Chilly Half 2017

I wrote a couple weeks ago that my goals for the Chilly Half were A) 1:07:xx, B) 1:08:xx, and C) a PB (better than 1:09:30). I was pretty confident that I was back carving out new levels of fitness which is why I wanted a PB. My long tempo and threshold interval workouts were faster than ever. When I looked back on my training before the last half marathon I raced (Chilly Half, 2015), every workout I’ve run this winter blew them away. My mileage had been consistent and just a little higher than ever before. I’d encountered only a couple deviations from my plan this winter and I’d been able to correct-course quickly. Things had been going very well. I was primed for a good race after a couple disappointing marathons, a bunch of injuries and missed races, and—finally—a lengthy stretch of consistent training.

Chilly Half recap

I had all my gear packed the night before so all I had to do in the morning was get dressed and throw my bags in the car. The 2 hour drive to Burlington was a piece of cake as the 402 and 401 were deserted and I had the tunes pumping. Once I arrived, I met up with Mitch Free to get my race kit/bib and we found the hospitality area for the elites/VIPs. Having a warm place to hang out before the race was a huge perk and it was great to meet up with some other hard working runners like the GRE folks and to meet and chat with Canadian Olympian and marathon champion, Krista DuChene!

The big question on everyone’s mind was whether to wear shorts or tights as the forecast said -6°C with ~20 km/h wind bringing it down to -14ish. I decided on shorts after my warmup and I’m glad I did because I was sweating pretty good for the last 3 km of the race.

After the gun went and everyone found their place in the field, I think I was in roughly 10th or so. Over the first two km, Paul Rochus and I joined up and managed to pick a few guys off early. Around the first hairpin turn (~3 km), we rolled up on John Parrott and he joined us as we eventually reeled in Kevin Blackney around 5 km. John started to fall off our pack around 7 km and the rest of us remaining kept clicking away the kilometres, fighting the wind and averaging 3:13/km.

"A burden shared is a burden halved." [📷Edison Yao]

A post shared by Aaron Cooper (@cooperaa) on

We crossed the 10 km marker at 32:01 and finally made it to the second hairpin turn (~13 km), where we were ready for the tailwind all the way to the finish. Somewhere around 14 km, our pack started to fall apart as I found myself briefly in third after pulling away from Kevin and Paul. At this point in the race, I could still see Blair Morgan in second a long way up the road so I just tried to draw whatever motivation I could from the fact that there was someone in front of me. I could hear the crowds cheering “Rejean” and soon figured out that Rejean Chiassion had been gaining on me and he flew by me like I was standing still at 17 km. I told myself he must’ve been just trying to mentally crush me with that move and to just keep digging and chasing him down in case he slowed after passing me. I never caught him, but he sure helped me draw some extra effort from myself. For the final 4 kilometres, I was counting down the minutes… “3 km, that’s like 10 minutes tops – keep going!”

As I made it to the turn off Lakeshore Rd towards the finish line, I looked at my watch and it had just clicked over to 1:07. I could see the finish line and started hammering, almost sure that 1:07:xx ‘A’ goal was mine. I crossed the line with a fist-pump in a time of 1:07:46.

Thanks to Edison Yao for sharing this pic.

Post-race, I enjoyed talking with the other runners who I usually only interact with online (Strava), hearing about how their races went and what their upcoming plans are. Congrats and kudos all around – especially to Eric Bang on his new PB (1:10:55) and Mitch Free on being a few seconds shy of his PB after a few weeks of issues. Good luck to everyone tackling a spring marathon at Boston, Mississauga, or elsewhere!

What’s next?

I’m now officially signed up for the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH on April 23 – it’s only six weeks away now. Unfortunately, my body has kind of fallen apart on me after the Chilly Half. My immune system must have taken a big hit as I was sick the next day and I’m still dealing with a cold a week later. Also, my hamstring has been hurting since the day after the race so I haven’t done much running this week. I’ve been trying to use heat, massage, ice packs… really anything I can think of to help this hamstring heal but as it stands right now, I’m resigned to taking a few days completely off running after three days of minimal jogging.

My first thought when the hamstring issue appeared was that I’d bail on the marathon plans, take a week or two off to recover and absorb this good training I’ve put in up to Chilly, and then put in 8-10 weeks of focused training for the Ottawa 10K (Canadian Championship race). After a lot of thought and weighing options, I think I’m still going to give Toledo a shot. I’ve had good marathon results off really poor/inconsistent training in the past so I’m working to convince myself that the build-up doesn’t need to go perfectly to have a good race. I have some base fitness and I just need to bring that to the starting line and I believe I can improve on my 2:28:12 PB from Ottawa last May.

Time to wrap this post up. Hopefully I’ll have some good training to write about next time!  Thanks for following along.