Recap: After running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon on October 20, 2019, I set myself the goal to run a half marathon in 2020 in under two hours. My current personal best is 2:20:02 meaning I need to shave off 20 minutes and 3 seconds to succeed. If you’d like to read more, please read below:
It’s the end of race season (for me at least) in 2019, and what a way to finish it off than with an ice storm. All week, Instagram was a flurry (pun unintended) of weather updates from runners who were participating in the Tannenbaum 10k in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto on December 1st.
We were looking at -14°C (7°F), ice, snow, hail, and 80km/hour gusts along the lakeshore. For many, it was too much to lace up, but that didn’t stop around 1,000 of us from running, sliding, gliding, walking (and in some cases blindly from the hail) on Sunday morning.
There was anticipation of whether the event would be cancelled. The night before, the race director emailed everyone saying to keep checking the weather and the event Facebook page for any updates; no updates came. We were hiding from the gusty winds and the hail that felt like thousands of little bee stings when we hear over the speaker system that we were a go to race.
The wind was directly behind us for the first 3km which meant that any wrong placement of feet would result in having your legs taken from beneath you on the ice. It sadly also meant the same 3km to finish the race would be a full-on headwind and hail with no sign of shelter along the way.
What a way to earn that final medal of the year!
I thought it would have been a pretty anticlimactic way to finish the year on December 1st if we had last year’s weather at least, but those weather conditions sure made it interesting.
I definitely didn’t think I was going to start this post by talking about yesterday’s event, but how could I not! Over the last two weeks, I’ve taken to the streets eight times and covered around 50km. Considering I’m still working on my 1,000km in 2019 challenge, I got a lot of ground to make up this month. I currently site on 780km meaning I need 220 more to make the nice round number of 1,000km in 2019. Sadly my current rate is not going to cut it and need to average some 8km per running day to make it (assuming no days off this month).
With half marathon training, my goal was to get different running workouts including speed, tempo, long runs, and hills. To keep me on track, I registered for a half marathon clinic with one of the Running Room stores here in Toronto.
Training on the 21st (Thursday), was supposed to be a steady run of about 4km around the Annex & Rosedale neighbourhoods. Sadly, it was pouring with rain and wasn’t so enjoyable, to say the least. More so because a steady tempo for even a 2-hour half marathon according to their training manual was 6:35/km… we ran at the back of the pack and averaged 6:10 in the dark and rain.
Pizza definitely made it better after what was miserable running and thoughts towards Saturday’s Team Unbreakable Bold and Cold 5k was what rounded off the night.
Saturday came around and it was a tad cold for the 5k. The event wasn’t timed as the focus of the event is participation and to not have any pressure on finishing with a time that can be ranked.
Team Unbreakable provides running programs to schools in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas and finishes each program with participation in their 5k races. It’s an organisation that I am running 1,000km and attempting to raise $1,000 for (more information in my footnotes below).
It was more of just go out, shake those legs and run for a great cause. No times, no pressure, just a check-in to see how I felt while running, check my form, etc.
I’m one to try and mix it up so that running doesn’t become mundane. I’d prefer to run faster and for longer. That said, I still consider myself “new” to running and now my limits, and the benefits of taking it slow. Recovery runs are great for that. For me, this is something of a discipline thing. I know I can run faster, but I have to train myself to take it slow and steady.
Since starting to take running seriously in January 2018, I have been introduced to the concept of 10 and 1s. For others, this is the Run/Walk or Galloway Method.
Essentially, I would run for ten minutes no matter how fast or slow, then I’d walk for one minute as an active recovery period, then run again for another ten. This has been key to building my endurance and slowly improve my recovery run speed.
Back in 2018, my recovery run speed would have been around eight minutes per kilometre or thereabout. Now it should be somewhere around the seven-minute mark. It’s a nice round number to use and easy math to slow down. However, that seemed to go out of the window last Sunday.
While attending “Run Club” as part of the half marathon clinic, it was said, we’d be going 7:00/km for 7.5km. We went over the route verbally as no maps were printed, but fortunately, I could still remember the neighbourhood I lived in between 2011 and 2015.
We set off and immediately found myself chasing the pack. While I had set into that seven-minute pace, the group (including our coach) was pulling away. I also found out the hard way that there were no walk breaks either and by the end of the second kilomtre, they were out of sight. Fortunately, I made the executive decision for myself to slow down and take those breaks (even though I still came out at 6:30/km).
I wasn’t going to risk an injury or overstrain myself to keep up. Thankfully we didn’t do a really long run at the pack’s 5:40/km pacing (that’s my goal pace for sub-2 just for some context).
Rant over, we did a run the following Tuesday to make up for distance and make that the actual recovery run, which had a little bit of everything. A little tempo work to make sure we got out of the hydro path before it was too dark to see, and we had hills also to give us that extra workout. A nice 10km square around the neighbourhood and job done!
Double Run Day
I’ll be honest, I never saw myself becoming this kind of runner… ever! The runner who has the time to go out to run TWICE in one day. For us, it was in one morning. Saturday came around and it was our usual routine of Downsview parkrun for our hilly 5k, but with the added twist of running to pick up our Tannenbaum race kits.
There was a marketing campaign not too long ago here in Toronto promoting getting off the subway a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. A campaign to get everyone moving again.
We decided to take this similar approach, but instead got off about 5km away and ran the second leg downhill to the store. Thankfully being a chilly day, not a lot of people were out and about so getting there without pedestrian dodging was nice.
I guess I just became one of those runners.
Brace Yourselves, Winter is Coming
Then finally, we have our Tannebaum 10k. As mentioned above, it was an interesting run. I actually enjoyed it given the awful conditions. Once I had started running it wasn’t all too bad. After the thousandth hail stone hitting you, you just got on with it.
Thankfully, the layers were on and I was able to brave it, although I think a few runners were even further ahead with the likes of ski goggles to protect their eyes as to not run blindly. Most of the run I ran face down watching the runner slightly ahead of me and try to match their footing.
Maybe its a sign of what’s to come as I ramp up on Winter training.
It’s Been a RUNderful 2019
So here’s to you 2019 races; all fifteen of you. I’ve run through snow, wind, rain, soaring heat and blistering ice storms. There have been PBs, course records, first time distances, and many memories made along the way.
You’ve been a pleasure 2019!
Bring on 2020!
List of Runs
I think to finish off my posts, I’ll start listing the runs I did during the last fortnight. If you have Strava, feel free to check it out and even follow me.
Thank you for reading this article. It is my goal to post more frequently about my journey, running as well as how it ties to mental health.
I am also raising money for three great organisations who work within mental health. The Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, and both the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Team Unbreakable here in Canada.
If you would like to donate to any of these three incredible organisations, a donation link can be found here (through LinkTree).