I’ve been wanting to write this race recap for a while. Ottawa race weekend took place May 27-28th, 2017. It took me a little over a month to put my thoughts together on this one. Let me get this straight, it was a though one. I don’t know exactly why, but every year Ottawa’s race surprises me with its’ challenges. Last year was a DNF race. This year, I had high hopes for the half marathon, I was more than ready for a PB and I trained all winter with a coach and a running group, which was great (If you’re reading this, thank you!!!). I was aiming for 2h06, around 6 min/km. My training was going well and I felt good after my weekend of running in Florida last February. A couple of weeks before, I ran a 20k training run around 2h and I knew I could beat my current PB of 2:24:03 in Ottawa.
I went to the race expo and it was super fun as usual. This year Ottawa is celebrating Canada’s 150 and we could definitely feel it.
I knew I was ready for Ottawa, but self-doubt was there a couple of weeks before. I kept thinking that I couldn’t run this far, this fast, that I should just focus on finishing the race, instead of having unrealistic goals (and risking being disappointed). You know, the usual self-doubt inner thoughts. I couldn’t seem to get over these thoughts. If you’re familiar with performance anxiety, you know this is the start. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of failing. I knew these thoughts were ridiculous because I run for fun and nobody cares if I walk during the race or if I push through. I’m not an elite runner or anywhere near that. But I had a goal, and I was too afraid to go for it.
On Sunday morning, I woke up and I left my parents’ home around 7:15 (it’s a 45 minutes drive). I arrived on time around 8. the race started at 9. I did my warm up (1,6k, dynamic stretching and drills). I waited in line for the last port-a-potty stop and got in the crowd literally 2 minutes before the start. At the start, it was already super hot outside, the sun was shining and we were ready. I remember thinking ” how am I going to run in that heat and sun?”. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, as I was a lot behind the 2:10 pace bunny. The race started and I tried to get around the 2:10 runners, which wasn’t a good idea. I ran the first 5k in 29:35 (5:37, 5:46, 5:56, 6:04, 6:10). I knew I was not going to run at that pace all the way. I already felt exhausted and I had 15,1k to go… The next 5 km were done in 7:10, 6:53, 6:51, 6:41, 6:34, as I reached 10k in 1:03:46. From there, I remember feeling dizzy and I was very scared of overheating. I have a very low tolerance for heat, and this was the first hot day of spring. I reached 15k in 1:40:17 and finished in 2:26:42.
During the race, I drank everything that I could from nuun to water and poured water on my head at every water station or so. Looking back, I don’t know if it was a good idea as I never drink while running… Something I have to work on. Mostly, I choked. I did not perform the way that I could because of performance anxiety, because of a pressure only I have put on myself. I was so scared of my goal, of the heat, of my own body. I saw a lot of people falling because they didn’t listen to their bodies and didn’t respect their limits. I did not want a DNF and I was ready to crawl to the finish line if I had to. After the 10k mark, I decided to run/walk and that’s what I did until the end of the race. Was I disappointed? Of course, but there’s always lessons to learn from these kind of situations. I really do believe that everything happens for a reason.
Looking back, this was 2h of inner battle. I perhaps enjoyed 2 minutes of the whole 2h26. BUT, this race made me stronger. I tend to forget how hard the half marathon is. It makes the 21,1k even more special to me. This distance humbles me, every time. And I love training for a half marathon. It brings me so much joy, discipline and endorphins ;). It made me think about all the volunteers who make this happen every year. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It made me want to volunteer for a race. It made me think about how amazing it is that thousands of people gather year after year to run together and accomplish their very own goals. I tend to forget how lucky I am to be able to run 21,1 km. It made me want to train harder and get stronger mentally to be able to run my 2h06 half marathon. And maybe one day I’ll run a sub-2, who knows? When you choke, you learn how to be stronger, and you try again.
After all, I know why I did not give up running since I started in 2012. When I started running, I didn’t want to be good, to be the best or to run fast. The only thing I really wanted was to be happy. And running makes me happy.
Never give up on your dreams. “Without the lows, the highs wouldn’t feel as nearly as good.”
Did this ever happen to you? Did you run in Ottawa? I’d love to know how it went for you? Which race(s) are you currently training for?