Road2Hope Recap – My First Half Marathon

I never know how to write a good recap of what I’ve ever experienced on ‘race day’. I find each and every single time I’ve raced to be the most amazing day ever! However, I know you all want to hear about this so here it goes…

I prepared the night before and had the added bonus that race day was also day-light savings (YAY for an extra hour of sleep) we dropped Logan at my moms and as mentioned on instagram, had an awesome homemade pasta dinner :) I love carb-loading. So after setting out my clothes, rolling the complete crap out of my legs and making sure everything was ready to go. I was in bed, asleep by 10pm.

The race started at Dofasco Park which is only a 15 min drive for me :) When we got there it was time to start texting NicMac to see where she was. “I’m wearing a white hat” could’ve described probably 3/4’s of the participants…and I also described my racing outfit and then put clothes over top 😉 …but eventually we found each other :)

* I had a feeling Nicole was on the shorter side but I wasn’t prepared to look like a giant in all the photos 😉 

I decided to leave everything (including my jacket) in the car and obviously needed to get some pre-race rolling action in before the gun….

I will probably mention Nicole over 500 times in this recap (I never even asked her what she prefers to be called, oops) because she was seriously AMAZING!!! not only did I get to run my first half with an internet friend (we all know those are the best) but she made me feel like an elite athlete the entire time!!!

…she even brought me a toss cape :)

The starting line was packed and the race was delayed because of the marathoners: long story short, Hamilton kindly allowed anyone from the cancelled NY marathon to come over and race ours! so there were a lot more people to organize :)

As we were starting NicMac was sending out tweets 😛 lol as I didn’t want to waste one ounce of energy taking photos this race. Colin managed to get us leaving the start…..

For the next 5km’s NicMac said we were planning on running a 6:23 km avg (10:13 mile) we somehow managed to carve some time off that goal as we never went over a 10 min mile the whole race! (our slowest km being our first one) <—- she definitely knew how to race. If I had done this alone I’d have fallen flat.

Once we hit the 5k mark we turned onto the Redhill Creek Expressway and is was smooth sailing – literally. It was almost all completely downhill, a nice gradual one at that. I loved it. We picked up the pace and enjoyed the scenery. Trucks on the freeway going to other way were honking, people on overpasses were cheering and NicMac was yelling at everyone telling them it was my first half – everyone was cheering. It was AWESOME!!!

* I know she’ll be upset if I don’t get honest with you and let you all know that at the 7km marker I “coped a feel” of a guys ass when I was trying to slap his belt thingy back together 😛 lol There! I said it :)

Anyway Colin was waiting for us at the 11th km, where we came off the highway  and I wish I had my camera out to capture what I sawa zoned-out husband with hands in his pockets and NO camera ready. He surprisingly managed to capture Danielle‘s face, even though he’s never met her – spooky.

 * the marathon and the half over-lapped in some areas so even though Danielle got a PR and sub 1:55 she wasn’t beating that kenyan 😉 

Needless to say I was pissed! My first half with no camera-ready hubs!! I started yelling at him I don’t recall all the curse words that came out of my mouth but I definitely remember saying “what did you think I was going to run this race?” After he yelled out “You’re ahead of schedule” Being the awesome husband that he is – he took off running fast and managed to get in front of us and snap some shots of a much more happy Ali Mc…

* I love the girls looking over like I’m crazy!  I also seriously wish I looked this happy at km 19 😛

We were feeling great at this point and on our way onto the beautiful waterfront trail.

The trail picked my spirits up and it was smooth sailing along the gravel trail. I wish I could’ve taken some pictures for you. We saw Lyndsey at around 12.5km holding a “You’ve Got This Ali Mc” sign which I felt was amazing!

We crossed a walking bridge over the highway and headed down towards Lake Ontario. We just kept a steady pace and we were never passed by anyone we passed :) 

I can’t remember what kilometer marker I was at by the time we hit the waterfront but that’s when I began not loving running a half marathon. The route went out and turned around and went back beside itself so seeing runners go by you on their way to the finish as you were continuing to go further away from where you knew the finish was, was tough for me.

Ok, so now I see it was the 14th km….and we were literally only separated by pylons. So many times I felt like jumping over 😉 lol Especailly when I saw my friend Payden fly by – she PR’d with a 1:37!!! YAY!

Thank God for Nicole! She was so amazing. I think I literally complained the entire race. I have no inner monolouge – I always talk aloud to myself so I think meeting me for the first time in this kind of setting must’ve been crazy 😛 lol Sorry girl. Although I complain daily on my blog, so you should’ve known 😉

I was really in my head for the rest of the race. My ability to talk started to go at the 16km marker and I was literally wishing I was already done. I wanted to walk but I never did (aside from earlier through one water stop to fill my bottle). I felt like we were slowing down but I see now my last 5km’s were run at an increasing pace. I’m so PROUD.

