Tag Archives: half-marathon

Race Report: Army Run 2017

The Army Run is one of the two local events in Ottawa I look forward to every year, Ottawa Race Weekend in the spring being the other. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Army Run. I’ve participated every year except for two – one because I was out of town for a wedding and the other because I sprained my ankle one week before race day.

I look forward to the event every year because it is a major running event in Ottawa that draws large crowds. It also carries added meaning for me since my father served in the army for 41 years. It is fun to participate in an event that supports the Canadian Army and getting to check out the assortment of military vehicles at the race expo brings back memories of growing up on military bases. 

As has been the case for all but the first year I ran it this year I was once again a pace bunny. I look forward to the challenge of trying to finish in an assigned time as much as I do running my own races for a personal best. Initially I was scheduled to be the 1:35 pace bunny for the half-marathon but I ended up dropping back to 1:55 closer to the date when another runner backed out. 

As you can see from the picture above I was not the only member of my family running this year. My oldest daughter decided back in May when she saw other kids running the Ottawa Race Weekend 5 km that she was also going to run a 5 km. She reminded me about it a couple of times over the summer and after registering her for the race we started training together. 

One of the best parts of this race is that the start line is close to my house and I can run over to the start line for a quick warm up before the race. Since the 5 km starts before the half-marathon and was still ongoing as I made my way to the start I headed over to the finishing stretch in the hopes of seeing my daughter as she headed to the finish line. Unfortunately it turns out that I missed her by a few minutes.

While I was disappointed to have missed my daughter’s finish she was able to make it over to see the start of my race. One of the benefits of being a pace bunny is that you are easy to spot when wearing bunny ears and holding a sign. She saw me as soon as I crossed the start line and I made my way over to see her briefly before I continued with my race, seeing her beaming with pride from having just completed a 5 km was a great way to start my own race.


Despite the fact it ended up being one of the hottest days of the year I felt good as I tried to maintain a steady pace for the group that was following me, 5:26-5:27/km was my target for the morning. Just after the halfway point of the race we entered the grounds of Rideau Hall, one of the best parts of the race since they added it to the course a few years ago. Once again this year I made sure to get a high five from the Governor General as I passed his residence. 

Following that it was time to make our way back downtown for the final stretch to the finish line along the Rideau Canal. When pacing a half the goal is to try and come within 1 minute of your assigned time. Based on my splits on my Garmin and my overall time I sure I was right on pace until I reached the 18 km mark and I realized that I had run nearly 1 extra km due to trying to get around groups of slower runners and not running the tangents.

I finished with a chip time of 1:57:18. I guess that is still relatively close to my goal time. However, in previous years I managed to consistently finish closer to my goal time. To say I was disappointed with my result was an understatement. The fact that a few runners made a point of thanking me for pacing afterward made me a feel a little better about my run but i should have been closer to my goal time in this case. I guess it will serve as motivation the next time I serve as a pace bunny. 

My New Training Partner

For the past week I have had a new training partner joining me for some of my Army Run training runs. In addition to getting myself ready to run the half-marathon this year I have to help my oldest daughter (7) train for the 5km.

Back in May when she saw other kids running the 5km and 10km races my daughter decided she was going to run a race longer than the 2km race she did that weekend. She reminded me of her desire to run a 5km a few times over the summer so I registered her for the Army Run 5 km.

We officially started our training for the race with a few training runs last week before work for me and school for her. Weather permitting we are planning to go for our longest run so far later today.

The early weekday morning runs have been beneficial for both of us so far. For my daughter getting outside and being active is better than screen time while the rest of the family sleeps.

In my case being woken up by my daughter to go for a run in the morning gets my day off to an earlier start which is important now that we have two kids back in school and I am trying to get both kids out the door in time to catch the school bus and so I can get myself to work on time.

Race day is now 13 days away. That gives us at least a couple more weeks of training runs together. Hopefully after that we will able to continue this new routine .

Fall Race Plans

Recently I mentioned that I was still in the process of searching for a goal race for the fall. As of yesterday my plans for the fall are now set. I am know scheduled for a half-marathon in September and a marathon in October.

What will be different this year is that I am not planning to run either for a an attempt at a pb. I will be pacing both races. Pacing a half-marathon isn’t new to me, this will be my 5th consecutive year pacing one (it would be my 8th had I not sprained my ankle one week before my race in 2012).

If you have followed my blog at all it probably won’t be any surprise that my half-marathon of choice is the Army Run. I like doing this race because it is the biggest race here in the fall and it well organized. My father also served in the army for 41 years so participating in it has extra meaning for me.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Army Run. As mentioned above this will be my 5th consecutive year pacing the half-marathon. Overall I have only missed the race twice (the first one because I was away for a wedding that weekend and in 2012 because my sprained ankle).

Once again my goal time for the half-marathon will be 1:35. I enjoy this pace because it generally gives me a good training run for my marathon schedule.

Pacing a marathon will be a new experience for me. I was initially looking for a marathon to run at my own pace but the opportunity a new marathon that has already sold out sold me on pacing. In October I will be pacing the Marathon du P’tit train du nord.

If you have not heard of this race it is a point to point course on a path built over an old rail line close to Montreal. The course offers a gradual 220m drop (721 feet) that organizers are billing as the ”fastest course in North America”.

