Monthly Archives: April 2014

Ottawa Race Weekend Bib Market…


… and why I will be using it next time.

Update:  In the last few weeks this post has been the most popular post on my blog.  Clearly there are many people looking into the bib market for ORW 2015.  If you are one of those people, welcome to my blog and feel free to hang out for a while, maybe even leave a comment.  I’ll be training again for the ORW half this year, as soon as I complete my dream half in Prague, Czech Republic at the end of March.  If you want to read my race reviews of ORW you can click on any of the following:

Now back to the original post…


The Ottawa race organizers recognize that you cannot always run a race that you registered for, so in the past transfers were allowed during a specific time period prior to the race.  It was up to the runner to find someone interested in their bib and arrange payment between parties.  A $15 transfer fee would then be paid to the race in order to make the change official.  The buyer would get his or her own name on the bib and would also be able to choose the appropriate corral and t-shirt size.  Various forums and websites would post requests for bibs or for sale notices.  Personally I think all large races should allow for transfers, clearly it can be done.

This year organizers went one step further and introduced the Bib Market.  Runners are still able to do the transfers independently, just as they have in the past.  Now though they also have the option of posting their bib right on the race website and buyers can go there to pick up a bib.  If you buy a bib on the market, you pay the race directly, the same way you would have done back during the original registration period.  If your bib is sold, you receive a refund on your credit card, minus a few fees.  When I spoke to one of the race organizers last month he noted that the technology is there to do this easily, so why wouldn’t they offer this service?  You have to love a race that is thinking about its runners and wants to provide the best services possible.  And hey, if they make a few bucks off extra fees, well I figure they deserve it for not forcing people to pay for a race they can no longer attend.

Last year I decided to buy a bib for the sold out half marathon.  This of course was before the Bib Market, so I found someone who posted a bib for sale on a local running forum.  I contacted her, gave her my name and email address and dropped a cheque in the mail.  She very kindly did the online transfer immediately, not even waiting for the cheque to arrive.  When it did come, she let me know and wished me all the best in the race.  It couldn’t have been simpler.  This year, when I decided to sell my 5k bib and my half marathon bib in order to buy a full marathon bib I decided to use the same method.  While I loved the idea of the Market, my thought was I might as well buy directly from someone so they would know their bib was sold.  One “risk” to the Market is there is no guarantee your bib will be sold before the end of the transfer period and I don’t think there is any way of seeing how many bibs in your distance are up for sale.

So I quickly sold my bibs and agreed almost two weeks ago to buy a bib from someone in another city.  This time the seller wanted the cheque first before doing the transfer process.  Fair enough, I understand wanting the cheque in hand before making it official.  I immediately mailed off the cheque, not wanting to cause any delays.  I expected that it would arrive at the seller’s home sometime last week.  Unfortunately the seller failed to tell be she would be out of town until yesterday and therefore unable to collect her mail.  This would not have been an issue a month ago when there was still lots of time to complete the transfer.  Once I knew of her absence (and only found out because I emailed asking if the cheque had arrived since I hadn’t hard anything) I became mildly concerned as the April 30th transfer deadline was quickly approaching.  But I settled myself and accepted her offer of completing the transfer by Sunday (yesterday).  You can guessed what happened.  No word of a transfer yesterday.  So I sent another email last night, requesting that the official transfer happen by this morning and if there was going to be a problem with that schedule to please let me know.  I woke up to an email saying it would be done this morning.  By one o’clock this afternoon there was still no sign of a transfer.

I have to ask… is there any runner out there who after months of marathon training and only two days before the closing of the transfer period would be comfortable with not actually having a bib to their name???  Is it just me who is paranoid??  It is not like it was a ticket for the theatre.  I could miss a musical with only some disappointment.  But miss a marathon that I have trained for because a stranger has yet to do the two minute transfer?  All I could think of was at what point do I stop the cheque and buy a bib from the Market?  Sure there was two more days left to do the transfer, but I wasn’t exactly feeling confident anymore that it was going to happen.  And there was the irony of knowing that when I offered to buy this bib, I knew that if I waited until the last few days (i.e.: NOW) I could probably independently buy one at a significant discount since people would be keen to sell for whatever they could get. Sure enough, there are some cheap bibs out there right now.  I chose not to wait to the last minute however, as I did not want to deal with the stress of not having a bib.  Look how that worked out for me!

In the end, with another email and some complaining I got the transfer done.  Apparently, and I quote, transferring a bib was not a priority for this person due to her busy life… yes, that was what she told me.  She did note that she hadn’t deposited the cheque yet, I guess that was supposed to make me feel better about not having a bib in my name.  I know marathon training can make you a little crazy, but this scenario was just a little too stressful for me.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt this afternoon when I finally got that transfer officially finished.  That bib is mine!  And next time, I think I will just buy from the Bib Market.

