I hoped to my recap the Toronto Marathon sooner but I didn’t bring my laptop with me to Toronto and I just can’t type up a blog post on my phone. I need a keyboard for my thoughts to really flow. Fair warning, this post is long so let’s get into it.
The night before the race things went really smoothly. Tom and I met up for dinner with a group of Toronto (and Ottawa) bloggers and my coach. It was so great to meet everyone in person!
Afterwards, Tom and I headed back to our Air BnB apartment, laid out our flat runner outfits and went to bed early. Luckily I was still jet lagged from the 2 hour time difference and red-eye flight to Toronto, so I fell asleep easily.
Up top: Mizuno lotus bra, Mizuno Breath Thermo long sleeve, Mizuno packable hoodie
On Bottom: Lululemon capris (unsure the type, no longer in store), Pro Compression socks (#TheLittleGrubs), Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s
The Accessories: Sparkly soul headband, Flipbelt, Garmin Forerunner 220, Momentum wrap
The morning of the race, I woke up at 5:40 a.m. My first thought was, I hope the weather was wrong and when I get up, it won’t be raining. That didn’t happen. It was raining from the moment I woke up and didn’t let up the entire race.
I got myself dressed, had my coffee and made an egg, cheese, and bagel sandwich. Tom and I called a cab to get us to the start line. We got there about 7 o’clock and the marathon was scheduled to start at 7:30. Luckily, there was a building where we could wait inside for the start and stay warm. The bathroom lines were long so we got into them ASAP. It ended up taking about 25 minutes so by time I finished in the bathroom, it was time to get outside and into the corral. I kissed Tom goodbye since his race didn’t start until 8:30 and within seconds, I was off.
It took me a bit at the beginning of the race to find my pacing, I didn’t want to go out too fast but I didn’t want to hold myself back either. The night before, Christina said she would come run a few miles with me. I was on the lookout for her during the run but thought I had missed her. I was just passing the first water station and debating whether or not to take a walk break when I saw her running towards me out of the corner of my eye!
She ended up running with me for about 7 miles and those miles flew by. We chatted the whole time. I was so wrapped up in talking that around mile 6 she asked me if I was going to take in any gels. I was supposed to take one at mile 5 but completely forgot. Not a good way to start a marathon so I made sure to take my first gel at the next water station. Christina was such a great pacer. I was running faster than the 10-minute miles I planned but I was feeling great and still able to talk so I figured as long as I felt good, I would continue with that pace. Honestly, without her being there for those miles I probably would have slowed my pace down to 10 minutes and wouldn’t have ran as good of a race, so I owe her a lot!
Christina also acted as my personal photographer and water sherpa. A girl could get used to having someone running with them during races!
After Christina left, I put on my Gilmore Guys podcast. I honestly don’t remember a lot about the middle section of the race. I just knew that my pace was good and I was feeling strong.
Around mile 16, I started noticing the half marathoners catching up to me and I wondered if I would run into Tom. Right around mile 18, there he was! He had actually been running extra hard in hopes of catching up to me, which ultimately got him a new PR! He was looking strong so I told him to go ahead and finish his race. Shortly after we met the half-marathoners turned right to their finish and the marathoners went left. Then our course turned around and actually ran behind the finisher area. This felt cruel. Seeing the finish line and knowing I still had 7 miles to go was really hard mentally.
The final stretch was along the lake. On a nice day, it probably would have been beautiful but on this day all I saw was gray and rain. I knew this part was an out and back stretch so it felt like forever until the turnaround point. I kept thinking, the turn around must be right ahead but it just kept going.
When finally we hit the turn around point, I switched my podcast to my marathon playlist, I knew I wanted some pump-up music to get me through the final four miles. The second I turned around, I was blasted by a headwind of 30km/hr and rain pelting me in the face. Despite this, I was smiling. I decided that if I could finish strong in these conditions, it would be real bad a*&. I tuned into my music and decided to have fun. I made up some parodies in my head – like turning It’s only love into it’s only rain. I fist pumped, played some air guitar and even danced a little. The people around me likely hated me because they were all on the struggle bus.
In the final four miles, I passed so many people. Most people were walking and looked completely defeated and here I was smiling, dancing and running past them all. My pace had slowed but I made it my mission to at least hit 9:55 minute/mile pace.
In the final miles, I could also feel a blister forming on the bottom of my foot, probably from my feet being soaked. At one point, it felt like the blister popped. I screamed out in pain and stopped dead in my tracks. I thought my race might be over at that point but I forced myself to hobble forward.
Looking at my time I thought I might make 4:15 but unfortunately I must have not run the tangents well because my race didn’t end at 26.2 miles (I ended up running 26.7 according to my Garmin). Once I hit that point and still didn’t see the finish, I felt defeated. I had worked so hard keeping my energy and spirits up but at that point I wanted to walk, I wanted to cry and I wanted to scream. Luckily, I saw Tom up ahead waiting for me and cheering me on. He started running with me. I grumbled that the race was long. He said my face was soaking wet, thanks for pointing out the obvious!
I rounded the corner and finally saw the finish line. There was no sprint to the finish, there was just a finish.
Official finish time: 4:17:26
I couldn’t believe I had just managed a 24 minute PR and so despite my beyond tired legs, I picked up my HUGE medal and managed my signature jump.
Now I did want to give some feedback on the actual race because I enjoy this part of race recaps particularly when I’m considering whether or not to run a race.
- The race profile is what drew me to this course. It really is a great PR course. There is 1 big hill and 2 small ones but they come very early on in the race then there’s a lot of downhill and flat portions.
- The medal is outrageously large. I definitely felt like I earned it.
- There was indoor space at the start line which meant no porta potties although they did have porta potties outside as well.
- The marathon started an hour before the half-marathon. I really enjoyed this because it made for a much less crowded course. I was able to find space right from the beginning and did very little weaving.
- The race expo was very small, it left me very disappointed.
- Getting to the start line was a bit of a pain. Public transit on a Sunday starts later, so that wasn’t an option. I know a lot of other races have transit start early or even give free transit on race day so having no accommodation for this felt like very poor planning. There was a shuttle bus you could take for $15 per person which again, I felt should be free. Tom and I ended up taking a very expensive cab ride to the start.
- Low spectators. Now I realize the weather was terrible on race day and that drove away a lot of spectators but I didn’t feel the marathon put any effort into creating cheer stations or neighbourhoods like a lot of other races do to encourage spectating.
- Bag check was a gong show. We were told at the expo that you could only use a bag with a zipper. We didn’t have one so ultimatley decided not to check a bag. This ended up being for the better because the bags were all sitting out in the pouring rain so our dry clothes would have been soaked anyways.
- No heat sheet was given at the finish. When it’s 6 degrees celsius and raining, this should be the first thing a marathoner is given when they finish a race. I did see a few people with them so I’m assuming they had them in the medical tent.
- Post race food was terrible. They had bottles of lemon honey water, which was disgusting! I couldn’t get a bottle of plain water anywhere. Then they had green bananas (completely inedible), a miniature cliff bar and a pita.
Overall, despite the conditions, I had a great race. I was very happy with the course profile but outside of that, I think this race could use a lot of work. If I lived in the area, I would run it but it’s certainly not a race I would recommend people make into a destination race.