Who needs glass slippers????
I still have a bit of a smile on my face after participating in yesterday’s Winterman Race. A winter race is always just such a different experience from warm weather races, and yes, just seems so Canadian. Old Man Winter offered up a classic Ottawa winter day; sunny and clear skies combined with a chilly wind and cold temperatures. You know it is cold when the water stations volunteers are shouting, “Get your water before it freezes!” If you are brave enough to deal with the cold, this is an awesome race. From the unique medals to the slightly challenging course, to the incredible downtown view during the run, this is a race to try.
I love these medals!
I always suffer a little bit of nerves before a race, but for some reason this one really made me nervous, starting the evening before. I think the main reason was because for the first time I was taking part in a team event that would follow my solo 5k run. I have never been much of a team sport person, one of the reasons probably being the fact that I am always nervous I will let someone down. I only knew one person on the team, but had been assured that no one was going to be particularly fast, but of course speed is all relative. I know lots of runners whose “slow” speeds are still times I dream of. Combine this with the fact that I was going to be doing the team event after my 5k race, I really wasn’t sure how my effort for the team was going to go.
In the end, there was no reason to worry. Let’s face it, you can almost always count on runners to be a great group of people and this team was no different. Everyone was going out for a good time, many to kickstart their spring training. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet other runners and share stories and of course everyone was very supportive of each other’s efforts.
This race has a mass start, with marathoners, half marathoners, relays, 10k and 5k runners all starting at once. Only the 3k race had its own start time. At the start line the announcer gave several warnings to be prepared for the starting “gun” which was actually a howitzer, no small piece of artillery! The start was a little congested but certainly no more than you would find in a larger race. And while congested, the start pace was pretty quick and certainly did not slow my pace down at all. In fact the crowd helped give a little shelter from the winter headwinds coming off the river.
This was not a flat course, making it a nice challenge for the 5k distance. In particular it made me feel like I was getting a quality training run done for Around the Bay. There certainly were no huge hills, but the changes in grade could be felt. As I approached the longest grade change at around the 3.5k mark, I remembered that when I did this race 2 years ago I had to walk for a second after reaching the crest in order to catch my breath. This time I managed to complete it without serious difficulty. After that final hill it was a run to the finish on the flat and I was happy to find I still had enough in me for a sprint to the end where my ever patient husband and my kids were waiting for me. Evan had just completed his 3k run and while he wasn’t thrilled with his pace, he was pretty happy to find out he was in second place for his age group, and overall managed a 12th place finish.
This was my first race in my new age category of 45 – 49. While I am not quite 45 yet, Somersault bases your age category on how old you are at the end of the year. It ends up getting older has its advantages. My 27:47 was enough to place me at the top of my group. I find whenever I place in an age category I always come up with excuses – there weren’t many people, it is the beginning of the season so people are just getting started, etc. But I have decided to instead appreciate this win for what it is. I have been doing some quality runs for the last 6 or 7 weeks despite weather conditions that have been sending people into hibernation, or at the very least onto a treadmill. And the fact that overall I was 14th out of 100 women shows me that hard work does pay off. And as mentioned in the previous post I am kind of loving that fact that most of the women who place above me were younger. I in no way ever think of myself as old, but I admit that during a couple of bad runs recently I started thinking about the fact that my age and my late start to this sport (I started a 42) aren’t exactly helping me. So I do take a little pride in being an “older” runner and still getting reasonable times after a harsh winter.
Gold and silver winners – and a great spectator!
I will admit that when I was finishing the 5k run, the first thought that went through my head was I must have been crazy to agree to doing it all again (plus an additional 274m) for the relay. But once I caught my breath I was kind of excited to be heading into another race.
The event was well set up for a relay in winter. The start was at the Canadian War Museum, so all runners had access to the huge lobby, bathrooms and cafeteria (or mess, as it is called at the museum). When it was time for you to head out and wait for the runner before you to complete a lap, you had access to a large tent with propane heaters, quite cozy considering the temperatures. Being at a museum came in very handy for us, since my husband took the kids through the museum while I waited the 2 hours until my next run. An added bonus was the fact that as a retired member of the Canadian Military, my husband was able to see the museum with two guests for free – and received a voucher for food!
By the time I ran my lap the winds had picked up a little more and I saw more than a few guys whose beards had become icy. Heading out into the wind was tough, but the moment you did the turn around the tail wind gave you a boost and the temperature seemed to warm about 10 degrees. For about the first km I questioned why on earth I was out there again. I also wondered why I had never sat down in the two hour break. My legs felt like jelly and I questioned if I would even be able to do a 6 minute pace. But then a funny thing happened and I just started to feel better and better. In fact, I found the final hill easier than in my first race. Once again I still had enough for a sprint to the end where I passed the chip to our final runner. I was a little slower than my first run, but I felt good.
In the end, our team “Cucking Fold”, (didn’t even try to explain that name to my kids), finished the marathon in 4:01. Thanks to all the people on the team for a great time and I hope to see you at future races! A thank you also to all the volunteers who must have been absolutely freezing out there but who were smiling and giving words of encouragement throughout the day.
A final thank you to Jen, whose spot I took on the team. Even though she couldn’t run she spent a few hours at the side of the road holding up signs for all runners. She quite literally almost froze her toes off in order to cheer everyone on. And to top it off, she brought a series of great signs – take a look…
As a winter runner, I like this one!
…just like an Olympics commercial :)