It already feels like Race Weekend was ages ago. Race Weekend is a little like Christmas; there is such a buzz, so much excitement, and then suddenly it’s done.
I am very much making the shift from road running to trail running. But there is no way I can miss this race. It is a huge event in Ottawa and it virtually takes over the city for the weekend. For me it is not really a race but a fun and social running event. I’m not even sure which is the more exciting part; the actual running or meeting up with so many great people. This past year I have become much more involved on Twitter and I can’t say enough about the incredibly positive and encouraging people I have met through social media. Many of those Twitter friends were in Ottawa for the race and it was such a pleasure to meet up with them! I had the advantage of wearing a pair of pace bunny ears at Expo, the friendship run and of course at the race, so I was easy to find. Honestly I could barely move through Expo without either running into a local running friend or a visiting social media friend. As someone who up until very recently has been a solo runner, it kind of shocked me just how many runners I know. What an incredible community we have as runners!
The festivities started on Thursday night for me as I headed to expo to work a shift at the pace bunny table. That was followed by a wonderful shake-out run along the canal with local friend Emma and east coast Twitter friend Catherine. It was a gray, drizzly evening that was remarkably beautiful and perfect for running.
Friday I was back at the Expo site again, but this time as part of Team Awesome, a team of social media race ambassadors. While several of us had met before, this was a chance to meet more of the group in person while attending the President’s Reception. It was such a privilege to be part of this amazing group of runners!
After the reception it was off to a pasta dinner, thanks to an invite from another east coast Twitter friend, Melinda. More great conversations with runners, including Catherine and Kendra. Put a group of runners together and you know they are all going to get along!
Saturday morning was the friendship run, a tradition of any races that Running Room sponsors. I picked up my 5 hour bunny sign, had my ears on and headed out for a little 3k run along the canal with other bunnies and race participants. I chatted with more Twitter friends here as well as other bunnies. Finished that run and got a text from my Toronto friend Rod that he was in Expo so headed there for a little catch up. One would think the day would be done for me at that point but instead I headed home, relaxed a little and then headed back to the race with my kids who were running the 10k at 6:30pm. My husband had already run the 5k race by the time we got there – and I will just add that he won his age group! We got the boys into their corrals and then we set off to the VIP tent at the finish line, the passes being provided to all Team Awesome members. What a treat to watch the elites come flying down Queen Elizabeth Drive to the finish line and then see our kids (a little later!) come in at 54 and 55 minutes.
Finally it was time to head home and get some sleep. After all this activity there was still a marathon to run at 7:30 Sunday morning! I was once again so excited to be a pace bunny at this race. My goal is to continue to do so as long as I physically can. This year I took the 5 hour group (half an hour faster) and I discovered it was a perfect pace for me to run comfortably at, even under the hot sun. I cannot recommend pacing enough. It really is something every runner should plan to do. Technically you are giving to the race, but you will honestly receive so much more. To be part of someone’s marathon experience is a joy, albeit a little stressful! Just like last year, when I paced the 5:30 group, the butterflies started hitting early in the week. On the one hand I was very confident I could do the pace but on the other hand we runners all know anything can happen, especially in a marathon. Somehow I would lay down at night and have visions of me tripping or getting light-headed from heat or even worse, needing several porta-potty breaks.
I’m happy to say that none of those visions came true and I managed to keep a very steady pace throughout the race, finishing in 5hrs and 11 seconds. I was actually coming in a few seconds early so slowed down to cheer people on. I got so into the cheering that I almost forgot that I still needed to cross the line! Once I crossed the finish line I stayed in the chute to see the runners that fell a little behind me finish. It was such a treat to see them come in, plus get to see other friends finishing either the marathon or the half marathon. From that point on it was more social time, both in the recovery area and the beer area, with lots of race stories shared. I admit I was hesitant to go home as, much like going to bed on Christmas night, you know the big event is done for another year.
Thank you to all the Team Awesome members, the @RunAtCan tweeps and all my running friends for making Ottawa Race Weekend such a special event this year. Can’t wait for next year!
But before that, there is a little 50 miler I need to get done…