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.

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.

Ottawa Race Weekend Playlist

I have this thing about playlists – I approach them strategically. This is serious business people – especially in the event that we’re talking about Race Day Playlists.

the race. The Glory.

Race Day Playlists are important because, after 21 km of grueling pavement, songs become forever etched in your mind in that moment. It could either be for that moment you think you will stop and can’t go on… or that moment that runner’s endorphins kick in and you end up on cloud nine.

Today when I was out for a simple, innocent run, I realized it was one week until Ottawa Race Weekend!  Sigh. It seems like only yesterday I was running in the freezing sleet and snow with 4 different layers for protection. Lately every time I run I can smell the lilacs in the air. (And that my friends, is the beauty of living and running in a country where you have four hard core seasons.)

Strategic Play List Tips

  • Around kilometer four I know I’m going to need a burst of energy.  And I always like to start off from the finish line with something epic (Teenage Wasteland was my standard go-to for a while.)
  • Biebster (As in J.Bieber) goes at the beginning when I’m still happy and up beat. (In the event that I make the gaff of placing a Bieber song too late in the list? Lord help the person who’s beside me when it comes on at KM 17.)
  • I like to know how many songs are left so I can tell myself to KICK IT.
  • This year, I’m doing the 10 km, so keep it short and keep it PUNCHY.
  • And oh yea, I only allow myself to have a list play for the duration of the time I’m aiming for.

See? this is military business. I told you. I’m not messing around here.

see? hard core.

THE 10 km Ottawa Race Weekend LIST

Midnight Rider – Allman Brothers – 3:00

Death to My Home Town – Bruce Springsteen – 3:29

Dr. Jones  – Aqua –  3:21

Baby – The Biebster 3:45

Mean – Taylor Swift – 4:04

Dog Days are Over – Florence and the Machine – 3:44

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson – 3:41

Innocent – Our Lady Peace 3:42

Sing – My Chemical Romance – 4:56

Forever – Chris Brown – 4:38

Glamorous – Fergie – 4:07

Total: 40:27

And then these two last songs will come in handy… you know.. just in case I don’t manage to finish the 10 km in 40 minutes and 7 seconds… 🙂

Something to Be Proud Of – Montgomery Gentry – 4:15

Dweller on the Threshold (LIVE VERSION- this is important because it’s a quicker tempo) – Van the Man – 3:40

The Non-Christmas Card

Who wants to be reminded of spring training, when you are surrounded by Christmas buffets, plates of dessert and copious amounts of mulled wine and Gin Humbugs?

Surely not me. But this is precisely what happened. I had just settled down for a long winter’s nap, when this arrived in the mail:


(A reminder card for this upcoming spring’s ½ marathon race)

A new company is sponsoring the Race Weekend in Ottawa this year and I’m led to believe that they sprung for the Cadillac PR package which included individual and personalized post-card reminders to sign up early, or “risk losing a spot at the starting line.” So basically, it just got personal, whilst I was relishing the couch in my flannel Christmas pants.

I miss the old company who just sent an email reminder at the end of January.

I’ve never been a “winter outdoorsy type”, which is unfortunate considering Ottawa becomes a frigid tundra by January 15. I would say the latest date you generally see me running outside would be November 10. This year was no exception. Typically I finish up my running season when the Christmas lights come on and it’s dark by the time I leave work. From there I take a good gluttonous month and a half off, until New Year’s slaps me in the face, at which point I slowly and painfully head to a gym.

As far as winter work-outs go, they don’t get any worse than pounding a treadmill for 3 months straight. Not only is running inside dull, boring and hard to book during “peak hours”, these types of work outs do nothing for me physically.  Unless I’m literally balls to the walls givin’ er, which I always feel is totally overdoing it when the person next to you is reading a magazine on the stepper. (This is NOT to say that I couldn’t benefit from the weights… but that’s a whole different ball game considering I think 5 lbs is pushing it… a little sad I know).

So I did something I have always, always been opposed to in the past. Gasp. I bought fancy running clothes. They are like warm-wicked-breathable-condensation- build- up- resistant- to –Minus 18-type running clothes. I have just always figured that running was great because it didn’t need any bells and whistles equipment (if you are running outdoors that is) and so I have adamantly opposed buying ridiculously over-priced form fitting lycra gear that I’m just going to sweat in. Well, I’ll eat my breathable socks! because this stuff really does motivate the winter-averse. I akin it to a winter weather armor shield, which is why I suppose, Under Armour was such a catchy way to market a sporting apparel company.  But I digress, all this to say… I find I’m developing a flicker of excitement to lace up. I hope I can ride this wave through till April.

Ok Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend , give your PR firm a Christmas bonus. They managed to tap into the deep seeded corners of my guilty conscience… I don’t know how they succeeded but this girl just got her “indoor only” running shoes a little bit dirty.  

If you are a veteran winter runner, I’d love to hear how and why you stay so motivated!