Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Ottawa Race Weekend was again this year an amazing event. I am always amazed by the amount of crowd support and the sheer number of runners participating in the various events. This was the first year that I was part of the Ottawa FrontRunners and they have a tradition of meeting up before and after the race as well as a delicious post race BBQ.

The weather forecast for the day had been all over the place the week leading to the event. Anything from sun and cloud with a high of 22 to thunderstorms and 32 with humidex had been forecasted. The weather at the start of the race was muggy and humid and around 20 degrees. I met with the runners from the club before the race for a bit of friendly competitive chatter and group shot and then quickly headed to the start line. Now I'm not sure why this happens every year but the corrals were too full and there was no room to squeeze in where I needed to be. I wasn't really racing this race so I didn't worry but even at the 2:00 pace area it was still very busy. Maybe the race marshals should ensure that runners take their appropriate place in the corrals or plan for more room if runners are all registering for the same corrals. Then 1:30 to 2:00 corral could probably also be split up in at least 2 or 3 larger corrals.

The gun quickly fired and a few minutes later I crossed the start line where my mom was waiting to wish me good luck! The new route continued down Laurier instead of going to Parliament hill and while I missed seeing the hill, it made the race feel a lot more urban to go through the downtown core. Lots of supporters were lining the street on Laurier as well. We quickly reached the turning point on Lyon and a bit later turned on Somerset on our way to Chinatown. The runners were not really thinning out and I was a bit faster than the runners around me so I continued to zig zag to keep a decent pace. The arch in Chinatown was a nice sight to see, I have never crossed it on foot from the middle of the street before :) I was surprised there weren't more members of the Chinese community cheering, maybe it was too early? I started to get a bit hot but at least the sun wasn't out so I knew that if I kept hydrated I would be fine.

After Chinatown we headed across Little Italy where the families were out in full force. I always get this really friendly feeling when I visit this part of town, as if everyone knows or want to know everyone else :) The runners were starting to thin out a little bit and it got really comfortable as we started heading to Hintonburg. This was definitively the neighborhood were the community came out in the largest number. The sidewalks on both sides of the street were lined with coffee toting families with strollers, dogs and all manners of signs and balloons. That's where my friends from FoodiePrints were waiting for me with a charming and very encouraging sign bearing my name! I was so happy to see them I crossed from the right side to the left and almost tripped over a police car! Sadly they didn't take a picture of that event, it would have been a funny race pic :)

We then went along the stretch that I was dreading a little bit. I knew that the crowd support would be thinner along the Ottawa Parkway. Thankfully a lot of the runner's support crew knew this as well and the parkway was not as lonely as I had feared. I remember one DJ station where the booming beats could be heard from a few hundred meters before reaching the top of the hill, that gave me quite a boost. Heading into Gatineau, a light mist started refreshing the runners. I looked at my time and knew that even though I wasn't racing I was doing really well. I had slowly picked the 2 hours pace bunnies and the 1h50 had also been reeled in. Could I do the same for the 1h40? Once the mist turned to water I realized that I could go for it without being afraid of blowing up and started picking up the pace a little bit. Coming back into Ottawa, I saw my good friend Thiago cheering runners on and taking pictures. Another refreshing boost! Every time I see a friendly face cheering for me along a course, it gives me extra incentive to run fast, little did I know what was in store later. Going down Colonel By I saw the members from the Ottawa FrontRunners toting cameras and cheering club members as they went by. They took this amazing picture of me, I think it may be my best ever running picture so far.
After getting a boost from the FrontRunners, I also saw my mom and her boyfriend cheering for me just a little bit after. I knew I was doing well and I could finish strong and looking at my watch I realized that my laid back goal of 1h50 was actually way too conservative. If I kept the pace I would break 1h40. My competitive side got the best of me and I increase the pace even higher. It was nice to turn at Pretoria instead of having to go all the way to Bronson. After the turn I pretty much entered my finish sprint. I had loads of gas in the tank so there was no use holding back. I passed a lot of people in the finishing chute and felt like a superstar. I finished with a time of 1h38 and some change. Not a personal record but a new personal course record for Ottawa if there is such a thing.
I met up with the rest of the FrontRunners and found out that my training Nemesis, Mark, had finished with a shorter time than I did. I'll have to get him in a rematch even if he is considering retiring while he is ahead :)

Looking at the speed chart, we can clearly see how my progression went as the race went by. I got faster and faster until the final sprint.