NicMac kept saying encouraging words and didn’t stop even when I rudely told her to shut up. To the people I told to F*ck off at the 20th km, I’m sorry – but please NEVER say “you’re almost there” unless you can see the finish line. To the people smoking at the 400 meter marker – Why? it’s a race. Smoke somewhere else.

To the gentleman that elbowed me back when I went in for the pass and then slowed down and I passed anyways ….. CHICKED. enough said 😉 

I can’t describe the last miles of this race. I was really holding onto everything and anything I had left in me and really trying hard to tell my mind to shut up and my body to keep moving. 

Then finally we saw the finish….which, of course was around a corner and up a hill <—- why do they do that?!?

Nicole took my handheld at the end so I could sprint to the finish and because I was so “in the zone” I missed Colin, but he didn’t miss me….

* See how awesome she is – she’s still pointing and yelling “1st Timer” lol I’m pretty sure all of our race photos are of me smiling (except the last one) and her pointing at me :) 

* My form was AWESOME! I was seriously so hardcore at the end! We passed everyone.

* That’s right buddy – I’m going for it.

* giving ALL I have left to the finish – NicMac right behind me cheering of course :)

I don’t know how I managed to sprint to the end. I just locked focus on that finish line and as soon as my eyes saw 2:05:_ I went for it! I felt bad leaving Nicole behind but man did it feel good to have that left in me!!!!  

I crossed the finish line at 2:05:41 (2:04:07 chip) and I started to cry. I didn’t think I would but finishing my first half marathon was UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! NicMac was right there and I gave her a big hug because I truly believe I would’ve stopped to walk without her. * the paramedic asked me if I was ok and I said I’m great! I just finished my first half! 

Colin found us immediately and after we got our food, had a bathroom break and met up with Lyndsey, we took a few post race photos and went our separate ways.

For those interested here are our splits from the race, but they’re in km’s which means nothing to me, even though I’m Canadian. Epic Fail on my part 😉

As you can see by her chart I managed to get a 10k PR … that doesn’t count but I wish it did. AND that aside from the km’s on the hill some of my fastest km’s were AT THE END!!! YAY!!!!

Nicole was SUCH AN AWESOME RACING PARTNER. She wouldn’t even let me open my own chomps 😉 she carried my gloves….everything! LOVE HER! We passed tons of people and they never passed us. AMAZING!!!!

* My initial goal for this race was sub 2:30. After my training was finished I was hoping for sub 2:15….so the fact that I ran 21km’s/13 miles in 2:04 makes me SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!!!!!



1. did you run Road2Hope yesterday??

2. what’s your half marathon PR/PB???

3. don’t you hate when people say “you’re almost there” ?? or am I just a bitch??

4. do you sprint at the finish line or do you have nothing left when you get there?

EVERY race aside from the one I ran with Rex, I haven’t had anything left to sprint. This race felt the same as those others BUT something inside me just pushed past it. I felt amazing!!! 


84 thoughts on “Road2Hope Recap – My First Half Marathon

  1. Congrats! That’s an AWESOME time, especially for your first half!!! My first half was a 2:48, and my PR is a 1:53, if that’s any indication of either how much I’ve improved, or how much I failed at training my first time around. And I also HATE when people yell “you’re almost there” and you can’t see the finish line. I volunteered at a race last spring, and there were a lot of kids also volunteering who kept yelling that. And we were over a mile from the end, at a 10mi race. I told them NEVER to say that unless you can see the finish.

    • lol you are so nice – teaching the youngin’s :) To be honest all the volunteers were great at the race! the aid stations were sooooo organized and it was all young kids :)

      and WOW that is quite the difference in times. I’d LOVE to go for a sub 2 next one :)

    • Cool :) I wish I ran as fast as you so I could come run nemo with you one afternoon. I LOVE TRAILS! Nicole said my face lit up when we got onto the semi-trail 😉 lol

      and GREAT race for you too!

  2. Congratulations!!!!! This is so awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy for you!
    Those sprinting pictures NEED to be framed!
    I hate it when people say you are almost there. But I did a race that was flat and in a straight line you you could see the finish line for the whole second half of the race!
    I try to sprint at the end but sometimes you just cant do it!
    Those medals are so cool!
    Ali, HOW are you not drenched in sweat by the end of this!!!

    • lol Thanks!!!! and that was like ATB the relay I did last year. The last 4 miles are all straight and you can see the finish just staring you in the face. I hated it 😛

      and I’m not drenched because it was minus 5 plus windy – so around 23F 😛 lol no sweat in those cold temps!

