My First Marathon – Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

My First MarathonOn 24th May 2015, I ran my First Marathon – Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon!!!  After 25 weeks of hard slog I finally completed 26.2 miles (42.2km).

Because it was my first marathon, I decided to actually run for a charity this time!  I did this independently, and not as part of the charitys’ team.  My friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, so I decided to run for the hospital where she is being treated – for Run for a Reason in support of the Ottawa Hospital.  I learned afterward that they also give you incentives to help raise money; if you raise $250 you get your race fee reimbursed, $500 you get a running room gift certificate and so on!  I hit the $500 mark, and donated my reimbursement back to the charity, so all in all I managed to raise $738.60!!  The most I have ever helped raise before.  There are some very generous people out there, Thank you!


I had been nervous all week.  The expo was held from Thursday to Saturday, and as I live and work locally I took the first opportunity to go and pick up my race kit – which was the Thursday of course!


On the Friday I did my last training run, 12 k (7.5 miles) and past some of the set up, if I thought picking up my bib was making it real, seeing the 5K marker and gates and spectator benches made it even more so!

On Saturday I went on the guided bus tour of the marathon route;  which was not only helpful, so as not to get lost on the way round, but informative and funny too!  With the traffic it took 1 hr 30 mins alone.  After the 30k mark I was thinking to myself, that this is the unknown for me, as the longest race and training run I’d done was 30 k – 18.6 miles!!  But it was definitely worth while seeing.  It gave you the ability to experience the elevation changes before having to run them.  For the rest of the day I got my kit ready, ate and rested!  I actually wanted to go and cheer on the 5k and 10k races that were being held – which turned out to be a really good race for the elite runners I believe a course record was broken.  It was a shame to have missed it!  But, I just didn’t want to spend time standing, or on my feet!   I wanted to be as prepared, and rested, as I could possibly be!  It was an early to bed night for me.

Race Day

Sunday – the race was due to start at 7 am for the Marathon and 9 am for the Half Marathon.  My alarm was set for 5 am and I was up as soon as it went on!  I got ready and was out of the house by 6 am.  I wanted to walk to the start line, as a kind of “warmup”!  It was a 30 minute walk from home.  I made sure to use the loo before I left home 🙂  and when I got to the start line, I pondered whether I should go again!   I didn’t really need to, and by that time, I wondered if I even had time to!  I was fine.  I was of course in the very last corral and it was surprisingly not as packed as I had imagined it to be.  But looking ahead to the “faster” bunch it was runners galore.

My First Marathon

My First Marathon

My First Marathon

All in all there was some 5800 runners for the marathon.  I could hear “Oh Canada” being sung, which meant we were about to start!  For some reason I got a little emotional, and was holding back a tear or two!  Who knows why!?!  Then we were off,  we were released in 2 minute waves.  Even at 7 am – the crowds were out in force, it was a fantastic start.

At 5k – 37:04

Of course I got carried away with it all and my first 1 km (0.62 miles) I was going along way too fast at 6.55 min/km. I didn’t feel it at the time though, even with the incline at the start!. My average pace is usually around 7:40 min/km, and my target pace should have been 8:06-8:11 min/km.  I was too busy enjoying the spectators and the atmosphere and the scenery, to notice.  Ottawa is a pretty city – I didn’t even need to listen to music or a podcast for the first 2/3rds of the marathon.  I settled in to my run!

At 10K – 1:14:39

The next 5K went just as well! Completed this section in around 37:35. It was a much more consistent run with each 1k being between 7:18 to 7:43 min/km! Perfect! I was feeling good with this pace! And I was on familiar territory as it was along Queen Elizabeth Drive and Dow’s lake – my training ground. It’s all level around here, and looking across the water was a lovely soothing sight. We also start to go up Carling Avenue, which is on a bit of a hill! I have attempted it a couple of times, but not conquered running all the way up it as yet! I am normally running down it. Luckily just as you are about to go up, we veer off to the right!

15k – 1:53:20

Completed this 5K section in 38:41.  Still going well, but slowing down slightly.  I used the app to live track me.  It’s an impressive app, I passed this along to a few friends and they used it to track me.  It got some people more involved with the Race Weekend than the normally would have been, so that was really good!  At 15K, I was due to finish at around 12:30 pm – that would have given me 5:27 finish time! If only 🙂

My First Marathon

What could have been!

Up until this point I did not take many pictures, but I thought I should start to capture some to remember how I was doing. Also the spectators had thinned out! There were a few here and there, especially in the residential sections which was good.

My First Marathon

Starting to heat up at 17 Km

20k – 2:33:07

Completed this 5K section in 39:47.  I could see that my Garmin was beeping at, at least 0.4k earlier than the markers were appearing.  I was also still ahead of the 5:30 pace bunny!  I never looked back so didn’t know how far ahead I was, but just knew that I hadn’t seen her pass me yet!  This was when the food stations, with bananas/oranges and also the first sponge stations appeared.  I was attempting to do 10 and 1s until I reached the half marathon timing point!  This portion was up hill (40m to 70m incline).    After I passed the timing map, to record my half marathon time, I then allowed myself to take a pee! Not waiting for a portapotty was good!  I hate using those things – but it’s definitely more comfortable running with an empty bladder.

