Category Archives: Ottawa race weekend

Final Thoughts on Ottawa Race Weekend

As mentioned in my half-marathon race report this year 12th year of participation in Race Weekend. It has become one of my favourite events of the year and in recent years my family’s involvement in the event has grown as my two oldest daughters have started to participate.

Based on my own experience running marathons in Toronto, Philadelphia and Montreal I don’t hesitate to say that Ottawa Race Weekend is a great event and the best race weekend in Canada. The organization, volunteers and crowd support make it a great event every year.

Race Weekend started off on Saturday afternoon for my family with my daughters running the 2 km with their grandparents. That went so well that my oldest (7) is now intent on doing a 5km or even 10km race. She also came home and placed her race bib with my collection of bibs, covering my Boston bib in the process…

For the 10 km race later that evening I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and watch from the finish line. My role was to make sure the 3rd place male finisher made it to the media area and the podium for the award ceremony following the race.

It was impressive to witness a 10km finish this vantage point. It went from being very quiet before the motorcycles and trucks came through the finish area to very hectic when the top finishers started coming in quickly afterward with some of them collapsing at the line due to exhaustion and cramps.

Once the top three men had finished I along with an assigned doping control agent  followed Nicholas Bor of Kenya around as he recovered then made his way to the media area and eventually the stage for the award ceremony.

The doping control agents were present because the Race Weekend 10km and marathon are IAAF Gold Label events.  For those who are not aware, Race Weekend in Ottawa is the only event in North America to host two IAAF Gold Label events. Lisbon Portugal is the only other city in the world to hold the same distinction.

Once the awards were handed out I headed back to join my family nearby as they waited for my wife’s sister to finish the 10km. Once she finished I headed home to get some rest after a long day.

My participation in the half-marathon Sunday morning ended our Race Weekend experience in the best possible way.  I must be one of the luckiest Race Weekend participants because I had the benefit of knowing exactly where my would be waiting for me as I approached the finish line of the half-marathon while a friend who is a professional photographer waited nearby.

 

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Half-Marathon

Yesterday I participated in a Race Weekend event for the 12th time. Since I ran The Boston Marathon last month I decided to run the half -marathon yesterday. That was a bit of a change for me because I ran the marathon the previous 8 years.

My morning got off to an earlier than expected start when my youngest daughter decided 5:20 was a good time to wake up. Instead of getting an extra hour of sleep I got up and shared my breakfast consisting of a banana and a bowl of oatmeal with a happy 11 month old.

The fact that I live close to the start line meant that I did not have to rush to get ready. Before I left the house at 8:30 for the 9:00 start my daughters lent me their sunscreen…

The start line is about 2 km from my house so I was in my corral 10 minutes later. Getting there early meant I was able to line up toward the front of my corral and close to the 1:30 pace bunnies I planned to follow for the first half.

Although it did not get as hot as it did during last year’s Race Weekend it was still a warm day with a temperature of 23C (73F) at the start. The first half of the race went as planned and I hit the 10 km mark in 42:24, on pace for a 1:29 finish.

As I started the second half I pulled ahead of the 1:30 bunnies and maintained that lead for 7 or 8 km before the first of the two 1:30 pace bunnies pulled just ahead of me. Since I could still see the bunny ahead of me I knew I was on track for a 1:29-1:30 finish.

The final 3 km of the half-marathon course brings runners back through downtown and along a Rideau Canal that is lined with large crowds of spectators on both sides. This is also the point where the marathon and half-marathon courses merge.

At this point I was starting to feel the effects of the heat. As I crossed the Pretoria Bridge and headed back down the other side of the canal for the final 1-1.5 km I had the benefit of knowing exactly where my family was waiting to cheer me on. That gave me the boost I needed to keep pushing hard.

I passed my family with about 200m to go then crossed the finish line in 1:30:45. Coming 5 weeks after Boston and in hot conditions I am pleased with the result. I pushed as I hard as I could during the final 3 km stretch to get to the finish line and I had nothing left in me when I got to the finish.

I was even more pleased with it when I saw where I finished out of the 11,501 runners who participated in the half-marathon…

Once again Race Weekend did not disappoint for me. Now I have another great Race Weekend medal to add to my collection…

Saturday Stories

It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

A study about the effects of drafting during the Breaking2 Project.

A post for those of you running the Ottawa Marathon tomorrow morning, the largest and best marathon in Canada.

Also about Ottawa Race Weekend, a post about why one of my running friends enjoys Race Weekend.

Ottawa Race Weekend

Now that I have recovered from Boston it is time to get ready for my next race. In one month from today I am scheduled to run the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon.

Ottawa Race Weekend is, in my opinion, the best race weekend in Canada with races spread out over 2 days and a variety of distances to appeal to as many runners as possible. It offers the only IAAF Gold Label 10 km race in Canada to go along with a Gold Label marathon.

Runners can also expect great crowd support along the courses. In particular, the final stretch down Queen Elizabeth drive draws large crowds for all of the races.

In my case it has become an event for the whole family to enjoy. My oldest daughters will be running the 2 km with their grandparents on Saturday afternoon again this year and I will be running Sunday morning.

