Ottawa Half Marathon Race Recap: Underwear and Mirrors

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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).

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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.

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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 🙂

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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:

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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!

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.