Yesterday I ran in the Mississauga Half Marathon! It was a great race, even with the rain and wind. The original plan was to run the half marathon as part of a 28KM long run, but as you may have seen in Thursday’s post, I have switched from the Ottawa Marathon to the Half Marathon. Therefore, the Mississauga Half became just a half marathon long run. I had zero goals for the race, other than to finish. Because I still have a goal race in a few weeks, I did not want to push it too much and become side lined even more.
The day before the race, I went out to dinner with a few other running friends: Carmy, Christina, Morgan, Phaedra, Morgan and Jen and her husband Tom who were in Toronto for the GoodLife Marathon all the way from Calgary. It was a fun dinner!
The next morning I woke up at 5:30am and immediately had to use the washroom. Normally, a runner would be all happy that they got that out of the way – but for me, I knew that once again my GI system figured out that it was race day and decided to go into hyper drive. I haven’t been able to figure out how to stop all of that from happening. So, I got myself ready for a race situation where I would have to make at least one pit stop. I just hoped that I wouldn’t have to wait 6 minutes like last time.
The start area of the Mississauga Marathon is in the Square One Mall area. Lots of room for everyone and the organizers had lots of portapotties available. I wore a poncho and a heat sheet to keep warm. I ended up seeing one of my longest “Twitter/Internet friends” Heather and her family there. I’ve been internet friends with Heather and her sister for years – so it was nice to finally meet her! Soon enough, it was time to get ready for the race. The race was small enough that when they said a few minutes to go, I was easily able to move towards the middle of the pack, near the 2:15 pacer. I didn’t want to go out fast during the race and planned on just running a long run with hope that my legs would behave.
The start gun went off, and soon enough we were off. It wasn’t like Ottawa where you have to wait minutes before the start! For the first 2/3 of the race, I had no problems with crowds at all. The first few KM of the race takes you along Burnhamthorpe – a nice straight stretch of road that I have driven on so many times, since I lived for 19 years in Mississauga. After a few KM, we got our first downhill section and that was pretty sweet. I originally had my watch set for 5/1’s, but ended up going to 10 minutes before walking a bit. My watch went off again during the downhill stretch, but I just ignored it. No need to walk the downhills.
KM 1 – 6:44
KM 2 – 6:45
KM 3 – 6:27
KM 4 – 6:04 (downhill – yay!)
KM 5 – 6:21
When I was crossing the bridge, Heather ended up meeting up with me, and we ended up running the next 10K or so together. We were both running at talking pace and ended up pushing each other a bit. I know that I would have been content just having an easy race, but I ended up doing better than I thought. After Burnhamthrope, we went down Mississauga Road, the loooooong stretch of the race. We did go into UTM for a bit. I was hoping to see my parents and Max at the 8.5K mark, but that was also a downhill section and we ended up going by at 53 minutes, when I told my parents it would be an hour. Luckily, they noticed that the runners were flying down the hill, so they ended up just turning around and went to the finish instead.
KM 6 – 6:16
KM 7 – 6:24
KM 8 – 6:38
KM 9 – 5:51 (another fun downhill)
KM 10 – 5:58
Unfortunately what goes down, must come up a bit. We had the only big hill right after Dundas Street. It was once of those hills that winds around and you really don’t know how big the hill is from the bottom. Again, after New York my definition of “hill” is a bit different than most. We did end up walking a portion of the hill – not because I couldn’t get up the hill, but I really didn’t want to push my post-tib any more.
The next part of the course is through one of the wealthiest parts of Mississauga. One house could have easily fit seven of my homes. We could hear the expressway and eventually made it to the QEW highway. It was a bit of an open section at this point and we felt some wind there along with some more heavier rain. I told Heather at around this point that it was time for my race pit-stop. She ended up seeing her husband up ahead, so she ran towards him while I wasted 3 minutes in the washroom (at least it was 6 minutes this time!). I quickly got back out there and made it my mission to catch up.
KM 11 – 6:42
KM 12 – 6:12
KM 13 – 6:32
KM 14 – 7:50 (washroom time)
KM 15 – 5:49
The race started to turn towards Port Credit, which meant the windy “out by the lake” section was coming. I did see Cathy out just before Lakeshore and talked to her for a few moments. She was having a difficult race for reasons I found out about after (*hugs again* to you). Then I saw Heather’s husband who looked like he was slowing down – but no sign of Heather, which I was hoping meant that she was still doing great. I did end up passing a number of people at this point in the race. I noticed in my Sports Stat results that I moved up several places from my 1st split placement – yay!
