Monday, May 26, 2008

Race Report: The Ottawa Half Marathon Part 1

The 2008 ING Ottawa Half Marathon

Broke my first and most important cardinal rule. "Must sleep well two nights before the race". Saw DaI did not. 4 hours only.

Jack and Pauline stopped by at around 7:30am in his 1999 Kia Sportage. We loaded up and headed out. Jack made a pitstop in Denville, New Jersey to visit his brother, whose birthday it was that day. Beautiful home, in a real nice neighborhood to boot. Although, we already had breakfast, his brother and sister-in-law were very nice people and hospitable too. I tried something called Irish Cheddar. Awesome dairy. Seems like the diet is going to be flung right out the window. I am more like 156 right now. Yo yo, but what the hey. It's not like I am ever overweight (provided that I stay under 160).

Gasoline is still under $4 per gallon in New Jersey. Jack agreed to handle all the gasoline expenses and then divvy it up at the end. The car ride up was a lot of fun. Long too. We took I-80 into Pennsylvania, and then I-81 north towards Syracuse. Along the way we talked running, busted out the UNO cards, and gave Ily a foot rub (what can I say, I guess I'm not such a bad guy after all). We stopped at several areas to fuel up and stopped in Binghampton to eat lunch at some place named Nirchi's. The food was cooked to order & wings were okay.

Nothin' beats being a backseat driver!!!!!!.....A Rest Stop In Binghampton,NY..................A typical food dive in upstate nowhere, NY

We continued driving north through Northern NY and thinking to myself whether I should have reconsidered giving T-Mobile another $20 dollars to enable roaming for Blackberry mobile and internet. Bah! I'll give us (Crackberry and I) a rest.

This is where we stayed at.................................The car parked in front of

We finally arrived at the Holiday Inn and if there's anything about staying in Canada that you should know it is this. Whatever is so-so in the US, it is much nicer in Canada. So while Holiday Inn may not be the first choice for most who travel within the 50 states, they have a darn good outfit in Canada. In fact, last year I was treated to a full buffet dinner, and all-I-could-drink wine and beer......for free....during happy hour at an Holiday Inn Express near Toronto airport.

After a little scare, by where Jack's hotel rooms had been cancelled and then re-instated, we changed, refreshed and headed back out to Marilyn's parents house for a nice BBQ. It was already 7pm, and it was getting cool, but I still held out hope that I would be able to go swimming, and had my trunks underneath my pants. There were already 30 people there, and no one was swimming, so there went that idea.

We had some nice steaks and salads, and I had a Canadian beer that was also pretty tasty (darn, can't remember the name. I suck. oh well...). We left, and then headed for Miro's house to get the running numbers. After all was said n' done, we didn't get back to the hotel until after 11. This is a bad omen. 4 hours last night, and only 7 tonight. The two agents that have proven in the past to be my undoing during a race is sun/heat and lack of rest.

Alex, Ily, Jack and Pauline ("Pre") at Barbara's house for a Pre-Race BBQ!

The next day comes. Yawnn. Exhausted. Tank empty. Uh oh. I had some coffee, but all I was doing there was exchanging one issue for another. Caffeine will wake me up, and jump start me, but caffeine also constricts blood vessels too, and can easily tire out a person too.

After I was in the bathroom drying out from my morning shower, I came to the window. I threw my shorts on (but not in that order, lol), and looked out from our 7th floor room. Lo and Behold. The Ottawa Marathon, which started at 7am, ran right in front of our building. Awesome! I took my camera out and decided to do some filming.

The first film (below) you will hear Ileana telling me that there was someone peeing against the wall in the park across the street. I couldn't find him at first, but finally did when he finished his 'business'. The second video, is just a look at some of the runners. Keep in mind, the Hotel was just past the 3K mark (1.8 miles), and it was about 7:30 in the morning, which is probably somewhat conservative so early on. I then turned on the weather channel, and saw that it was going to go from 13 (55F) to 20 celsius (68F). Normally, that's a bit warm, but with no winds or clouds in the sky, and the sun absolutely beeming, this was going to be a challenging race.

