Scotiabank Waterfront Half Report 2015

on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 11:04 PM

Ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon as the 1:45 pacer again two weekends ago which is the 7th year in a row I've done it.  It's always a fun time and a chance to give back to the running community.  I enjoy doing the pace bunny thing, but a part of me thinks that by doing the pacing gig, I give up a good opportunity to do a race in the fall that is close-by.  I could have signed up do the full marathon which would have given me a month to recover from my mid-September race.  As it is right now, I would have to travel to Niagara Falls or Hamilton in the weeks after Scotiabank to run a full.

I know for a few years, they had backup bunnies for the full at each race time. The backup bunnies would get a free entry to the race, but would only get the pacing gear if the original bunny dropped out and they were called up.  Pacing gear consists of a free pair of shoes, a hat, shorts and the pacing T-shirt.  I'm not sure if they offered the backup positions this year, but it seems that being a backup full marathon pacer might be a good deal if you want to run the full.

In past years, Brooks was the sponsor and they provided the shoes and gear and the distribution to the runners was done very well. It appears this year that the race couldn't find a shoe sponsor who was willing to pay to be the official sponsor.  The race appears to have struck a deal with Asics to provide the official race t-shirts, but there was no other Asics branding anyone else.  I guess no one wanted to pony up the cash.  As a result, the race itself ended up purchasing the gear for the pacers which consisted of Asics shoes and no-name brand shirts and shorts. I'm sure that they were able to get a discount for the shoes.  I don't know if it was a result of the race having to pay for the gear, but the pacing team also appears to have been a tad smaller with 5 fewer than last year.  We didn't actually get the gear until the week before the race and didn't get the shoes until the day of the expo.  The hat was kinda interesting. It wasn't one of those generic running hat, but a limited edition Ciele that retailed for $45.

I headed down to the expo Friday after work to do a one hour PR thing that all the pacers are required to do during race weekend.  It's an opportunity to meet with racers and answer any questions that people might have.  In year's past, we had a spot in the official shoe sponsor retail area, but this year they positioned us at the signing wall where people could sign and send good wishes to others.

Pacer Selfie!

On race morning headed down fairly early.  The race started at 8:45am, but the race was saying that bag check was only open to 8am.  This wasn't quite true as it was open much later.  I think I dropped off my gear at 8:15am. Another pacer from California wanted to take a pacing group shot at 8am, so I ended up doing that but there was only a handful of us who showed up, maybe 8 or so.  Moved into the corrals at 8:30 after downing a gel and drinking about 2/3 a bottle of water.  Wore the Polar M400 on one arm, but still not quite trusting the GPS on it, also wore the Garmin 405 on the other arm which I've used successfully in the past.

I wont go through a km by km breakdown since I've done that last year.

Km  Km Spilt
1 0:04:56 04:56 0:04:59 -00:03
2 0:09:53 04:57 0:09:57 -00:04
3 0:14:43 04:50 0:14:56 -00:13
4 0:19:39 04:56 0:19:54 -00:15
5 0:24:32 04:53 0:24:53 -00:21
6 0:29:21 04:49 0:29:51 -00:30
7 0:34:23 05:02 0:34:50 -00:27
8 0:39:23 05:00 0:39:48 -00:25
9 0:44:30 05:07 0:44:47 -00:17
10 0:49:31 05:01 0:49:45 -00:14
11 0:54:26 04:55 0:54:44 -00:18
12 0:59:24 04:58 0:59:42 -00:18
13 1:04:25 05:01 1:04:41 -00:16
14 1:09:21 04:56 1:09:39 -00:18
15 1:14:19 04:58 1:14:38 -00:19
16 1:19:15 04:56 1:19:36 -00:21
17 1:24:12 04:57 1:24:35 -00:23
18 1:29:12 05:00 1:29:34 -00:22
19 1:34:09 04:57 1:34:32 -00:23
20 1:39:10 05:01 1:39:31 -00:21
21.1 1:44:39 05:29 1:44:59 -00:20

A couple of things. Goal pace was about 4:59 min/km and I really had intended on being slow for the first 2 kms and that's what I told people I was going to do since the first two kms are on a bit of an uphill.  It's only about 25m so not a heck of a lot but I should have been slightly slow the first two km even though the actual pace was around where I wanted to be overall.

The third km kinda levels out and this was a little too fast on my part (4:50). I think it's because I was running down the centre of the street running west on Bloor and coming to an aid station, I veered to the north side of the street since everyone was running on the south side and sped up a bit so the running north and then running south again wouldn't lose too much time but it looks like I sped up too much. Plus maintaining the effort level after the uphill portion probably caused me to be a tad quick.

Km 4 through 6 are basically downhill and this is where I picked up a bunch of time which was my intent.  At 6 km, I was 30 seconds ahead of where I needed to be.  Almost half of that was gained in the first 3 km which shouldn't have happened. I'm not sure why km  9 was so slow. It looks to be a fairly flat part of the course.  It could have been a tangent issue as this was on lakeshore with the three lanes of traffic or it could have been my subconscious slowing me down knowing that the 10km timing mat was coming up which I crossed at 49:30 which was 15 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be which I think was okay.  From this point on I think I figured out the pace properly and with no tall buildings around, I could rely on the garmin for accurate pace feed back. From that point on  to 20k, I was hovering between 4:55 and 5:00 min/km.  At 20km I was 21 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be which means I had picked up an extra 6 seconds over 10k which I think was acceptable.

Like last year, my HR monitor strap slipped down and eventually became unhooked again. This happened at the 30 minute mark.  I had actually tightened the strap in the corrals just before race start and it stilled happened.  It never happens during training or during my races.  I think it must have something to do with carrying the sign which requires me to hold my arm up. The jostling and the weird arm position, must cause my chest and ab muscles to flex in a different way that allows the strap to slip down.  I tried to hike it back up, but could only do it on the one side at a time while carrying the sign and that caused it to come undone.  I ended up just carrying the strap the rest of the race.

The last 1.1 km is running up Bay St. which is a slight incline.  At this point, I had 21 s in the bank and was facing a bit of a dilemma.  Sure I could slow down a bit and eat into that 21 seconds and finish closer to my goal, but I still had a bit of a group with me.  This was different then in years past when I would rarely get people that would run with me the whole race.  They would either get dropped or take off in the last few kms. Yes there were those types of people this year, but there was a small group including one girl who literally ran beside me the whole race. She refused to stray more then a few feet. I had noticed she was breathing quite heavily at the start and usually that means they'll drop off, but here she was running beside me during the last km still breathing quite hard.  So these people had earned that extra 21 seconds as a result of my errors and I think it would have been selfish to take that away from them so I maintained the 5 min/km pace going up Bay and did the last 1.1 km in 5:29 which is exactly 4:59 pace. Yeah!    So finished in 1:44:39 which is 21 seconds under my goal, but probably the most satisfying finish as a pacer job as looking through the splits, there were a bunch of people who started with me, crossed the 10k mat with me and then finished just ahead of me.  Yes, I did end up yelling at people to pick it up with 400m to go and off they went. 

I ended up buying the race pics cause I thought there were a couple that might look okay. I've never really had a good one as a pacer.  It's hard to tell with the small thumbnails they give.

Near the finish

Clearly sleeping on the job

A fellow bunny had forwarded me this comment from someone and it's always nice to see that people take notice of good pacing, though my recollection of the start doesn't quite jive with what he said, but hey I'm not going to take issue if he thinks I did a good job.

"I thought I'd chime in with my pacer experience at SWTM Half Marathon. F rancis N g was the 1:45 pacer and his pace was solid. With all the traffic for the first 1.5 km we were a little behind pace, so to make up for the set back he picked it up, slowly and deliberately, and by 3 km we were back on pace and he never wavered. He paced by effort, not by pace so the uphills were a bit slower and the downhills were a bit faster.  I kept him about 10 steps behind me until about the 19 km mark when I picked it up as much as I could.  He brought everyone in at 1:44:39. I will look for a pacer again for my next target Spring race."


Toronto Peace Marathon 10k 2015 Race Report

on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 10:40 PM

Two weekends ago, I ran the KCCA Toronto Peace run. I ran this race last year and thought I'd do it again this year just to see where the fitness was at.  I only decided to do it late in the week and they didn't offer registration through the normal channels but did it themselves and then pay through PayPal or you could pay on the day of the race.  I thought it would save them a little money if I just paid in cash, but in hindsight that was probably a bad idea since from their standpoint, why would you register someone if they haven't paid?

Anyhow, how I prepared for the race was a recipe of how not to do prepare for the race.  I left home early enough and got about 2/3 of the way down to the race site by car when i casually glance down at the passenger seat where I had thrown the stuff that I thought I would need: water bottle, gel, sunglasses and phone.  I realized that I had forgot my wallet so I had to turn around to go back. I guess I should have just paid online. Anyhow, by the time I get back to the race site, there's only about 30 minutes to race start and of course I'm not registered so I have to sign up again and they have to phone in my reg info to the timing mat guys. They used the same bibs with the straps that they had last year and I had forgotten the safety pins that I would need to clip the straps to my shirt in my car so I jog back to the car. I quickly jog back to the race site and I notice my HR is spiking, and there's only a couple of minutes to race start.  I ended up lining up about half way into the crowd and am trying to do everything to get the HR to reset, but nothing seems to be working. The horn goes off and at this point I'm trying to decide if I should wait or just go.  I ended up just deciding to go and treating the run like a good tempo effort.

The first little bit, I just try to maintain a nice steady pace and end up passing quite a few people.  About 500 m in, I look down at my watch to get a sense of how fast I'm going and I notice that my HR is reading about 175 which means it had reset. Nice.  I noticed my lap pace is about 6:30's whch was a tad fast.  I was hoping to go a bit faster than the time I ran last year of 44:03 (6:55 min/mile pace), but I was feeling kinda good and with the HR somewhat normal, I had high hopes.

The route was actually a tad different this year.  Overall, the start and turnaround were the same as last year, but they added some slight differences where the route forks into two paths, the out portion would take one fork and then the return path was on the other fork.  The km markers were  non-existent so I only have GPS splits.