My goal time will be 3:35.  With the course being described as it is I am sure many runners will be aiming for a BQ on race day. The pressure will be on me to stick close to my goal time!

I will likely add a 10 km race here to run at my own pace at some point but for now I have two goals for the fall.

What are your race plans for the fall?

In Search of a New Goal

For the first time in a while I currently find myself without a running goal. When I started this blog my goal was to qualify run Boston and I was able to accomplish that this year. Now I am searching for a new goal to focus on and to keep me running with a purpose.

For the time being I only have one race on my calendar for the rest of the year, usual pacing gig at the Army Run half-marathon. Although pacing a specific time poses a challenge I also want to run a fall race at my own pace.

As a result, I am currently contemplating marathon and half-marathon options within a reasonable distance (2-3 hours) from home. Something in October or early November would be ideal in terms of timing since the Army Run is in mid-September.

I don’t really have a preference in terms of the distance. I think the main issue will come down to what I can find for races at either distance during the timeframe I am looking at.

What are your goals for the fall? If you have any recommendations for me feel free to send them along!

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…

Training For the Ottawa Race Weekend Half-Marathon

My goal since running the Boston Marathon last month has been to get in consistent mileage so I could run a half-marathon this weekend. After taking nearly a full off following Boston I have managed to get back into a consistent running routine.

In the 4.5 weeks since Boston I have managed to get in my usual 5-6 runs per week. I started out with 40 km in my first full week and topped out at 68 km two weeks ago. Most weeks I was successful in including some sort of tempo workout on Tuesday and a speed workout on Thursday.

While I never expected to be in shape to run a personal best time I do have a previously mentioned time goal, under 1;30, in mind. I’ve managed to come in under 1:30 the last 4 or 5 times I have run a half on my own so it would be nice to keep that streak going.

Despite the fact that ideally I would have liked to get in a bit more mileage overall I still think my goal is realistic based on my long runs and my tempo workouts.

My plan for Sunday is to head out with the 1:30 pace bunny for the the first half. If I am feeling good at the halfway point my goal is to take off ahead on my own to ensure I come in under 1:30.

Good luck to anyone else who is running one of the races here this 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.

Army Run 2016

As mentioned in a previous post, yesterday I participated in the Army Run  as a pace bunny for the 7th time, 6th in the half-marathon. Once again this year my task was to run a 1:35 half-marathon, a task I completed on two previous occasions.

Since this race is in September the weather is often decent for running. However, it can still get hot at this time of year and yesterday was an example of that, with a high of 26C on the day (79F). It was cool when I first stepped out of the house around 8:00 but at the start line just over an hour later at the start line it was already noticeably hotter.

My plan for the morning was to run a steady 4:30/km pace the whole way. Despite the fact the start can get congested at the start with a slight uphill followed by a left turn after crossing the start line I managed to find some holes and did not have much difficulty getting up to my intended pace. Just before I passed the 1km mark I passed The Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjin, who was also running the half.

Just before the half Kevin and Marc, a couple other members of Team Nuun, pulled up behind me. They noticed I was wearing a Nuun wristband, introduced themselves and we had a good discussion for a couple of km before they took off ahead of me.

Unfortunately construction prevented the race from going through the grounds of Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada’s Governor General, this year. However, the Governor General and his wife were still out along the course as we passed by their residence and I made sure to get a high five from Governor General as I went by. 

With about 5-6 km to go I realized I was about 1-2 minutes behind where I wanted to be. I picked up the pace a bit but made sure to to drop too much under my goal pace of 4:30/km because there were still many runners around me. With about 1 km to go as we ran down the final stretch of the race I encouraged the runners around me to take off ahead of me to go for a 1:35 finish. A few did just that and met their goal if they were aiming for 1:35.


As for myself, I crossed the finish line in 1:36:39. My initial reaction was to be disappointed with my time. Last year I finished in 1:35:20 and I was hoping to be even closer to my target this year. With other runners counting on my pace I take pacing as seriously as I do my own running goals. 

However, as I was walking through the finish chute one of the runners who took off ahead of me along the last stretch made a point of thanking me for encouraging them to take off ahead. Knowing that I was close enough to my target for people to go ahead and meet their goal time made me feel better about my run. That is why I enjoy pacing this race every year. 

 

Pacing the Army Run

On Sunday I will be running the Army Run half-marathon. Instead of racing it I will be running as a pace bunny. It has become an annual gig for, I’ve been a pace bunny 6 out of the last 7 years. I missed out in 2012 when I sprained my ankle playing soccer one week before the race. 

Even if I was not pacing I would make a point of running in the race. It is the second biggest race of the year here in Ottawa and the biggest option here in the fall. The fact that the race supports the Canadian Army also means something to me since my father was an a medic in the army for 41 years.

Since I generally find myself racing with a goal in mind at Ottawa Race Weekend in May I have taken a different approach to the Army Run over the last 7 years. Being a pace bunny allows me to have some fun with this race although I still face the challenge of meeting a set time goal. 

Once again this year I will be one of the 1:35 pacers. Last year the reason for the time assignment was because I was in the process of training for a November marathon with 3:10 as my goal. This year I am not running a fall marathon but I wanted to stay at the 1:35 pace because it gave me a goal to keep training for after Race Weekend this year. 

Finally, the last reason I enjoy pacing this event is that my girls always get a kick out of seeing me wearing a hat with pink ears..