Ottawa Half Marathon Race Recap: Underwear and Mirrors




well, I woke  up this AM and had trouble making it downstairs to the coffee pot but, i did it. (coffee is after all a key motivation in this equation.) cliff was actually a well behaved dog and let me sleep in a bit this morning – is it possible for a dog to know when you need some extra sleep?

the funniest part is, mike’s totally walking like he got off a horse too from the 10km race he did on saturday – i can’t help but laughing (and then wincing in pain) at both of us literally limping around the house (the stairs are the worst).



post 10 km race saturday night ^^

so the rational side of me knows that i’m in so much pain because i didn’t train enough. the post-race side of me justifies it by saying it’s because i pushed myself like i never have before. we’ll just settle on a combo of the two – a happy little compromise.

the race: that’s what i’m talking about here. yesterday morning i got up and it was chilly out (seriously what is with this late MAY freezing weather!? especially after we had such a beautiful start to the month!?). i really despise being cold when i run, usually i wear tights/long sleeves until i’m absolutely certain i’ll be sweating in shorts, so it was a toss up on what to wear. in the end i took mike’s advice who said after he got going on saturday evening, the temperature was perfect. i think it was about 11 or 12 degrees when we left the start line, and the fact that we were jammed in the corrals like sardines helped keep me warm.


see how everyone’s wearing like winter coats in the back ground? ^^^

photo credit: ottawa citizen

photo credit: ottawa citizen

so yea the corrals was a bit of a mess this year – usually i get there with plenty of time to weave myself to the front third of the group. this year it seemed there were way more people and way less space. my wave was scheduled to leave at 9 so i knew i had to at least get to the back of that group, but it was impossible to cut through the crowd (people were all like, “uh. no. you can’t move through here,” i’m like, “listen… move over.”)

in the end myself and some other ladies with the same problem left the starting boxes by hopping the fence, and then we found our way along the line towards the front and literally scooted back into the crowd by hopping a TV crane-thingy. Once we got in i felt so much better. i have severe pre-race anxiety – like my worst fear is missing the start of a race and i’ll have nightmares about missing it!

the race itself was awesome. ottawa is an amazing city to run in. seriously so many people line the streets- i think there was even more this year then last year. i passed my favourite spectator around the 15 km mark. she was holding a sign that said, “smile if you’re not wearing underwear.” i was so so tired at this point, but i couldn’t help expending some extra energy to give her the thumbs up. thank-you random lady with my sense of humour – you helped me through some tough times 🙂


trying to make the heart sign at km 18 ^^

i made it to mike around km 18 – i knew it was in the homestretch and so it was the perfect place for him to sit and watch. i was just so happy to see him. i remember the first half marathon i ran in the city – i didn’t know anyone and i didn’t have any family watching. it was a really good experience to just get through it “on my own” but having that someone there to tell you, “you can do it.” just elevates you beyond what your brain is telling you are capable of. sometimes it helps to have that person rooting for you.  (side note: i found out after the fact that as i was running, he was eating breakfast. he even had the audacity to send my phone a series of texts telling me so. luckily when you run you don’t need a phone, because if i knew he was eating while i was gruelling it out… it wouldn’t have been a pretty text back).

the absolute best part of the race was the home stretch (isn’t it always!)

before the race i had mike make me a playlist and the last song that came on was list one:

fast forward to 5:30 and you’ll see what i mean ^^

i always say to mike in passing how much i love JT for this song – because it’s like you know he’s singing to jessica beal – and don’t they just make the perfect celebrity couple? so when this song came on, i literally almost cried. a) from the pain/exertion and b) because it was the most perfect song to finish on.

at the 1 km to go mark, i hit the part of the song when Justin’s going “you are, you are the love of my life.”

and then. it’s all i heard for the last 3 minutes of the run.

“you are, you are the love, of my life.”

i think for the first time in months, i was living only in that moment. i had no thoughts or worries about the future and i was just there, on that course, heading towards the finish line.

it’s the little things. ❤

and then to top it all off my friends from iRun we’re at the finish line (iRun is a huge sponsor of the race weekend – so it was official business but clearly it’s amazing to cross the finish line and immediately see a friendly face) and i gave her a hug. and then she took this picture:


and then i went home and slept it off and woke up and when i checked on-line, i found i blew my personal best out of the water by almost three minutes!! i finished in just under 1:35 minutes! i really couldn’t believe it – i had no expectations going into the race so i surprised myself.

some races are ok, some of them you just make it through. and some of them are good ones. this was a good one.

and now… recovery!