    • Thanks so much Paul…..we should race together. boxing day races are out of the question for me b/c I work retail 😛

      I am contemplating doing Chilly – we could race then, I also want to do another 10k now that I know I can definitely achieve sub 60 !

  3. Awesome job!! You did it and ran an awesome time!! Yes, I hate it when people say you are almost there unless you are really almost there, like the last 100 yards or so:) Congrats!

  4. Congrats again!!

    Did you ever think you could run a 2:05? You are amazing!!!

    I know what you mean when all the people standing at the sidelines at the 19km mark and yell “only 2km left” yeah easy for them to say as they stand there.

  5. Yay! I’m so happy for you and that you had a friend to race with. That makes a huge difference!!! And you are seriously kicking it into high gear at the end there. Someone was smoking by my marathon course on Saturday too, and I thought it was quite weird. But, maybe it will inspire him to quit. ???

  6. WAHOO!!!! I am so happy for you Ali! What an accomplishment! Just reading the story I wanted to cry for you! :) ha This is so awesome and you not only accomplished your time, you killed it! Way to go girl!!!!!!!

  7. Awesome race and pictures but *cough* – no spatulas?
    I’m impressed with the finishing time although I think you mean over 10min mile as your average has to be 9.5 to get that time. You got me confused as when I did my first half , at what I thought was an impressive 2.17, i was running about 10min miles and then you smoked my time.
    Bring on the sub 2 for your next one 😉
    Lol on the butt check and elbowing – didn’t realise running was such a contact sport.
    It was good to see you sprinting in at the end and chicking someone.
    One question though – did you check someone’s bib that you were behind before you started the sprint in and then check to see what their time was after the race, or is it only me who checks to see how many people I overtook at the end and how much time I gained in that last sprint?

    • Andy – I have only raced with spatulas once, it was last year for around the bay – as I hosted a virtual race for all the “Spatula Runners” – so this year at ATB I will once again literally RUN WITH SPATULAS 😉 so don’t worry :)

      and I think if the course wasn’t so nice I wouldn’t have gotten this good time. So a sub 2 will be my goal but it may be hard :)

      Oh and no, I had no time to check bib numbers 😛 LOL!!! you are awesome!

  8. I may or may not have had tears in my eyes reading this post. Excellent recap! I have to laugh because when people were saying “you’re almost there.” and you starting bitching, I was like – “But you ARE almost there! You’ve run 20k!” Perspective. HA.

    I can’t wait to see the official photos that we nerded out for. You can totally go sub 2hr at Chilly. You held up amazingly and now you know what the last 5k can be. I totally pushed you to keep the pace up in the last four km. You did very well to just keep going.

    • Awww thanks buddy. I was secretly hoping we could somehow get you your PR….but I knew that wasn’t going to happen when we hit the 14th km 😛 I was hoping to be able to go MUCH faster in that end.

      You were GREAT! maybe one day I can do that for someone and make their first half as great as mine was :) THANKS!

  9. Woohoo!!! Congrats on your first half marathon! How fantastic to get to run it with such a fabulous running partner! Treasure the moment and the memories, you never get another first. 😉

  10. Yay! I’m so proud of you! I ran the Midsummer 30k with Nicole, she’s great. I’m glad that you had her to get you through the dark moments. Great recap, but figure out your km splits girl! 😛 I can’t believe you ran that race in shorts. Your legs must have been freezing while you were waiting for the start! Congrats!

    I ALWAYS sprint to the finish! It’s a race right?! My half PB is officially 1:54:13 but then they realized that the course was 400m long a week later so adjusted it is 1:52:11. Of course that’s not in the record books so that’s my next goal! At Chilly. Which you need to be at! :)

    • well those are in km’s I can figure them out I’m just saying that I have no clue what they mean in miles. My treadmill ONLY says miles, I think that’s why I’ve always preferred them…..PLUS I HATE km markers – there are sooooo many! lol

      Ah Chilly….ok let me convince Colin and I’ll sign up. It’s pretty pricey wish I had decided before nov 1st.

      and you’re soooo fast!!!!!

      my legs felt awesome. I think shorts were the right decision….BUT I did get my first patch of “chafe” ;P lol

      • I know what you mean about the races being pricey. Between signing up for ATB & Chilly and getting our roof done last week I am broke! LOL

        I know that you have a 2 hour 1/2 in you! Just let yourself heal up and then add in some speed work! :)

        • I plan to start doing MAD speed sessions after this week. I’ve already got tomorrow’s post written all about it 😉

          and I need to work on speed this whole month because there’s NO way I’m letting Colin beat me at our 5k Dec 1st 😉

  11. I don’t even know where to begin commenting on this post. I had no idea you hadn’t run a half before. (Guess I’m not that attentive of a reader. Oops.) I loved reading your post, and SO happy to hear that you had such a great first time. My first half will always carry a special part in my heart. You totally rocked this half, and you deserve every single one of those tears of joy that flowed at the finish line!

