The Canada Army Run is one of my favorite running events of the Ottawa running season. 2015 was my 6th year running in the race and I do plan on registering for next year. The Canada Army Run is a different kind of race. The main idea is to support our Canadian troops, those who have been injured/killed in the line of duty and their families. There are two main charities that funds are raised for: Soldier on and the Military Families Fund. The race is military-themed. The expo is done in a tent and there are military vehicles on display. The medal for the race never changes – it is a dog tag medal! Also, a big part of the race is that before the main race starts, there is a special start for the ill, injured or disabled. Something that many of us tend to do while racing is pass these runners and give them a thumbs up, wave or clap in support.
I originally signed up for the half marathon as Sunday was supposed to be my 29KM long run day. Obviously, my marathon plans changed and I switched bibs with someone for the 5K. The Army Run has a bib market available as usually the race entirely sells out months in advance. Even though the half never sold out, I was able to switch my bib quite easily.
I woke up very early on Sunday to have a coffee and relax. I packed a bagel with PB and a bottle of water to go and went downtown (and hit a squirrel on the way..opps). I parked at the Museum of Nature, which is approximately 1K from the start – perfect for a warm up and cool down. I parked, and ran to the start area. I had to use the portapotties when I got there, and luckily no line! I continued my warm-up and got ready for the race. I had a bit of a chest cold and it was “that time of the month” (sorry…tmi) so I was very unsure about this race. Mostly, I was worried that my breathing would be off.
Normally, the big Ottawa races have crappy corral systems. When registering, they ask you for your expected time and they seed you according to that time. When you get to the race, you then jump in where you see the flags. As you have probably heard from me before the system was pretty chaotic before. There would be no way to get IN the corrals (and it was super crowded with spectators) and people were just everywhere. People with slower bibs would be mixed in with the faster people and it was just nuts. When I run a 5K, I’m almost always in the front corral. I noticed that the start line seemed awfully far away and it took me awhile to make it from the very back to the front. There were over 14,000 in this 5K race alone. Back in 2010 at my first Army Run – the TOTAL amount of participants in both races was 14,000. 14,000 is quite a bit!
Before I entered my corral, I ditched one of my shirts behind a park bench, hoping to find it later. I could have checked a bag, but I just wore throw away clothes. It was pretty chilly, so I kept my one sweater on until right before the race. I entered the blue corral through a gap, not jumping over the barrier. There were volunteers checking bibs too. This was super surprising! I have no idea if all the corrals were like this. I was in the blue corral and suddenly I felt very nervous. There not alot of us in the corral and I knew that I would be at the back of this corral since I would (on a good day) be just under 25 minutes. During TORW, they moved to delayed starts for the corrals to help with traffic, and the Army Run used this system as well.
Soon enough, the howizter cannon gun when off and we were running. Since there was a smaller group in the blue corral, I did not feel crowded at all. I did noticed that I was passing a few people already, which was kind of surprising. I figured that I would be more at the back of the pack. Anyways, the first KM was uneventful. I did notice that my lungs felt awful because of the stupid chest cold I had. During the entire race, I couldn’t really get a good breathing rhythm going. Very frustrating as my legs were not doing too bad. Also, about 2K in, I felt that need to go to the bathroom. Nothing “emergency styles” but just annoying.
I ran the first KM in 5:00 (seriously, right on 5:00). I knew that I wasn’t really “5K PB ready”, so I was ok with just sneaking in at 5:00 (I usually like to be well below that). I noticed that my watch beeped at the 1K sign…hold on to that thought.
The 2nd KM is fun because you have a nice downhill as you make your way to Colonel By Drive. After that part, you are pretty much on a flat course minus the Pretoria Bridge (which is a teeny hill). Colonel By Drive was a little boring. Not too many crowds. I wore my headphones for this race, which is a bit of a change. Since I was in the front corral the course wasn’t crowded at all. I ran the 2nd KM in 4:58. I actually didn’t have a clue of how fast I was running since I didn’t really start looking at my watch until 2.5K in. At the 2.5K mark I was just under 12:50 and was slowing down a bit.
Then – something happened that made me a little bit angry. As I mentioned above, there is a special start for the injured, ill and disabled runners. These runners are usually with their families/supporters. Mostly everyone is aware of this or so I thought. I saw someone plow right in the middle of one family, almost pushing them over. There was no need for this as we were not jammed in at all. They are not ordinary walkers! He almost did it again to another family, but this time went around. Seriously….
