Monday, May 25, 2009

Ottawa Half Marathon Race Report

We enjoyed a mellow day at the cottage on Saturday in preparation for the Ottawa Marathon on Sunday. We got to bed pretty early, knowing that we had to hit the road by 4:30AM.

My alarm was set for 4, but I got up at 3:30 when I heard some hustle and bustle in the kitchen. My friends were all running the marathon (3 of them first-timers) and the nerves and excitement in the air were contagious. The half was not starting until 9 but the marathon started at 7, so I packed breakfast to eat after seeing everyone off. We were on the road right on schedule at 5:00 and arrived at the starting area by 6:30. We met up with one of our friends from the clinic who had picked up our race kits, got ourselves organized and pretty soon it was time for everyone to line up for the start. We also met up with our coach and some others from our clinic for a group photo (not on my camera).



It was already about 15C (59F) at 7 and the sun was feeling hotter and hotter as it rose, so I was a little nervous about how warm it might get later on in the morning.

I was able to meet up with my friend Sarah (who was there to see her hubby run his first marathon - congrats Colin!) and had my breakfast before using the washroom, checking my bag and getting ready to start.

I headed to the corrals 15 minutes before the start and everyone was already crammed between the barriers like sardines. It seemed like there was no opening so I, along with many others, ended up climbing over the barricades. Once I got in, I was literally smushed between people, getting shoved and stepped on for 15 minutes. I have never been more relieved to hear the gun go off.

I had decided to treat the race as a fun run, taking in the sights of city I had never seen and hoping to feel great at the finish. I started a little less conservatively than I had planned and felt the heat almost immediately. It was around 20C (58F) but felt much warmer in the sun (there was almost no shade throughout the entire course).

I had decided not to carry my own water, which was a mistake. The water stations were usually 3K apart, and I constantly felt thirsty. I took a full cup of gatorade and water at each stop, and dumped a cup or two on my head. Yes, I felt that hot.

The course was moderate in difficulty, with a few big hills and several smaller ones.



Within the first 5K we crossed a bridge over the Ottawa River into Gatineau, Quebec. This is the only part of the course that I didn't enjoy. It was bleak and industrial, with minimal crowd support. The sun was killing me and I remember feeling grateful not to be running a full marathon that day.

Just before 10K we crossed another bridge back into Ottawa. I was feeling really tired and felt myself slowing with each kilometre. The 2:00 pace group passed me around this point and I started feeling defeated, but knew that I just had to make it to the finish.

Despite being hot and tired, I enjoyed the second half much more than the first. The crowd support was amazing and the route was beautiful. We ran mostly along the Rideau Canal, which offered a refreshing breeze and great scenery.

There was a sponge station at some point, which was just about the BEST THING EVER. I took two sponges sopping with cold water and squeezed them all over myself.

I continued taking as much fluid as I could and also took two gels on my usual half marathon schedule of 7K and 14K.

During the last 5K, I really felt that I was in survival mode. I couldn't find any relief from the sun and it was sucking the life out of me. It was extremely tempting to stop and walk, but I continually reminded myself that it would only prolong the suffering.

I managed to pick up my pace a little for the last two kilometres. The crowds were thick and cheering like crazy, which offered a much-needed boost. One awesome spectator was spraying us with a hose from the side of the road, which was even better than the sponges.

Finally, I saw the signs. 750m to go. 500m. 400m. 300m... I could see the finish line and brought it home.

Official time: 2:06:28
Chip time: 2:04:09
Overall place: 3563/9107
Gender place: 1282/5192
F25-29 place: 259/842



My half marathon PR streak has come to an end. It was somewhat of a humbling experience, since I thought for sure I could run 2:00 no problem. This was actually my second slowest HM out of 6, but still a positive experience overall. Ottawa was beautiful and I'm planning to make it a tradition - we're already planning Ottawa Cottage Weekend 2010!

34 comments:

EndorphinBuzz said...

I totally agree with you about the Hull part needing some extra work.

I tried looking for you to say hi since I've been reading you for a while but there were just too many people...

Congrats on the finish, it was a hot day. I don't think you should expect to always beat records, especially since you haven't had a lot of down time to train up, racing almost every weekend like you do. I'm amazed already at how much you are doing...

Best of luck on the remainder of the 5 in 5!!

Mark said...

Marlene, great run! You have been racing so much that this race is not an indicator of your ability. The heat, being packed in like a sardine, water stations few and far between, you did fantastic!
Looks and sounds like a wonderful place to visit and race, nice medal!!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

well done! Looks like you had an amazing time :D

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

It's amazing how you just keep pounding out the races. Good work.

teacherwoman said...

Sounds like a great race, Marlene! Congrats on yet another Half Marathon!

jawsome said...

Great job! I need to find more races to enter to keep me motivated! I bet the course was beautiful.

Jenn said...

BAH! When I passed the sponges they didn't have any -- sounds like they are something to look forward to!

