Race Report: Mississauga Half 2012

Mississauga Half Marathon This was a very good race indeed. A relatively fast finishing time (1:58:35, my second quickest time for this distance), some very pleasant socializing, a vindication of my new fueling protocol, and a “run by feel” success. No downsides at all, in fact.

As I’ve noted before, this is my “home course” race. I’ve done the route three times previously, twice as part of the Mississauga Marathon and once for the half. I like that, as it means I now where I’m going and what’s coming up, and I don’t have to be anxious about the unexpected. It’s a relatively pretty route, with only one real hill, and most of the course is on wide roads.

That matters, as there are a lot of people doing the race each year. This time, I think there were about 7,000 runners doing the full and the half. Among the start-line crowd, I managed to find and chat with a couple of dailymile friends, Anurag S. and Paul R. It was good to see them.

The first 5K of the race takes participants out through Mississauga’s “downtown” On our way! (really just a shopping mall, a gathering of condos, and some municipal buildings) to the west. It was busy, with a number of turns and a lot of people sorting themselves and their paces out. With this race, I finally managed to force myself to start slowly, which was a major triumph. It’s always been too easy for me to get caught up in the crowd’s excitement, and I’ve always paid for that initial speed later on. This time I was more disciplined, found my groove quickly, and stayed at the pace I wanted.

At the 5K mark, the route goes south, and then through part of of the University of Toronto at Mississauga campus. UTM On the loop, another barefoot runner came up beside me, and we chatted a bit before he moved. I think he was doing the full marathon, and running really beautifully – light, tight, and quick. Once out of UTM, the road drops, then rises on the only hill in this race (for both half and full participants). It’s only about 200m long, but there’s a false summit at the halfway point, which makes it seem tough. It’s definitely a “sheep from the goats” moment.

After cresting the hill, there was a nice long and straightforward run towards Lake Ontario, still going through the pleasant upscale neighbourhood we’d been on since kilometer 5. It was along this stretch that fellow dailymilers Henry L (at 12K) and Phil M. (15K) came up beside me before moving on. (Yes, people passed me. Not a problem at all. They’re younger, stronger, and quicker, and all credit to them. Besides, I was on cruise control and enjoying myself immensely.) Henry went on to finish the full in a very impressive 3:47, while Phil – in his first race ever – pulled off a magnificent 1:55 finish for the half.

On the Port Credit waterfront

After getting to the lakeshore at kilometer 16, the route turned east, and we entered the final section of the route. This is always a bit tricky, as runners have to go along a paved path and a few small back streets. Lots of changes of direction, and things can get a bit dodgy because of the narrowness of the trail. But it’s pretty enough, and a good place for spectators to cheer on their favourite runners.

Soon enough, we came within sight of the finish. In fact, we could see it from about a kilometer away, as the paved path curved around a small bay on the waterfront. I was cruising well at this point and feeling very good. I had no idea what my finishing time would be, because I wasn’t wearing a watch, and I deliberately hadn’t paid attention to the clocks at the race start and along the route. But I was still on below my “feel good” race pace, I was relaxed, and I was, as I said before, just cruising along.

1K from the finish! At left is a photo of me at about the 20K mark. I was in good nick because of the fueling protocol I used (no breakfast, one Hammer Endurolytes Fizz 30 minutes before the race start, one Hammer Gel 5 minutes before the race start, and one 10 oz. bottle of Hammer HEED during the race). Immediately after the race, I had a 10 oz. bottle of Hammer Recoverite and a Hammer Bar, and all was very well indeed.

Conclusions? Lots of them! First, running by feel works best for me. Second, I now know that I can hold my pace if I want to. Third, my fueling protocol works and works well. And, last but not least, it’s good to have friends. Doesn’t get much better than that!


  1. Alan! A great race report. Henry (the BF one) runs with our group out of Winston Churchill Running Room. He alternates between sandales (addias slip ons I think) and BF running (depending on our route). He is quite an interesting guy and absolutely knows who you are. He finished in 3:58:09 after working all night. He frequently eats chocolate (!) before a long run and after speaking with him at our celebration dinner on Wednesday, I think he’s going to do the 15k at the Bread and Honey races. He ALWAYS looks that way when he’s running. He showed me his feet on Wednesday and had one small scuff on the base of his big toe.

    Again, a great recap and wonderful race for you. I’m looking to run “free” in this month as well (without a watch) and recover some (more) of the fun in the run.


    1. Thanks, Nicole! Whe Henry the BF One and I spoke, he told me that he knew me via the Barefoot Runners Society. I used to be the Eastern Canada chapter president of BRS. By the way, I’ve decided not to be Bread and Honey after all. The next race I’ll do will be the Milton Half. I’m going to spend the summer focusing on training for the Toronto marathon.

  2. Great post, I really liked the included pix of the route and the way you laid them out in the post. In the races I’ve run so far, minimalist runners a still few and far between, I think it’s probably less than 1%, and barefoot runners, I’ve never seen more than one if any, so the fact that there were two of you is kinda neat. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 5 or so years. I’m happy to read how well the fueling worked out for you, it can be tricky to work out.

    And congrats on a great finish time!

    1. Thanks for all that good stuff, Dan. I’m certainly happy with the fueling. It’s worked well for training and racing, and will form the basis of my fueling strategy for the Toronto marathon in October.

      Sadly, I think the number of barefoot runners will decline steadily in coming years. It’s too simple a concept for most people, and requires too much patience over a longish period of time to get right. So people go to minimalist shoes, missing the point entirely. Worse, many of those people will still claim that they run “barefoot.” And many of the so-called leaders in the barefoot “movement” aren’t really barefoot anymore. Barefoot Ted McDonald spends most of his time shilling Luna sandals, Barefoot Jason Robillard runs workshops for Merrell, Chris McDougall does his Naked 5K road show, in which most participants wear shoes, etc. Even a number of previously BF runners I connect with on dailymile are now running in shoes. I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a barefoot “movement.” There are just some people who like running barefoot.

      Sorry for the rant. It’s probably due to the fact that I have a bad cold and I haven’t run for a couple of days. For all that i said, there are still some bright lights, e.g., Ken Bob Saxton and Michael Sandler. And you and I, of course! πŸ™‚

  3. A very enjoyable read, Alan. What a triumph that race was for you! Congratulations again. That final pic is a wonderful memento too (although I am shocked to learn you don’t have a ‘personal photographer’ πŸ˜‰

    1. First of all, my apologies for getting your time wrong. I’ll correct that immediately. And yes, the other BF runner’s name was Henry. He recognized me from my time as Eastern Canada President of the Barefoot Runners Society.

      1. No need to apologize. I just point things out as I see them πŸ™‚
        Did you purchase the shot of yourself, or was that from your personal photographer?

  4. Nice, elegant recap. Even though barefoot running has certainly taken off in recent years, it’s still a bit surprising when I see someone actually running barefoot, as opposed to wearing minimalist footwear. Very impressive.

    1. Thanks, Dan. There aren’t a lot of us here who run barefoot. I think people are wary of taking the final plunge from minimalist to barefoot. I wish they would – it’s a lot better! πŸ™‚

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