If you follow me on twitter or even read my blog regularly you will see me mention running at the Experimental Farm quite often. Most days I run through part of the farm.
For those of you not from Ottawa let me explain, Ottawa is the only capital city with a working farm in the heart of the city.
For me it is a convenient running route because I happen to work close to it . This gives me a great spot to run at lunch or to make my way home after work. It is also a great spot for families because it houses a museum that is popular with kids.
Here in Ottawa the bike paths along the Rideau Canal are a quiet and scenic spot to run. I head there often during my runs because I live close to it. In the winter the canal becomes a nearly 8 km long skating rink.
While the paths along the canal are generally in good shape, running on the frozen canal is a bonus option during the winter. It is the option I chose for my long run yesterday.
My plan was for a 20 km run with the first 5 km being run at an easy pace and the remaining at a quicker pace. I made my way from home to the starting point pictured above with the majority of my run planned to be run along the canal.
Once the easy 5 km was finished I had no difficulty getting myself up to around my goal marathon pace of 4:30/km. My goal was then to stick as close to this pace as possible.
Since I was running along a frozen canal you might wonder what the footing was like. It was not bad at all. In fact, the hard packed snow along the edges proved to be a much better option than dodging the big puddles along the paths and sidewalks. Here is a look at the type of conditions I ran on…
Other than a couple of spots where it felt like I was running into the wind the conditions were great for my run. Before long I hit the end and it was time to turn around and head back towards home…
In the end I finished with 20 km in 1:35. It turns out I also timed my run well as the canal is closed as of tonight due to the recent warmer weather and sunny conditions.
At the end of my recent to the Maine coast I lamented the fact that my vacation was coming to an end and that I would no longer be able to take advantage of running along the Atlantic coast. I was certainly fortunate to have great options for scenic running routes during my vacation.
The point of tonight’s post is to highlight some of my favourite running routes here at home and to show that I am fortunate to have great routes to run on a regular basis. For example, here is a picture from today’s run.
For those who are not familar with it that is a shot of Parliament Hill from behind while crossing the Ottawa River. For me this has to be one of the best views in the country and I tend to run this route on a weekly basis.
My most common running route during the week involves running along the Rideau River. Despite the fact that this route is not far from the center of a large city the route takes me away from traffic and the tree cover along much of the route makes it seem like I am no longer in the city. I do have to cross a very busy intersection along this route but the rest of the route makes up for it. Here is a picture taken close to my home as I ran home from work last week.
Finally, I also do much of my running along the Rideau Canal which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here is a picture from a recent run.
What are some of your favourite running routes?
Unfortunately my week of vacation is coming to an end. Tomorrow will be my last day in Maine. Although the weather has not been ideal since we have been here I’ve had a great week here with the family. It was my third time visiting the coast in Southern Maine and it is becoming one of my favourite spots to visit in the United States.
In terms of running I managed to keep up with my plan of getting in early morning runs while the family was asleep. So far I managed four runs this week and plan to get in one more tomorrow.
While I do think we are fortunate with the routes we have at home in Ottawa compared to other cities, it is very hard to beat being able to run along the coastline and to run along the beach at low tide which is what I was able to do this week.
As of Monday I will be back to my regular running routine and hopefully back to regular updates on here. For now here is a collection of some of the pictures I took while running this week…
Normally I try not to run the same route on consecutive days. I find this helps me stay motivated. Fortunately for me when I run home from work there are a few different routes I can take to to get home meaning I don’t have to run the same route on consecutive days.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of winter running is that I cannot use the bike paths because they are not plowed. This limits my options to following main streets to get home from my office, forcing me to follow the same route for most of my runs.
I mentioned that I try not to run the same route on consecutive days. I find it helps keep me motivated and it also allows me to alter between flatter and hillier routes. This won’t stop me from running returning the winter but once the spring arrives I will look forward to being able to alter my running routes once again.
Does the winter weather alter your running routes?
As I mentioned on here before my wife and I are expecting a new baby. With the baby’s arrival fast approaching my running plans have been adjusted accordingly so that I can get home quickly if I get a call from home while I am running. My phone is always close by in case that call comes while I am running.
As per my usual routine I have continued to run home from work in the evening when possible. The adjustment I have made is that I am sticking to the same route home from work. It is a more direct route home and keeps me close to main roads if I need to call for a taxi in order to get home shortly.
For about a week now I have also adjusted my runs from home. Not wanting to stray to far from home in case anything happens while I am out I have adjusted my running patterns by trying to stick close to home. I have been trying to keep myself no more than 2-3 km away from home while running.
I have managed to find myself a 4-5 loop in our neighbourhood that allows me to accomplish that. I have been using this loop for most of my runs from home lately. It works out well because two loops of the route allows me to get in an 8-10 km run while staying close to home at all times.
Until the baby arrives I plan to continue this routine since it allows me to continue running regularly while allowing me to get home quickly from a run if needed.
This Sunday I will run my seventh marathon over the past four years. Of those, this one will be my third away from home with Philadelphia and Prince Edward County being the previous two.
I find there are both advantages and disadvantages to running a marathon away from home. There are aspects to each that I enjoy come race day.
In terms of positives when running a marathon away from home you are running a new course. Here in Ottawa I regularly run portions of the marathon course so I am familiar with every aspect of the course and it is not new come race day. Away from home the entire course is new and provides a nice change of scenery, especially when you are some where you have never been before as was the case for me in Philadelphia last year.
In terms of negatives, running away from home can present challenges you don’t have to deal with at home. When you are running at home you don’t have to worry about rushing out at the last minute trying to find food for a pre-race breakfast, like I was when I went to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, and you get to sleep in your own bed the night before.
I guess what it comes down to is that I enjoy running my hometown marathon for the sake of familiarity and comforts of home and I enjoy running marathons away from home because it is a chance to explore a new city that I am not familiar with.
Do you have a preference over running races at home or away from home?
One of the things we are blessed with in Ottawa are an abundance are areas that are ideal for running. I live near the Rideau Canal so many of my runs will take me along the canal for at least a portion of the run. Strathcona Park is also a regular destination of mine since it is also close to home and running through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood brings back memories of my univeristy years. Another frequent destination of my is the Central Experimental Farm The farm is located near my office and I regularly run through it when I decide to run home from work.
I enjoy running in these parts of Ottawa because they almost give me the feeling I am no longer in the city even though in reality I am still quite close to downtown. Where else can you go for a run along a UNESCO World Heritage site (Rideau Canal) and a working farm (Ottawa is the only capital city to have a working farm within its boundaries) so close to the center of a large city?
On my longer runs I like to take different routes. When my schdule calls for runs in excess of 25 km I will often run along the Ottawa River Parkway, cross over to Gatineau on the Quebec side of the river or head towards Rockliffe Park which is home to some of the most expensive homes in the city and to many of the Ambassodors stationed in Ottawa (my daughter and I crossed paths with US Ambassador David Jacobson a few months ago while on a Sunday moorning run).
Where do you like to run?