Ottawa Race Weekend: Race report

Well it has been officially over two weeks since I completed my marathon, we are all over the giddiness of the Ottawa Race Weekend, so I thought it was about time to share my experience.

As most of you know, I thought running a marathon was just not quite strenuous enough. I decided to add Twitter to the whole jamble. In order to ensure my friends and family could meet me at the finish line without waiting an exuberant amount of time, I told them I would tweet my race. I said I would tweet every 5 km or every 30 minutes to let everyone know where I am. This also gave my friends and family a chance to see how fast I was moving through the race, and of course allow them to guestimate the time I would cross the finish line.

So, I have decided to not just tell you about my race, I will illustrate it with the tweets and pictures I took during the marathon.

Last year, I bit off more than I could chew by going in to a corral too advanced for me. This year, my philosophy was slow and steady finishes without injuries.

I was so impressed to see so many dedicated Ottawa runners out for a Sunday morning jog.

I figured the only way I was going to make it through a five hour run, I needed to have a sense of humour.

The course this year was exceptionally beautiful. I would hope they keep this root. The only suggestion I have is add more music/people/water stations on the long quiet stretch after Island Park alongside the Ottawa River. It was too quiet, I could hear my thoughts saying: “You are not half way there yet, you are not half way there yet.”

Just over the half way mark, most runners hit a wall. It is no longer a battle with the pains in your body, you have already adjusted to that, it becomes a battle with the mental pains. I get this about 10 seconds after I hit my half way point, every time, without fail. When I see the half way mark, I get a boost of energy; however, it lasts just enough to realize I still have a full 21.1 km to go. So, this year, instead of losing the battle to my mind, I took a moment to remember why I was running.

I recently lost my grandfather, a remarkable man who has made a difference in this world. My grandfather is the one who came up with graduated licensing, he won many community awards, and he was my hero and idol. So, when a good running friend on the side lines cheering my mom and I on asked, who are you running for, I said: “I am running to keep the memory of a hard working man alive, and the only way to keep such a big memory alive is by working hard, and what better way to work hard then run a marathon.”

Some runners may have mantras to get them through their run. This year, the memory of a great man I am proud to call grandpa got me through my run.

I distinctly remember tweeting this. At this point I had seperated a little bit from my mother and Phil, two very inspirational runners.

So, there I was by myself and tired. I don’t know if you are like me, but when I start to get tired in a run I need to start talking to someone, just to reassure myself all is okay and I am almost there. But, I was all alone. Except, I knew my friends and followers were out there watching my tweets. So, although you may not have been there in person, if you were following my tweets and saw this tweet, you helped me get over a little hump. So, yes, it may have been crazy to run a marathon and tweet, but it also helped me get through some rough patches.

At this point in a marathon, you generally run on pure adrenaline. The 30 km mark has always been where I get a good boost. Unfortunately, the boost is a mental boost. I had come to the realization, after 10 km there is no way I will all of a sudden have lots of energy to go faster. But, I was wrong. At 30 km I got a physical boost. I impressed myself with my pace. I increased my pace a good few minutes. I think it was the combination of the slight down hill on the course and the fact that I knew I had done 12 km before, so it should be a piece of cake.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who came out for the Ottawa Race Weekend. Not just my friends and family, but all you people who cheered for us. Complete strangers gave me high fives, sat in the rain with signs, my favourite sign was “your feet hurt because you are kicking so much ass”. To the strangers who cheer, I could not have finished the race without you, so thank you. And thank you to my coworker at 76design for supplying me and my friends and family with VIP passes. The food was delicious. I couldn’t eat fast enough.

But, a very big thank you to my dad and grandma. they followed me on their bikes for the last 5 km of the run. My grandma even started her own little cheer for me: “let’s go runner, let’s go!” I love you both.

At this point, I started to get goosebumps. Last year (read the race report), I had injured myself and I hoped across the finish line. This year, I was feeling good, I was running fast and almost there. Remember, how I talked about that boost I got at 30 km? I thought that would be the last energy boost I could get, but I was wrong again. I got another boost to keep pushing harder. It was truly a remarkable experience. My mantra turned from “slow and steady wins the race” to “I am going to finish for my grandpa”.

As I crossed the finish line, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Compared to last year, I was rushed to the medical tent to wrap ice on my knee. This time, I had a moment to stand, at the finish line and marvel at this amazing accomplishment. In that moment, I thought of my grandpa and imagined how proud he would have been. Then I saw my dad and grandma. I gave my dad a hug and let it go. My dad was confused, he thought I had hurt myself, again. I just told him I was happy to have finished.

Not too long after me, my mom and Phil crossed the finish line, hand-in-hand. I am so proud of you both.

In the end, I finished in 5 hours 17 minutes and 24.5 seconds. Although I was a little slower this year (5 minutes slower), I felt much better physically and mentally.

Thanks again for all those who came out to cheer me on, be it on the side lines or via the internet with your encouraging tweets.

Do you have a race report from the Ottawa Race Weekend? I would love to hear about your experience. Leave me a comment with the link.

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