ORW Half Marathon Race Recap #TORW2014

Another Ottawa Race Weekend has come and gone – this was my fifth year participating in The Ottawa Race Weekend, but the first year running on the Sunday. It was different! I did still watch the 10K this year. I am pretty sure I will be returning to the 10K next year. The 5K is fun, but it is hard to PB because of the crowds and I’m not sure I will be tackling another spring half marathon again. Although – it was a fun morning, heat and all!



I ended up taking the OC Transpo downtown so that Max didn’t have to spend 4+ hours driving around – they were going to leave a little bit later and meet me at the end. I had *just* missed the bus, so I had to wait 30 minutes for the next one – which did cut it VERY close to my race start, but it worked. At least I had company with the other 20+ people who were waiting for the bus. I did talk to a few people. That was nice. I jumped off the bus at Laurier with one other runner while the rest went to the next stop. I really needed to use the portapotty and get ready, so I walked to the race area. I saw my friends Steve and Mel from CW and talked to them for a bit. I then noticed the line for the porta potties – it had to be 30 people deep – yikes!  But – by the time I put my race stuff on, ate some gummies and checked my bag, the lines were smaller. I was in the second wave that started at 9:15, so at 8:55, I had tons of time. After the bathroom business was done, I headed into the corrals. I did have to jump the barriers to get into the corral, but it wasn’t as crowded as the 5K! The race organizers had some music on and a bunch of us were dancing while waiting. I also remembered at that exact moment that I had not put on sunscreen, so I quickly wrote a 911-bring sunscreen text to P. Luckily he had some of Max’s baby sunscreen on him. Soon enough we were off!




The Race

I’m going to break this into parts since I swear every 5K was different!

KM 1-5

We went down Elgin, which had lots of shade due to the buildings surrounding the roads. I was carrying my sport gummies wrapper in my hand, and was looking around for a garbage can – I found one. I was behind the 2:15 run/walk pace bunny during this stretch, but she was diving under 6:00, which is where I did not want to me. I knew that going below 6:00 would potentially bring problems with my leg, so I decided to go at my own pace and try to get 2:15. By KM 2, I was hot. Not good. There was a water station right away, which was nice. I grabbed a glass of water and kept going. I was running 10/1’s so while I was walking, I managed to figure out where P and Max were to grab the sunscreen. It was really funny going under the various overpasses during this stretch. When we went under highway 417, everyone was cheering, woot wooting and clapping to get an echo-cheer going. This happened at every single overpass during this stretch. As I passed under Bronson, I made sure to be on the right to see P and Max. I had to stop for a bit here to grab some sunscreen and dump it all over myself. Then, it was off to Carling.

KM 1 – 6:24

KM 2 – 6:27

KM 3 – 6:20

KM 4 – 6:34

KM 5 – 6:40


KM 6 – 10

I trucked along Carling that had a bit of a rise in elevation, but not that much. We started approaching the next water station just as we were coming off Carling. I guess they were busy because there was no water cups available. They did have the pitchers available to get some water if you had a bottle. But most of us were just dumping on ourselves. I poured an entire pitcher of water down my back and kept going. I also took a gel at this point. Luckily I was able to get a glass of water because someone had brought coffee cups out. We started approaching Westboro, which is a fairly flat section that is filled with people. I do have to say that from the beginning of the race to Westboro, the streets were lined with people. Westboro was full out in the sun, and I wasn’t liking that very much. There was another water station where I managed to grab a glass of gatorade and two cups of water – which then turned into a trend for the rest of the stations – gatorade and two waters. As we left Westboro, we went into the Tunney’s Pasture area which had the least amounts of crowds. There was still people – but just not as much. I definitely felt ok during the first 10 KM. I was wearing a pace band for 2:15 and was just 20 seconds or so on pace. I hit my 10K split at 1:05, which is pretty standard for me, as my PB for the 10K (in a training run) is 1:02.

