Nov 13 2011

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2011 – Race Report

October arrived much sooner than I thought, and once again, I started practising too late. The only good run I had was 16km around the block, but I still hoped to at least match my time this Spring in Mississauga.

An hour before the start, as I made my way north from the GO bus stop to to start line, I already see lots of runners trying to warm up.

I had to be quick to pack up my jacket and check my backpack, because there were long lineups for every single porta-potty!

5 minutes before race start, I was nowhere near the front of the line, so I had to abandon the washroom break, and hope I can get to the starting chute in time.

2 minutes before race start, I followed a few other procastinators through the wall of spectators, and somehow found a hole in the crowd barrier, and squeezed right in the middle of my assigned yellow corral.

Race Start

I didn’t actually hear the countdown or the gun sound, but had to start moving when people in front did. My plan was to go easy for the first 2-3km to get my heartrate going, but the tall buildings were messing up my GPS, so I had to go by feel.
On the course - Waterfront Half 2011

Km 3

After warming up, I picked up the pace a bit just past the Distillery District. From here, the plan was to take a Gatorade at every drink station, and a gel every other station. This should keep me from running low of energy as I did in the spring.

Km 10

At the first time check, my pace was just over 5:00/km. There were three ladies dressed in peculiar prison outfits ahead who were about the pace. They made good pace makers for the next few kilometres.

Km 13

After turning around at Windermere Ave., I could feel the wind on my back, and I was still fresh. It was time to pick it up and catch all those people ahead who went out too hard!

Km 16

5km to go, I had my last gel and drink, then concentrated on keeping around 4:40/km, while ensuring I stay below my heart rate “redline”.

The stiffness on the outside of the right knee made its return, but I knew it would be fine as long I kept moving. Continuing to catch up to runners ahead would keep me motivated to the end.

Km 20

Almost there - Waterfront Half 2011I’m happy to have kept it together through the final Lakeshore Road ramp. GPS became useless as I went beneath Gardiner Expressway, but I wouldn’t have a chance to look anyway. It was just a matter of not losing concentration, and not letting the pace drop.

There was a water station at this point. What’s up with that? How many racers would stop for a drink on the last km?

Finish Line

I saw Jefferson the Dog ahead, as I was about to make the final turn north on Bay St. I remembered he was a good 10-15 minutes ahead at the Windermere turnaround, but I caught him with 500m to go. Apparently he again broke the world record time for running a half-marathon as a mascot. Well done!
Crossing the finish line - Toronto Waterfront Half 2011
I took the foot off the gas pedal as I crossed the streetcar tracks on King St. (I’ve had close calls on foor and on the bicycle). Organizers should consider putting a mat over the tracks, especially since there was rain in the forecast.

After that, I couldn’t see or hear people around except for the finish line.

I didn’t know at the time, but as it turned out, I was 37 seconds off my chip time from Mississauga. Most importantly though, I corrected the mistakes I made in the Spring, which was remembering to eat and drink throughout the race, and not go out too fast at the beginning. So I just about matched the time, but didn’t feel like crap at the finish. I’ll call that progress!

Showing off my loser medal - Waterfront Half 2011After a quick stop at the photo booth and then grabbing some food, I went to the bag reclaim line where I spent the next 1.5 agonizing hours of my life. It was so horrible that everybody cheered whenever a lucky soul emerged with a bag every few minutes.

Meanwhile, the outside of my right knee really became angry after I stopped. Standing in line in tight confines prevented me from stretching, which made matters worse. I would need to add a minute or two to my walk commute in the next few days…

Overall, I think the race itself was fantastic, and so were the free samples at the finish. However, I’d be happy to do without the big crowds and the associated shenanigans before and afer the race. I’m not sure if I would return next year, especially since there are other quality events in the region.


  1. Cherry

    Good race – how you remember all the details & at what distance baffle me. Here I am still contemplating on doing a 10K this spring….

    1. Henry Lo

      It’s easy when I have GPS tracking 😉

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