Oakville Half Marathon Race Report

Race weekend started the day before on Saturday at kit pick-up. Kit pick up was in the same park where we’d be starting and ending the race the next day. It was my first look of the area, I work in Oakville but I tend to stick North of the highway and in the trail system so I’d never been down by the lake. I don’t know why, it’s quite pretty!

It’s a lovely park and was a beautiful day, the kits we all set-up outside in the field. There wasn’t any lines when I went so I quickly got my bib by telling them my bib number which had been emailed to us the day before. Then got my shirt, the women’s is a nice navy and I like the leaves, logo is kind of huge. The men received the same shirt in burgundy. There was a few venders there but nothing fancy, it is a small race but does well to put in elements of the big-ticket races. I got a free headband from Tatika and chatted with the Nuun (which would be on course!) rep for a couple minutes who I know from working the MEC races.

The race kit in all included the shirt, reusable bag (love when races do this!), usual fliers for other races, Oasis juice box, some other fruit energy drink, snack size Cliff Breaker bar which I ate immediately, those wipes and icey ointment you always get. And some sport tape, hey this one is cool!

Race morning started at 5:30am for me. I got up, put on the outfit I’d laid out the night before and then quickly changed my mind and put on the capris I’d been debating. The weather was calling for a crisp 11 degrees at race start but would quickly climb over the course of the race to about 16. Shorts would have been fine probably but I don’t typically wear shorts for long runs and felt like I’d rather be dressed a little warmer and I knew I’d be totally fine with the capris once temperatures were at their peak and then I could skip the body glide.

Breakfast was 2 slices of toast with light spread of peanut butter and then I was off to the race! Fortunately my parents took me so I was able to relax a bit on the way over, I had a bottle of water I was sipping and a Honey Stinger Waffle I had planned to eat at some point since breakfast was so early, but race nerves had me not wanting it on route.

We headed over to Bronte Go which was the official parking location for the race. We got there at about 6:30 and got in line for the shuttle. There was a big crowd that all showed up at this point so the first bus filled up and we got on the second which came right after. The bus dropped us off at the corner of Lakeshore and Third Line which I was not expecting so we walked over to the park from there.

Then it was just waiting around for the start, I made my bathroom visits with no problem, they had a good amount there so I never waited for one. I did see a line had formed closer to race start so I’m not sure how long they had to wait. This is why I get to races early!

At some point I did feel ready to eat the waffle and did eat it and about 10 minutes to race start I had my first gel.

Into the coral, I decided to place myself behind the 2:05 pacer, I had no idea what to expect of myself for this race but my hope was to come in under 2:05 so I wanted him ahead of me for that. In the coral I ended up beside Katie, one of the runners in the MEC group so that was really great to chat with someone for a minute while we waited for the gun. Race started and I lost track of Katie but was ready to run my race.

I started really well, I was focused on making sure I wasn’t going too fast and keeping a steady pace. I didn’t really have any kind of strategy for this race, I’d decided I was just going to see how it all went. I kept the 2:05 pacers in my sights, it was a run/walk pacer so I passed on their walk and then they got ahead but I’d closed the gap already and was feeling pretty good about that. I knew my pace felt good and if I kept this up I’d quickly loose the 2:05 pacer since I was keeping up with their run pace.

And I quickly did loose them, I passed them again on their second walk break and never saw them again!

I ran this without any water on me so knew I needed to plan my gels ahead of time. With aid stations ever 3k I’d decided my best strategy was to take one at 6k and one at 15k. So just before 6k at aid station 2 I took a gel and had some water.

The course ran along Lakeshore for 6km, right through downtown, and then we turned up heading away from the lake. I’d never run the area before but knew ahead of time there would be some elevation gain here as it is all around Lake Ontario. There was a family out spectating here and the guy said ‘just 100m until the top of the hill!’ I just kind of laughed. It’s not a hill, you’ll feel it but it’s not enough to do much damage to your pace. At around 8k we turn left and start making our way back. Toughest part of the race is done and I’m feeling good. Hit another aid station here and I have my first cup of Nuun. Man was I excited about the Nuun being on course. They were handing out Lemon-Lime flavour as is standard at races.

In the last mile of the race. Photo by Katie’s husband.

We make a left turn and head down and then shortly make a right to continue on. This is all through residential streets and is really a lovely route. Very shaded so it helped keep the nice cool temperatures we were graced with feeling even fresher. Just before 10k we make a left and start heading back down to Lakeshore. This was so nice. While the up wasn’t really much to notice, the down was great, I was able to pick up some speed here and bank some time which came in handy later on.

This spits us out back downtown, we’re running the same spot we ran already. I do wonder how this was managed as I suspect the lead back would have run in to the back pack here. But when I went through the back pack had already cleared out. I gather the usual route does not have this doubled up section but there were some route changes due to construction. We pass another aid station and I have some water and Nuun again. I’m not drinking very much but I am doing real well in throwing water all over me.

