Race Reports, Running

Race Report: Toronto Marathon 2019

Here we go. It’s been a week since the Toronto Marathon and I’ve had good time to reflect. This was the second crack at the full marathon 42.2KM or 26.2miles. If you remember, my first one at STWM last year did not go exactly as planned. Yes, I finished, I became a marathoner, but without proper training and running an entire month before, I hit the wall in stunning fashion at 30KM. I finished STWM in 5:18…it was time for redemption.


A – run without hitting the wall

B – sub-4:00


This training block, I got appropriate physiotherapy from Dwane Rebello of Spectrum Sports Institute. This got my left ankle back in working form. This allowed me to complete a 12-week Running Room training plan with 4:00 goal marathon race plan in mind.

Prior to this during winter, I did a bunch of intentionally ridiculously slow Zone 2 Heart Rate (~135bpm) long distance runs on the treadmill. This is one of the best parts of the treadmill as you can really dial in a pace according to your heart rate. I did 4 of these half-marathon 21.1KM distance big slow runs in total. I feel like this really benefited my winter aerobic build up. 

In addition, I strength work 4-days a week. This involved 4 main compound movements. Deadlift, Backsquat, Overhead press, and Bench press. I found that these staple resistant weightlifting really help develop my core, and back structure and form. 


  4x Endurance Tap 

  250mL flat coca cola with 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt

  • Water from every aid station. No Gatorade as it doesn’t sit well in my stomach
  • PS Coconut oil makes an easy natural chaffing cream!


  • Nike Vaporfly 4%
  • Underarmor singlet 
  • Patagonia strider pro shorts
  • 2XU compression long socks 
  • Apple Watch Series 4


3:30AM – Wake up

3:40AM – 32oz Water + BCAA/Creatine

4:00AM – Breakfast Bowl* with coffee

5:00AM – Stretch & Yoga routine 

6:00AM – Leave house

6:30AM – Arrival to Yonge & Sheppard Centre 

6:35AM – Bagel with peanut butter, strawberry spread, honey

7:00AM – Clif Bloks Black Cherry + 50mg caffeine 







I dropped by backpack at bag drop-off at 6:45AM near the start line, which was actually still being set up for the 7:30AM start time. I met up with awesome Instagram running friends Lisa, Joy, Denoja, Vanessa, and Jon. We went to find the 1:50 pacer. But we kind of ended up doing our own thing. Joy, Lisa, and myself pretty much stuck together for the first half of the race. Being in their company really made time fly. I got a quick surge of gratitude within the first 2K when I heard someone yell “Yeah, go Sean!”. It was my good friend Randall, who was doing the Half-Marathon later on that day. The weather was absolutely beautiful, I could not have asked for better race conditions. I felt pretty good from the get go. There was one big hill at 8K, but then the course became an overall downhill and then flat for the most part. We pasted by some cool spots like Casa Loma, the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, Ontario Place, and many tempting restaurants along the way. 

I took an Endurance Tap at 8K, 12K, 16K, 20K. Like I said, I felt pretty solid. While I did not hit the wall, I started my legs begin to slow down at around 28K. So, I immediately began sipping on my flat coke throughout up to 35KM. It’s weird because I don’t normally drink coke (from my weight loss journey), I was surprised that it actually worked magic on me during a long race. My legs quickly got energized within a few minutes. The last 5K stretch along Lakeshore was pretty draining, and I dug deep to keep the pace. I recall my eyes closing at times, as I just wanted to push through. When I saw my Watch at the 1:50 mark, I started to get a little worried, but knew if I kept to my plan, I’d be fine. I did not want to be greedy, and blow up by accident. I stuck to my pace and the sub-4 goal would be mine for the taking. The only 200m was a sudden uphill and then across the Ontario Place bridge to the finish line in front of the Better Living Centre. Crossing the finish was an amazing feeling. I did it. I accomplished what I originally wanted to do, but failed at STWM last year, which was to run a sub-4 hour marathon. 3:55:37.2 to be exact! I PBed by 2 hours! I sub-4-ed a marathon! 


When I saw the clock at the finish line, I was thrilled and relieved. I hobbled over to a volunteer and received a ginormous finisher medal. This thing is the size of a pancake! I surprisingly felt pretty good overall. My form was good, and other than the normal soreness expected, I was in pretty good shape aerobically and structurally. I made my way into the the Better Living Centre to get a banana, coconut water, and some Clif bars. I collected my bag, and changed into some dry clothing. I found Lisa and Joy and we all got a nice photo of the three of us and our super sized medals. 

I’m usually not craving any solid foods after big bouts of effects. But I knew my body was in much need of nutrients, and it’s best to consume them within 30 minutes. I whipped out my Recovery Smoothie which includes Banana + 2 Dates + 1/2 cup frozen mangos, 1sp Tumeric powder, and Iron Vegan Sprouted Protein. It was delicious. 


