May 29 had runners converging in downtown Ottawa to participate in the Ottawa Run Weekend. More than 48,000 people ran in one of the six races. Each year the city comes together to support and cheer 48,000 athletes - regardless if they are running for gold, or like me just running to be fit, have fun, and challenge ourselves and our abilities.
The temperatures were expected to rise quickly, so the race organizers announced the day before the distance race would begin 45 minutes early to try and keep people out of the heat as much as possible. Even with the earlier start, we spent much of the race in 30 degrees with high humidity. This is when a good hydration plan needs to be activated!
Last year I completed the half marathon distance in 2:53. This year the race organizers put me in a slow corral with an expected finish time of more than 2:45. At first I was good with this because I figure you can always speed up. What I didn’t account for was getting stuck behind slower runners and not being able to pass for the first 2km.
Then there was the pesky bladder emergency. I was so happy when my guide, Kory announced there were portapotties up ahead at the 2km mark. I pictured myself running to the door, leaping inside and making a speedy 30 second bathroom stop, losing only a minute or so. Of course that didn’t happen… There were 15 other runners who had the same idea and the lineup caused us five-minute delay. The good news was this gave time for the course to thin out and allowed us to pick up our pace once we got back on track.
The next 12km was great! I felt strong and managed to keep my heartrate and breathing level. My legs felt wonderful and I wasn’t experiencing any pain. We were following a 5 and 1 method (run 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute). This strategy seems to be the one that works best for me. Usually I am asking my guide when the walk breaks are coming about a minute beforehand, but this race was different. Kory would announce a walk break and I would be surprised that it had gone so fast.
Around the 14km mark I began to have trouble. It was getting so hot and I started to feel like I was running through water. I wanted desperately for that walk break to come and relieve me of my suffering. I managed to run through it and after taking in a bit of water and sports beans I pulled myself over the wall. I hit another wall around the 18km mark but remembering that I managed to get through the last one, I pushed myself forward and smashed through that wall too. It is amazing what mind over muscle will do!
I asked for a walk break at about 300m from the finish line to catch my breath and prepare myself. About 200m out from the finish, Kory and I took a deep breath and sprinted the rest of the way. We tossed our hands in the air, whooping and hollering our way across the finish line. I was hot and tired and my legs were on fire, but I still felt like I could have gone another few kilometers if necessary.
My main goal going into this race was to test a strategy for racing in the heat and to finish in less than 2:40. My goals were met as Kory and I crossed the finish line at 2:37:41 feeling strong and well hydrated.
I’m writing this the day after the race. My legs are in pain, causing me to walk like I have no ability to bend my knees. Going up and down stairs is a fascinating new challenge, and just getting off my chair after sitting for a while seems like a major decision. But, what a wonderful feeling!
Diane is a proud member of The Tandem Project and Won with One Triathlon team. For more information, go to www.thetandemproject.org. Questions? Comments? Email Diane at email@example.com