Ottawa Half Marathon Race Report

We enjoyed a mellow day at the cottage on Saturday in preparation for the Ottawa Marathon on Sunday. We got to bed pretty early, knowing that we had to hit the road by 4:30AM.

My alarm was set for 4, but I got up at 3:30 when I heard some hustle and bustle in the kitchen. My friends were all running the marathon (3 of them first-timers) and the nerves and excitement in the air were contagious. The half was not starting until 9 but the marathon started at 7, so I packed breakfast to eat after seeing everyone off. We were on the road right on schedule at 5:00 and arrived at the starting area by 6:30. We met up with one of our friends from the clinic who had picked up our race kits, got ourselves organized and pretty soon it was time for everyone to line up for the start. We also met up with our coach and some others from our clinic for a group photo (not on my camera).

It was already about 15C (59F) at 7 and the sun was feeling hotter and hotter as it rose, so I was a little nervous about how warm it might get later on in the morning.

I was able to meet up with my friend Sarah (who was there to see her hubby run his first marathon – congrats Colin!) and had my breakfast before using the washroom, checking my bag and getting ready to start.

I headed to the corrals 15 minutes before the start and everyone was already crammed between the barriers like sardines. It seemed like there was no opening so I, along with many others, ended up climbing over the barricades. Once I got in, I was literally smushed between people, getting shoved and stepped on for 15 minutes. I have never been more relieved to hear the gun go off.

I had decided to treat the race as a fun run, taking in the sights of city I had never seen and hoping to feel great at the finish. I started a little less conservatively than I had planned and felt the heat almost immediately. It was around 20C (58F) but felt much warmer in the sun (there was almost no shade throughout the entire course).

I had decided not to carry my own water, which was a mistake. The water stations were usually 3K apart, and I constantly felt thirsty. I took a full cup of gatorade and water at each stop, and dumped a cup or two on my head. Yes, I felt that hot.

The course was moderate in difficulty, with a few big hills and several smaller ones.

Within the first 5K we crossed a bridge over the Ottawa River into Gatineau, Quebec. This is the only part of the course that I didn’t enjoy. It was bleak and industrial, with minimal crowd support. The sun was killing me and I remember feeling grateful not to be running a full marathon that day.

Just before 10K we crossed another bridge back into Ottawa. I was feeling really tired and felt myself slowing with each kilometre. The 2:00 pace group passed me around this point and I started feeling defeated, but knew that I just had to make it to the finish.

Despite being hot and tired, I enjoyed the second half much more than the first. The crowd support was amazing and the route was beautiful. We ran mostly along the Rideau Canal, which offered a refreshing breeze and great scenery.

There was a sponge station at some point, which was just about the BEST THING EVER. I took two sponges sopping with cold water and squeezed them all over myself.

I continued taking as much fluid as I could and also took two gels on my usual half marathon schedule of 7K and 14K.

During the last 5K, I really felt that I was in survival mode. I couldn’t find any relief from the sun and it was sucking the life out of me. It was extremely tempting to stop and walk, but I continually reminded myself that it would only prolong the suffering.

I managed to pick up my pace a little for the last two kilometres. The crowds were thick and cheering like crazy, which offered a much-needed boost. One awesome spectator was spraying us with a hose from the side of the road, which was even better than the sponges.

Finally, I saw the signs. 750m to go. 500m. 400m. 300m… I could see the finish line and brought it home.

Official time: 2:06:28
Chip time: 2:04:09
Overall place: 3563/9107
Gender place: 1282/5192
F25-29 place: 259/842

My half marathon PR streak has come to an end. It was somewhat of a humbling experience, since I thought for sure I could run 2:00 no problem. This was actually my second slowest HM out of 6, but still a positive experience overall. Ottawa was beautiful and I’m planning to make it a tradition – we’re already planning Ottawa Cottage Weekend 2010!

This is the life

We had a smooth drive to Sharbot Lake (outside Ottawa) this morning. The cottage is beautiful with the best of both worlds – a secluded property on a tiny lake, but having all the comforts of home (including wireless internet).

We relaxed by the lake, did a little kayaking, had a big pasta dinner and played some cards. The only thing missing was a cold BEvERage, but we have to save that for the post-race celebration.

There are seven adults staying here and I still managed to score my own private sleeping quarters. Not bad for $0 a night.

I even found a little goodie basket in my room with treats and inspirational quotes.

My official goal for tomorrow is to enjoy the course (I’ve never even been to Ottawa), have fun and feel good finishing. I’m thinking something around 2:00 (a feat that wiped me out just six months ago).

But for now, it’s time to tuck myself into bed – we have a 4:00AM wake-up call!

(Make sure you check out the power bar recipe [below] if you haven’t already – I’m telling you, they’re the best!)

Power Bars

As promised, the recipe:

1 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
2 cups puffed brown rice cereal

1. Grease an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract until well-combined.
3. Add sunflower seeds, dried fruit, sesame seeds and chocolate chips and combine thoroughly with the peanut butter mixture.
4. Gradually add the puffed brown rice cereal.
5. Firmly press the mixture into the prepared 8×8 pan; you may need to use your hands and get messy (wet hands slightly).
6. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours then cut into squares.

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Happy Foto Friday – here’s a peak at the yummy goodness.

Enjoy!

Thursday

• Slept in, late for work

• Lunch with good friends, including Mel who is hanging in there and remarkably positive with her mysterious injury

• More stupid traffic on the way home, +15 minutes on the commute

• Clinic night – discussed food for our end of session get-together next week (yum)

• Everyone asking what my goal is for the half – I have no idea

• Another hot run – slow 6K (It’s killing me)

• Grocery shopping with the gang for our cottage weekend in Ottawa

• Late dinner

• So You Think You Can Dance (no abs or arms tonight, too sore!)

• Homemade power bars (recipe + pics to follow soon)

• And now… bed time

A better day

Today was definitely better than yesterday. Thanks for making me feel better about taking an extra rest day… you’re right, sometimes we just need it!

I headed to the Running Room this evening to meet up with some people from my group for a 10K. It was an absolutely beautiful day (where was this weather on the weekend?) and it was still 28C (82F) and sunny when we headed out this evening. Needless to say, I was HOT. I definitely need to get acclimatized to summer running. It always seems that spring is too short and we go from freezing cold to boiling hot. What’s up with that?

Anyway, not much to report on the run except the heat. I was struggling and took a short cut with a few others cutting about a kilometre off the run. Tomorrow is our usual clinic night and we’ll probably be going over last minute details for everyone heading to Ottawa this weekend – especially those running their first marathon.

But right now, I’m going to hit the floor for some ab and arm work while watching American Idol. I haven’t watched all season but there are actually some really decent performers tonight for the finale. Don’t ask me who I think is going to win because I don’t even know who these guys are!