Believe it or not, fall was in the air this morning. As I ran along the Ottawa River, I felt the familiar cool breeze on my face. The turning of seasons, especially summer to fall, is one of my favourite times of year. It also helps that Ottawa does it particularly well: fall colours, great running conditions, and one of my favourite half marathons, the Canada Army Run. As I mentioned, I'm currently training for the Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon on November 1, 2015. In the lead up, I will be running the Army Run Half Marathon, in Ottawa, on September 20, 2015. I will be aiming to PR in both (yep, I'm laying that out there). I've completed both of these races in the past (Army Run half 4 times, with times ranging from 2:17 to 1:50, and Hamilton full once, with a time of 4:04). Both events are incredibly special me.
For one, I call both Hamilton & Ottawa home. Both race routes take me along roads I consider mine. As this Runner's World article accurately puts it, my favourite places to run are outside my front door. Epic runs are great, but the best routes are the most familiar ones.
In Ottawa, the Army Run course takes me along my treasured morning run. This is the route I've run more than any others. I know exactly where the early-in-the-race kilometre marks are, when I'll be feeling fresh in the race, and where the 19km+ marks are, when I'll be focusing on leaving everything I have left on the course. Ottawa is where I've found myself as a runner.
In Hamilton, it's a different kind of special. The route takes me along roads I grew up on. The first half of the race winds along the flat roads on top of the escarpment, then down the Red Hill Creek expressway to the pathway along lake Ontario. The familiar routes coupled with the emotion of the marathon make me incredibly excited to tackle this race again.
And then there's the race memories I have tied to both of these events. It may be something to do with the magic of the fall running season, but for both, I've had nothing but positive experiences. During my current training runs, I often find myself thinking about the upcoming race days, and can't help but smile at the possibilities.