I don't do well in the sun. It's sorta like Indiana Jones not liking snakes. Eventually, if I train hard enough, I'll adjust for it. Usually in a 10k, I am about 1 minute per mile slower than normal. In a half-marathon, it's more like 90 seconds. Between this, and the lack of sleep, I was already writing off any chance of repeating my stellar sub-8 performance at the Long Island Half, and just being happy with finishing. The only wild card? The race course itself.

If you notice above, the course is almost completely flat after the half-way point. Strategy? Go out a little faster than normal, and then just maintain.

......I must have left my IQ in the US.......


We had a 2+ mile walk to the starting line. Believe it or not, this is actually not a bad way to warm up. Plus, we actually walked most of the route too (from the 3k marker to the starting line).

Once we crossed the Booth Bridge (via Rue Eddy), we were in the Provence of Quebec. All the street signs were in French. The city and buildings were beautiful, but it was a ghost town. I felt like Will Smith in 'I Am Legend' (or perhaps even better, Heston in 'Omega Man'). Pauline did not see anyone on the street, and even questioned to Jack whether or not we were headed in the right direction. Soon enough though we were approaching Elgin & Laurier....


There has only been one race that I have been to that's larger than this one, and it was the one for why this blog even exists. An endless sea of multitudes of runners, all neatly lined up. The race director was talking to the "troops", not unlike Mary Wittenberg talks to us in New York. Music in the background. A big band on stage. The whole view was staggering. I only wish I could have gotten a picture of it. But what I did instead was to include a YouTube video of a "What To Expect" linked below.

Here's everything that you need to know (well worth it if you like running)

And before I give you the play by play, here's a "teaser" video about some of the areas that I saw, as taken from the course during last year's wet (and cooler) run..



Part Un: Lift Off!
Mile 1: 07:41.39
Mile 2: 07:43.65

Caffeine had me wired. Lack of sleep made me tired. The runners around me were thinking to finish the race before it got too hot. Everyone took off like a bullet train. I not only kept up but even ran past many. Huge crowds cheering along the race course was second to only the NYC Marathon. It almost felt like I was running through Brooklyn during the BIG ONE. Sun was hot and water on the ground everywhere. People already dousing themselves. Again, like Brooklyn.

Photos along Wellington Avenue that I took later on that afternoon:

Pictures of immodesty in front of the Holiday Inn taken by Ileana. Retardation to soon follow...

Black/Red Cutoff T and Red Shorts w/White Cap. What's with the right arm? And what's this? Am I Singing 'Hello Dolly?'


Part Deux: Superhuman Hero or just Superstupid?
Mile 3: 07:56.71
Mile 4: 08:02.51

So, despite the swelling of the sun, and the increased perspiration of my already very well
self-lathered epidermis, I was still flying high. 4 Miles done, and my average pace was 7:51 per mile, 5 full seconds ahead of my record pace. Woo Haah! Yeah Baby! Screw holding back! Pedal to the Medal! Go Go Go Go!

Looks like the colonel has jumped ship for French Foreign Legion!.....And yes it appears that there IS a HO-WAH in OTTAWAH!!

Part Trois: The End Is Near
Mile 5: 08:06.51
Mile 6: 08:17.55

"POP!!!!" Whoa! Did you hear that? What was that? I will tell you what that was. It was the BEGINNING OF THE END. In fact, I did see a sign that said that The End Was Near. It was about a 1/2 mile from the finish much later on in the race. It should have been here at Mile 6. After the last hill coming up on 10K, all hope was lost. And what's with this shit of measuring the distance 1K at a time?? For Pete's Sake, instead of asking for water at the last station, I looked at the helper and asked for a fucking calculator! I went from sub-8 to an above-8 within 1 mile.

Coming up....Part 2 of the Ottawa Half-Marathon.....and the finale.....Stay Tuned.

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