Then the race was on the lake. Lots of wind and rain during this section. I made sure to eat my last gel at this point of the race as I was starting to feel my legs get tired. The Port Credit Lighthouse came up next and we went across the little bridge that is there. The next 2.5K of the route were familiar to me as it is part of the Resolution Run route. Parts of this section of the course were a little difficult as there was just not enough space. When I finished the race, the marathon winner was running by and apparently the bells from the lead cyclist were ringing all up the path to help clear the way. There were several times I got stuck behind people. The wind was howling and I was happy to be out of the open section and back into residential streets! From the distance, I could see Heather – and I tried to catch up to her, but lost her again.
The last 3K were struggle KM. I took about 20 sections of walking time for every 5 minutes. But looking at my KM splits, I was actually going at a decent pace, despite feeling like I was dragging my feet. At about 1.5K to go, I could hear the announcers and eventually could see the finish line. This is where I could see the 2:15 pace bunny and then tried my best to pass her (I did). The finish line is on the other side of the park, across a bay, and you just want to get to it. Again, lots of weaving and even a full stop trying to get around people. My parents and Max had made it just in time to see me finish. Looking at the official results later, I was only a minute behind Heather. I almost caught up!
KM 16 – 5:38
KM 17 – 6:14
KM 18 – 6:14
KM 19 – 6:10
KM 20 – 6:03
KM 21 – 5:50
Final Time – 2:14 on the dot (Garmin Time)- but chip time was 2:13:58
Positives about the Mississauga Half
- DOWNHILLS. This is definitely a PB/PR ready course. The downhill sections were super fun and allowed me to use more quad power – although I am feeling that today
- Nice Medals – I’m from Mississauga, so I really like the medal with the “Mississauga Skyline” on it
- Shuttle Buses – I was driven to the start, but we made use of the shuttles afterwards. It wasn’t bad and fairly organized
- Great route – It would have been beautiful in more sunny weather.
Negatives about the Mississauga Half
- Water Stations – Ok, so most of you know that I organize a water station for the Ottawa Marathon and water station organization is something I am critical of. But, the water station situation at this race was a bit of a mess. Several water stations had less than 10 volunteers and most of the volunteers were trying their best to get water to the runners. Some were literally serving water straight from the hose (water out of the hose is completely normal – but usually you stockpile it). Sometime Gatorade was first, sometimes water was first. Luckily the weather was cool – if it was hot, it would have been crazy. I will say that the volunteers were doing their best and seemed to be having a good time.
- Lack of crowds/other runners – I’m blaming the weather, but very little spectator support. I normally don’t wear headphones for races, but if Heather wasn’t with me, the race might have been different. This race is also fairly small and there were less than 800 runners in the marathon. I feel like I would have been running by myself if I was running the marathon.
- The cost – it was a bit of a pricey race – but full disclosure, this was a birthday present! The race photos were also pricey, and although there were some good photos of me for once, I will not be purchasing them.
I wasn’t pushing for a PB – but when you are just a minute off from one, it is hard not to feel a bit down about it. BUT, realistically, I have to remember that I have another half coming up in a month and I don’t want to push it, get injured again and not have a great Ottawa Half Marathon. Ottawa is the time to push it, not Mississauga. This was a very comfortable half marathon for me. Yes, the final 3K were a bit of a struggle, but I think that will always be the case. At least my pace didn’t slow down!
I think my right leg shin splints issue was a sign that my body was protesting marathon training. It was a classic overuse injury – and I knew since I started marathon training fairly late, that this could happen. What needs to happen over the next couple of weeks is to a) replace the Glycerins (edit: they are on sale at Running Room – just bought a new pair!) b) keep going with physio/massages and c) don’t run on uneven surfaces. I also have to start getting in some tempo/hills training. I knew Mississauga would be downhill, so I haven’t done much hill work. The big thing with the Ottawa Half, is that I know about the bridge at 16K. I know it is coming, I’ve run up it many times – so I have to prepare for it. I would really like to get under 2:10 in Ottawa!
The only thing that continues to derail my half marathon times is the whole GI system issue. I have no idea what causes it, nor how to solve it. This situation only happens on race day and it starts happening as soon as I wake up. I also get cramps afterwards. Nerves is probably the main cause. I’m going to try the most boring diet ever for Ottawa Race Weekend – maybe have some bananas and toast for dinner!
Next up – Ottawa Race Weekend!!!!