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.
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):
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!