[BEGIN BACKDATED RACE REPORT:
Marathon #11 / Overall #16 / Country #2 (Canada)
Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon
Toronto, ON, Canada
I had been planning on doing this race since the latter half of 2014 while I was training for the Twin Cities Marathon, while I was still recovering from my debilitating oblique injury. I had initially planned to do this in 2013, but since my cousin and her family ain’t there… I deferred it for the year to come. But I knew that I had to make it a trip out there to visit family with one week off residency.
This race just looked cool by the map itself (see route below) There’s a concurrent half that started about 15 minutes after the full, and there’s a bit of a course overlap between the half and full segments. As you can see, there is a net DOWNHILL for the first 20k of the course. And yes, everything is in metrics, so in this race report, everything will be in metrics.
The sucky part was… I had gotten sick the week before and had been feeling ill… Hasn’t this been a consistent theme already? Lol… Surprise… As I made my way out of the Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport customs, my cousin in law picked me up along with my aunt. It’s a bit weird feeling but it was freakin’ awesome. Although I hadn’t been back IN China, this felt like a mini family reunion with half of my relatives from my dad’s side. Two of my aunts, as well as my other cousin, were all here, along with my cousin and her husband’s inlaws…
So Tony took me to the expo to pick up my bib… and here it is. The expo was moderate in size, and the sponsoring company is Goodlife Fitness – apparently it’s like a gym they have over there in Canada… The expo was overall alright. Not the biggest but it served its purpose ha.
Now you might be wondering… what is the Mexican flag doing here? Sure, it’s random, but it’s not completely random. After all, this was also the day of the OC Marathon and my Cinco de mayo FAIL… The TWO Mexican flags that you see here is from a Fiesta store in San Antonio (it was the week before). Lol.
That night, as we were all going to bed, my little cousin Benny wished his uncle good luck and he hopes that “I win”…. lol. Aww…
¡Viva México! Race Morning at Mel Lastman Square
My cousin dropped me off at the start line from Markham into Toronto proper city limits. While the start line was outdoors, a lot of us congregated indoors. And that’s where I saw another marathon Maniac. Up until this point, I still believed that you had to do like 15-20 marathons a year to qualify. So I was curious to ask him, how do you get into the Marathon Maniacs? He actually told me that there are different Maniac criteria, and the minimum that you have to do is 3 marathons (or more) in 90 days, OR 2 in 16 days. And I counted… and I was definitely more than that!
The start line was actually “un”-impressive… lol. There were no corrals, as the marathoners just gathered around the start. The half marathon would start about 30 minutes later.
Within less than 1k of the race, we were on Yonge Street. Yonge Street is one of the busiest streets (like the Broadway equivalent) within Toronto, and it actually goes up pretty far north for ?hundreds of kilometers north of the Toronto metro!
Sunrise coming up on Yonge Street… speed limit is 60 kph which is like 40 mph lol..
After the 3k mark, the route crossed Hwy 401, and there was a huge downhill followed by a huge uphill (that was probably the biggest hill in the whole course).
I was so used to mile markers… but this is all in kilometers. It had felt like 6 miles when I hit the 6k mark… and I was like aww man…!! Lol. And here’s more of Yonge street. There hasn’t been much elevation drop yet (still around 175m).
Right before the 10k mark, the course took a westbound detour by the Upper Canada College. The half marathoners would continue on Yonge until the 15k-16k mark of the full course. At this point, the elevation started to drop and I was picking up some speed.
The next 6-7k or so is best described as…. weeeeeee!!! We were coursing through a city park adjacent to Rosedale Valley road, with downtown to the right of us… It had been pleasantly cool with plenty of tall trees and bridges that provided shades. I even remember talking with one guy about from Texas and brought up that song “All my Ex’s are from Texas”… LOL
Keep in mind I had TWO Mexican flags in one hand… And we were being passed by the half marathoners who were about to finish their race shortly…
At about 20k, some Mexican girl was running the half went swiftly past me and yelled with excitement “¡México! ¡La bandera!”…. and then she just TOOK a flag out of my hand!!! It took me a few seconds to process that but I was like…. WHAAAT???? How dare you robbed me of my flag!! And I wanted to yell back “¡¡¡Ching— es MI bandera!!!” but I didn’t actually do it…. And I didn’t actually catch up to her because she was about to be DONE with a half marathon pace over a marathon pace like me…
Ever gotten robbed during a marathon in a foreign country? YES!!! -___-
We were within the premises of downtown by 22k until about 25k. The hallmark of Toronto, the CN tower, is over 100 stories (it beats the space needle in Seattle for sure and many of the “tower” structures in the US… lol). Downtown Toronto has a bunch of tall (not wimpy) skyscrapers…. that makes it the NYC equivalent of Canada… ha.
There’s an aid station (looking back), with downtown Toronto and the CN tower in the background… quite amazing!
From 26k to 28k, we crossed Gardner Expressway and a few railroads and made our way onto the Toronto waterfront… At the 27k mark, we could see the finish line to our right… and we wonder why we can’t just finish already… lol… ughhh… we have to go out and back.
The clouds were dissipating and the temperatures started to rise… We were on the Toronto waterfront trail for the next 7k or so and turned around at the 35k mark. The waterfront stretch overlooking Lake Ontario seemed very tranquil and a big change from the “big city” scene and urbanized neighborhoods of Toronto.
The turnaround point was approximately 35k. I saw a Canadian flag and had to take a picture like this… A picture is worth a thousands words they say, and this is the definition of a MEXI-CAN… hahah
The last 5k were hard!! The morning started out perfect at 10 C.. but by this point the heat was getting up to 21-22 C, and the sun was baking down on us… I could feel my right adductors starting to cramp up, and my pace was dropping down from a good 6:15 min/km to well over a 7 min/km… My PR at this point was in Twin Cities with a 4:36. I knew I would be cutting it close today…
I ended up arriving at the finish line at Ontario Place with a marginal “weak sauce” PR by 51 seconds from Twin Cities… Is that embarrassing or what…. but hey a PR is still a PR!! While I was struggling, I remembered that encouragement my little nephew Benny told me the night before… that kept me motivated to keep pushing…
When I got to the finish line, I was wondering where my aunts and other cousin were (they said they would be waiting for me at the finish line). I had told them that when I had 10-12k to go, I’d give them a text, and I did. But I had told them my finish time was gonna be like 5 hours so they took their time… It was only moments after that I finally met up with them…
Of course one of my aunts made fun of me for running with a Mexican flag and gotten one of them robbed by a Mexican national during a race… LOL!!
My aunts and cousin met me at the finish line, which was AWESOME & I know my little cousin Benny was cheering me on from back home…
Several days after the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon, I applied for the Marathon Maniacs and of course they replied with “Hi Maniac, yes you definitely qualify to be a maniac”. And the rest of the week were just some quality time with my cousins, aunts, and my little nephews. Benny is already 5 (the last time I saw him he was like 6 months old), and his little brother is about to turn 2…
Who knows the next time I’ll be back in Canada for another race… perhaps these boys will be teens!!
END OF BACKDATED RACE REPORT – COMPLETED ON 5/20/17]