This past weekend I ran my 8th half marathon! The Mississauga half was great and I will definitely return next year!
Saturday morning I caught a ride with a friend that was also running and his wife, and we were meeting Mr. B (hubby) at the expo. We picked up our race kits at a small, but well organized expo and then checked in at the host hotel (Novotel). The check in went smoothly and our entire stay with them was perfect. They extended our check out Sunday to 1pm, which we noted wouldn’t really be enough time for someone running the full marathon in anything over 4.5 hours. The time worked for me and my friend since he was planning to finish the marathon under 4 hours. We relaxed for a bit at the hotel bar. (read: beer!) Next I took Mr. B to the shuttle for the start of the 5k race. We caught the shuttle at a community centre with lots of parking. Once he was off to the start I caught another shuttle to the finish line. He said that sitting around to wait for the start of the 5k for an hour was kind of a drag. He ran a great race and set a new PB by .3 of a second, he was pretty pleased. Another issue he had with the race was the path they were on narrowed at one point and he had to come to a stop because there wasn’t enough room for everyone. We took the shuttle back to our car and went back to the hotel and had our pasta dinner, which was nothing spectacular but decent.
Next morning I was up EARLY. I was very nervous about this race, because of the early start time at 7:30am. I am NOT a morning person, I prefer to run at night and I’m always slower in the morning. The second reason was because I was unfamiliar with the course although they do boast it as a net downhill course. But there are still hills going up! Note to self, more hill training next time would be a good idea. Actually, more training in general would have been a good idea. I was not anticipating a personal best on this one since I did skip a few runs including a long Sunday run due to a head cold, a funeral, and an exam. In other words, I need to plan better for life stuff getting in the way of training.
I walked to the start line with my friend. He was running in the full and hoping to qualify for Boston. The weather was perfect, sunny but still cool. He headed into the corral near the front, and I kept walking until I found the marker for the half time of 2:25 to 2:45. Before the start we heard a few words from the Mississauga mayor, Hazel. I believe she’s 92 now. She’s pretty awesome. We also had a moment of silence for Boston, as well as a group sing-along to Sweet Caroline, bah-bah-bah!!
Then we were off!! Well the front was, from where I was it was about 4 minutes before we crossed the start line. I took off knowing, no personal best today. I felt sluggish starting out and my legs were a bit heavy. But those first 8km went by fast and there was quite a bit of downhill and looking at my time I was beginning to think maybe a personal best would be possible. First issue I had at this race (and I mentioned it to them in their post-race survey) was the fact that early in the race they ran out of Gatorade at one of the tables, and they were behind on filling up cups of water at the next one. Perhaps they had too many check points and they were thin on the volunteers? They had a water station every 2km.
So I am cruising along thinking my pace is awesome and how awesome I am, but then there was the steady incline and continuing increase of said incline around the 10km mark. Ya, that slowed me down. The neighbourhood we ran through was beautiful, the homes were HUGE and the spectators along the way were great. Fast forward to the 17km mark and I knew the PB was not going to happen and then I talked myself into walking because I was so tired and feeling a bit pouty. But didn’t I already know that a PB wouldn’t happen? Every race is different, and every half-marathon I’ve done I have felt different. Not huge differences but I’ve run enough of them to know that I can’t plan for how my body is going to feel that day or how I am going to feel emotionally.
When I started walking I was just plain tired and I wanted this sucker done! I decided to walk to enjoy the view of the water and the enthusiastic crowds. One spectator looked me in the eyes as I passed her and she said ‘you can do it!’ with so much sincerity that it choked me up a little and it did get me running again. There are always spectators like that, and I suspect that they are also runners because they just seem to KNOW. Oh, but then there are the liars that say ‘almost there!’ Okay, now what the heck is their definition of almost there?? 4km is not almost there! Liars! My favourite spectator sign of the day was ‘This sign took a lot of work too!’
I am a slow runner and I used to think maybe I will get faster some day. I have had friends start as runners with me and I watched them become faster than me. I have done speed training, hill training, fartlek, cross-training, used walk breaks, eliminated walk breaks. Nope. Still slow. This sometimes gets to me and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what I mean by the emotional differences in runs. Sunday it was bothering me and I did beat myself up for being slow. But that’s just the way my body is, I am a slow runner and I’m learning to accept it. The same way I am learning that I’ll never be skinny, and that’s OK. And regardless of how slow I was, I still felt great when I crossed the finish line, and the view at that finish line is gorgeous with the view of the water. The transition after the finish was nice and open with lots of room for the runners to walk their way to refreshments. I did have to guess which group of volunteers I was supposed to go to for my medal, would have been nice if someone stepped toward me to give me a medal or if they said ‘half marathon over here’. Maybe I missed a sign? I had to ask, ‘Is that the medal for the half?’
Other than a few minor snafus with perhaps inexperienced volunteers, it was a great run. I would recommend it to anyone for either a first half, or someone looking to qualify for Boston. Unfortunately, my friend did not qualify however he set a new PB on that course!
Great race Mississauga!