline. Another well-wisher 250m from the finish line provided the final boost of inspiration for me. So how did I do?

Toronto ScotiaBank Half Marathon Race Results

Well, I didn’t set a PR. And with a little reflection, maybe that wasn’t realistic. I’ve since realized the Goodlife half-marathon I did earlier in 2016 was a much faster course. There was a lot more downhill in that race, and I was hard-pressed to make up the time on this flatter course.

But overall, I’m very happy with my run. I snuck in under 2 hours, and I felt great most of the way. I need to learn to drink water and Gatorade out of a cup while running. And if anything, I probably drank too much. But I did a good job running consistently, and I’m confident I can keep improving my aerobic base. All of my 5KM split times were consistent, and the final split had the fastest pace. So with that in mind, I think I can be happy

However, now that this big end-of-the-season event is done, you might be wondering what’s next. Well, I am too! My first goal is going to be to get comfortable with outdoor winter running here in the city – that’s something I’ve never done much of. And then if that goes well, I might plan to try the 30km Around The Bay Run in Hamilton in March 2017. For now though, it’s time to eat an entire pizza and lie on the couch.

Congratulations to everyone who ran this year’s ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It was a wonderful day, and thank you to all the volunteers and cheerers who came out to offer support to the runners. Everyone was wonderful and I look forward to taking part in this event again next year.