It feels like I’ve been gone for ages! Just got back from my trip to Ontario, including great times with family and friends. The original purpose of this trip, of course, was to continue with my theme – my #yearofthehalf. On Sunday, I ran my 4th half for 2015 – and my 13th half ever – the Ottawa Half Marathon. It was not, however, lucky number 13 for me.
As you know from last week’s Weekend Update
, I spent several days in my hometown, Barrie. Last Thursday, we took the commuter train to Toronto, and spent a few sunny hours there.
Next, we boarded Via Rail and travelled 4 hours to Ottawa (faster than driving!). We were met at the station by friends who we hadn’t seen in over 2 years. It was so amazing to catch up with them again.
As the race weekend approached, and during the race itself, I encountered a number of challenges. Those 5 challenges are the theme of this race report…
Challenge #1 – Beer
There’s lots of great beer in Ottawa. Quebec has some great dIn the days leading up to the race, there was a good amount of socializing and more than one pint consumed along the way.
On Friday, I got up and did a short run around l’Île de Hull. We were staying in Gatineau, Québec, across the river from Ottawa. I couldn’t not enjoy the scenery while I was there!
After breakfast, we walked across the bridge and headed to package pickup. It rained.
But things were orderly, I got my bib and shirt in record time, and enjoyed the expo – including my first taste (and first purchase!) of Nuun – my next favourite energy drink!
Challenge #2 – Sightseeing
My better half had never been to Ottawa, and it had been 20 years since my last visit to the nation’s capital.
We toured Parliament and the Supreme Court. We wandered around Sparks St and the Byward Market. We joined an excellent walking tour (visit Ottawa Free Tours), which lasted about 2 hours. We were the consummate tourists – and all on foot. In the 2 days before the race, I probably walked 15-20 kilometres. No rest for the wicked.
Challenge #3 – It’s Not Home
I slept poorly the night before – par for the course before a race. I had some oatmeal for breakfast, and a cup of instant coffee. But nothing else. I wasn’t well fuelled.
I walked to the start line and arrived well before the 9am half marathon start. The marathon was already under way, having a 7am gun time. I hung about and enjoyed the buzz of the crowd, and then decided to pop to the toilet just once more. I was in line for 30 minutes. (Why don’t more large races have men’s urinal stations? Seriously, it should be a given if a race has more than a few thousand runners.) Finally, as I made my way to the corral, I actually saw about half a dozen guys peeing behind bushes at the side of the road…
I had positioned myself in the Blue corral (1:44 and below), setting my sights high. I was still pumped from my PB at the BMO Half Marathon
just 3 weeks earlier! Great energy, lots of excitement – and suddenly we were off!
We headed south along Elgin Street, lined with hundreds of cheering spectators. The route then followed the Rideau Canal, which eventually veers west, and into some local neighbourhoods, like Little Italy.
At one point, we turned a corner where a cathedral was ringing its bells in celebration – such an amazing moment! The crowds were out in force, along with bands and musical groups.
Challenge #4 – The Hill
In retrospect, it likely wasn’t a significant hill. But at 10k my energy was starting to flag, and it seemed to go on forever. And somewhere there, I lost my pace bunny. Up until then, the 1:45 pace bunny had been close, or at least in sight. And then he was gone.
We passed the Canadian War Museum, and crossed a bridge into Québec – because this race runs through two provinces! How cool is that?
At 16k, we were within a block of my hotel…and for a fleeting moment I wanted to be there.
Challenge #5 – The Heat
The temperature had been steadily rising. I had been sipping water quite regularly at the aid stations, and taken advantage of the odd spray from a hose. I had skipped the first round of sponges, but was thankful for the next sponge opportunity. I doused my head, and stuck the sponge in my shirt at the back of my neck. SO. HOT.
The Alexandra Bridge took us back into Ottawa, and as we ran through downtown the streets were packed. For a few minutes, I didn’t care about the heat or my time or how tired I was – I had a rush of exhilaration and I’m sure I was grinning like a lunatic. One of my favourite moments in a race, ever. Bliss.
Then the crowds thinned. The final 3k ran along the canal, crossed it, and looped back. Across the water you could see the people ahead. They looked so far away…
And in a flurry of corners and cheers and crowds and sounds…it was over.
I had a picture with a Mountie, met up with friends…another half marathon in the books!
Not every race can be a PB. The Ottawa Half Marathon wasn’t. But it was a wonderful experience to run, and I don’t regret a moment of it. I even got the coveted medal with a spinny thing in the middle!
Chip time: 1:50:38
Average pace: 5:14 min/km
Place overall: 2552/14356
Age category place: 336/1104
The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (#TORW) is a huge event. There are 5 races: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and kids 2K. Over 48,000 people participated in these events. The city is alive with the festivities, and I was so impressed by how many people were out to cheer on the runners.
Probably the smoothest packet pickup ever, given the size of the race. You check you bib number on a printed list, pick up your bib, go upstairs and pick up your shirt, then activate your bib at the expo entrance. Done! Painless! Mind you, I went mid-morning on Friday, so I can’t speak for what chaos may have ensued on Saturday.
The expo was sizeable, with all the usual suspects – a bit more US presence than what I’ve seen in Vancouver, which means more variety. Great opportunity to sample Nuun products, as mentioned.
I really like the t-shirt design – it just looks good. The medal, as noted, has the spinny centre – maple leaf and parliament buildings. Great design. I like the lanyard as well – same design as the shirt.
Mostly flat, with that ‘killer’ hill around 10km. Great scenery for most of the route. And I loved being able to run over the bridge into Quebec, and back again into Ontario – the dual-province factor really appeals to me.
Lots of them, and I took advantage of most of them. Consistently Gatorade first, followed by water. 3 sponge stations. One orange & banana station. Plus a PowerGel station. Excellent work by the volunteers.
Snaps with Mounties – very Canada. Bagels (really dry), yogurt, Muscle MLK, granola bars. Pretty standard fare.
Honestly, my only complaint was about the toilet situation. Men’s urinal station = problem solved. Waiting for 30 minutes to pee just doesn’t make sense. Other than that – excellent! Volunteers were fabulous. Race info, social media, pamphlet – all executed professionally. Kudos all around!
Although this race wasn’t a ‘triumph’ in the strictest sense, I still feel really good for having accomplished it. As such, I’m pleased to link up with Smitha, Carlee & Linzie for another Thursday Triumph! Please drop by to visit them, too!
What’s your Thursday Triumph? Run any good races lately? Or something else you’re proud of? Please share!