NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Saturday, A Midsummer Night’s Run

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The TL;DR read recap: I crushed it.

The longer recap:

A Midsummer Night’s Run was back on the Spit this year, but with a few changes: we ran to Cherry, along the Martin Goodman trail, and then out on the Spit.

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I picked up my race kit around 10am and then went out for breakfast. My stomach wasn’t in love with this idea for the first few hours post-brunch, but it settled down eventually. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and freaking out. I ate again at 2pm (granola, fruit and yogurt) and again at 4:30 (bread, peanut butter and banana).

All day Saturday, it threatened to rain. And for the hour before the race, it did indeed rain. It eventually stopped, though – and then it didn’t rain again for the rest of the night, making it pretty excellent racing conditions. Because of the rain, I didn’t leave the house until 5:15, wanting to stay dry for as long as possible. I arrived at 5:30, stretched, walked around and used the bathroom one final time. Then I headed to the start – where I ran into my pal Ron. The start was CROWDED. Neither of us heard the starting horn. All of a sudden we were off!


I had a hard time jostling for position and getting my pace down, there were so many people and the course was so crowded. It got a little better on Commissioners, but there were a few road dividers that has us squeezed together. I ran as far outside as a I could in order to get closer to the 1:30 bunny, to get ahead of her. I had a race plan, but it all came down to beating the 1:30 bunny. Cherry was the same way – we only had one lane of traffic and it was barely enough. By kilometre 3, I had settled into a pace. There wasn’t any room to move, really, but I felt comfortable and there was enough space to breathe. I checked my watched every few minutes and as long as I saw 5:3X or 5:4X I wasn’t going to worry. 5:2X meant slow down. 5:5X meant speed up. Easy. I took water at the first station, but didn’t stop running. It was too early on the route, and a walking break wasn’t really safe, with the crowds.

Running along the Martin Goodman Trail had its pros and cons. It was so green and lush that it truly felt like running through a forest (“Through the forest I have gone..”) But it was, again, crowded. It was hard to dodge puddles or people taking walking breaks without bumping into another runner. The crowd opened up once we got out of the forest and on Unwin.


I ended up being paced by a woman from about kilometres 3-6. Or I paced her, I couldn’t tell. We ran side by side, silently, for about 15 minutes. I finally lost her at the second water station. I did stop this time, and spent an extra minute taking off my long-sleeved shirt. From here on out, the water stations were 3km apart, so I decided that I’d take my walk breaks then. I still felt good at the turn around, I could feel myself getting tired, but I could sustain the current place.

I like out and backs, because I like looking at all the runners, trying to find people I know and drawing strength from other runners.


At kilometre 10, I got a stitch in my side and my knee started to bug. It wasn’t quite pain, just a twinge cautioning me to slow down. Since this is the knee that gave me grief during the Ottawa marathon, I started to worry. I did slow down a bit. In fact, I took a wee walking break at the 11km mark, just before the final water station. But then the 30km winner was about to pass me, and I was asked to move to the side. He ran by me and I felt like a giant chump. I picked it up – and then saw the 1:25 bunny right ahead of me. She was within reach if I kept my pace. I took water at the last station, walked for a bit to drink it properly, and then decided I was going to pass the 1:25 bunny.

I passed her with 2k left.

I felt like I had it in me to pick it up, but there weren’t any road markers after the 13k marker, so I wasn’t entirely sure where I was. I decided to stick to my current pace and then just sprint to the finish line once we turned the corner. That last stretch lasted forever – it felt so much longer than I ever remember. We finally made it, I sprinted as hard as I could to the mat. My watch said 1:25:01. It felt possible I broke 1:25 with my official time – which was much faster than I expected.

Official time: 1:24:41.

This was my most consistent race, pacing wise, ever. And I PRed by 6 minutes, the last time I ran this race my time was 1:30 and change.

My splits:
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This race was excellent positive reinforcement, reminding me the importance of having realistic goals, a solid racing plan and how important it is to not go out too fast. I’ve really struggled with the mental game during this training cycle, trying to find purpose and positivity in running another marathon. This race was a step in the right direction.

Sister Act: A Midsummer Night’s Run 15k

Erin’s story:

I ran A Midsummer’s Night’s Run last year as part of my training for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon. While the race itself didn’t go so well (1:48), I enjoyed the route and spirit of the race, so signed up for 2012. Thankfully, many of my running pals were aso into the 15k distance and Shakespeare theme, so we had quite a strong contingent heading out there!

Despite what happened last year, I didn’t do a lot of training for Midsummer this time out. A handful of 10k long runs dotted my DailyMile reports, but that’s it. I feel that I’m much fitter than I was last year and my running base was there, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after 10k. My plan? To feel strong until 12k, then just hang on.

That’s exactly what happened.

In the back of my mind, I had a 1:30 goal time. I felt that despite my lack of training, 1:30 would be difficult but achievable. I could handle that. On race day, we had perfect running weather. Sunny, but cool. It’s beginning to feel like fall. Jill and I met up with Kate before the start (who is a fitness monster — she followed this 15k race with Tough Mudder on Sunday morning!) and we agreed to stick together. Kate was using the race as a long training run (reason: the aforementioned Tough Mudder) and it was Jill’s first ever 15k race, so she was unsure what to expect (her race experience is below!).