1 mile: 6:31
2 mile:  6:41
3 mile: 6:41
4 mile: 6:49
5 mile: 7:13
6 mile: 6:55
6.4 mile: 2:38 (6:35 min/mile pace)

I ended up passing most people in the first mile. During mile 3, I ended up passing a white-guy which I thought was a little strange, but I realized after that he was Patrick Brown, the leader of the PC party in Ontario. He was going at a pretty good clip. At the turnaround, I see there's only two guys ahead of me, one guy who I'm pretty sure I'm not going to catch and another guy who's only about 15 second ahead of me.  They had a timing mat at the turnaround this year so no timing issues like what happened to me last year. Split time of 21:05, but I think this was a bit longer than 5k, maybe 5.1k. So after the turnaround, I gradually try to reel in the one guy I think I can catch and I pull up beside him, but I don't think the guy liked being passed as he sticks with me running right beside me for a while.  During mile 5, he pulls ahead of me and charges up the hill, but I think he went up too hard on the hill, as I was able to slowly pull up to him and pass him for good after the hill.

Finish time of 43:33 which was 2nd overall, first in my age group.  The route was a bit more than 10k. My GPS says it was 6.41 miles. I measured it last year in Google Earth and that was 10.245km , but I thing the route this year was a tad longer so maybe 20-30m more so I think the 6.41 mile measurement is about right which means I averaged about 6:48 pace for the whole thing which is about the same as I what I ran this spring.

Unlike last year, I ended up going to the awards ceremony and did win an age group prize, a Korean dinner plate set and a glass plaque. They also had a raffle for a tablet, TV and round trip airfare to Korea. So pretty good for only a $25 entry fee.  I noticed this year, that there really was an effort to speak more English during the race and afterwards. I think it probably had to do with the fact that there were so many non-Korean politicans around. In addition to Patrick Brown, the premier, Kathleen Wynn was at the race as well as a whole bunch of people from different areas running in the federal election.  I can understand if you'ra the local candidate from the area where the race takes place, but why would a candidate from up in Thornhill get special mentioning at the awards ceremony in mid town Toronto, I don't know.

Age Group Prize

When I started the race, I had assumed my HR would be high for the whole thing, but funny enough, no HR spikes as can be seen from Polar data. HR touched 186 once and then hit 185 a few times in the middle. It started to drop after the hill on the way back into the low 180's. I wonder if I could have run faster. I definitely slowed down during mile 6 but maybe I could have kept the HR up for a bit longer. 

I'm starting to wonder if 6:50 is my limit for speed. I always seem to hover around that pace when I get tired. This is the same pace that I ran a 10k in back in June and the 8k back in April. Even back in my faster days, I don't think I ever did my LT run's faster than  6:50 pace.  I think it may be breathing limit for me as at this pace, I'm generally panting quite hard.  If I increase my ventilating limit, maybe it would allow me to go faster.  I was thinking maybe if took up swimming a bit more seriously in the upcoming months in addition to doing some more weight training, I might be able to change that.

Oh well...

on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 8:52 PM

As expected, I didn't get into Boston.  The cutoff this year was 2:28 which is a significant increase over last year and was even more than the cutoff the year after the bombings.

Even if I had ran my goal time in Erie of 3:13:15ish, that wouldn't have been enough and I would have needed another 45 seconds beyond that.  I suppose I'm okay with that. 

With Boston out of the question for next year, it now turns to what's next? I decided not to enter the Tokyo marathon lottery for next year which we had to in August.  The race is in February.  I had already entered the London marathon lottery, which was in late April and with the potential of Boston, I didn't want to run the risk of getting into all three.  As it turns out, I'm doing none of them.  I did enter the Berlin Marathon lottery and the results of that come in November for a race next September so if I don't get into that, I may try to do Tokyo through a tour if spaces are still available.  It would mean another training cycle would have to start towards the end of October which means no more marathon attempts for the rest of the year.

As for the 2:28 time period, that seems kinda high.  That's already half way to lowering the qualifying time by another 5 minutes.  While I have previously said that I had no desire to attempt another 3:10 marathon in my life, here I am looking at having to do one to get into Boston. While I like running, I don't necessarily like having to train hard to run a marathon so I''m not sure Boston will be in the next few years if it requires me to run that fast.  3:15 I can kinda manage, much faster than that I don't know.  My BQ time drops by 10 minutes in a few years so there's always that possibility.

As for the rest of the year?

I do have to do pacing duties for the scotiabank half again. I've done it for the past few years and it's a good time.  They changed sponsors this year. While it was Brooks the past few years, they switched over to Asics this year and they've had some problems getting things worked out.  We still haven't received our pacing gear yet and it's two weeks to race day.  Thankfully, Asics isn't a full sponsor so we aren't mandated to wear their shoes like in previous years. That's good for the marathon pacers since they don't have to worry about untested and unfamiliar shoes on race day.

I did do the Peace run last weekend. 10k race and came in 2nd overall, race report to come. Not sure I want to do any more races.  With the Boston letdown, I have no desire to race anytime soon so I guess I'll just enjoy these next few weeks of running for no particular reason.