The Burlington Chilly Half Marathon – 5th March 2017

Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Brooks Running

&

Helly Hansen

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The Burlington Chilly Half Marathon is one of those very flat lakeside courses that southern Ontario does so well; if the wind isn’t blowing too bad this is PB territory (it was for two – and so nearly three! - of our team) for sure, and it’s a pretty route to boot. Four of our team took on the challenge, here’s what they thought.

Pamela - This turned out to be a significant race for me, which I hadn’t expected! I told myself that with a race so early in the season, in cold windy weather, when my winter training had been power rather than endurance-focused, that this would not be ‘my day’.

I’m a speed-walker and my PB for the half-marathon is 2:43. I was counting on doing somewhere between 2:50 – 3:00 at the Chilly Half, and I was happy with that prediction. But early on race morning a friend wrote to me and told me to “walk my heart out”. Somehow, when I crossed the startline, that resonated with me. I’ve been feeling a bit down lately and suddenly, I wanted to pour all my heart and my feelings into that walk. I felt strong! I switched on my happiest playlist, and gave it everything I had. The sun was bright and I loved the out-and-back design of the course. I saw so many big smiles from the other runners and walkers and got high-fives and encouragement along the way. Burlington is a beautiful city, and I enjoyed the views of the lake so much. For the first 14km I was strong and ahead of my PB pace but in the last 7km, my lack of endurance training caught up with me a little and I slowed slightly. I still ended up with 2:44, just a minute off my PB. Much more importantly I had a great race and it gave me the boost and motivation I need for a strong season of training and races to come. And, most important of all, the Trek and Run team celebrated our accomplishment with vegan burgers at Burlington’s Boon Burger. Perfect day!

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Adam - With an early prediction of a plus 4°C forecast and an actual temperature of between -4°C to -10°C, VR PRO’s Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty 5k lived up to the name! As I arrived in Burlington there was an endless bright, blue skyline for a backdrop against the almost Caribbean-esque hues of frigid Lake Ontario, it was stunning. My morning started as any other race day, trying to keep the butterflies from exploding out of my stomach and mouth. Funny to be just as nervous at the start of what was my first half marathon race as at the start of any ultra I’ve run! But with 3000 plus excited runners toeing the line I’d expect jitters, the atmosphere always gets to you.

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Race kit pickup Thursday morning went smooth, I picked the kit up for all of my team mates, no problem. On the day the indoors bag check was a few dollars donation and again was coordinated efficiently. The Trek and Run team met prior to the race to take some pictures and by 9:45am we were on our ways to our corrals. After a short introduction to the race we counted down from 10 and were off. From Brant Street we traveled south to Lakeshore, then west towards Joseph Brant house and then to Beach Blvd. The first aid station was about 2.5k in and gave out ice water to those in need! Here we turned back towards Lakeshore. Once we completed the loop back we headed east on Lakeshore toward Guelph Line. The entire race became about micromanaging body temperature. At points the wind rolled along the lake surface blustering out at us. Minutes later houses, apartments and condos provided cover. The course itself is mostly flat and wonderful to run on. The scenery kept my mind free and positive with hundreds of spectators to cheer you on the entire route. I felt there could have been more bathrooms bunched together, I got caught waiting in a line which impacted on my finish time but with the gorgeous lake to look at, I wasn’t complaining too much. My body started to slow at 16k but the NUUN electrolyte drink that was provided at an aid station helped. The last 1.5k is a slight grade to the finish. I crossed at 2:04 which is a PB because this was my first half!

Afterward there was a lot to eat and drink. There were Cliff Bars, Muscle Milk and Quaker bars galore. We got some cool pics with the New Balance ice sculpture, our bling and the NB shoe mascot…

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We wrapped up as the Trek and Run team at Boon Burger for some plant-based fuel. The event could not have played out more wonderfully and our post race was the best. Everything from start to finish was in place to make this a great race from volunteers to medics to the race route itself. I’m so proud that my hometown of Burlington put on a fantastic event! I look foward to next year’s race.