Manotick Miler Recap 2014

Race # 7 of 2014 is done and dusted and a good one it was!  Last year the Manotick 18k race nearly beat me (with the help of  sudden high temperatures) but this time around I beat my goal and set a pace I am proud of.

The boys outside the Mill.

The boys outside the Mill.  The boys had great runs today too.  Luke completed the 1 Miler and Evan did the 3 Miler.  And Charlie, our chocolate lab, got to hang out for the day.

Manotick is a former mill village to the south of Ottawa.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, it is slowly being swallowed up by the city’s suburbs.  In the centre of the the village, however, you still get a sense of village charm and the race has a wonderful small town appeal.  This year, under a new name, the race once again offered a mix of rural routes in the first part of the run and older suburban streets for the last couple of miles.  For those not wanting to do the long run of 10 miles, there was also a 5 miler, 3 miler and a family 1 miler.  For those who are mile-challenged like myself, that translates into choices of 16k, 8k, 4.8k or 1.6k races.

In no particular order, here are some things I like about this race:

Organization: There was no shortage of volunteers and there was no chance of going off course at this race, despite several turns.  Marshals are standing in all of the right places and are quick to cheer everyone on.  The races were on time and each one started with an energetic warm up.  This would be an ideal “first timer” race for any runner as they would be bound to have a good experience without the stress of a large city race.

Post-race Food:  I love seeing variety at the finish line, and this race had it.  Apples, oranges, bananas, granola bars and several different types of chips.  There was still plenty left after the last race, so no one was left out.  Big Rig Brewery was also there selling burgers, hot dogs and beer.

The Course:  I like the challenge of this course – not too difficult but not pancake flat and simple to run either.  Throw in a strong headwind like today and you finish this run feeling like you had a good workout.  And who doesn’t love a race that throws one last hill at you before the finish line?  OK, I don’t love the hill but I definitely didn’t curse it the way I did last year.

Probably the only thing I can think of to improve this race would be to offer tech shirts rather than cotton t-shirts.  Perhaps that will be something that comes in the future as the race becomes larger.  Personally though I can’t really complain about not getting a tech shirt since I signed up at the early bird rate of 50% off.  So for $35 I feel like I more than got my money’s worth from the day.

I do have to add one funny aside, take a look at what was in the race kit (look closely at the left hand upper corner):

Hmmm, Ottawa Heart Institute and Deep Fried Mars Bars... is it just me who thinks this is a strange combination???

Hmmm, Ottawa Heart Institute and Deep Fried Mars Bars… is it just me who thinks this is a strange combination???

So that is the race in a nutshell, but what about my run?  Well, I am still smiling, so it was a great day.  As mentioned in my last post I wasn’t sure how to go into this run given the fact that this is a long slow run day for my marathon training.  Technically I should have been out there today running 29 km.  Part of me wanted to try going for speed in this race but the sensible side thought I should go slow and add mileage.  Even when I started running I wasn’t convinced my legs were going to go for the speed option, despite race adrenaline.  But then I saw a pace bunny up ahead and decided to catch up just to check out his pace.  The pink ears told me he would be doing a 5:40 min/km, a good pace to aim for.  After a minute or two of running behind him though, I realized that I wanted to go faster, so decided to pass him for a while and then when he passed me I would try to keep up.  I also decided at that moment not to play it safe and worry about what I had left in the end.  I realized that this was the perfect race to just run and see what happened.  If I crashed and burned at the end then so be it and a lesson would be learned.

In the end though, I am happy to report that there was no crashing and burning.  There was a bit of a slowing down during the 5 km stretch of headwinds with some hills thrown in the mix.  But I was able to pick up the pace again in the last 2 miles and as for that pace bunny, didn’t even see him again.  (And speaking of pace bunnies – congrats to Rebecca at RunningFoodBaby for completing her first race as a pace bunny!) My final time: 1:29:29 with an average pace of 5:32.  Original goal time: somewhere between 1:30 and 1:36.  Best of all, I still had gas in the tank.  And all this means that I have a sub 2 hour half marathon in me and to be very honest until today I wasn’t certain I did.  In fact, if I could maintain today’s pace for 5 more km, I could finish a half marathon in 1:56!  What a confidence booster!!!

So, do I regret selling my ORW half marathon bib in order to run the marathon?  Not really.  Yes, there is a good chance I could have had a half marathon PB if I didn’t switch bibs.  But part of the reason I am running well right now is because I am training for the marathon.  Unlike last fall when I felt like I lost all speed while trying to struggle my way through marathon training, this time I definitely feel like I am improving in all areas of my running.  I am still not expecting amazing things at the marathon…ultimately it is really not my distance and I truly just appreciate crossing the finishing line after 42.2 km of running.  But regardless of how the marathon turns out for me, I know that this has been the best few months of my relatively short running “career” and that is something I will hold on to for a long time to come.