The Midsummer crowd is dense for the first couple kms. Without timed corrals, it’s bound to happen. It’s not the biggest deal, but it does make it tough for three people to stick together and try to find a pace that works for everyone. After about a km, Jill took off. This was cool with us — I knew if Jill felt strong, she’d run under 1:30 without any problems. Kate and I settled in. I was feeling good, running around a 5:45 pace. I knew it wouldn’t last, but I felt It wouldn’t wear me out. Then Kendal caught up with us and hung around for a bit. Kendal was also using this run as a training run. Her race mission? “No slower than 1:25.” Stick with me, Kendal, that’ll definitely happen.

Kilometre 3. I was slowing down. Kendal and Kate inched ahead of me. Then Kendal put on her music and settled into her run. Kate dropped back and made the decision to run with me the whole way. Thank you Kate!!

We passed the 5 mark at 28:38, making good time. Both 1:30 pace bunnies were right in front of us, so we decided as long as we kept them in sight, we were fine. Kilometre 7 is the one that rounds the lighthouse at the end of the spit. The trail changes here from pavement to dirt and last time I ran on dirt, I rolled my ankle. I slowed. Kate stayed with me. We picked it up for kilometres 8 and 9, and even passed both 1:30 bunnies. I fueled up at kilometre 8. I was fading, but not in pain. I concentrated on my breath and not letting Kate get too far ahead of me. She was running maybe two steps in front. When we passed the 10k marker at 59:32, I felt we were in the clear. If I could hang on to a 6:00-ish pace, we’d be fine. Kilometres 11 and 12 started to hurt. Nothing painful, just the I’m-at-the-end-of-the-race-and-using-everything-I-have-left feeling. We were running closer to 6:10 by this point, but I was okay with that.

Then kilometre 14 lasted forever. It felt like the longest click of my running career. The sign was never coming. (I confirmed this with my fellow runners after — it was long!). Then,  it was the final kilometre. We kept pace until we rounded the corner for the last couple hundred metres. “Do you have a sprint in you?” Kate asked. “No, arfhghjkgkd!” I believe was my answer. But we picked it up anyway and crossed the finish looking and feeling strong.

1:30:35. 35 seconds off my goal and 18 minutes faster than last year. Can’t complain about that at all.

Thanks, Kate for running with me. Running a race with a friend changes the entire dynamic of what you are doing. You’re focused on them, making sure they feel good and running strong, but you also don’t want to let them down. The few times I felt weak in this race, I pushed through because Kate was there. I really enjoyed having someone to talk to and someone to measure myself against.

Next year: 1:25. I think I can do it. Especially if I run with a fast friend.

Jill’s story:

A race featuring fairies, princess and mermaids is defiantly my kind of race. Although, Midsummer Night’s did not have that race feel at all. Instead it was super fun, friendly, social, and rather exciting. Maybe that’s why it’s called a run and not a race. Either way this is a run for all Toronto runners. I kid you not there was a mermaid!

When Erin put this run into our summer race schedule, I was really excited. Let’s be honest: fairies are fun! And the chance to run among them would be grand! My only worry was the distance. Up to that point (when we registered) my longest race would have been the Yonge Street 10k. Anything beyond 10k was going into scary territory. But I signed up anyway, as getting a 15k race under my belt was one goal of mine to accomplish before leaving for San Francisco. As my Team In Training runs were stretching out further and further, I was becoming more comfortable with my longer runs. Adding more kilometres each week helped build the confidence I wanted to run a solid 15k for Midsummers. I knew full well in my mind 15k was more then manageable, but once I ran 20k “accidentally” with the marathoners one Saturday morning with TNT, I knew I was ready. This was just the boost I needed.

So finally race day came. I wasn’t too happy having to work the weekend I had a race, but seeing how the event was the canfitpro Conference and Trade Show — 2 days of taking to fit people — would be a good thing. I was complemented for my hippie environmental beliefs and ways of life, but also for my running and race goal times. I had a sub 1:25 in mind, but would settle for a sub 1:30. Erin and I explored the expo that afternoon, sampled more protien bars than any normal person should have, discovered to our newest fitness-must-try, Piloxing — more on this whole experience in a later post I promise — we ate a nice late lunch in the park by the CBC, then biked to Erin’s to rest for the race. I was tired, I needed a power nap!

Finally it was race time. As much as I wanted to run with Erin and Kate, we quickly realized running with 3 people is hard. As Erin mentioned the run did not have designated corrals so the first stretch was a tight squeeze to manoeuvre around. I saw the 1:30 pace bunny and caught up to him right away. I could hear Erin and Kate behind me, so I knew they weren’t far. I was feeling good and ready to run, but kept focused on not doing too hard to fast. For now. The next thing I knew the 1:25 pace bunny was behind me. I was then determined to keep it that way! With no music or no one to talk to I was insanely calm and focused on my breath. I had a song in my head to move to and new scenery to look at. As night time grew upon us I went into attack mode. I was stealthily taking down my opponents in front of me to finish ahead. This was probably more fun than it should have been, but hey whatever gets you going! But then the 13k stretch came and this leg of the race was not fun. My brain wanted it to be over and passing people became harder. I didn’t want to slow down, but most likely I had. The finish was drawing closer and people were in sight. I needed the cheers and claps to help me finish. Sprinting to the end I finished with a time of 1:22:45! Crushed 1:30 and minutes ahead of 1:25. I had a good race and was very happy with the outcome.

21.1k in looking easier and easier. Of course I say this now….


The route: