Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ajax Waterfront Half Marathon - PR

Miha and I raced the Ajax Half Marathon on Sunday. Ajax is a little town, located east of Toronto, where we live right now. We are doing this race every year, since we moved to Ajax 3 years ago. Coincidentally this race started 3 years ago so we can say that we are doing it since its day one. And we plan to do it for many years to come.

The route starts and ends at Rotary Park and it winds along the shores of Lake Ontario. The scenery is beautiful and the race has sold out for every year so far. It has that feeling of a little town race, which I like very much. Everybody is very friendly and nice. Plus it costs only $30, if you register in advance. Most of the big races charge double the price.

My first half marathon was Ajax Half Marathon, in 2008, and I did it with almost zero training. I finished then in 1:43:54h and I remember even now how hard that race was. My left knee was hurting for the last 5K but I sucked it up and kept running. At some point I was limping, but I kept running. I was really happy that in the end I managed to run for the entire race. The next year I managed to finish the same race in 1:34:55h, which was a PR at that time. And because in 2009 I trained properly, that race was much easier.

As you realized from the title, I got a PR on Sunday. Here are our results:

I finished in 1:30:48 h and beat my previous Half Marathon PR time by more than 4 minutes. And considering that my stomach bug is still bothering me, I am really happy with this result. For the first time I managed to get a negative split. My average pace in the second half was 2 seconds faster than in the first half. My primary goal was to get a negative split, regardless if I get a PR or not. That's because until now, at all my previous races, I always started too hard and then faded at the end. This time I raced by Heart Rate instead of racing by feeling. After failing a few times in the past, I realized that I do not have the experience to pace myself properly by feeling. So I decided to use my HR monitor as a pacing device. Regardless of how well I felt or how many other participants passed me, each time my HR spiked over 170 I slowed down and kept telling myself that my goal is to finish strong, with a negative split, even if I do not get a PR. In the end this strategy paid off. I felt strong all the way to the end and finished with a long sprint for the last 2K. My average HR was 170 and my max HR was 182.

Miha was aiming for 1:45h, but she did not feel too well and finished in 1:50:59, with one minute more than her PR. I am sure that in a good day she can get her PR down to 1:45h.

Also my friend Dan finished his first half marathon on Sunday. He finished in 1:46:21h and he was extremely happy with his result. He has every reason to be happy. It is a huge achievement for him considering that a few months ago he was afraid of running 5K.
Dan and I work downtown Toronto, in the same building, and get together during the lunch break almost every day. I guess that for a while I exasperated him with my triathlon talk and in the end he decided to give it a try. Now he exasperates me each time when he manages to improve his 5/10K time by 1 second :0). And lately he managed to get a PR every week. After finishing the half marathon with a 5:03 min/km pace he told me that a few months ago he could not run 1K at that pace. It is amazing how much you can achieve if you put your mind into it.
Dan bought a Garmin 305 GPS watch, after I lent him mine for a few days, and he's fascinated by it. I've never seen anyone so in love with a GPS watch. He keeps telling me that  it was one of the best purchases he ever made.
He also decided to do the Muskoka Half Ironman next year. Actually, we'll do it together. I am not so sure about my performance in year from now, but I know that Dan will perform very well.  It makes me happy knowing that he caught the triathlon bug from me.


  1. Congrats on your races! Sounds like a nice run.

    We race similar heart rates, though I haven't pulled off a negative split yet.

    You killed your PR! That's amazing!

  2. It was a nice run, indeed. It seems that the negative splits strategy works really well for me and I intend to use it the future. For me the hard part was to run slower in the beginning and allow the other runner to pass me. Using the HR as a speedometer and setting the 170 bpm as the "legal speed limit" was a good idea and it worked well.

  3. Great JOB! Man, I truly wish we lived closer, sounds like you and I would be great training partners because we would probably train stride for stride!!!

    From one marriage that trains together to another, great job both of you and keep up the good work!!!

  4. Solid time bro...and great race. I spectated that run last year and the start along the clif/water is breathtaking.

  5. Matty - Thanks! I'd love to have you as a training partner, especially that I do not have anyone to train with right now. Because of the kids, my wife and I cannot really train together.

    Q - Thanks! I guess that I know now why most of ads for runners are with people running by the waterfront. The vista is inspiring and it makes the time fly by.

  6. Hi, Dan here. Yes, I am very proud of myself. I started in April with 0.5 km or exhausting 2.5 km training distances with paces just a bit below than 6:00 and heavy breathing after each run. At that time I was training for 5k race in Mississauga. 5k looked like a citadel that needs to be conquered. Now, after few months and discussions with Doru almost every working day during the lunch time, I completed my annual racing schedule in a beautiful half-marathon. Doru transmitted this bug to me. Thanks Doru

  7. I am glad to hear Dan that you caught the running/triathlon bug from me. You progress so far is amazing and now you are the one who motivates me to keep training, especially that we're going to do Ironman 70.3 Muskoka together next year.

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