And as a final note, remember today should have been a long run?  This afternoon I headed out again and ran another 8.5 km.  When adding it to the race distance I am still 4.5k short of what the marathon training schedule says, but given the higher speed I figured it was good enough!





Manotick Miler Tomorrow

Manotick Miler

It is race time again!  This time it is a new distance for me for a race; a 10 miler, or 16k.  Last year this event was called the Manotick Road Race and the distance was 18k.  You can read my race report here or go to the Manotick Miler website  at and you can see it posted there,

This was a race I really enjoyed last year, despite my struggles with the run.  I am looking forward to returning tomorrow and enjoying the small town vibe and the excitement of a growing race.  One of last year’s big challenges was the heat but that won’t be an issue this year, for which I am grateful.  There will still be the challenge of a somewhat hilly course though, as can be seen by the elevation map below:

I have no pace plan for tomorrow.  Back when I signed up (and by the way, when you sign up early for this race it is half price) I was planning on doing the half marathon at ORW at the end of May.  I figured that this 16k run would be a perfect chance to test my half marathon race pace.  Now that I have switched to a full marathon bib, I am wavering between keeping tomorrow’s pace a little slow or going all out.  Technically I should be running more than 16km tomorrow if I am following the marathon training schedule.  Mind you, I have thrown that schedule out the window so many times and in so many ways that I am not sure changing it up once more would do any harm.  Despite all of the changes I have made I have managed to put in all the major long runs so far.  In fact, I know that I am a stronger runner right now than compared to the month before my first marathon last fall.  So I am going to go by feel tomorrow.  If speed feels good I’ll go for it.  If slow and steady seems the right choice I will add distance either after the race or later during the day.  We will just call this a flexible pace plan with the knowledge that no matter what, I will get some hill work done 🙂

A Little Tired…

…but a pretty happy runner.

It’s been a pretty busy week and a half of running.  Here is the short version of my runs for the last ten days:

  • a 22k run, meant to be longer but that didn’t work out so well
  • a 30k run
  • a 7.5k run
  • a 10k including five hills
  • my fastest 10k ever
  • a 32k run

As for the long version…way too tired to even try 🙂


Unofficial P.B’s!!!

Today I ran on an outdoor track for the first time.  My kids wanted to be able to ride their bikes on pavement rather than our freshly re-graveled (is that a word?) road.  So their bikes were loaded into the van and we headed to the local high school where they could ride around the building and parking lot ( yes, this was very exciting for them) and my husband and I could go for a run on the gravel track.

I have never run on a track before.  To be honest, it seemed like only a slightly better idea than a run on a treadmill.  Running an oval over and over for 10k seemed a little ridiculous.  But I discovered an amazing thing about tracks…they are really, really flat.  Yes, technically I knew that.  But as an all season outdoor runner, my idea of flat is anything that doesn’t have obvious large hills.  The reality is every outdoor route I do, even those I consider to be flat, has elevations changes.  I really didn’t realize just how many changes there were in my “flat” routes until I got on a track.

My husband and I ran 4k together which probably pushed me to run a little faster than I would normally for the beginning of a 10k run.  He finished up at the 4 and I continued on.  By 5k I was feeling good and I started to realize that on this flat surface I just might beat my best 10k time of 56:13.  I picked up the pace a bit and continued to feel good.  I made sure to change my direction every few km’s thinking perhaps 10k in one direction would not be good for me.  I don’t actually know if that is true, like I said I have no track experience.  As I was getting to the last few km’s I was pretty sure I was going to go sub 56 minutes.  I couldn’t remember what pace I would need for that so I decided to just keep moving forward and increase my speed when I could.  You can’t imagine my shock – actually if you are a runner you probably can – when I finished the 10k and looked at my watch to find a time of 53:56.  I hadn’t just beaten my record, I had smashed it!!!  And this was the day after doing hill repeats.  If only it had been at a race, I would love to have that time in my official stats!  I also had my fasted km; my 10th km came in at a 4:59 pace.

The best part of this for me is that it happened in the middle of marathon training.  When I was training for my first marathon last fall I was very disappointed with how slow my running became.  I felt like I had sacrificed anything resembling speed for the sake of distance.  Much of that was due to injuring my ITB halfway through training.  Once it healed I made the decision to simply work on endurance and nothing else.  This time around though I have been able to increase my speed while working on endurance.  I have no idea if it will have any effect on my marathon time – I still think of a marathon as something to simply survive, hopefully without throwing up or passing out (or at least not doing either until after the finish line).  But I do know right now I am a stronger runner and if I were doing a 5 or 10k race in the immediate future I could probably set a few records for myself.

Today has definitely given me a boost in confidence.  It has also served as a good reminder to not always play it so safe.  I am always worried about pushing too hard too early, but at some point you have to take some risks and see what you can achieve.  It won’t always work, but when it does, it feels amazing!

