Half marathon training round two has come to an end, with the running of this years’ Canada Army Run 2015! The race was run on the 20th September 2015, and was my second time running this event! It also happened to be my very last half marathon in Canada, as I was heading back home to England shortly afterward! I completed a 12 week plan using My Asics again, which had stood me well for my first half and full marathons! At the start of the plan my race goal time was to be 02:26:10 – I didn’t think that was possible and during the 12 weeks of training this was revised to 02:49 due to some poor runs logged (because of some excessive heat). Last year it took me 2hr 48m 24s to complete, in my mind as long I did better than this I would be happy.
My last long run did not go to my satisfaction, and the last couple of weeks were, of course, tapering so I was not really sure how I would perform in this race! However, I was still looking forward to it! I came in second for the ArmyRunPhoto competition on Instagram. Friday at Lunch I set off to Ottawa City Hall, where the race kit pickup and the Expo was being held, to pick up my prize and kit. The prize pack was a free entry to the Army Run, an iPod shuffle and some Soldier on Gear! I had already registered for the race myself, so I missed out on that one, but I was happy to receive and use the iPod Shuffle! I also passed the Bushtakah stand and bought a couple of sports bras, purple ones of course 🙂 Although I was excited, there was none of the nervousness that I had felt when picking up my bib last year! It’s now a normal occurrence for me. Today was also to be my last day of work, so that may have clouded my emotions a little. There was no ritual carb loading meal. The next day I did my last training run, of 5 Km which I was very happy with. That night I got my running gear ready and then early to bed!
I was up with ample time to get ready, have breakfast and walk to the start line! I sold my car the week before, and due to the race route, no buses were running in the direction I was heading! So I had a nice warm up walk. I aimed to get there for 8:50am, the start of the ceremonies. I was in the Red Corral this year, so right at the back of the pack! I arrived in good time. I gave my free registration, that I had won, to a work colleague who had already run the 5K earlier in the day, and was going to walk the half! We agreed to meet-up at the Corral flags, so I spent most of my time looking out for him. We didn’t find each other in the end! They did not put speakers up nearer to the back, so it was not possible to hear what was going on! The faint sound of the national anthem, Oh Canada, was being sung. Then at 9.30am the sound of the canon went off. No speakers needed for that one. That marked the start for the first corral! Every so often we were moved up towards the start line. Until 20 minutes, or so, later it was our turn.
Although my goal was to PR this race, I decided to stick with the 2:45 pacer. I thought that might help me keep to a slower pace at the start of the race. Usually I go off way too fast, and then by the 3rd km I am a little puffed out so have to slow right down. Sticking with the 2:45 group would mean I could conserve my energy and then use it up later on in the course. But my adrenaline took over and before I knew it was passing the group! My splits were 6:52, 6:48, 7:06, 7:15 and 6:53. The first 1 km start had a slight incline, as you run up Elgin towards the National War Memorial, so I was surprised to be below 7min/km. But it was of course due to adrenalin, excitement and the spectators who were still lining the streets for us in the last corral. The 2nd km was a little quicker, I suspect that was due to the downhill more than anything 🙂 I was feeling happy but the usual warming up processes were still present. I tend to slow down by the 3rd km but I was determined not to walk until at least the water station. The water stop came between 3km and 4km so I took advantage of a walk break at this point! After that I got back in my stride. Little did I know that my 5km time was 34:55 – my fastest 5km ever!
I didn’t know how well I was doing! I had an idea I was doing better as my Garmin told me the 1 km split times. I wasn’t adding them up though, I just knew that normally my 1km would be over the 7:30 min/km mark by the end of the 5 km distance. I felt really good, in myself, in my breathing. The weather was perfect not too hot, not too cold! Brilliant conditions. The next 5 km segment takes us into the quebec side over the Chaudiere Crossing! I remember crossing the bridge last year, after the heavens opened. This year it stayed dry! The water station at around 9km had gels and power bars, I think I took a Power Gel at this time! The splits were 7:50, 6:53, 6:53, 7:24 and 6:53 bringing this section total to 35:52 but 10km time of 1:10:48 – again my fastest 10km ever! I am going to blame slowing down at the water station for the reason that the 6:53 mini streak was broken 🙂 I would have loved to have kept that pace up for the whole race!
I used to say that the half marathon was “just four 5km races” to get me through it! Well it is, but each with a (or a few) 5km races before them! Anyway the third quarter was more to my average pace times. Apart from the last km, it was a slower quarter! But above par from last years, so still going great guns. The split times were:- 7:58, 7:10, 7:28, 7:37 and 6:59 bringing this sections total to 37:12 with the 15km time of 1:48:00. By this section of the course I was back over the bridge and into Ottawa, and ran along Sussex Drive. This is where some friends had come to see me when I did the Full Marathon in May, so I looked out for them, but alas no-one came out this time. Heading towards Rideau Hall, we run through it to a live brass band! Also the Governor general was there greeting and high-fiving runners, in his own army run 5K shirt. It was great to not be soaked by this point! I was thinking back to how I was feeling back last year, and how I thought the course had changed – I thought I was further along at this point last time! I did look back and the course has hardly changed, I must be confusing the course with another race. It felt good to be running more consistently for longer even at the latter stages of the race. I did slow down, and only walked at the water stations. Making a note of these things to see where I can make up time in future races.
And so to the last quarter! Again slightly slower with splits:- 7:33, 7:35, 7:33, 7:26 and 7:49 bringing this sections total to 37:56 with the 20km time of 2:25:56. This stretch brought us runners back along Sussex Drive and then along the other side of the canal along Colonel By Drive. Although I do my training runs along the canal, I very rarely run on this side of it! In fact I am quite sure that the last time I had run on this side of the canal there was still snow on the ground. It is fairly flat along here, and though my pace had slowed down, it was still a good pace, for me, averaging around 7:38 min/km. I was so glad that I was not slowing down too much. Shocked is more accurate! 🙂 The home stretch was in sight!
The one thing that was very apparent to me, especially toward the end of the race, was that there were still a lot of people around me! That is another gauge on how far I have come. I have become accustomed to bringing up the rear, and having no one in sight finishing with me. This was the first time there were actually other runners crossing the line, some in front and some behind, but clearly in eye-shot! The last km (or 21st) was 7:41 minutes with the remainder of the race completed in 2:11 minutes. Bringing the last section of the race in at 9:52 minutes. The last 0.1+ km I sped up, as I could see the clock, to a pace of 5:54min/km! When I stopped my watched it brought up the records I had achieved – fastest 5K, fastest 10k and of course my fastest half marathon time of 2h 35m 48s!! I had such a huge smile on my face, I was SO happy! To finally have achieved a 2 hour and 30 something half marathon, was like a dream come true! This was of course a PR! Last years race took me 2h 48m 24s – so I beat this by 12m 36s! How awesome is that!
I was 399 out of 520 in my age group, 2711 of 3561 females running and overall 6200 out of 7364. We were given our dog tag medals by soldiers! Overall an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see what running, and racing, back home in the UK will be like!
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