Scotiabank Half Marathon Pacer Report

on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Did the Scotiabank Waterfront half marathon as the 1:45 pacer again this year.  This is the 6th year that I've done it.  Wow that's seems like a long time.  In previous years I've had to do the run/walk thing and in talking with the pace bunny organizer last year, it was decided that it would be switched to a continuous one this year.  I think when I first bunnied this race, the Running Room were going to be the original sponsors of the pacing team and there was a desire to provide as many run/walk bunnies as possible since the Running Room is a big fan of the run/walk system.  The biggest questions I've gotten in years past was whether there was a 1:45 continuous bunny and so finally I wouldn't have to answer that.

As a pacer, the sponsor, Brooks provides a free uniform which consists of a bright neon green T-shirt, a pair of shoes, a hat, a pair of shorts and a pair of socks.  I didn't actually get the socks this year. When we went to pick up the gear, the only socks they had were white socks with pink trim which were supposedly for the women.  Oh well, not  a big deal.  I decided this year to order one of the most expensive shoes they had as my free pair.  In previous years, I just got the Adrenaline GTS which is the Brooks shoe that I'm most familiar with, but last year when I almost pulled out of pacing, I realized that if I pulled out they were going to charge me $150 so if that were to happen again, I was going to make sure I got my money's worth so I ordered the Adrenaline ASR GTX which is a trail shoe which retails for $180. It's supposed to be waterproof and has Gortex material in it.  I think it will make a good winter running shoe and it looks cool too.  I also looked at the Brooks Transcend which is $190 shoe.  It's a stability shoe but is extremely light.  Maybe next time.

As Brooks is a sponsor, each of the pacer's is obligated to do an hour shift at the Brooks store at the Expo. I ended up going down Friday night after work.  We had our own little pacer booth setup with couches and stuff near the exit where we would answer questions.  I had a few people commented on the continuous switch this year so it appears to have been a sticking point with people.  Also had dinner with Alex and his wife who were up visiting while doing the Detroit marathon.

I spent sometime this year studying the elevation profile prior to the race.  In previous years, I just used the garmin to target about 7:40 min/mile pace for 10 min and then walk for a minute.  This generally worked out well, though I think last year, some of my miles were a bit fast.  This year, with being able to run continuously, I decided I was going to run more by effort level and adjust to the course profile. I headed into the corrals with about 10 minutes to start. This year we were given very specific instructions of which corral we had to be in and where in the corral we should be.  Apparently, there were complaints last year about bunnies not being in the right corrals. So I had to be at the back of the first corral, and the 3:30 bunny was in the front of the second corral even though technically we should be running the same pace. The start of each corral was separated by 5 minutes.  I decided to wear both the garmin and the polar watch again this year.  In previous years, I used the garmin to do the 10 and 1 countdown and monitor for pace and used to polar to see how I was doing overall. 

So as the gun goes off, we start off on University Avenue, heading north which is on a slight incline.  I figured out that the first 3 km should be the slowest of the race.  During the first km, I started to feel my HR strap starting to slip down. I distinctly remembered to tighten up the strap about 20 minutes before race start since that was the one thing I wanted to avoid and here it was slipping down. I usual try to grab the strap and yank it up, but when I tried to do it this time, I ended up unhooking it and it came completely undone.  So I grabbed it before it fell to the ground and started carrying it in my one hand. The other hand of course is carrying this big honking pacer sign and realizing that I only have two hands, I started thinking how the heck was I going to drink at the aid stations without slowing down.  Thankfully a woman running behind me recognized what had happened and she pulled up beside me and offered to carry the sign for me while I tried to get the strap back on.  Thank goodness for the kindness of running strangers. 

 1km: 5:13

Hit the first km at 5:13 which is a tad slow. I didn't really get a chance to warm-up and there wasn't any jostling for position, but I guess the first km is a little uphill and runs around the queens park circle so I suppose there's some ground that gets lost if you aren't running perfect tangents.

2km: 5:00
3km: 4:59

The 2nd and 3rd km are basically right on pace though I suppose effort wise they may have been a tad fast since these km are also on a bit of an uphill.  Crossing past the 3rd km we head south towards the lake on Bathurst. At this point, I announce that we are going to be running downhill and picking up the pace a bit. 

4km: 4:48
5km: 4:46
6km: 4:45

These 3 km are south on Bathurst and involve about a 90 ft drop in elevation.  I tried to keep this under control by not speeding up too fast and the people running around me didn't seem to be breathing too hard so I think the effort level was good.  I ended up running down the middle of the road between the streetcar tracks which was different than in year's past where I had to run off to the side due to the requirement of walk breaks which could potentially interfere with others when done suddenly.