By the time I reached 2.5K, I noticed that the faster runners were approaching us slower blue runners. There were some that were zooming by really fast! My arms were aching at this point too. My goal was to try and fix my arms, and go figure, they hurt! I wish I had gloves too, as my hands were cold! At 3K, I quickly stopped by the water station and grabbed a water. I just took a couple of sips and went on my way. That and I totally spilt water all over myself. Smooth. I finished the 3K in 5:14. I
After the 3K mark, you start heading towards Pretoria bridge. I noticed a few runners that were sticking in my area and I tried to keep up with them. One was a man with long hair and another was a blond girl with a bright neon (pink?) shirt. I also noticed one other girl who was with me for most of the last 2K who seemed to be struggling with a side cramp. I know how that feels! That is what happened to me at TORW 🙁
I went over Pretoria Bridge and turned to head to the finish line. This is when I noticed that I hit 4K on my watch, but the 4K sign was no where to be found. The sign finally appeared and it wasn’t where it normally is located. I ran the 4th KM in 5:17. I thought that was weird and continued on to the longest KM. I also lost my headband at this point. It flew right now and I turned around to get it. Thankfully someone picked it up for me. One race it my headband ended up in my shirt! I usually stick with hats and will probably go back to my usual blue hat for STWM.
The thing with the Ottawa races that use this route (many races, 5K to marathon use the canal as a finish) is that last KM is the world’s longest KM. There are a few curves and every time you go around a bend, you think the finish will appear. But this time, it was really as if the finish would never appear. I knew that I wouldn’t get a PB, so I just concentrated on trying to finish strong, but didn’t do my usual 800m-ish kick. I hit the 5K mark just a bit shy of Lisgar High School/Lisgar Street which is where the finish usually is located. I ran for a whole extra minute (with a bit of a kick in the last 150m) before finishing the race. I tried to keep up with Mr. Long Hair and Ms. Neon Shirt but couldn’t do it. I think I passed Ms. side stitch, as she was weaving around and was cutting me off.
I finished the race in 27:01. My Garmin went off at 26:05. My last KM on my watch was 5:31, which seemed about right. If I went by chip time, that last KM would have been 6:30-ish. What did I collapse or something? Walk? Nope – I even kicked for the last little bit. Even looking at my Garmin pace stats – I was pretty steady for most of the race and actually didn’t dive below 6:00 for pretty much the entire race.
The race was longer than 5K. What I think happened is this:
Last year – they changed the course so that runners did a little loop around Main Street vs. the loop in the downtown core (which was the 2013 route and the route this year). They also changed the half marathon route because of the race going through Rideau Hall. This means that the start/finish lines are a bit different now. The start seemed to have been pushed ahead a bit – right in line with the Lord Elgin vs. being on Laurier. The finish line for TORW’s 5K is in front of Lisgar High School and when you finish it seems like you are walking forever to the medals/recovery area. Yesterday – we we barely had to walk at all. The 5K course was certified last year – but wasn’t re-certified this year. I’ve heard from a few people that the course was long (and seen some Strava/photos of watches). Looking at my past 5K races – the finish wasn’t in its normal spot.
In the grand scheme of things – not a big deal. It is rare that my watch is ever is 100% correct (except NYC which was 42.2 bang on). Annoying a bit since my 27:00 time isn’t really reflective of what I run now. I have been staying in the 25-26:00 range for awhile now and felt like I ran better than 27:00. 150-200m when I’m running at 5:00 pace is an extra minute of time. I ran a 26:16 during TORW and I totally stopped at least twice during the 5K to stretch my stupid leg and to get rid of a side cramp. I’m actually wondering how fast I was running that day now (I didn’t wear a watch)….
After the race, runners were treated to a finish line photo (Free! yay!) and snacks. This time there was chocolate milk, bananas and powerbars. Apparently the chocolate milk didn’t last long. After that, I quickly ran back to the Museum of Nature to grab my iPhone and head back to the start to meet some STWM Digital Champion friends. My stomach was still on fire at this point and on the run back to the start, I had to walk. I had stomach cramps the whole day afterwards. I don’t think I drank enough water and I will learn for next time that coffee is NOT my friend until after the race.
I met up with Charles, Vivian and Josie and we chatted for a bit and took a jump shot. Well, we attempted at it….
Although the 27:00 time is bothering me a bit, I’m happy that other than that last KM, I seem to be getting more steady with the 5K. For me to get that last KM faster, I need some speed work and that just isn’t happening right now. I also need to work on my running form a bit more. Looking at my race photos, a couple of things I can work on. With looking at next season, I wonder whether I should forget the whole half marathon/marathon thing and concentrate on the 5K/10K. I think that I could get my 5K down even more. Who knows?!
Have a great Wednesday! I have my leg ultrasound today – YAY!!!