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” (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. 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.
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.
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!