  12. OK, well now I almost cried reading this re-cap!!!!! Seriously, you are AMAZING!!! Way to go!!! :)

    I have yet to run a half – my longest race so far is 10K, but I’m totally with you on the fact that I can’t stand people telling me “you’re almost there!” if I can’t see the finish!! LOL pisses me off!! .. and I’m definitely a sprinter at the end!!! I actually surprised myself at the Sporting Life 10K this past spring with my sprinting abilities at the end. I could have kept on going! 😉

    • Awwww thanks Laura :) xo You will LOVE it when you finally chose to run your first half. I think it’s been my most favourite distance to both train for and race. It was PERFECT :)

      I wanted to do the sporting life 10k next year but I can’t find it on the RR page :( I’ve heard it’s nice to race

  13. Wow, Ali- you crushed your goal!! Way to go! A first half can’t go much better than that. And I’d say that 10k counts. If you pr’d your 10k in a half, you have a nice new 10k pr coming at your next race!

    • Thanks Laura :) I seem to always crush my goals – I need to start making better goals 😛 lol

      I can’t WAIT to get a nice 10k in for redemption :) If I hit 10k aat 58 in a half I think I’ll most definitely achieve a sub 60 like I want :)

  14. Congrats again!!

    I hate it when people say “almost there!”, it just breaks my focus. However, I do always try to sprint at the very end…it’s just the best feeling ever once you’re done!

    • Thanks so much Heather :) I was actually awaiting the “hair down” comment…..I know it’s in relation the the side profile sprint pics….my hair was in a pony the whole race, so I think it just looks like my hair is down because most of it had started falling out 😉 hahaha

  15. Congratulations again! I’m so glad you did so well and ran such a fast first half marathon! Sub-2 here you come Ali Mc! I hate when people say you’re almost there unless you’re in the last mile of the race.

  16. Congratulations (again)!! You did amazing at your first half, and I know that there are more in the future. Hopefully with me! If you do sign up for the Chilly half let me know and I will be there with you, it is my birthday weekend after all!

    • I was creeping your half times – looks like we could totally race that one together 😉 I’m SO happy to be back at my normal pace. I think if you’re coming I kind of HAVE to sign up…right 😉

      we just won’t tell the husbands lol

  17. My American brain is totally lost about your kilometer splits up there! :)

    Way to go Ali!

    I love the part about you screaming at Colin. I’m always pissed about hubs not taking good pics of me. Hello, we have blogs, we need pics, just help us!!!! Saign claims “I’m not picture oriented,” when I complain, but I can’t figure out why he doesn’t LEARN!

    • Hey I’m Canadian and I don’t understand them either 😉 my avg pace for the race was 9:28/mile :)

      and yes, I agree, I always have to pester Colin for photos….but he knew he’d have to get some for this occasion!

  18. Awesome race! Congrats on such a solid steady performance. Not sure why you can’t count that 10k split as a 10k PR. So it wasn’t a stand alone 10k, but so what? You’ll be faster in a stand alone 10k.

    • Thanks so much Mike! I have my pacer, Nicole to thank for that. It was a really nice lesson to run “properly” and I really enjoyed the experience.

      and I can’t WAIT for a 10k! my current PR is 1:07 :( I ran it injured.

  19. I always THINK I’m sprinting at the finish…but I probably just look like I’m flailing 😛

    Half PR is 1:39 something. A LONG time ago.

    And I HATE it when people say “you’re almost there!” and you have anything more than 2 minutes to run. Seriously, f*ck ’em.

  20. Fabulous race recap and congrats on an amazing first half marathon! That medal looks cool. You were bustin’ a move there at the end! I usually try to sprint in, but I don’t always have it in me :)
    I really, really dislike when people say “you’re almost there!” during a race. Unless you are standing 10 feet from the finish line, just don’t say it because it isn’t true.
    My half PR is 1:41. My dream is to get under 1:40 someday… but I don’t have many half marathons on the schedule.

    • This is the first time I’ve had it in me :) it was quite the surprise. I’m the type that would rather run faster and get to the end faster at the end of a race, then slow down! lol

      and WOW you’re speedy. you are always doing the fulls….I’m coming to you next year. I will do a full next fall!

  21. Ali, I’ve missed your blog so much! I am such a slacker! I am SO HAPPY to hear such an awesome race recap, you are seriously a rockstar :) I totally know what you mean about the crying, I seriously almost cried 57 times during my half, it’s a physical thing yes, but it’s also emotional to accomplish something like that! Congrats.

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