I have participated in it 11 times and will be participating again this year. This year will mark a bit of a change of pace for me as I will be running the half-marathon instead of the marathon as I have done for the past 8 years.

I initially planned to do the marathon but since I was not sure how my long it would take for my legs to recover after Boston I decided to downgrade the the half to be on the safe side. Currently I am slowly ramping my mileage up again to get ready for the half.

In terms of my goals for race weekend while I don’t think I can expect to be in pb (1:26:27) shape for a half 6 weeks after Boston I would still like to come in under 1:30. Barring any setbacks as I ramp up my training over the next few weeks I think that is a realistic goal.

If you are running the marathon this year and are not familiar with the course have a look at this overview and strategy guide I posted a few years ago. There have been a few minor changes to the course since I posted this guide but it could be of interest to you.

Alternatively, you can also follow the Ottawa Marathon social media accounts on Thursday May 4th as Jayme from The Pacing Life runs the course to give runners a full preview. You can watch for that starting at 8:00.

Saturday Stories


It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

Good advice here about the intensity of your workouts. 

A great post about why you should run the Ottawa Marathon this year.

An interesting post about what happens to elite runners after a big marathon PR.

2016 in Review

With a new addition to our family due in late June 2016 was always going to be a quieter year for me in terms of races. That said I think I managed to have a decent year although it ended on a disappointing note with me being unable to run the last week of the year, more on that later.

You may recall that I finally qualified for Boston at the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon. However, since I only beat my cutoff time by 2:31 I would have to wait until this September to find out if I would actually get to go. As a result, I planned my usual preparation for May’s Ottawa Marathon with three 10 km races and a half-marathon as part of my marathon preparation. 

My shorter races went as expected with all of the 10 km times being under 42 minutes (41:06, 41:31 and 41:09). A 1:28 finish gave me my third straight sub 1:30 result in April’s Run for Reach half-marathon. Those times had me satisfied with my preparation for the marathon in May.

Since I was not guaranteed a spot in Boston with my Philadelphia time my plan for Ottawa was to try and improve my qualifying time (3:15). Unfortunately, a heat wave hit Ottawa in the week leading up to Race Weekend. While the conditions for the marathon were better than the conditions for the other races that weekend it was still hot and humid. I went out at a 3:15 pace but ended up backing off the pace during the second half and finished in 3:26. The best part of the race was getting to see my two oldest daughters cheering for me right before the finish line.

My final scheduled race of the year was the Army Run half-marathon. Once again I volunteered to be the 1:35 pace bunny for the event. It was a lot of fun helping other runners as they tried to meet their goals. I crossed the finish line in just over 1:36 this year…


The day after the Army Run was my opportunity to finally apply for entry to Boston. Just over a week later, on the day before my birthday,  finally received an email I had been waiting a long time t receive…


As for not being able to run this past week the short version of the story is that I was on pace for just over 3000 km in 2016 then came down with shingles and had to make an unexpected trip to get a prescription on Christmas Day. I am finally feeling better now and may go for a short run tomorrow to end the year. 

Despite the past week I have to be pleased with 2016 as far as running goes. I was healthy enough to run another marathon,  successfully paced a half-marathon and had my entry for Boston accepted.

I hope your 2016 was also a good one. All the best in 2017!

Race Report: Ottawa Marathon 2016

Yesterday was my 8th consecutive Ottawa Marathon and 14th marathon overall. Initially my plan for it was to try and beat my time from November and in the process improve my Boston qualifying time. Once it became apparent that we were in for a hot and humid weekend I changed that plan and decided just to run based on how I felt.

After watching my daughters run the 2 km with their grandparents Saturday afternoon I went home and made my usual pasta meal for dinner. I managed to get to sleep early and was ready for my 3:30 wake up call for a breakfast consisting of orange juice, oatmeal, a banana and a bagel. Finally, I ate a handful of raisins before I headed out the door to top off my glycogen stores.

Since I live close to the start line (2km) I opted for an easy run down there to serve as a warm up. It was already 18C (64F) before the start although there was a cool breeze to help. I decided to start out at a 3:15 marathon pace (4:35/km) and adjust accordingly if needed.

Figuring it wouldn’t be long before I started to feel the heat and humidity I settled into a routine of dumping a cup of water over my head at every water station and made sure to run under every misting station set up along the course. I figured it was best to get started on making sure I took efforts to stay cool before it was too late.

In response to requests from the organizers many residents living along the course also set up sprinklers and hoses to provided more relief for runners. The crowds supporting marathoners are usually strong  along most of the course but this year the support seemed even stronger than usual. As mentioned people had sprinklers set up all along the course, there were several locations where people were handing out freezies and there were even a couple of locations in between water stations where people were handing out bottled water.

My 4:35 pace felt fine through the first half but as I passed that point I knew I was going to start losing time due to a combination of a stomach cramp and the heat. By the time I hit 25 km I was now on pace for a 3:23 finish. From that point on my goal was to maintain a steady pace to get myself back to the finish line. My right calf also felt tight at times throughout the second half. I expected to have to deal with a cramp at some point but was fortunate to avoid that.

