Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ottawa Race weekend

By Blaine Penny

Family Fun Run

For anyone looking for a fun destination family race weekend, I highly recommend Ottawa. This is the second year we have come to Ottawa to visit family and friends - Sarah grew up here - and to do a little running, and there is something for everyone.

It all kicked off with the 2 km family run on Saturday afternoon. There were literally thousands of families running together which is such a fun atmosphere. Julia was tearing it up with her friend Jane while we just tried to keep tabs on her and follow with Evan without losing her.

Sarah’s 10 km

Sarah ran the 10 km (along with our good friend Anne), which was a later start at 6 pm. Evan and I were on course to cheer her on. With her blue tank top, she blended in nicely with the other 15,000 people who wore their new (blue) race shirts. It was mesmerizing trying to pick her out of the crowd! We did manage to catch her on the final few hundred meters and cheer her to the finish. She ran a new PB of 50 min and a few seconds, which is about 14 minutes faster than last year!


Next up was the marathon this morning with an early 7 am start. It was misty rain and about 17 degrees to start. I knew the high humidity was going to be tough and made an early mental note to drink more than usual. Within the first kilometer I was just starting to find my pace when I hear “Hey Harrier!”. I turn around and I see this woman in yellow that I didn’t recognize and she was quick to introduce herself as Emily. Aaron and Jeremy mentioned that a speedster by the name of Emily was going to be at the race and joining the run from Boston en route to a summer in Calgary. (Emily I have learned is a running superstar and has won many Canadian titles over the years.
I asked Emily her goal time and she said it was 2:40, and I said “Perfect – me too”. She then pointed up ahead to a 2:36 pacer and we shortly bunched into a group of about 6 or 7 runners with the pacer. I was thinking this was faster than I wanted to be going, but figured I would go with the pace for a few km’s and see how it felt. We all stuck together until about the 15 km mark and Emily started falling off the back a bit, and slowly but surely our pack was diminishing one by one.

I was lucky to get some great cheering on the course from my sister Diana, Rich Thomas, Phil Villeneuve, Heather Gallagher, and of course Sarah and the kids at the finish.

By about the 25 km mark it just the pacer dude and myself left and we kept our consistent pace going. After a few more km’s he was straggling, and faded, and then I was on my own.

My whole approach to the run was to keep myself distracted from the task at hand as long as I could, and then when I needed to I was going to dig deep and really focus on finishing strong. When we hit the canal I knew we had 10 km to go and that it was pretty much flat. I thought to myself, “This is relatively easy now – just keep it steady and it’s 2 back-to-back BVH Wednesday night races I need to survive”. I knew that pain well and it felt just about right.

I continued to reel in a few more people over the next few kilometers and then with 2 km to go I poured out what I had left to bring it home. I was so pumped to see Sarah, Julia and Evan with just 300 m to the finish, which gave me enough for one final kick.

I crossed the line at 2:34 and was quickly being ushered into the elite area. When I said I wasn’t elite and just a ‘wanna be elite’, the guy told me I was the first non-elite to finish. I seriously couldn’t believe what I had just done!

Emily finished in 2:43 and was the top Canadian woman. Given this was the Canadian Marathon Championships, Emily is the 2011 Canadian Marathon Queen. I managed to finish 9th Canadian. A big congrats to Emily for an impressive run and what a great way to meet the latest addition to the BVH group.

Full Results:

Today I far exceeded what I ever thought I was capable of doing. I was inspired in so many ways today, and I think that was a big part of what helped me be in such a great headspace to pull this off.

With all the great performances in the Calgary races today – congrats to all by the way – I think we need to keep the running project going. Sarah tells me I have qualified for sub-elite status for New York so we already have a fall 2012 project for the Harriers!

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