7km: 4:55

Km 7 is technically downhill too but involves a brief climb over a bridge over some railroad tracks.  I had to back off on pace on this climb which is a bit steep, but it immediately descends again right after this.

8km: 4:55
9km: 5:03

Continuing on km 8 and 9 are on Lakeshore Blvd going west and are generally flat.  There was a little bit of wind here and I had to pull down the sign and carry it closer to the body for a little while. 

10km: 5:01 (Split of 49:25)

The 10th km involve a bit of a climb over an overpass and then an immediate descent right after.  I cross the 10km at 49:25 which is a 4:57/km average pace (should be 4:59) which I think is about right given that this is net downhill from the start. This represents a bank of 21 seconds.  Marathon Photo has a video at the 10k split and looking at it, there's a pretty big group that's running with me, much bigger than in year's past when I was doing the run/walk thing.

I pass at about the 19 second mark wearing the neon green shirt and carrying the sign.

11km: 4:52
12km: 4:56

Kilometeres 11 and 12 continue to head west into the wind. Km 11 seems a bit fast though this include the downhill at the Canadian Legion building on Lakeshare so I suppose it's probably about right.  During km 12 my HR monitor straps starts to slip down again and it comes undone.  I ended up catching it again and end up carrying it the rest of the way.  I know the woman who had helped me before was still running beside me, but I decided that I didn't want to bother her again with my problem. I ended up just bunching it into my hand and holding it with the sign so it wouldn't be too difficult to drink at the aid stations if need be.

13km: 4:58
14km: 4:54
15km: 5:03

Km 13 includes the turnaround portion and now we are running with a tailwind.  Things are clicking along as they should.  Km 15 includes the uphill at the Canadian Legion building and I tried to slow down a bit on this climb, but it seems to have been a bit fast.  I think I checked my watch around this time and had about 20-25 seconds still banked.

16km: 5:01
17km: 4:59
18km: 5:01
19km: 5:01
20km: 5:00
21.1km: 5:29

I think it was after a hill that I caught a glimpse of a race photographer.  As a pacer, it's hard to get a good pic cause usually you're surrounded by people and it's hard to be on the lookout for them. I don't really have a good picture of me running as a pacer in the past. I think however this was might be pretty good.  It looks like I'm smiling and just cruising right along, though it's hard to tell because the proof image is so small on the website. The other things is that the woman photobombing me on the right who has her hands in the air like she's about to get arrested is a little distracting.

The rest of the way was pretty much exactly on pace. I was trying to bleed off a bit of the 20-25 seconds, but I didn't want to bleed off too much. It's hard to rely on the garmin after km 17 since you're running close to the tall condos and running under elevated road ways so the garmin isn't providing accurate pace feedback. At this point, I few people doing the full marathon pull up to me and ask about the 3:30 bunny.  I inform them that he started in the corral behind us and is technically a few minutes behind me. I probably should have made an announcement about the 3:30 bunny while I was in the corral at the start telling them to move back if they were looking for a 3:30 marathon finish.

Passing by km 19, I still had quite the group with me, though a lot of people had speeded up to finish faster. I commented into km 19 to the people who were still with me, that I expected everyone there to finish ahead of me. Coming up to km 20, almost everyone took off to finish faster.  In years past with the 10/1 thing, almost everyone takes off during the last walk break and I end up running with no one for the last little bit. Sure you end up passing people and people are passing you, but they aren't technically running with you.  It seems the same thing still applies when you're running continuously. Everyone wants to start with you, but no one wants to finish with you. Passing by the 20 km marker which is just outside of the Air Canada Centre, I knew I still had about 20 seconds banked and I knew I wanted to try and bleed off about 10-15 seconds of that going up Bay St. which is on a slight incline.  While running under the train tracks just south of Front St, I was passing by a runner who seemed to be breathing pretty hard so I was trying to motivate him to stay with me by counting down the minutes and seconds to the finish line. He ended up passing me with about 100m to go and I didn't end up getting to slow down at all going up Bay St and ended up finishing at 1:44:42.

So that's basically it.  I considered this a good pacing performance, much better than last year when I did a few miles at too fast a pace, even though my finish time last year was closer to the goal time.

Weather for this was pretty good.  Not too cold, not too windy.  In year's past, I would stick around to watch the marathoners finish, but this year, I ended up leaving right after the race cause there was one week to my own marathon and I didn't want to be standing around and risk catching a cold.  
Day 2