Congrats on a great race!

yumke said...

Congrats on the race! So how did the temperature feel compared with last year's Scotia? I will run Ottawa at some point but I'm not sure it will be one to race for a PR given the possible warm temps..

Jamie said...

Great job on another 1/2 marathon finish! Sounds like a great race!

Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

You're such a trooper Marlene - well done! I know you're a little disappointed, but in my eyes your time is INCREDIBLE! Well done.

Marky Mark said...

Well done with the heat! I share yumke's question re: whether it was hotter than Scotia.

Meanwhile when you look at your percentiles you still did very well from a time point of view-I'm sure everyone was a little slower in those conditions.

lindsay said...

perhaps if you weren't racing and pr-ing every weekend you'd have even more speed and pr's in your legs ;) (just busting chops) i'm sure the heat and water situation hurt a little as well, and you weren't too far off of your pr anyway. you said it was going to be a fun run and you were just 12 mins slower than your pr, not even a minute/mile! definitely not an "easy/training" pace in my book!

congrats on great race and hope the rest of your weekend was full of more fun. looking forward to the rest of this string of races - you really make me wish i could i put together a little "season"!

Zorbs said...

If you hated the part in Gatineau, you would have REALLY hated kms 30-35, which was through a rural part of town, no shade, ZERO crowd support during a part where I could have really used some cheering.

Expect a race report from me when I get my brains together. :)

Jess said...

It;s so funny how temperature affects everyone differently. If it were 59 here at the start of a race, everyone would be shivering!

Nice job on the half, despite it not being a PR!

Lily on the Road said...

sorry to have missed you, I was at several locations throughout the race, saw your start and then waited at the 100M mark at the finish line. You're right the Quebec side is not a highlight, hard economic times there, just makes you appreciate Ottawa so much more!

Looks are deceiving, it is NOT an easy race...GOOD JOB!!!

trialsoftraining said...

That heat is really not PR-friendly! A SPONGE station?!! Oh man, I loooove this idea. You were definitely smart about staying hydrated, and I think you did Great!! It takes a lot of will to push through some races, and you kept running! :) Congrats on another HM!

Marcy said...

CONGRATS CHICA!! You know, that's the messed up thing about running. You can be so on (fitness wise) but if the weather is being a PITA things can go bad fast. You finished yet another HM! YAY!

Jocelyn said...

Congrats on the marathon. Didn't you JUST run a marathon not to long ago? You are my hero :)

Laura said...

Congrats...God bless whoever thought of the sponge station. I even let one of the kids douse me with water from a cup. Both he and I enjoyed it.

X-Country2 said...

That's a race medal well-earned! Looks like a great group. :o)

RunningLaur said...

Looks like a great great weekend!
Way to push through that heat!

Denise said...

GREAT job!! I think every race should have a sponge station!! What a great idea!

Runner Leana said...

Starting a race at 20C is really, really hard. Sorry to hear that your PR streak has come to an end, but given the heat of the day I think you did a great job! Congratulations on your race and starting off 5 in 5 with a bang!

Heather said...

I hear you about the sun. I've had some races where I just pray for a cloud the whole time just to get some relief. Way to perservere! Sounds like a fun weekend. Also, I think the race shirt is really cute. :)

The Happy Runner said...

Great job! Glad it was a positive experience even w/the sun. That's tough. Way to go, uber-racer!

J said...

Great job on the HM!! I know the feeling when the sun is so hot and you still have to finish the race but it just feels like every step is hard! You did another HM!! That is a great accomplishment, pr or not!

Patrick said...

Congrats!!! I thought about you as I was running my half.

Sounds like you had a great time!!!

I love Ottawa-- It is such a beautiful city it must be wonderful to run a Half there!

Road Warrior said...

It sounds like, despite all past evidence, that you might in fact be mortal. :) Nice job on the time, especially considering the conditions.

aron said...

congrats girl!!! another great race and another awesome medal :)

yumke said...

Crazy about the heat in Ottawa, I heard from someone who raced the Saturday 10K and he told me it was warm! I forget now what Scotia was like :)

Nitmos said...

Pr or not...sounds like you had fun. And, looking at that last picture, you didn't get stuck with one of those yellow shirts!

Vickie said...

First, I have to say, back at the Toronto half in Sept., I had intended to run this race. But with signing up for an IM race later this year, I just didn't have the time or money for the expense at this point in my training. Second, what a beautiful day it was! Your picture is crystal clear! Third, congratulations on your finish, whether it was not a PR or not. You still got out there on a warmer than usual day, on a course a little more difficult it sounds like. You will have other PRs, I'm sure!

Vava said...

Great race! And great race report. It WAS warm and I nearly died when running the 5k since I am not used to running in warm weather yet. The summer should change all that. Congrats!

Linda said...

Congrats on your race! I also ran the Half last weekend and had a great time. I'm thankful you posted some of the landmarks. As a visitor to Canada, I wasn't able to make a mental note any of the main sites and places.