The other day I noticed on Twitter that MEC Ottawa was holding a road race this weekend. Since I did not get to run Emilie’s Run last weekend, I was looking for another 5K race to sign up for. I was going to do the Canada Day race tomorrow (and sign Max up for a 100m dash), but pricing and the fact that strollers were not allowed deterred me from signing up for that race and going with the MEC one instead.
This race was road race #3 for MEC Ottawa – there will be another one on July 21st and the last one is held on September 8th. There is also a 6th race, but details are unknown right now. Both Race 4 and 5 are at “home base” which is Mooney’s Bay/Terry Fox track. I signed up right at MEC yesterday, which was nice since I missed the deadline for online registration and really did not want to have to be at the race super early to register. Registration was super cheap – $15! There are no medals. t-shirts and as of right now, no chip times – but it is a great chance to get some timed races in either for fun or part of a training plan. Race #3 featured a half marathon, 10K and a 5K. The race kit included the bib, a copy of the newest edition of iRun magazine, a Clif Bar (Woooooo!) and a sample of sunscreen lotion. Honestly, for a no frills race, that race kit was pretty good compared to other races (*cough* Ottawa Run Weekend…). Also, if you showed your race bib at the MEC store, you would receive a 10% discount on regularly priced items.
Race #3 was held in Carp, just outside of Kanata. It was a bit of a hike! Can I call it a destination race? Anyways, the race started at the arena right in the middle of the village. There was plenty of free parking and it was easy to get to the race venue. I arrived just as the half marathon was about to start. Funny thing – as I pulled into the driveway I could see the small mass of runners. I thought to myself “should I be here?”, but quickly scooted to a parking spot. At the race venue, the MEC organizers held a race briefing about 15 minutes prior to a race. Bibs were already given out and there was no type of ‘race expo’. Washrooms were inside the arena and for the first time in a very long time, I did not have to wait to use the washroom.
After the race briefing, I did a warm-up run and stretches and stayed in the shade. Once it got close race time, we were instructed to get to the start line which was, no joke, a crack in the road – hilarious! We grouped ourselves in accordance with our expected time, which meant that I placed myself very close to the front. One guy asked if I felt ready and I answered that I was. He asked if I knew about the hill, which I did not. Thanks to random guy for letting me know, as that hill was not fun and at the worst possible spot (random guy won the race!). At 9:15 we were off!
The route took us down Carp road and then down Craig Side Road in an out and back race. The route was fairly hilly with rolling hills throughout. I stayed a bit back from the lead pack, but they were always in my vision. We went past the Diefenbunker and then headed down the big hill, finishing the first KM (5:02). I saw the big hill coming and thought about how much fun it would be to go back up it during KM 4. Here is a picture approaching the hill (from Google Maps – Streetview). Now it looks like just one “kind of ok hill” – but nope, this is only the top part, the hill continues on beyond those cars and that building on the middle-left of the picture.
KM 2 was, for obvious reasons, a breeze but I held back at bit coming in at 5:12 for KM 2. We turned around at 2.5 KM and it was time for some fun. KM 3 wasn’t too bad, but at 5:34, I was slowing down, especially since the sun was right on me at that point. KM 4 was almost entirely up hill and it kicked my ass big time. For the first time in awhile, I had to stop and walk portions of KM 4. Basically I got halfway up the hill and walked, then ran again at the top of hill one and part of hill 2, then walked again. It was one not fun hill! I did notice that even some people in the lead pack had also walked up the steeper portion of the hill. Since I was the start of the rest of the pack, I don’t know how many people stopped after, but I am presuming a few did walk up the hill! KM 4 was done in 6:28 – still not bad, but fairly slow for my 5K race pace (but right on for my half pace).
Km 5 was a really long KM for some reason. Going back down Carp road seemed like it would never end. Knowing that I had to turn off into the parking lot, I kept looking at the people ahead of me for when they turned. It just kept going and going. Finally, I strolled into the finishing chute and booked it to the finish. I finished the race at almost exactly 28:00 (28:02 but at 5.04KM) with a final KM of 5:34. Not bad! I finished in 16th place overall (out of 58) and was the 8th female across.
The race food afterwards was more CLIF bars, fresh fruit, granola bars, water and what looked like some peanut butter energy bars. I took a water and a CLIF bar and headed home. Again, for a no frills race, the food was better than some other races I’ve been to lately (ORW – I’m talking about you again). There were prizes for the top 3 male and female runners and apparently some door prizes, but because I had a bike ride to get to, I moved on out.
The MEC Ottawa run races are a great series of races to work on your time and perhaps get started on races. If you are at all nervous about running and do not like the crowds – these races are for you. Very manageable crowds and a wide range of abilities. For $15 – the cost is very minimal. So give them a try if you wish! I will most likely be at the next two races if you would like to join me.
MEC Race #3 – 5K distance. Time: 28:02 – 16th overall/8th Female