It’s too late to turn back now

I picked up my race kit for the half marathon today:


It’s too late to turn back now. Yesterday I went for a short little run – a jaunt really… you know, just to test the old legs out, and it was a bit discouraging how slow and tired I felt. I can’t believe I have to run 21.1 on these gams in just over 24 hours.


what’s made matters worst on my nerves is the fact that i’ve spent the past few days helping man the iRun booth at the Ottawa Race Weekend Expo. don’t get me wrong i love talking to all the people and meeting new runners but there’s a certain energy of nerves and anticipation at a race expo, and when i see everyone walking around with their race kits and in their fancy running shoes and tight pants – it really just washes waves of anxiety over me.


outside the ottawa convention centre yesterday morning ^^



the line-up of people waiting to pick up their race kits before the expo opened yesterday morning ^^

it’s not like i have any real reason to be nervous… except i just know, it’s gonna hurt a lot. i have a streak of competitively in me, and it’s like, impossible for me to just lay off and hold back. so you know, the less I train, (as has been the case the past four months) the more it’s gonna hurt. errg. damn those excuses in March… and April. *sigh*


the past few days have been insanely busy but the expo is such a neat experience! i’ve never participated in something like it before – and what’s even cooler is I’m probably at the coolest booth in the room. it’s easy to hand out free stuff and listen to “why people love to run.”


wall of “iRun” statements! so neat! ^^

IMG_1627 IMG_1628

i mean, runners really do make the best community – i’ve met some pretty interesting people from all over. check out this guy’s dedication to the sport:


ok well i’m off to the expo again fro the morning and then to spectate the 10 km race – mike’s running tonight! he made a nice little “carbo load” dinner last night in preparation:


you know what’s better then running or racing or being competitive?

a spaghetti dinner with these guys on a friday night:


ps. there’s also nothing like a grainy iPHONE picture to capture (any) moment.

Trail Run








iPHONE: a really bad distraction if you are a runner. ^^^

(Also, not only is it distracting, it’s frustrating to hear an email pop up, or see a phone call when you are supposedly “checking out.” I really need to get an iPOD – still haven’t replaced my old one since last fall.)

This beautiful trail is nearly in my backyard. (Plus one Suburbs, minus one, downtown!). Seriously – how many trails do you know of called “Heart’s Desire?” Although I’m not sure how I feel about that creepy little cabin? It broaches on the blair witch vibe…. the bright sunshine helps – I don’t think I’d want to run across it in the fall or night time.

The breeze is so beautiful today. Last night we got some rain and it broke that really uncanny, unseasonal heat we’ve been having. Now it just feels like a lovely May day.

I got some positive feedback today on some side projects I’ve been working on – and you wouldn’t think it, but it goes a really  long way to have that sort of thing thrown your way.

That little nugget, plus the wind, plus the beautiful blue sky? Life is pretty good.

iRun for Boston

I hate that. (when the day starts out ordinary and then all of a sudden gets turned upside down on its head.)

Twitter makes you find out news instantaneously. I seriously still can’t believe that someone would bomb the finish line of a race? It seems even more cruel and unusual. How are we capable of something like this? How is it that something so positive, as the culmination of a marathon, can turn into carnage?

Well. at least I know that mostly we are good – the bad guys don’t win. There’s more of us.

I wrote an article for following today’s events:

iRun for Boston

….even though mostly I’m still speechless.



I got my first gig!

That’s right! Your’s truly will be guest blogging over on the Up to Speed and the Running for a Reason blogs of the iRun website!

iRun website

I do run, so it’s a perfect fit, really 😀

I’m always in need of input, so if you’re a Canadian runner and you have a “reason” for running, I want to hear it!

Also – fill me in! I’m constantly going to be scouring the web for what’s new in the world of running – let me know if you hear of anything interesting!!

Happy Running guys!

My commute would be faster if I ran

Today I missed my bus connection. In a normal city you might think – no biggie. Here, it meant half an hour in the cold, huddled in a bus stoop on the side of the road in an obscure part of town.

When I finally got home (an hour and a half after I left my starting point) I got to thinking…. I could run faster then the commute takes me.

Seriously… and I’m not even talking at a high interval… I’m just talking leisurely and even pace.

That’s gotta be saying something right?

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to this conclusion.

I mean I don’t live close to downtown by any means – I’m in the suburbs (ugly word I know but actually I love it) but seriously… if you can get downtown faster by running, i.e. beating city transit in the process… something is wrong with this picture.

I’m just sayin’

And I guess I should put my money where my mouth (blog) is…. someday soon, mark my words, I’m going to hitch up my backpack and time myself. I might wait until the snow clears off the shoulder of the road first, but it’s gonna happen.

94 Days Until the Canada Army Run Half-Marathon

With 94 days left until race day, the Canada Army Run Half-Marathon is already 98% sold out. It now totes itself as the fastest growing run in Canada… which can’t be far from the truth given that in the four years since its inception, race participation has doubled from 7,000 in 2008 to more than 16,000 in 2011.