KM 6 – 6:46

KM 7 – 6:06

KM 8 – 6:31

KM 9 – 6:13

KM 10 – 6:27


KM 11-15

In Tunney’s Pasture, there was a nutrition stop with bananas, oranges, gels and water/gatorade. I took an orange slice and a gel. I ended up tossing the gel back because it was latte flavoured (hell no). I also grabbed my gatorade and water fix. After we passed Tunney’s pasture, we went on the parkway for a bit to head towards the War Museum and Quebec. Less crowds at this point and our first hill. Remember how I said before that the hill wasn’t as bad as I though as I didn’t feel bad during Army Run? Well, I ran the hill during the Army run at KM 8, not KM 12 and I felt it! I did walk just before the hill for a scheduled break, so I was able to (slowly) run up the hill. It felt so nice to go downhill at this point. As soon as we got to the War Museum, the crowds were back. The entire museum area and across to Quebec were covered with people! This is when I started to see the first few downed runners, which set a trend for the rest of the race. I crossed into Quebec and went up the short, steep hill right after the bridge. Also – the bridge had been recently paved and I did not enjoy that smell at all. There is only one word to describe the Quebec portion of the race: rough. I took a couple of short walking breaks during the section – trying to get into the shade as much as possible. I figured when I got to 15K, “hey its only like 6K more” – but my goodness, that last 6K was awful. Lots of downed runners in this section. We were supposed to have a sponge area right before the awful bridge, but they were gone by the time we got there. Instead it was sponge city with the entire road covered in used sponges. I guess if I was desperate, I could have grabbed a used sponge, but no. I really needed water at this point and luckily the water station was stocked – so another gatorade and two glasses of water. Next up – the bridge!

KM 11 – 6:40

KM 12 – 6:44

KM 13 – 6:19 (what was I doing there?!?)

KM 14 – 6:50 (clearly, I was tired)

KM 15 – 7:05 (it took me a long time to clear sponge city)


KM 16 – 21.1

Since I had only run up to 18K, I knew that the last 5K would be the toughest. Of course, what was up at around 16-17K, the stupid bridge back into Ottawa. During the Army Run, I managed to get up the bridge fine, but was tired for the rest of the race after that. I made it about 10 steps up on the bridge and called it a day and walked up the bridge. I actually think I yelled a bad word, as my quads were having none of it. By far this was my slowest KM. I ran again down the bridge, but took a quick break just after it to check on my bad leg as it was feeling funny (not hurting, but just funny). It was fine, so I trucked it up to the American Embassy. There was another water station, so I took my drinks and walked through the station. Of course the photographers had to position themselves AT THE WATER STATION. Great – we are all going to have pictures of us drinking our gatorades and walking?  Possibly even squeezing a gel? I have seen one picture that was uploaded so far and of course I am drinking water. Everyone around me was walking too. Kind of funny, but annoying. Next we headed right back into downtown again, and let me just say the crowds were INSANE. You kind of felt like a celebrity or something during this section. It was definitely a boost to have so many people there. We then went on Colonel By to finish up our run. At this point, I knew that I was going to PB with no problem and was feeling tired, so I basically ran a KM and then walked for like 30 seconds. Colonel By was interesting. So many people were down, including one person who had an IV started. I saw a number of people taken off by an ambulance too. A little scary! But, I’ve never run with a marathon race going on at the same time (we all re-joined at this point – I saw the 4:30 pace bunny here). So maybe this is normal? I grabbed my last drink just before Pretoria Bridge and rounded back onto Queen Elizabeth for the finish. Thanks to Team Diabetes and my favorite Mr. Hoseman for being out there soaking all the runners. I had *just* passed by as P and Max made it to Pretoria Bridge. Either that or I was “in the zone” and didn’t notice. Max had fun giving high fives with other kids though. Soon enough I was approaching the finish. I did not stop at this point – just kept going. I did manage to see another photographer and give him a thumb’s up pose.  My garmin reached 21.1K before the actual finish so my Garmin time is 2:20:22. When I went under the finish, I also made sure to not pause the garmin or stumble over the finish and pose (again) for a photo. Too funny.

I finished in official time in 2:21:37

KM 16 – 6:32

KM 17 – 7:43 (hahaha – that is the bridge)

KM 18 – 6:55

KM 19 – 6:45

KM 20 – 7:12 (Colonel By – lots of small walking spots)

KM 21 – 6:31

.1 – 38 seconds

Total Time on Garmin – 2:20:22

Official SportsStat Time – 2:21:37

This puts me in about the just below middle of the pack, which is fine by me!