If At First You Don’t Succeed…



As mentioned in the last post, Saturday’s long run sputtered into a slow medium distance run of 22k.  I knew by 5k that my legs didn’t have anything in them, by 10k I knew that whatever distance I managed to run would be a struggle.  The run finished at 22 km, with a number of stops – I can’t say how many because I opted not to count.

By Saturday night  I was trying to figure out how to make up that long run.  I made the decision to make Sunday and Monday rest days and then go at the long run again, hopefully a little fresher.  As an added incentive, I decided that mentally Tuesday would  be the perfect day as it was the day for me to turn 45 years old.  What better way to celebrate 45 than kick some long run butt?!

On Monday I was itching to try the long run again, I felt like I couldn’t wait.  Then… Tuesday came along.  I woke up to no power, which here in the country also means no water.  Really nice when you have to get ready for work.  The kids were at their finest and by that I mean they were demonstrating their finest fighting skills.  The arguments started the moment they woke up.  And to be honest, I was in a foul mood.  To top it all off, the weather forecast called for rain, freezing rain, ice pellets and 2 cm of snow.  Lovely way to start my 46th year 🙁

One thing about me though is I can be a little stubborn.  Some might say more than a little.  I had told myself I was going to get 30k done so I wasn’t going to back out.  Once work was done I put on all those winter running layers that I thankfully had not packed away and headed out into white out conditions.  Yes, the snow was back and back with a vengeance and it brought along a nasty wind for the ride.  I almost took a picture at the start of the run, but decided I just couldn’t do another winter running picture!  Thankfully by 10k the snow had stopped, though the wind continued throughout the run.

It is funny how things work out.  When I tried to do a long run on Saturday it was absolutely beautiful out.  After a long winter I should have felt energized and ready to go, yet I ended up struggling just to complete a half marathon distance.  On Tuesday I should have felt discouraged to the point of saying to hell with running.  But 5k into this run, I knew I had it.  It sounds crazy I know, but I was sure I would be finishing this run.  And that is exactly what I did.  Ignoring a bathroom break and a stretching break, I finished 30 km with a pace of 6:12.  And this was after a 22k only a few days before.

And the best part…finishing the run, having a long hot shower, then my favourite meal plus birthday cake with my family.  Perfect 🙂

Good Runs, Bad Runs


The geese have arrived, the ice remains.

The geese have arrived, the ice remains.

Spring has sprung, sort of…maybe.  There are still patches of snow and ice, but bare ground now makes up the main part of the landscape.  Of course once we have our 20C day tomorrow, we are back to single digits and one night of well below zero.  It seems though that the main thing this season is bringing us is wind.  I hate wind, I definitely hate it more than sub zero temperatures.  Thursday brought gusts of almost 70km, and yes I was out there running.

I did have four very good runs this week.  Then there was the fifth 🙁

Let’s start with the positives.  Last Sunday I decided to run my own half marathon, so one week after racing ATB I comfortably completed a 21.1 run.  Monday I had another good run followed by two days of being sick.  Thursday I ran my fastest training 5k ever, finishing in 27 minutes.  Each km lap was faster than the one before and I finished with a 5 minute km, I am pretty sure my first!  On Friday my legs wanted to go quickly again, allowing me to do a comfortable 11.5k run at a 5:42 pace.  Within that distance, according to my new Garmin, I did a 10k in 56:45.  Considering my fastest 10k race is only half a minute faster than that, I was feeling pretty awesome!

And then came long run day on Saturday.  Ideally I needed to complete a 30k run.  The reason I needed such a long run is I have decided, perhaps stupidly, to sell my Ottawa Half Marathon bid and buy a bib for the full.  I just figured if I had trained for a 30k race it seemed a little silly to not go for 42.2.  I’m fairly confident I will not agree with that logic at around the 35th km of the marathon but I will just have to live with it.  It is also the 40th anniversary of the Ottawa Marathon, so it I decided that if I wanted to try a marathon one more time why not do one in my home town on a big anniversary?  And check out the anniversary medal, which was on display at ATB:


Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon and 5k medals.

Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon and 5k medals.

Now, if only I had managed a good long run yesterday.  That 30k run?  Not even close.  I bailed at 22k, though the run fell apart long before that.  When you sit on a park bench to send emails and texts, you know the run is a write off.  After four great runs, I had absolutely nothing left.  I’m trying to put a positive spin on the run.  It may not have been long enough, but it was done on very tired legs, which I have to assume is good training in itself, right???  I am also not going to panic since I know I can run a steady 30k.  I was due a bad run, it had been a while.  It just might have been a little more convenient to have a bad run on a day other than my long run day.

Now my challenge is to fit in some good 30k+ runs in the next 3 weeks, since technically I am a little behind.  No pressure though…