I managed to squeeze my registration in before it filled up (… for the price of 91$ (which doesn’t include a donation)… Is it just me or are these things going up drastically in price each year along with the participation numbers?!) buuut, I didn’t want to miss the window of opportunity like I did in the winter with the Ottawa Race Weekend ½ Marathon which took place in May.

In fact, it was the Army Run that got me convinced I could actually do a half-marathon for the first time:

While walking around downtown shortly after I arrived in Ottawa in September 2008, my interest was piqued by the 7,000 runners who were finishing up the last km of a race and filing into a finishers area in Confederation Park. I thought to myself… “I wish I had known there was a race happening… I would have taken part.” And that might have been the first time I had felt that tug of a “race” feeling since the track days of high school. I went home and took a look at when I could have another chance to do a 21.1 (plan now, panic later?) and so I set my sights at that time on Ottawa Race Weekend 2009.

Starting line of the 2010 Army Run (Source)

I likely had never run a distance longer than 8 km up until that point but I figured if I was able to play a 90 minute soccer game, with no subs, then I could surely run for two hours straight.

Two hours was what I set my sights on for the first race. I also convinced myself that if I got tired, I could stop and walk. “No big deal,” I thought to myself. (Sometimes I question how much I actually think through with myself ) This thought of course evaporated post race when I connected the purpose of the large popcicle sticks medics had been freely handing out along the course, to the insides of my legs which were of course, due to chafe, bleeding.  Also I was kicking this naive thought in the gut when 2 days after the race finished when I was still using a geriatric bar to lower myself onto the toilet at work, at which point I was like.. yea ok, … it’s a big deal.

So now here we are. It’s June 21, the first day of summer, and I’m signed up for another Army Run. Part of me is regretting having now chained myself to a ½ Marathon training program for the extent of the summer, but…. it’s a pretty cool race. You get to run alongside survivors of war. The race is starts with a cannon blast (seriously. It’s the most intense race start I’ve ever experienced). And for finishing? You get a dog tag. Oh, and you also get to show your support for your country which makes you feel part of the bigger picture. Not too bad indeed.

When Salt is a Good Thing

If you are a runner or an athlete, maybe you can identify; There are times when salt is a good thing. I myself had not considered this point until two weeks ago.

One of the great mysteries of life is that I excel in making baked goods, yet have not one iota of a sweet tooth. It’s unfair really. (Although, the fact that I don’t have a huge craving to eat everything I bake, it’s probably nature’s way of protecting me from myself… )

Salt on the other hand? Delicious.

If I’m gonna yield to a craving, it’s going to be to Ms. Vikki’s Jalapeno potato chips, (which incidentally while we’re on the topic, is my biggest vice) and not a piece of cheese cake. There’s something wrong with me maybe… A few weeks ago I ate so many that I gave myself the hiccups… (Self-restraint = area for improvement)

for breakfast, lunch and dinner please.

So I have a problem with salt. Established. This is an issue and I’m reminded of it almost daily. There are giant ads on the side of public transit warding the good citizens of Ottawa off of pickles because the sodium content in our diets is sky-high through the roof.

but I love a pickle…

Given all of this, you can imagine how surprised I was when I figured out the cause of my mid 10 km /post-race crash after the Ottawa Race Weekend 10 km a few weekends ago:

Electrolyte depletion.

As it turns out, electrolytes (which include among other elements, sodium, potassium and calcium), are lost during physical exertion over long periods and in heat. This isn’t unusual and it makes sense. I get it, I’ve seen the sporty commercials.

“Then why doesn’t she just drink a Gatorade?” is what you are asking yourself.

So I have. During the first half-marathon I ran, it was at the water stations and I helped myself, after which point I promptly puked it up. Red dye and all. So I don’t do that any more.


But the problem is, I’m a minimalist runner. And when I say minimalist, I mean, I’ve been running my whole life in over-used beat out running shoes, which I change every few years, wearing t-shirts from grade 9 gym class (which omg was 13 years ago… k I have to get rid of those). I run because it’s enjoyable to me and it always seemed straight forward: Shoes, laces, water, go. For instance I didn’t until recently subscribe to exercise pod-casts, buy Lululemon running tops, follow the latest trends, and you wouldn’t catch me DEAD in Vibram 5 fingers… *shudder* (Famous last words?)

k this is just weird

I’m not being self-righteous, I’m just admitting fault because as I’ve learned, it’s the crux of my having felt like crap during the race and for the 24-36 hours after I crossed the finish line. Putting some thought and time into approaching a race strategically will take you far, especially when you are upping your distances or running in crazy heat. The only reason I thought to investigate was because the race had been such a painful experience, I wanted to avoid it happening again. Knowing what I know now, it’s easy to look back and see where some things went wrong.

After the pain.

