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Race Day: Grimsby Half Marathon

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
Look at that bling!

Look at that bling!  I’m a Half Marathon finisher!

Today was Race Day – the Grimsby Half Marathon.  My first half marathon.  I know it really was just a glorified long training run, but it feels really cool to say I’ve run a Half Marathon.  Really Cool.

Race day temperature was roughly -2°C, overcast, and with a headwind on the return leg of the run.  That’s what I get for running a race in February.  It was cold.

My wife and I met a very nice lady in the starting coral – it was her 49th half marathon.  Next weekend she’ll run her 50th.  The following weekend she’ll celebrate her 50th birthday.  50 before 50 – what a cool goal.  She had such a relaxed attitude that really helped put me in the right frame of mind – she’s done a bunch of these, and she’ll do more.  She wasn’t stressing about a PB – she was racing because she enjoyed it.  Such a perfect perspective for the start line.

I decided not to run with music or my coaching app.  I had no sense of pace other than listening to my body.  I wanted to try going headphone-free on this race to see how it would work before my ‘A’ race next month.  I had my phone in my pocket – I knew the race started at 9:15 and had a 3hour limit.  I knew I ran a 21k training run last week in 3:10:00.  My goal was to finish in under 3 hours before they closed the course.

The race started easy enough – the gun went off, and 145 people started running.  My wife and I started right in the middle of the pack, but she quickly ran ahead of me (as I knew she would).  So did most of the runners.  By the 5km point I’d settled in with runners of my pace: me.  I had the road to myself.

I checked my phone every few kilometer markers for a sense of time.  I tried to do the math to guess at my pace (note: math while racing is apparently a lot harder than math while not racing).  The first half of the race went well, but then slowly my pace started to fall off.  Gotta finish in 3 hours – I want to run across that finish line before they tear it down.

I was able to keep strong until about the 15km mark, at which point the walk breaks became more frequent and the legs felt more like bricks.  The road was pretty quiet – there were less police and volunteers at intersections, and not many runners around.  It was a mental battle to remind myself this was a race, and to keep pushing at race pace – I wasn’t out doing a training run by myself.

The few runners I was using as pace bunnies were slowly getting away from me.  I kept looking over my shoulder to see how many runners were coming up behind me – I didn’t want to be the last one to finish.  I didn’t see many people at all.

By 18km I had caught up to one of my pace bunny runners (or rather, he had fallen back to me).  A pair of runners from behind had also caught us.  They were nice chatty folks and we pushed each other forward.  But I knew in the back of my head: there’s nobody behind us now.  I’m going to finish last.

We stayed together down the home stretch to the last hill, at about 20.75km (brutal!!!).  All 4 of us were out of gas; all 4 of us walked up the hill.  I looked over my shoulder and saw a truck driving slowly behind us picking up the pylons and road signs from the race.  They were closing the course.  I had to finish.  The last couple hundred meters were an all out 4-way sprint race (as best any of us could sprint at that point… I’ll bet a potato sack race could have gone faster).

I ended up finishing the race in 2:38:30.8 – 144/145 racers (a whole 4.5 seconds out of last place).  Bam – not last!

Apparently math is hard while running – I beat my training pace by a whole 31.5 minutes, and was ahead of the course cut off by over 20 minutes.  Those cheeky volunteers – they were closing the course early!!!

See!  I finished!

See! I finished!

My wife ended up finishing with a PB time of 2:01:42.3, which is amazing, good enough for 102/145 racers.  I’m really proud of her.

So I can now say I’ve finished a Half Marathon!  That’s a pretty cool item off the bucket list.  More to the point, I was able to run 21.1km and maintain a 7:30/km pace (which is really good for me – much better than last week’s training run, which left me a little nervous).  I’ve got some work to do in the next month to be able to run another 9km at the end of that, but if I can keep the same pace, I should be able to run The Bay in 3:45:00 – well ahead of their 4:30:00 cut off time (unless they close that course early too… cheeky volunteers!).

And with 8,500 people registered for The Bay, hopefully I can finish better than 2nd last place 😉


  1. February 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Congrats Dave! You must feel like a million bucks! My first half was 2:48 and my best was 2:21:58 and I have come in last in a race (check out the 2010 Horror Hill run if you don’t believe me), and really it’s not a big deal. Often it means you get your own escourt! Remember this, you always beat the people who didn’t run at all (whether you think those at home on the couch or those who signed up and never showed)!

    Good luck at Around the Bay! I’ll be there with the girls cheering Steve on! He’s running his first Marathon in May in Toronto and the Bay is his pre-marathon race to get him all excited! So I hope your training goes well and maybe we’ll see you at the Bay! Or at least cheer for you need the finish!

  2. February 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for the feedback Alice – I find it really helpful to hear how other runners do. Hopefully we’ll see you at The Bay… less than a month now…

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