Another Army Run has come and gone. I’ve run the Army Run every year since 2009 and this year I was lucky enough to be part of the first ever Ambassador Team: The Frontline Race Team. It was a fun experience and I encourage all of you to apply for next year. I met many new running friends and had a great time at the races.
This year I decided to run the Commander’s Challenge which is the 5K, followed by the 21.1 Half Marathon an hour later. I was planning on running the race as a training run and not as a goal race. Because I was sick the week before, I missed my 18KM long run and knew that I might have some difficulties with the race beyond 16KM – especially since I was running a 5K on top of it.
I went to the Race Expo on Saturday – the Commander’s Challenge participants received a t-shirt and a long sleeved pull over as part of their kit. As always, we stuck around the expo for an hour and enjoyed seeing all the vehicles and Max once again visited the bouncy castle area.
On Sunday I woke up early to head down the the 5K race. The 5K is early and parking can sometimes take awhile so I left my house at 6:30am to be downtown for 7am. I found parking in one of my usual spots and then went to take a photo with the FrontLine Team.
(Photo from Dustin – follow him at 26.02orbust! – fyi he is fast – I saw him flying by during the half!)
The only plan I had for the Commander’s Challenge was to attempt to run a steady pace around 6:00/km for the entire race. The 5K is notorious for being extra crowded and this year it was definitely very crowded. I ended up running both races by myself as I wanted to concentrate on pacing. The 5K started and I was definitely struggling to find a good pace during the first KM. So I decided to whip out my iPhone and attempt at taking videos for most of the race. I did manage to take a number of videos – including a video of me high fiving the Minister of Defense! Just like last year, it took about 3KM to get away from the huge crowd and find a steady pace. I ended up running the 5K as a progressive run – with my KM at 6:47-5:51-5:49-5:44-5:27, finishing in just under 30 minutes. The good news is that pacing felt really really good (hence why I was taking videos). The weather was absolutely perfect. I wasn’t hot or cold. I did have a t-shirt with arm bands, along with shorts (I run with shorts unless it is below 0C).
Most of the race photos are from Zoom Photo – Free race photos!! Thank you!!
After the 5K – I watched the start of the 10K for a bit then went back inside City Hall to collect my bag so I could change my shirt. I brought an extra change of clothes because I knew I would get a bit sweaty with the 5K. I also knew that the weather would warm up a bit during the half and knew I would want a tank top on. So I quickly changed shirts in the middle of City Hall and munched on a Honey Stinger waffle. That hour went by fast and before I knew it – it was time to line up again.
The plan for the Half Marathon was to get a sneaky PB – I was not tapered and this was at the end of a big mileage week. I also ran a hills, tempo and speed workout in the week which is not what one does when they are tapering. But I figured I had the potential of improving my time. I was figuring that a 6:00/km pace was more than do-able.
I started running the half marathon at an easy pace. About 2KM in, I noticed the 2:05 run/walk pace bunny appear to my left and I liked his pace. So I figured that it would be a good place to stick with him as long as I could. The good news is that I stuck with him until 16KM and actually liked that pace. We had a group of about 5 runners that was sticking with him, including a few of us that were running the Commander’s Challenge and one runner who was running her first half marathon.
The route for the half marathon is pretty similar to other Ottawa races and focusing on some of the parkways. After running the Ottawa Marathon, the half marathon route seems so easy now! We basically ran to Tunney’s Pasture and back (you go out farther in the Ottawa Marathon), then out to Gatineau, and then run to Rideau Hall and back. BUT – of course those routes involve running on roads and my post-tib was definitely feeling the slant of the road.
Once we got into Gatineau, I started feeling a bit tired and struggled to keep up with the pace bunny at a few points. There was a gel station at the Museum of History where I promptly spilled half the gel on myself. Classy! The water stations were great – everyone was having a great time and was very energetic! After the “no big deal now” bridge, we started the rolling hills on Sussex. Nobody likes those little hills. It was after those hills, approaching Rideau Hall when I decided to let the pace bunny go. I think I lost him right in front of Rideau Hall – which isn’t bad considering I wasn’t tapered and running a challenge race. Looking back at my splits, it was really only KM 18-20 where I went back to ‘long run pace’. With some tapering and running one more big long run next week, I’m sure I will get those last KM a bit faster.
The last 4KM were just not fun. My legs were tired but I was still being able to run at 5:50/km pace when I was running. The key to that is “when I was running”, as I started to walk beyond my using 10/1s. I saw fellow Run Ottawa Member Lisa as we were running back to Sussex Drive and noted that at least at this point my knees were not hurting really bad. At this point in the marathon I was on the struggle bus and was in pain. But on Sunday, it wasn’t pain – just tired legs.
The last 3KM of the race had lots of spectators and I just concentrated on getting to the finish. I did end up picking up a good pace for the last KM, running back in the 5:48 range. I finished the race in 2:07:39 which is a new personal best by just under 2:00. Not bad for running 45KM that week (which is a lot for me) and not tapering at all.
Once I finished the half marathon, I collected my huge “medal” (is it really a medal?) and a hat. I may have also stopped for a victory Pumpkin Ale too.
My next race is the 9 Run Run half marathon in just under 3 weeks. I do have some doubts whether I can finish in under 2:00 – but I know I will be very close and I think under 2:05 is very possible. There are rolling hills and road portions during that race but the last 6K is on the Trans Canada Trail which has no slant and is softer than the road – and is downhill. I’m definitely banking on that downhill portion where I have already run a ‘faster’ long run on. Fingers crossed for good weather!
Thank you to the Canada Army Run for having me on Team Frontline. This was my 10th Army Run and I will definitely be back next year. I’m not sure what race but no matter what, it will be a good one.