Many runners have habits, both during training and for races. We all do things in our own little way and for some of us deviating from those habits could mean disaster. But some of our habits and routines are just because that is how things are. I run most of my training runs alone, mostly due to my work schedule. I run when most people are working. I also tend to stick to the same route, rarely doing anything different. This weekend, it was time to mix things up. I ran my week 4 long run with hundreds of people! I do have to say – it was a nice change!
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon organizers (Canada Running Series or CRS) hold “Tune Up Runs” every month leading up to the big day on October 18th. The Tune Up Runs have distances for marathon and half marathon training. Most of the Tune Up runs are free and are open to runners of all abilities. There are also members of the Digital Champions Team (which I am part of) at every event.
This past weekend was Tune up Run #2. This Tune up Run was more of a relaxed race – there was a small charge (that went towards a large donation to Toronto East General Hospital), bibs and a timing clock. As a Digital Champion, it is expected that I attend at least one Tune up Run, so I decided that this one was the one that worked for me (Army Run conflicts with the last one). So yes, if you are wondering: I did drive all the way to Toronto for a long run!
I woke up early on Sunday morning as I wanted to get to the Toronto Beaches early. The Pan Am Games are currently being held in Toronto and apparently traffic was supposed to be bed (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). I also wanted to get there early to cheer on the 20K runners and meet some Toronto Runners that I haven’t met yet. I had to switch from the 20K to the 10K last week due to my leg issues. The 20K started at 8:15am, while the 10K started at 9am. I found parking quite easily and went down to the beach.
The set-up was really well organized. Booths were set up for grabbing your bib, 4 portapotties (which seemed to be just enough) and Alan Brookes (Race director of STWM) was on the microphone giving everyone instructions. It was really hot and sticky out (at 8am!) and Alan made sure to repeat many times that this wasn’t “a race” and to take your time.
I met several Digital Champions and some other Toronto Runners and we all chatted before most of them headed to the 20K start line. I think it was just Petja (and his family) and I in the 10K, and Jess (who is coming back from a stress fracture!) in the 5K.
After the 20K runners left – I quickly ran to the nearest store to grab another bottle of water, as I had already chugged what I had. I also ran an additional 2K before the start. I made it back to the start with about 10 minutes to spare, which was spent waiting for the washroom. I made it out of the portapotty with 1 minute to spare. I jumped into the 3rd “wave” of runners and soon enough we were off.
The first part of the race was on that dreaded boardwalk. I’ve run on the boardwalk before back in 2012 and remembered how much I hated it. We were on the boardwalk for less than a KM and then onto the paths. Since this wasn’t a full out race – the paths were completely open to everyone: bikers, runners, kids. I felt that people were aware of our presence (we were around 800 runners) and it didn’t cause too many problems. While on the boardwalk, I overheard two girls talking:
“omg, why are they on the path?” (meaning the bikers, other runners/walkers)
“Because, the boardwalk isn’t closed! We are supposed to stay to the right!”
“The guy told us that like five times – you know when you were not paying attention!?”
I had to chuckle at that conversation. Yes – we were told many times, stay to the right. Most people did – and there were marshalls at all the really bad intersections where collisions could occur. However, when it did become a little dangerous was when some people who were running 10/1’s (10 minutes running, 1 minute walking) stopped in a group and didn’t leave room for people running. The CRS people did do a great job with having lots of people out on the route.
(Thanks To Dave – Beaches Runner for taking some great pictures of the Runners!)
My overall plan for the race was to do 10/1’s and hold a steady long run pace. The first few KM went by without a problem. I stuck with a small group of runners who all seemed to being 10/1’s and were running at around a 6:40 pace, which was perfect. We came up to a water station at around the 2.5K mark. They offered gatorade and water. I still had my water bottle with me at this point – so I just had gatorade.
After about 3K, I moved away from that small group. We started the race on the path, which goes through the parks. Then the path turns onto a major road. Eventually we turned left onto a small street. This is where things got a little crowded, as some of the speedy 20K runners were coming back. I saw Joy at this point – and she was flying! I was still sticking with my 10/1s. My leg felt ok – a couple of twanging moments and that was it. I took my walking breaks whether I felt it was necessary or not. During the race – I was never running really fast. It was long run pace the entire time – which means I could talk the entire time. As I started heading to the point where the 10K/20K splits, I saw Petja and gave him a wave. We then turned back onto a path before the 5K turn around point.
When I got to 5K, I took a gel and started to pick up the pace just a little bit. I finally ditched the water bottle at the 2nd water station, as well as I ditched my shirt. I have never run in just a sports bra before – I run very close to my school and I’m not really comfortable running in just a sports bra with students all around. It made all the difference – it was so sticky out. I noticed that several other people were doing the same thing.
(LOL – this picture. Again thanks Dave for this….wonderful…picture)
Soon enough, I was heading back into the Beaches area. I ran back into the park and one of the race marshalls told me to tuck my arms in 😉 It made me laugh because I’m always going on to my sprinters to tuck their arms in. With 1KM to go, I decided to go back to 10K race pace for funsies. I ran that last KM in 5:24. Remember when I ran a whole 10K at that pace…..
I finished the race in just under 1:05. A solid long run time for me. My 10K time during long runs range from 1:03-1:10, so this was right on the money.
My KM were:
1 – 6:35
9 – 6:29
10 – 5:24
I started off in the 6:35-ish pace, then went a little faster for the 2nd half. The KM that were in the 6:50 range were the walking break KM’s.
My leg held up ok. It made its presence known a couple of times, but it did not cramp up like it did during TORW. The 10K at that pace felt pretty easy and I’m happy with how the run went. After I finished, I went and waited for some of the 20K runners who were still finishing their run:
After the race, we were treated to a pretty sweet food table: bananas, Shreddies Mix, Powerbars, recovery drink and sunscreen (ok – not to eat, but we did get some). They also had massage services available.
The Digital Champions/STWM team all got together after the race and we took a bunch of pictures and chatted. It was great to see so many people that I “know” via Twitter, as well as some runners who I have met before – but don’t get to see that often as I live far away. Everyone is so nice and friendly – so if you see us about at any of the Tune Up Runs or at STWM – come say hi! I am very grateful for the opportunity Canada Running Series has given me with being part of the Digital Champions Team. It has been a blast so far!
Have a great Tuesday!