Right after the aid station at around 12.5km we make a right, mini little hill and then a left as we head onto Rebecca. This would be the part where if anyone isn’t feeling their best is going to get slammed. All roads we ran on were opened but given that they were residential, weren’t very busy, and downtown just happened to be pretty quite as well. Rebecca was a lot busier, and it’s close to 9am now so the sun is up diminishing a lot of shade from the first half of the course. Fortunately I was able to keep myself focused. I hadn’t studied the map much but figured we’d be on this stretch for about 5k. Sight lines were poor in this section so it worked out fine that it was a long stretch since you couldn’t tell by looking.

Along here I found Katie again, I came up behind her so at some point she’d passed me but I’m not sure when. I said hi and we chatted for a minute. We were coming up on the next aid station so I took out my gel. This is the first station I stopped at, by this point I knew I needed some more water so I slowed down and took a proper drink and then continued on. I got ahead of Katie here but knew she was just behind me. We continued on this road for awhile before hitting the last aid station just before 18k. More Nuun and water here, again I slowed so I could get some last bit of energy in me. By this point I knew I was on pace for a 2:02 finish but took that extra second to fuel up properly so I could stay on track.

Then we’re making a left turn and making our way back to Lakeshore through a small detour, yay! Katie catches up beside me through here. We’re both getting ready for our final push to the finish. We stay close together as we run by the lake. She shouts off some words of encouragement to me as we’re about to turn on to Old Lakeshore. I’ve got my last bit of energy I’m ready to burn off, she’s just behind me and we end up seeing her husband about 1.5km away from the finish. He joins up with her and I continue to try to pick it up.

The last stretch, I’m gaining on some people through here, as Old Lakeshore hits up with Lakeshore I pass a guy I remember being passed by at the halfway point. I can see the turn into the finish shoot and start heading in to a final sprint. As I turn into the park I see the clock ticking passed 2:02, I throw more into that stretch then I knew I had in me, I don’t know how far behind the gun time my start time was so I’m full out sprinting ugly face and all across the finish to try to nab a sub 2:02.

Official Chip Time: 2:01:58.6

What an amazing race! I’m so proud of how well I ran this. I stayed steady and strong the whole run. My splits were the most even I’ve ever done, for the 19km there’s exactly 2 outliers. 1 was for the ‘uphill,’ I was slightly slower here, the other was for the downhill which I did slightly faster. Every other kilometre was solidly in the 5:40’s. Never ever been this consistent. And the last 2k show my final kick so they were faster.

Post race, got my medal, got my photo. Nuun was the first table we hit. Wohoo! My Nuun rep friend was there with his contgrats. I took a couple of cups. I met up with Katie and her husband here, she’d come in just behind me and we exchanged contrags. My parents found me here as well.

Then went to the next tables. Those stupid gross bread round things of course. I don’t know why I grabed that. Blueberry scones, yes please! Banana, bottle of water and Cliff had samples out.

I then did a bit of stretching, my hip had tightened up around half way, that worried me as it was the same hip that was so bad during my full last year. But I didn’t end up feeling it for the rest of the race. Now that I was done though I could feel it tightening up again.

All stretched out made my way over to the SportStats tent to check my time. I was dying to know if I’d squeezed in under 2:02. Bib scanned, huge grin, I see the 2:01:58. I had done it, my mega sprint was worth it.

After that made our way over to third line where the buses were waiting to take us back to Bronte Go.

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The Oakville Half Marathon

I’d signed up for this because I’d heard so many good things about it and knew it was the same group that does the Mississauga Half which is my favourite. I was not disappointed. It’s a small race, the half marathon had under 550 participants, there was also a 5k and 10k option which started at 7am for the 5k and 7:30am for the 10k, the half was 7:45 so we were actually able to see the 5k come in which was cool. Its size and the route make this feel like a small town race, it essentially is. But they definitely put the quality you’d expect from a larger race in to it. Aid stations were will run, there were loads of volunteers and there was cops at all intersections keeping traffic in line for us to cross. It really is a scaled down version of the Mississauga Marathon.

It is a small race so there’s not a ton of crowd support but there were people out with their signs and due to the loop course they were able to move around to various locations and were all amazing. Also since there were so many volunteers they were spread out along the course cheering as well.

I think my only real wish is that there was split maps set-up, but I know this is more expensive and I’m mostly interested because I ran such a solid race I’d like to compare my rankings throughout the course haha.

Also if the official photos were a little more reasonable that’d be great! $50 for 13 photos, I’ll be passing on that.

I would definitely recommend this race, the course is great, aid stations were stocked up with Nuun, water and cliff chews and it was pretty well organized.

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3 thoughts on “Oakville Half Marathon Race Report

  1. Hey Jessica nice story. I ran it too and i do remember you as we did almost same time. Where do you usually run as practice? I would like to start some running group for next spring summer!

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    • Oh really! That’s fun! I run with the MEC Burlington meet up group and the Burly Trail Runners, we run all I’ve Hamilton, burlington and oakville! Search MEC Burlington meet up runs on meetup.com the Thursday Burly runs are listed on their page as well

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