25k – 3:13:31

Completed this 5K section in 40:24.  Well into the Quebec portion of the race.  This is where the marathon and half marathon course converged.  It was disheartening to be running so slow, with these fresher legged Half Marathoners, speeding by!  But I kept plodding on!  Getting tired and the pace was slowing down.  I decide to revert to run 1k walk for .25 km.  The crowd numbers picked at this portion and I was looking out for friends who said they would be there at around 9am!  I was there at least an hour and half after 9.  I didn’t get a chance to see them 🙁

30k – 3:55:38

Completed this 5K section in 42:07.  Back on the Ontarian side, at this point, I had reached the longest distance I’ve ever run before, and I had been doing so much better than I had done in the Around the Bay race.   I  had completed ATB in 4:12:01, and according to my Garmin watch it was 3:55:38 in, so that’s over 17 minutes quicker!  I was slowing down but still, overall, I was still heading for a 5:31 finish.   If I could only maintain that pace!  But alas it wasn’t to be.  The last 12.2km were generally slower paced averaging around 8:46 min/km.  It was starting to heat up, and my lips were getting dried out!  I stopped briefly at a red cross aid station and got some Vaseline on a stick!  I only needed a fraction of what was on there though!

My First Marathon

I’m going to make it!

35k – 4:39:00

Completed this 5K section in 43:22. I was definitely tiring at this stage! And can remember very little about this stretch! What I do recall is that I would see my other cheering crew at the 38 K mark! I was supposed to have seen them twice as the meeting point on Sussex Drive would be crossed a couple of times. I reached it the first time around 40 minutes earlier than I thought I was going to – not that I was 40 minutes earlier, I had just miscalculated! By this time runners were spread out very sparingly! The 5:30 pace bunny group had passed me at this stage too!

My first marathon

“How long do we have to wait!” – Photo credit: Melissa

My First Marathon

Still Smiling at 37Km

I did eventually see both Melissa and Russell at the 38K mark. I was so happy to see them! I was still on pace for my 5:46 time and didn’t think twice about stopping for a quick boost! They had made up signs, you’ll see them later on, and Melissa had a spray bottle with water which was refreshing and very welcome, and she sprayed me every so often as we chatted. Then I was off to the finish – only 4K to go! The longest 4K ever!!!

40k – 5:22:19 / 42.71k – 5:46:37

Completed this 5K section in 43:19. The remaining 2.71K was completed in 24:18 After the boost of seeing my friends and reaching the 40 K mark I was feeling that I could kick up a notch for the last few kms. But my body was not cooperating with my brain, and didn’t want to speed up – or run for more than a minute at a time!

My First Marathon

Are we there yet! (40Km) Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel in the distance

But I made it to the end. Tried to speed up a litlle when I saw the clock so that it didnt tick over to the next minute :).

My First Marathon

The end is near!

My First Marathon

I’m a Marathoner!

My First Marathon

So happy! Mid-Stretch – Photo credit: Melissa

My first marathon

Melissa 🙂 – Photo credit: Melissa

My First Marathon

Russell 🙂 – Photo credit: Melissa

I finished! I am now a Marathoner! My time in the end was 5:46:37 (Garmin watch) and the official time was 5:47:31. With my training predicted time 5:46:27, I think I did well – not bad at all, I say!

My First Marathon


    Completing a marathon and getting my medal – I nearly cried again!
    Seeing my friends with signs – waiting around for ever to see me! And cheering like maniacs!
    Volunteers and Spectators – and cold wet sponges

Low points:

    None really – but it was heartbreaking when the marathon route converged with the half marathoners – who were all speeding past as they had only been running for an hour as compared to my 3/4 hours at that stage!  🙂

Would I do it again?  Straight afterward I would have said No! Later that evening, whilst celebrating, I would have said maybe, if I improve my half marathon time down to between 2.15-2.30 (currently 2.40). But a few days later it’s not quite an outright yes just yet, but it definately is swinging that way!  Why, oh Why!?! lol!

I now have a week off running, to recover! Then 2 weeks of short 5-7km runs on the training plan! However, I do have another half marathon coming up! So still something to look forward to!


It is still possible to donate

Last Training Run 98 Marathon 8:06 min/km

Covered 42.71 km in 5:46:37 with an average pace of 8.07 min/km


Overall for the week:-

Total Distance run this day: 42.71 km (26.54 miles)

Overall Distance run: 814.42 km (506.04 miles)

Did you run your first Marathon this weekend? How did it go? Do let me know in the comments below.





  1. Derrick Johnson
    5th June 2015 / 4:44 pm

    Well written piece.

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