On Sunday, I ran the 8th annual Army Run 1/2 Marathon. This is one of my favourite races. So much so, I've run it 5 times. My finishing times have ranged from 2:17 in 2008 to 1:44 this year. I've always had fantastic race experiences here. 2015 was no different. I used this race as a tune-up in Week 16 of training for the Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon that I will be running six weeks from now. I went out with a range of goals, with my heart set on a 1:40. I came in 4 minutes and 9 seconds away from that goal, but still pleased with the performance.
I got up at 5:45 am the day of the race. I generally don't sleep in, so it was no surprise that I was up 15 minutes before my alarm. With the late start (9:30 am), I had plenty of time for my pre-race routine. I drank coffee, read some news/social media, and ate my oatmeal & banana. I left the house by 8:30 am. On my walk to the start I stopped in one of the hotels along the way to use the washroom one more time.
The Governor General and the Canadian Army bands greeted runners at the start. Army Run, similar to the Marine Corps Marathon, is special in that the race is dedicated to our Canadian Armed Forces. The race is an opportunity for Canadians to say thank you to the men and women who serve at home and abroad.
When my parents and I ran the race in 2008, there were about 7,000 runners. The race is now the fastest growing race in Canada and has grown to over 25,000 runners in the 5km and 1/2 marathon races.
The race started with a cannon and then we were off.
(1) 5:12 (2) 4:43 (3) 4:54 (4) 4:48 (5) 4:40
As expected, it took me a kilometre to find my pace and place in the crowd. My experience with Ottawa races (Ottawa Race Weekend and Army Run) has prepared me for a congested start. Lots of weaving is to be expected.
Once I settled in, I felt good. I reminded myself to keep my head and not get carried away in the speedy crowd. After 20+ half and full marathons, I know how easily it is to get swept away in a pace that will ultimately do more harm than good.
(6) 4:48 (7) 4:47 (8) 4:46 (9) 4:49 (10) 4:46
Kilometres 6-10 literally flew by. This stretch took us along the Ottawa River and into Gatineau. There were a few hills here and then in a blink of an eye we were heading back over the Alexandria Bridge back into Ottawa.
(11) 4:57 (12) 4:49 (13) 4:51 (14) 4:54 (15) 4:40
We ran through New Edinburgh during this portion of the race. I consider these my roads. My mind was in the zone at this point. The nice thing about being familiar with your route is that there's nothing new to see.
Except for the Governor General. I didn't go over for a high five, but I did give a thumbs up :)
(16) 5:01 (17) 5:10 (18) 5:04 (19) 5:05 (20) 4:54
It got a bit tough after coming out of Rideau Hall. The sun was beating on my face and my mouth felt dry. The last leg of bridges were also in this stretch. These are bridges I run multiple times a week, so it wasn't too bad. But still. An incline is an incline. I repeated: UP & OVER.
I also had a turning point in today's race. In previous 1/2's, my paces usually drop substantially more at this point. I found I still had more in my legs and could push it. By kilometre 20 I was ready to finish this thing off and felt I had enough left to do so.
(21) 4:45 (.33) 4:31
I finished strong. I had a few moments of mind | matter struggle, but ultimately powered through. After realizing I didn't beat my 1:43:58 PB by 11 seconds I was disappointed for a moment, then moved on. It really was a great race. Thank you to all the volunteers, enthusiastic crowds and race organizers!
I'm feeling fit and ready for the next six weeks before Hamilton. I've also reminded myself that this was not THE race. Hamilton is, and I can't freakin' wait.