All day before the race I was pumping water because I knew it was hot and dry and I didn’t want to be dehydrated. I think I flushed just about all the salt out of my body, considering I was literally running to the bathroom about every 15 minutes throughout the afternoon. I’m kicking myself for a few other things as well: During the race I proceeded to only drink water. After the race I sneered at the thought of the complimentary bits and bites passing by my cardboard-dry lips and I nearly gagged when someone offered me a milk based sports drink which was of course fortified with all the things my body probably needed.

She knows how to get it done

It stands to reason that I’m missing a HUGE part of understanding how to “be a runner,” because I stubbornly maintain the notion that running is “just walking really fast.” Lesson learned: sometimes salt is a good thing.  Also, sometimes it’s a good idea to take hints from the experts.

Speaking of which here’s some of the good ones:

1.  Pod casts:

Marathon Training Academy

Ben Greenfield Fitness

2. Blogs:

The Sweet Life of Erika

Live, Run, Love, Yoga

– Hot Bird Running

Healthy Ashley

Run Inspired

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface!

At My Personal Best

Yesterday was my *least* favorite race of life.

It was also my fastest…. so technically, a personal best. Which probably explains why it was my least favorite.

I actually remember thinking “I hate this.” There was no runner’s high… only runner’s low.

Love this screen shot view which makes it appear that I have come before Geoffrey MUTAI.

It was hot. It was dry. My mouth was pasty.

I didn’t even feel like high fiving the little kids along the sidelines. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grouchy when running before. Very uncharacteristic of me… usually running makes me feel so joyous.

But yesterday.. man.. if this was my personal best… I would hate to see my personal worst.

Before shot. When there was no angst.

I think at some point after the three kilometer mark, I realized my expectation for coming in below 44 minutes was ill-founded… and as a result I spent the next 7 kilometers being mad at myself for not having done more speed work.

I think in every other race I’ve done, I just go out and surprise myself, and as a result, I’m happy with the results. It seems like expectations are a bit of a kryptonite for me, and I would rather come from behind unexpectedly, then let myself down when I fall short of my goal.

I read somewhere that unhappiness is when you are too attached to the way you think things should be going.

… and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to set my sights on a 42 minute 10km… I just have to put a more tangible amount of work into training for it. I think I was too attached to taking the path of least resistance. If I’m going to think that I need to obtain a certain goal, then I’m going to have to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

And that my friends, is about as profound as I can be today because I’m still feeling slightly dehydrated.

Mike told me to chin up because in his words “even if I had a 17 minute head start, you still would have beat me.” Thanks MK. That does help a bit.

After the pain.

Thankfully, right now I’m thinking I should be eating some Thai food for dinner, which is making me immensely happy at the thought. And if there ever was a time when I was at my personal best, it’s when I’m eating some curry out of a pineapple.

get in my belly.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go drink my weight in electrolytes.

Race Day Rituals

It’s Ottawa Race Weekend!!  This is the third year I’ve participated in Ottawa Race Weekend, and now I associate it with the start of summer. (Could have fooled me though because lately with this heat, it feels like we’re dead in the middle of summer.)

We did a minor road trip last night and so I ended up “carbo” loading in the car. For the record, it’s a bit tough to eat a plate of spaghetti on your lap in a Honda….. I managed it though, complete with sprinkled Parmesan cheese and garlic toast. I’m a bit groggy from the late night, but I’m counting on the adrenaline to kick in once we hit the starting area.

Races are neat because no matter what you are aiming for, you get to be part of this big collective movement (and one that doesn’t exist to “occupy” something at that)… where everyone is part of the same goal: finish.

If that sounds cheesy just remember the “race” is our new modern day way of clinging on to the innate human social need to prove our capabilities. If you ask me, it’s weird in concept that we insist on organizing events like this, where thousands of people run around in circles, just to prove ourselves. It was a lot more straightforward when social worth was linked to hunter-gathering. Lucky for me things have changed because I would have made an awful cave woman.

Tonight’s the 10km run.. my race of choice this year. Last year I just watched and berated Mike while he sweated it out with thousands of other racers through Ottawa’s little Italy.

Nooo, silly. I didn’t actually berate him. I just embarrassed him.

This year, we start together…and quickly separate… we’re too competitive to run side by side. (… correction, technically I’m too competitive, he’s too slow.. (at least over long distances xoxo) to run side by side.)

Race day rituals? Pace around the house 1 hour before we have to leave and then worry we won’t get to the starting area in time. Yes I do that.

I’m also drinking like a camel in hopes that I’ll stand up to this wicked heat a bit better.

I’m using the sign I made for runners in the 10km last year as my self-self motivation this year:

Yep. Do that.

Good luck to everyone running a race this weekend. If all else fails, and you are hurting like the day music died, just remember:

– Left, foot, right foot, repeat;

– You chose to do this. You showed up so you have no one to blame but yourself;

– Lower your arms, lengthen your stride;

– All races end at some point. Make it end on your terms!

Happy running!!!