Sometimes you just don’t know what to expect. And sometimes when there is no pressure to perform, that is when you truly excel. And this proved to be one of those weekends and races. Seeing as I had just done Ironman Texas last weekend, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect running a Half-Marathon eight days later. I wouldn’t normally attempt such a feat but seeing as I had won the CF ½ Marathon title last year I felt somewhat obliged to make an attempt. An added benefit is that most of my family lives in Ottawa so it would also provide us with an opportunity to spend time with the greater family.
We arrived in Ottawa early on Tuesday evening. The kids were of course super excited to see their grandparents, though I’m sure some of their excitement was freedom from the van. The week in Ottawa was uneventful with the exception of realizing on Thursday that my right hamstring did not want to cooperate. I went for a light 35min run in the morning and my right hamstring was extremely tight. I managed to get a massage that afternoon at Renaissance which seemed to help loosen the hamstring up a good bit. For the remainder of the week I kept nursing the hamstring with a combination of heat and self massage.
I attended the Canadian Forces mandatory briefing Friday afternoon and then went with my fellow CF members to our Pasta Dinner. It’s always great going to the CF Championships as you get to reconnect with friends throughout the country. It was also great seeing the horde from Cold Lake (hopefully we represented 4 Wg well.) I also picked up my race package and my Ottawa Race Weekend Tech Shirt.
Saturday morning I did my final run, a light 30minutes with a few accels to test the hamstring and make sure the legs were firing. Hamstring was tighter than I would have liked but the accels felt good. I went down to the race expo with my wife, Claudia, so she could pick-up her race kit. I was pretty happy that she was racing. She says she hates running, so I had signed her up earlier in the year (this would be her second 1/2 Marathon – the last one was in 2010.) I spent the rest of the morning hanging out with the folks at the Compressport Booth at the Expo. Compressport has been a fantastic supporter and so I figured the least I could do was give a little back. I was so very thankful to be able to hang out with Jonathan, help sell some merchandise, and learn a little more about new items coming from Compressport.
Sunday morning I woke up at 0500hrs and had my standard race breakfast of a cup of coffee (Starbucks), a blueberry bagel with Jam and two eggs over easy. Seeing as I was still the only one up, I elected to take a 30minute nap. We headed down to the race start at 0730hrs and were parked and at the start by 0800hrs. I warmed up for about 15minutes, had a few sips of water, and then took a Gu Gel (Java). My hamstring was ok during the warm-up, but I felt a slight pop with the final accel. I contemplated pulling the pin on the race, but I felt like I had to run. I figured I’d go out hard and see what the hamstring would do.
|And we are off!|
I lined up in the first coral right at the front and to the left. When the horn sounded I was off like a flash. I figured I would go out hard for the first kilometer and then see if a pack would form. Three runners were ahead of me and I was pretty confident that two of the runners were clearly going out too hard with the lead runner being in a class of his own. I settled into a pace which I knew was slightly faster than I wanted to run, but figured this was the best way to run as I anticipated that deep fatigue from last weekend would come into play later in the race. My right hamstring was starting to tighten up through 5kms and I was getting a little worried. I was thankful to be wearing Compressport Quad Sleeves as I felt the compression they provided was assisting the hamstring. I went back and forth a couple times battling for third and then finally began to open up a lead as we turned onto Carling Ave.
I continued to push and quickly began to realize that this race was going to be a mental battle; either I let my legs rule and slow down or I block the screaming from my legs and mentally focus on the task at hand. As we turned onto Wellington, Jonathan Gendron (another CF Runner and one with a faster qualifying time finally caught me). We ran for about a kilometer together and then I told Jonathan to go get the next guy. Jonathan put a little surge in and quickly bridged the 100-200m. I turned into Tunney’s pasture and saw 34:28 as I crossed the 10km check-point…a whole 1:30 faster than last year. I quickly realized that running a 1:15:00 was possible. I put a Gu Roctane Gel downrange at the Tunney’s pasture aid station and then set about passing the runner now in 3rd position. It was just shortly thereafter as we climbed the small hill on the Parkway that I opened up and created a gap. Jonathan was still only 200m ahead and I continued to pace off him.
As we crossed over into Gatineau I knew I just needed to keep pushing. My legs were tired and the fatigue was really starting to settle in. I reminded myself that this was a mental battle, pace off Jonathan, forget the legs, and remember you don’t know who is behind you. It was a blessing having Jonathan just up the road as I knew he was running strong and I just needed to stay on his pace. I tried to push a little harder and my right hamstring reminded me it was not happy. So I maintained the pace and pushed through to the finish. No finishing kick today! I was stoked to see 1:13:42 as I crossed the finish line sporting my flashy Orange Brooks Pure Connects. Wow! I was going to be happy running the same time as last year (1:16:22) and would have been content running a 1:20 a week after Ironman.
|Pushing through the last 100m.|
A new PB 1:13:42 was just icing on the cake. I finished 3rd overall and 2nd in the Canadian Forces Championships. It was once again an honour to race in the CF Singlet and represent the Forces. Words can not accurately convey the honour it is to receive the support of the crowds in Ottawa simply because you wear the CF Singlet.
A big Congratulations to Jonathan Gendron for winning the CF Half Marathon and pacing me through the second half of the race.
And of course having my wife racing as well was all the more special. She did great running a 2:05!
|Claudia & I prerace!|