There are some races runners keep going back to year after year. For me, Ottawa Race Weekend and Army Run are always on my race calendar, but a few races have started to be added to my calendar. STWM is perhaps going to be the next addition to my “must run” list of running events. In 2015 and 2016, I ran the half marathon and although my races did not go as planned – I throughly enjoyed the race experience. This year, I actually thought I would be missing out on STWM – but luckily I was going to be in Mississauga anyways, so I signed up for the 5K. I did consider signing up for the half marathon but decided against it as I was doing the driving back to Ottawa/I’m a little undertrained for the half. I ran 9 Run Run the weekend before and PB’d the 10K – it was my plan to try and PB the 5K the following weekend. However – I have done zero speed training this season and my calves were strained from last week’s 10K. I did take most of the week off from running with the exception of a short 3K run with the school XC team.
On the Saturday, I went to the Expo with my parents and Max. They had a great time. I’m not sure how Max managed it but he was able to score about 6 juice boxes at the expo. He drank 3 of them and stashed 3 away for later. I saw a few friends there, purchased a JP’s Team wrap bracelet from Cathy (who made them!) and also stocked up on some Nuun (mostly to get the water bottle).
On Sunday morning, I woke up at my usual weekday wake-up time (5:20) and had my Nuun Boost. My Dad was going to drive me to the Liberty Village area so that I could easily run to the start. This would also serve as my warm-up. I’ve discovered that I HAVE to warm up before attempting a 5K/10K or even a speedy workout. Not only is it good for injury prevention but it also helps me run fast during the 1st KM. If I don’t warm up, that first KM is going to be slow. Unfortunately, my GI system was being annoying as usual – and luckily the street where I planned on being dropped off had an open McDonalds (tmi?). The GI stuff did leave my system a bit drained – but I had water and some energy chews on me.
The race start is on the Lakeshore, right on the Half/Full marathon route (16KM in). There were plenty of portapotties and places to warm up. I do have to say that even though this race had 7000 people participate, it did not feel like it at all. The corrals were divided up with barriers and the volunteers were checking bibs. Also, the corrals only took up half the street, so there was plenty of room to get into the corrals on both sides. I completed my warm up and proceeded to enter the corral 15 minutes prior. I was even able to get a few strides in. I was in the first corral – all other corrals would go after us and had their own area behind the first group. Obviously, there were not as many spectators around – as one of the problems with the Ottawa races that start downtown is that spectators tend to crowd the corral area. It just becomes insanely crowded and people tend to enter the first corral when really they should be farther back. Because the corral system worked – I experienced zero crowding/walkers during the race. I can say that is true for those in later corrals – but for the speedy corral, it worked well.
Soon enough the race was ready to start. My plan was to stick to 4:45 KM and try to hold on to that as long as possible. I knew that I would lose GPS just after 3K as we went into the city AND that there were some hills at the end. I knew I needed to go out a little fast in the beginning, but not too fast so that the last KM wasn’t too terrible. The first KM, I hit in 4:43. The second I hit in 4:48. Overall, I was feeling ok at this point – a little tired, but good. In comparison to Emilie’s Run – I ran the 1st KM there in 4:20 and then immediately started hovering at the 4:55 mark. Staying a bit more conservative meant I was able to get that 3rd KM under 5 as well, at 4:55 (Emilie’s Run, I ran a 5:06).
This is where the race got a bit more difficult. I encountered the first up and down hill during the 4th KM. I did manage to keep the legs going and really concentrated on not slowing down going up the hill and booking it going down. My watch did say I ran that KM in 4:47 – but that is not accurate at all. Just before I started getting GPS error – I was hovering at the 5:00-5:05 pace, which is what I believe I ran the 4th KM in. I had a 34 second buffer to get under 25:00 from the first 3KM. I ran the race in 24:47 – which meant I had “lost” 21 seconds of buffer time to get that time. So – in all that estimating, I am gathering I ran a 5:05 4th KM and a 5:15-ish last KM. Honestly that is not that bad and better than my other races where I tend to fly and die.
But about that last KM – it nearly did me in. As I was making the turn at 4K, I thought to myself “ok, get to 4K and you can take a walking break”. I tend to do this quite a bit in races and it has meant no PB before. I’ve been working with telling my brain to be quiet and that it will hurt a little. I did not walk at all and continued to charge up the “not so steep but loooong” hill towards the finish. I kept my eye on the 400m/200m to go signs and then the clock. My legs felt really heavy this time but I knew I probably had a PB. Luckily, I did! I managed to cross the line in 24:47 – a 3 second PB. I would have liked to have knocked off a bit more time, but a PB is a PB, especially considering the course and the fact that I had just PB’d the 10K the week before. My stats from the race are:
Overall – 393/7001
Female – 98/4416
Age Category – 15/502
After I crossed the line – I got pretty dizzy. I hung out on a fence for awhile – close to a medical person just in case. But after about 10 seconds of catching my breath – I felt just fine. The great thing about running the 5K and being in that first corral is that I had zero problems getting out of the finish area, collecting my medal and food. As I got into Nathan Phillips Square I noticed that the race organizers put their race merchandise up for sale, at a discount. The thing with the 5K is that it is a point-to-point race and they do not do a bag drop at the start. You have to make your way to the start, drop the bag and then take a shuttle bus to the start – all before 7am. Getting downtown from Mississauga on a Sunday is a bit of an issue so I did not bring a bag. I was actually a little worried that I would get chilled after the race because I was only wearing shorts and a tank. That little stand saved the day. Not only did I get a nice New Balance shirt in my favorite colour (teal) but they also put a STWM design on the back.
Also I have no race photos for you today. I only had three photos and they are not worth the $20. Downfall of not running the half (that usually has great photos)
After the race/purchasing my shirt, I ran (yes, ran) to the half/full start to try and find some running friends. Luckily I did manage to see Cathy and Melly in the huge crowd and talked to them for a bit. Then once the race started, I ran (yes, again) down Queen Street to get to the Queen/Bathurst intersection to watch the race. Knowing that the intersection is 5K into the route – I knew I only had about 15 minutes or so to catch the elites. I booked it down Queen holding my medal and food bag. I wasn’t the only one running – there were 5-6 of us sprinting down the street. We made it with about 2 minutes to spare. I watched the elites go by, cheered on a few of the Canadian Elites and then waited for the mass of people to arrive. I tried to find and cheer as many people as I could. I was surprised that I was able to spot as many people as I could. I waited until the 4:30 pace bunny went by, then started the trek back to Union Station to grab a train back to Mississauga. I stopped and got a Starbucks and actually really enjoyed the walk back as the weather was perfect. I even bumped into one of my former colleagues/fellow XC coaching friend randomly on Queen.
STWM 5K was a great race and I’m sure I will be back. Maybe not next year, depending on my marathon plans – but definitely in 2019. The race is well organized, fun and is a great weekend away.