I felt like I had solid form all the way through. This somehow, was by far the single best athletic performance of my life, so far. It was most likely the combination of spectacular weather, the 12-week training, nailing the nutrition, and the positive vibes. 

Getting my own squat rack and doing compound strength training movements such as deadlifts and back squats really help improve my lower back and core stability. The training paid off. I also noticed that my appetite returned much quicker after an extensive long run effort than before. And I guess my body is now getting used to the longer distances. I had no muscle cramping, no noticeable stomach issues, and never really got out of breath. 

While I was sore the following 2 days, it was expected. What I was surprised about is how NOT so terrible my body felt versus STWM 2018. 

Also, if you’re wondering, the Nike Vaporfly 4% lived up to the hype. They are an absolute dream to race in. I will only be using them for important races as I’ve heard that don’t last too long, and the cost a pretty penny. But if they’re good for the great Eliud Kipchoge…then why not? 


I’m very happy with the training plan I followed for the Toronto Marathon. While, I know that I have something that works, I still want to strive for a 3:30 goal time next. 

Before I get into full training for STWM 2019, I will do a few more of those Zone 2 HR super long runs, to continue building my aerobic base. 

Thus, I’m now looking for some other training options, possibly a coach, and/or using power with the STRYD foodpod. 


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What do we say to the god of DNF? NOT TODAY. They say #Hardworkpaysoff…AND I CASHED THAT IN. Finally hit my goal at @torontomarathon this gorgeous day! SUB-4 hour marathon with an official time of 3:55:37.2. I had to dig so deep in the last 3K. Big props to @belovedrunner & @joysofrunning for running with me the majority of the course. It was awesome seeing @attherockshow root me on at the beginning, and congrats to him on completing the Half!! Thank you so much everyone, the organizers, volunteers and spectators for this BEAUTIFUL RACE ??????? All #poweredbyplants ? More thoughts to come after sleep, food, and of course Game of Thrones…#MyTorontoMarathon #TorontoMarathon #veganathlete

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Music, Photographer Notes, Photography

Photographer Notes: Carrie Underwood 2012

Carrie Underwood performed a few nights ago at the Air Canada Centre, one of the largest venues in Toronto, Canada. Photographing her was fun and interesting at the same time. First of all, a superstar like her didn’t have a photo release trying to grab our copyrights or restrict us in any way, major props to Underwood and her PR team. The shoot was interesting because it was not from the pit as usual. Instead, the media had to shoot from the sound board which was pretty much in the center of the arena.


A few hours before heading to the gig, I pretty much knew exactly what songs she’d he performing. Photographers got to stay for the first two songs, which were “Good Girl” and “Undo It”. Also from researching YouTube clips of these songs, I knew for a fact that lighting was going to be no problem at all and that it would be pretty bright and consistent.


Since I knew we’d be standing at the mixer, I brought a small foldable stool to make sure I shot over the most pit instead of taking the risk of getting hands in the way. Because we’d be far away from the stage, a monopod was needed to help stabilize a super telephoto lens. My next challenge was lens selection. There were a few options that could have worked here:

A) 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x = 420mm f/4 (a good reach)

B) 400 f/2.8 (a bit too short)

C) 500 f/4 (would lose some good stage shots)

D) 70-200mm f/2.8 + 2x = 140-400mm f/5.6 (a bit too short, but room to crop, good range to get a balance of stage, band and close ups. Downside is small aperture at 5.6.

I ended up going with option D. Even though I hear people talking about how awesome those super tele primes are….they just aren’t for me. My thought is that with a supertele, you are already significantly limiting your range of movement with a monopod and making it a fixed focal length just restricts even more. If you few my full set of photos, you can see that I got a wide variation of different perspectives of Underwood and all her glory.

For the future, I think that the ideal setup would be the Nikkor 200-400 f/4 +1.4x for an effective range from 280-560mm f/5.6. To me, that sounds like the most perfect focal range for sound board shoots. What at that f/5.6 aperture you ask? Well, my answer is that the D4 can easily be boosted up to 6400 then down to 3200 ISO and I have no problems with noise at all.

One funny thing I did notice however was that at 400mm, the shot didn’t seem to really focus in the view finder and got really worried that I’d have a bunch of out of focus images. But when reviewing them later, they surprisingly turned out pretty sharp out of the camera RAW. So, I’m not sure if this is an issue with my TC-20E III or what? I’ve read negative issues with the version 2 of this 2x converter. But it seems like version III was made to compliment the 70-200 VRII.


Going through Underwood’s photos was pretty easy. Great lighting made things very simple for me, as I just had to do white balancing, a bit of clarity, shadows, blacks and some cropping for the really close up profiles.

Check out Live in Limbo for my full set of photos and let me know what you think.