Virgil - The Chilly Half Marathon was a new race for me and I was excited and nervous about it at the same time. I had been diligently weight training for a month prior, but hadn’t been doing a lot of long runs. The weather was always going to be an X factor too, for my debut race for the 2017 calendar. It was going to be cold. That shouldn’t be an issue – it’s mostly always sub zero this time of year, hence the race title! – and yet, an issue it always is. Race kit pickup was done by Adam and the kit had your typical race miscellania, including a beautiful half zip long sleeve tech top. Not a lot of races give out long sleeves so this was a welcomed addition. Bag drop was done at the (warm) art center, the volunteers were helpful and quick. At the last minute I decided to dispense with the jacket I had, and hoped that it wouldn’t be too cold. I lined up in the corrals and soon we were off.

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The first 10k were pretty uneventful, and I meant that in a good way. At the first water station the cup I was given had iced over on the top. I had to knock the side of the cup to break the ice, which also meant I lost half the contents. That was the first time that happened to me, I thought it was funny. I felt good, though the legs were a little slow. The 1:50 pacer went up the road, followed by the 1:55 and 2:00 pacers. I think that’s when I decided to get into gear. It was getting warmer, despite the forecast, and it was nice and sunny. I was pretty happy to reach the 18k still in good spirits, and really enjoyed the last kilometer up Brant to the finish line to collect some nutrition and my hardware bling (my teammates were even there to live blog my finish). Once we had a chance to pick up some more food at the sponsor tables, a few selfies, and pick up our bags, the four of us were reunited again. We all decided to go to Boon Burger for a delicious vegan lunch. It was a relief to finally sit down and take off my shoes. All in all, an excellent start to another year of racing!

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Dave – The first race of the season is always a tricky one; I’m unsure of how winter training has gone, and the weather is generally harsh. But, on the plus side, my legs are fresh and if I’m going to hit a PB time it’s generally going to happen early on, before August, rather than in the Autumn races. So I woke up on race day with a positive mind (a very civilised 10am start time helped too so I got some good sleep!). It was going to be cold, sure, but the pre-race emails had shown that the organisers were experienced and had thought of everything I needed them too. If I stuck to my race plan I should see a decent result.

Organisation on race day was exactly what was needed. There was plenty of street parking near to the start line and a large, heated building right next to the start where we could all stay warm, and the bag check was in an art centre a 2 minute jog away that had plenty of space for runners to hang out and warm up. This was so important, most of all in sub zero weather like this, you just need a relaxed place to stay warm before the race starts. This would also be where we hung out after the event as the massage tables were upstairs and the awards ceremony was held in the theatre next to bag check.

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The art centre washroom queue was fast moving, at least for those who just wanted a urinal. For the others, who knows, they might have missed the start gun. I don’t have much sympathy, a big part of racing success is getting your food, and the times you eat it, right, on race day and the day before. It’s a different matter for the ladies, obviously, but the successful ones I know tend to hold off drinking much until a minute before the start gun, then the body goes into water retention mode before the liquid can reach the bladder.

The course was mostly flat, either along the lakeshore or through pleasant, leafy residential areas, and the wind not as fierce as I’d feared. I tucked in behind the 1:30 pacer group, planning to let them take the headwind until the 2nd turnaround point and then push on for (hopefully) a time below 1:29:30, my previous personal best time. But although I did stick to that tactic, I found I didn’t need to tuck in much behind the group as although it was very cold the wind wasn’t as cutting as the forecast had predicted.

It was so cold, around the minus ten mark with windchill, the cups of water at the first aid station had ice on the surface and the ground was littered with shards, you had to be careful here, I saw a guy slip on them. I was ok though as I didn’t go near the tables, I didn’t want to take on any liquid in weather like this, the body doesn’t really need it and you end up wanting to use the washroom again before the end of the run. Or at least, I do.

After the second turnaround I pushed on from the group, the slight wind was behind me and the road was well made and flat, it was perfect conditions for a fast final few kms.

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Crowd support was consistently good – which was no small feat, to have people standing around cheering when it was this cold! – and I was pleased to finish in 1:28:09, way better than my previous best time. The conditions hadn’t been easy but the times our team achieved do bear witness to how fast this course is.

To sum up, the Burlington Chilly Half is a super friendly, well supported and excellently organised event, and a great opener to the running season on a fast, flat course that’ll let you know how your winter training has gone. If you’ve put the hard work in, this course will give you your reward.

To discover more, and to enter the 2018 event, please see http://www.chillyhalfmarathon.ca/site-chilly/Chilly_Half.html

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