The finish area

After finishing we were given a cup and told to hold onto it because they were running out of cups. I grabbed some water (two full cups) and went towards the medals and those shiny space blankets. I’ve never had one of those before. I went to grab my medal and looked for Mary – I found her and she gave me my medal and a hug!

There was a place to get an official photo taken by the marathon photo people and some protein vanilla milk – yay! The after finish food was just banana, yoghurt (WHY), bagels and granola bars. I took a bagel and that was it. It was a pretty good bagel though.

The family reunion area was nuts and I made me way towards Elgin Street. Everyone was crowding this one exit, so I said screw it and kept walking. It took me two seconds to leave at the Elgin Street exit. I made my way slowly to the baggage check area and finally started heading up towards Ottawa U where P and Max were waiting. I stretched at the side of the parking lot and then went home.


Overall Thoughts

The ORW Half Marathon was a mixed race – I had tons of fun during the race and smiled lots – but at the same time I was miserable. The last 5K was definitely not my favorite 5K – but I was smiling at all the crowds. I know I can go faster than 2:20 – probably more like 2:15 or 2:10. I wasn’t huffing and puffing like I do in the 5K (I’m also going about 1:30 slower per KM!), but I was hurting from KM 17 onwards. Pretty much every person that I talked to that ran this weekend had exactly the same feeling: they had fun but were miserable at the same time. Very few PB’s were achieved, except the marathoners who broke the record. Which, to be fair – they were finished before the sun really came out – and well, they are elites! I think that the Army Run will be a different story since I will be almost 3 months into marathon training and it will (hopefully) be cooler. From the Expo to the Race, Ottawa Race Weekend organizers put on a great race! The only thing I would say wasn’t 100% was that the water stations were not 100% prepared for a hot race and the recovery food wasn’t my cup of tea. Overall – another great Ottawa Race Weekend year!

Next up – not sure! My next registered race is the B&O Yorkville Run – but I want to do another 5 or 10K before that!

Also – after the race, I had a victory beverage and a large McDonalds Fries – oh yeah!


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  1. Nicole

    Awesome job!! Congrats on a great race!

  2. Kristi

    You should be very pleased that you managed a PB in the heat and the crowd! I wish ORW was earlier in the spring when it tends to be cooler.
    I had my treat today – a chocolate croissant. Yummy 😉 And as for next year, I think I am going back to the half rather than the full.
    Kristi recently posted…So Disappointing…My Profile

  3. Carmy

    Great race girl!! That medal looks pretty cool too. I’m thinking maybe next year I’ll road trip over from Toronto and run it because everyone looked like they were having so much fun! I even woke up early day of so I could text everyone good luck haha.

    “they had fun but were miserable at the same time” I feel like that’s my thoughts on all races. “woo hoo I’m racing. argh I’m racing.” hahaha
    Carmy recently posted…How Often Should I Replace My Running Shoes?My Profile

  4. Mary

    Great recap and amazing race!!! That heat seemed so tough for everyone but I think you did an awesome job on Sunday. Congrats again! I’m glad I could be the one to give you your medal 🙂
    Mary recently posted…One Year Later – 2013 Ottawa Race WeekendMy Profile

  5. Lisa from Lulu's Big Adventure

    My sister and BIL did the half marathon and they said the heat was awful (especially for us Newfoundlanders). So many runners down.

    Glad you made it through OK – congrats! We should meet up at the Yorkville Run 🙂
    Lisa from Lulu’s Big Adventure recently posted…Internal Medicine: First ImpressionsMy Profile

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      We should definitely meet up for the Yorkville Run! I’m making it a Mom’s weekend off so I’m flying down/staying in a hotel and everything 😉

  6. crystal

    I loved reading your report and hearing familiar street names. Next year I really, really want to run Ottawa. Those crowds looked intense. Great job on the half!
    crystal recently posted…Guest Post: Touch the Ground by ReneeMy Profile


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