The Canadian Half Marathon

The Canadian Half Marathon was my penultimate race here in Ottawa before I head back home to England.  A Saturday race for a change,  Saturday 5th September 2015.  I had only planned on doing 1 half marathon this month.  It was to be the Armyrun on 20th September.  This will be my anniversary race, of my first half marathon!  But for some reason, I was searching for another race before I left Canadian soil!  I had run the Somersault Series races last year, quite a few in fact.  Also, earlier this year, I volunteered at one of their races too!  I was needing to complete some long runs, and this race popped up at the right time.

The days in the week proceeding it was very hot, not just a few hours of the day, oh no, it was from as early as 6 am right through until 1-2am!  Temperatures reaching the near 30s. The day of the race was to be no exception.  Unfortunately the race start time was at midday – probably the worst time of day to be starting a race on a hot day like it was.

Pre race

The race was to be held at the Terry Fox Athletic Stadium.  It is close to the park and Mooney’s bay – a beach at a point along the Rideau River.  The race kit pick up was outside the front of the stadium.   I was able to park my car in the small car park at the front.  You could see where to pick up the race tees, but collecting the bib was not clear at all.  It was not signposted at all, and was hidden amongst other tents they had arranged  for a silent auction and other race type exhibits.  It was because there were not many people collecting bibs at the time I arrived, else I am sure I would have seen a queue!

bib_tshirt_thecanadianI picked up my bib, and race kit bag – which was just a Somersault bag (reusable) and free magazine and samples – then headed back over to pick up my race tee.  There was some confusion as to whether I would get a tech tee or a cotton one.  If I hadn’t waited for them to verify, they would have sent me off with a cotton tee! Even though my registration did include a tech tee.  But thankfully I did wait, and got a lovely bright Canada Red technical t-shirt!

I was looking forward to the race, but not the heat of it!  I should by now have trained myself to run in the heat, but I avoid it wherever possible.  Midday is the worst time for a race on a hot day, as that is when the sun is at its highest but this was out of my hands.

Race Day

The time was great though, despite what i said about the heat!  Not having to get up super early was ideal.  I had enough time to do my laundry and have a good breakfast. I was only an 8 minute drive away, so I left home at 10:45am.  Surprisingly I was able to find a parking spot in the car park in front of the stadium again.  I say surprisingly, as Somersault Series always have several races going on, including triathlons, duathlons as well as the straight runs.  I was expecting it to take a little longer to find a spot.

I went and collected my timing chip.  They use the reusable chips, that are on straps that you wrap around your ankle.  I attached it, and then went for a wander around the stadium.  I found the finish line, but it didn’t look like the start line would be there as well, so I went to search for it.  I walked up and down, and couldn’t see it.  Again, there was no signage or clear direction.  Others were a little lost too!  But eventually we found it.  It was marked by a green “start” flag … two problems with that statement;

  • it was behind some trees, and therefore was camouflaged,  even if you could see them you wouldn’t have noticed due to the trees’ leaves still being green 🙂
  • “Start” was not written on the flag!

Thankfully there were still 5 or so minutes to spare before the official start time.  So we stood in the shade.  It is the smallest half marathon race I have taken part in.  Someone mentioned that there had been 75 runners registered, but looking at the results this number went down to only 40 runners!  I was sure I was going to be in last place!  In a larger field, I am back of the pack, in my mind there was no question.  The heat was also going to hinder my race, it felt humid standing in the shade!

hm_runners_ready

Just before the start one of the runners asked if it would be ok to do a marathon instead.  He was given the green light.  Good for him, but I was thinking – show off!

After a short count down we were off!  There wasn’t a timing belt to run across, which meant it was only gun time.   As there were not many of us, I was close enough to the “gun”.  That didn’t make any difference to my time, or how I “ran”!

The course route was a scenic one for the most part, having views along the Rideau River, and then running along a residential street.  However, although they called it a loop, it was an out-back “loop”!  The start was out in a slightly different location too the finish, then the route led you approximately 2.5 km along the river and up the street for the turnaround.  There were two turnaround points, the half marathon turnaround being a little further back, and where the aid stations were.  You then run back along the same route as you came, and instead turning toward where the start was you actually enter the Terry Fox Athletics Stadium and turnaround just in front of the finish line on the track.  How cruel, having to see the finish line multiple times, before you can actually finish!

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.17.15 AM

 

It was 4 “loops” or 8 times out and back.  Not my preferred course type at all.  It was good from the point of view of logistic I suppose.  They only needed to put up 2 water stations (an additional one at the finish) which were passed several times, and the spectators did not have to go too far out to watch.  One of the reason I like to run is to see and explore, no matter how many times you run the same course see something new, that you hadn’t spotted before.  But running up and down the same portion repeatedly takes that away, and makes it a little monotonous!  I did get a little bored.   A saving grace, no doubt, was passing other runners several times.  It was great to boost each other as we passed.  One guy gave me the bag of ice he was carrying!  That was lovely to cool down with no t o carry though.  And as usual the volunteers were great.   On the street we ran along, before the turnaround, there was a well placed a sprinkler system that you could walk through.  That was the most refreshing, and best, part of the race.  I made sure to make the most of this.

The heat still got me though.  My distraction was, complaining to myself and telling myself to keep on going.  The first few kms were ok, but I felt that I was doing a training run and not a race that day.  I was slowing down and at 10K I thought I was done!  the 11th km was my longest ever, at 10 minutes, I resorted to walking at this point.  I was ready to stop and just take my 10K time for the race.  But luckily I talked myself out of it.  Don’t waste the race!  Walk if you have to! The first 10k I averaged 8:02 min/km and the second 10k I averaged 8.59 min/km 🙁  Not my finest hour.  I finished in 2:54:18 the official time, although the course was slightly short.  Not my worst, and I am glad it was under 3hrs, but it certainly does not bode well for my Army run!

But I finished….

thecanadian_finished

I finished!

And earned got this medal to my collection.  So worth it in the end!!

thecanadian_half_medal

 

Thisrunnelovespurple


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