Around 37 km the 3:25 pace bunny caught up to me so I knew if I held on at that pace I finish in around 3:25. That task became a little more difficult when we made it back downtown to the point where the marathon and half-marathon courses merge. Normally the half-marathon starts at 9:00 and by the time I reach this point only the fastest half-marathoners are coming through (last year the lead male runner passed me at this point). This year, due to the heat, the half-marathon started at 8:15 and there was a large crowd of half-marathoners merging with the marathon course.

I probably lost some time over the last 3 km as I tried to make my way through the crowd but by this point but it did not matter. My goal for the day was just to have the best run possible given the conditions and I had already accomplished that. In addition, this change was necessary in order to make the day as safe for as many runners as possible.

I had the advantage of knowing exactly where my family would be watching for me to come in. As I rounded the corner to take on the final 1 km stretch I worked my way over to the west side of the road to be in position to see them. I slowed right down to give my girls high fives and my friend Greg who has been at the finish line for at least 6 of my 8 Ottawa Marathons was there to capture the moment with this photo….


I crossed the line in 3:26:37, not quite the time I was hoping for when I started my training but I am pleased with it for reasons mentioned above. Marathons are not easy and many things have to  come together on race day to reach your goal. If my current Boston qualifying time is not sufficient when registration closes in September I’ll just have to go after that again next year.

I went home and celebrated with a beer…


And lunch from Five Guys…

In a way I am sad to see Race Weekend come to an end. It really is a great weekend to be in Ottawa and an event I think is the best race weekend in Canada. Hopefully I can continue my marathon streak here going next year…

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

IMG_20160527_185422

Race Weekend is here once again. Since I took up running it has become one of my favourite weekends of the year. It is certainly my favourite running event of the year.

In Ottawa we are fortunate to have a great event that is both the largest race weekend in Canada and largest marathon in terms of participation numbers. If you have never run one of the races I recommend doing so. It is a great experience.

Back in 2006 when I did the 5 km race it was the event that started to get me hooked on running. For the past 8 years running the marathon here has become an annual tradition.

Once again this year I am fortunate enough to be able to run the marathon. In addition, perhaps starting a new family tradition during Race Weekend, my daughters will be running the 2 km race with their grandparents.

Tomorrow afternoon I will make make my way to the finish line to watch the end of the 2 km race. Sunday morning I will be up at the crack of dawn to run the marathon.

Unfortunately this year our first heat wave of the year has coincided with Race Weekend. Hopefully we will get a break from the forecasted highs of over 30C (86F). If not my plan is to dial back on my pace and get myself to the finish line in the best shape possible.

IMG_20160527_175442

Week 17 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

img_0527

Race day is almost here now. One week from today I will run my 14th marathon, and 8th here at home. I had one final full week of training this here although I did dial back on the mileage once again. I ended this week with a total of 79 km.

I managed to fit in two good workouts this week where I was able to push the pace a bit. Tuesday’s run ended up being a 12 km effort with 7 km done at my tempo pace.

Thursday my speed workout involved a 2 km warm up, 6 x 200m/200m easy, 5 km @ 4:30/km, 1:30 easy, 6 x 200m/200m easy. I had planned to make the workout even longer with a longer warm up and cool down and longer run at marathon pace but had to cut it short due to time constraints. I think I still managed to put in a solid effort.

This morning I went for my last long run before the marathon. It was an easy 19.6 km effort and it was fitting that I saw several of these along the way…

In terms of what’s left before the marathon I have a few 6-7 km runs and a 12 km marathon pace run scheduled. I plan to keep my mileage around 50-55 km. My training is done so there is no need to push beyond that in the final week.

More importantly I plan to try and get to bed early every night leading up to the marathon and loading up on carbs (I got  start on that tonight by picking up some supplies at the grocery store).

How was your week?

Week 16 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


Race day is now 2 weeks away. At this point the main goal is to avoid injury or getting sick. My key workouts are out of the way. I ended this week with a total of 76 km done, just ahead of last week’s effort. This week also saw my last run over 20 km before the marathon.

The key workout was my speed workout Thursday evening. This week’s workout called for a 3.2 km warm up followed by 5 x  5:00 @ 4:00/km and 3:00 easy. It was a solid run. By the time I reached the last 2 intervals I was feeling the effort and had to push myself to keep up the pace I was aiming for. 

Saturday when I went for my run I passed what is always a welcome site at this time of year, a sign of just how close race day is…

2 weeks until the @ottawamarathon #running #marathontraining #runottawa

A post shared by Patrick Girard (@pat42.2) on

This morning my goal was to run 28 km. Despite the occasional gusts of wind the cool weather was good for a long run. I felt good and did some of it at my marathon pace…

Now I am down to my final 2 weeks of training. This week will be a final week of full training while the last week will be lighter in terms of mileage and effort. My goal, as previously stated, will be to stay healthy. At this point there isn’t really anything I can do that will improve my result on race day. I just need to avoid doing something silly. 

Next week I will still do a tempo run on Tuesday followed by speed work on Thursday. I will end the week with a long run of less than 20 km. I am not entering the point where I will start paying even closer attention to my diet and making more of an effort to get to bed on time. 

How was your week?