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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…

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…
A post about being a running dad.

A post about one runner’s passion for running.

Finally, recaps from the Canadian men who ran the Olympic marathon – Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis.

Saturday Stories

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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…

Great story here about a runner with MS who also has a passion for craft beer. 

An interesting study about how much protein distance runners consume.

A good piece here on why Athletics Canada is wrong in their decision to not allow Lanni Marchant to participate in the Olympic Marathon.

Finally, an article on why runners make great employees.

Two Run Days

Now that I am in the busiest part of my training cycle it means I have to find more time to fit in more mileage to get me up to 90-100 km/week.

I am fortunate that I am often able to get out of work at lunch and add an extra run to my daily schedule.I did that twice this week to run 15.5 km on Wednesday and 19 km yesterday.

Without the option of a second run at lunch I’d have to get up at the crack of dawn or go out at night once the kids are in bed to fit in that mileage on a regular basis during the week.

It also helps that I work next to the Central Experimental Farm which happens to be one of the best spots in the city to run..

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I am not sure that this is the best way to train for a marathon but it is what works for me when I need to fit in more mileage.

 

Saturday Stories

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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…

Have you ever wondered whether elite runners ever lose motivation?

Here is a signature workout from Rob Watson, one of Canada’s best distance runners. 

A post by Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet about his preparations for the Rio Olympics.

Nutrition for Runners: Strawburst Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

Tonight’s is my latest attempt at trying one of the recipes from Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I was intrigued by this one due to the anti-inflammatory ingredients (pineapple, ginger and tumeric). I’m not nursing any injuries at the moment but I figured this would be a good recipe to try as I am heading into my heaviest weeks of training.

If you are interested in trying this recipe you can find it on page 173 of the book. I had to make a couple of substitutions to my version – a bit of soy sauce used instead of miso and a 3-6 blend of oil instead of 3-6-9.

My wife was not a big fan of how it looked when it was finished but my kids enjoyed some with me. It has a sweet taste to it due to all of the fruit in it and you can also taste the ginger.

The best part about it for me is that the recipe makes 3 servings. Even after having a serving and sharing some with my kids I still have a serving in the fridge to enjoy after tomorrow night’s run home from work.

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Week 11 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

Today I ran my third race of the year. As a result, this week’s training was primarily focused on being ready for the race. The majority of this post will also focus on the race since that was the highlight of my week. Overall I had a 70 km week.

Other than this morning’s race my week consisted of easy paced runs. This week I upped the mileage of those runs with them ranging from 10-12 km.

This morning’s race was a race that I have done for 6 years in a row now. It is a half-marathon along the Rideau Canal. The best part for me is that it starts and finishes close to home so I can get a decent warm up by taking an easy run over there.

With it being a little over 1 month before Ottawa Race Weekend in the past I have gone in to this race with a time goal in mind. This year I tried not to obsess about it as much as I may have in the past. My only goal was to run a sub 1:30 time. Last year I ran 1:26 but was not convinced that beating that time was a realistic goal this year.

Unfortunately with temperature of -10C (14F) at the start this morning was the colder than the previous years I ran this race. By way of comparison last year I ran this race in shorts and short sleeves. Fortunately the fact that I live close to the start line meant that I did not have to leave too early.

The fact that this tends to be a small race means that you tend to see the same faces this year. I met a few friends before the start again this year. Once again this year I planned to head out with a friend I met through this blog. We did this for at least the last 2 years with good results. What was different this year is that instead of us being on our own once the crowd thins out after the start we had a group of 4 or 5 runners that stayed together for most of the race.

We crossed the half in about 42 minutes so based on that I was confident we would hit our target of a sub 1:30 finish. The pace started to feel tougher after about 16 km but I managed to hang on for the last 5 km. I finished in 1:28 which is my third fastest time in this race.

I’m pleased with the result. I met the goal I set for myself without taking much of a taper this week. With just over 1 month to go until the marathon this result was a good confidence boost. Now my sole focus will be on getting ready for the marathon and taking another shot at a 3:10 finish.