Thanks to all the volunteers, supporters and runners that participated in this weekend's activities. There is something about large races that make running even more fun :)

Oh yeah, I forgot to say I signed up for the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon at the Race Expo. I guess I have to start training for real this time. In the estimated finish time slot, I wrote down 3:05 which would be a BQ for Boston 2013. Hopefully writing it down makes it happen, I will put in the training required over the summer :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ottawa Race Weekend

Ottawa Race Weekend is almost here. I've been really quiet on the blog lately but if you follow me on Twitter or FaceBook, you will know that I suffered another respiratory infection about three weeks ago, this time a Pneumonia. I got a new treatment of antibiotics and it seems to have cleared up quite well. I ran on Sunday and again on Tuesday and today so I'm feeling up to the challenge of a Half Marathon.

My race plan is not to race :) I will enjoy the new route and spectate as I run through some of Ottawa's most interesting neighborhoods. I am not expecting a PR, not even close. I hope to squeak in under 1h50m but even then if I don't meet that goal I won't be sad.

If you are in Ottawa let me know through a tweet, comment or FaceBook message. I'm having a pasta dinner at my place on Saturday and we could meet up before the race, I always enjoy meeting fellow bloggers.

As I plan the rest of my year, I'm looking back at this blog and wondering what to do with it. I really enjoyed sharing my training journey with you guys but time is getting really short here between all the various pressures of life. I will try to keep the blog alive, at least for race reports and some more general observations about running but I do not think it' s possible for me to produce the number of posts I used to. Thanks for being readers throughout the year and cheering me through some difficult times and I hope I was able to share some of my success and joy with you all. I suggest you follow me on Twitter or become my friend on FaceBook if you want to be kept up to date with my training. I will be picking a fall marathon (maybe tomorrow at the Expo if there are good deals) and will be planning to break my 3h19m time then. Hopefully I can BQ and/or BG (Boston Guarantee, it's a new term I made up, I should write an entry about that some day) which would be a BQ - 20 minutes to make sure I can be one of the first to register.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to training

As much fun as the post PB high is, I realize that I have another race in exactly a month from today where I want to PB again so I had to go back to training. I am not quite sure how to train for a half marathon anymore. Should I just take my marathon training and cut it in half? I like the long distance tempo runs too much to do that! At the same time, summer is around the corner and my bike is a very appealing alternative to the bus system to get around so my training will not be completely focused on running this year :) Summer is also a very social season so hopefully I'll find a way to continue to squeeze my training in, for now it's been a bit of on and off where I cancel some of the planned sessions in favor of happy hours and dinner with friends...

Here is the training I have completed since the Half in Montreal:
  • Tuesday 19 - Tempo run with Ottawa Front Runners - 10km in 46:54
  • Thursday 21 - Speed training with Ottawa Front Runners - Fast laps at ~4m/km, recovery at 5m/km
  • Sunday 24 - 20km bike commute to Easter dinner - 49:38
  • Monday 25 - 20km bike commute from Easter dinner - 46:19
  • Tuesday 26 - Tuesday run with Ottawa Front Runners (wet and windy, rings a bell?) - 10km in 50m (1 fast km at 4:25)
  • Thursday 28 - Speed work was canceled when no one showed up so I went long - ~17k in ~1h25m (rainy again!)
So while I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front, I was able to continue training. I tried to return to the pool this week, however the pool was closed because of a chemical imbalance. I'll try again next week :) I also have to get back into the weight training, however with tapering for Ottawa Race Weekend coming up, I'm not sure how much of a routine I can make of that one :)

If anyone is coming down for Ottawa Race Weekend, get in touch with me, we can arrange a pre-race or post-race meetup. I will be hosting a pasta dinner on the Saturday night for anyone interested, non-runners also welcomed! Leave a comment with your email or DM me on Twitter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Montreal Asics 21k

Wow! Montreal Asics 21k turned out to be quite a fun weekend! The weather was really scary on Saturday night with a mix of ice pellets, wet snow and freezing rain. I spent the Saturday walking around and shopping, not the best race prep routine, I know! It did warm up a little bit for Sunday morning but it was still quite wet and I was really worried about the weather. The day started with my friend Thiago participating in the 5k run.
The weather did not stop people from enjoying their races:
Unfortunately for him his race was really wet with rain everywhere and huge puddles on the course:
He still did a really good time coming in just over 22 minutes:
Once Thiago finished, we got ready for my race that started an hour and a half later. Lucky for me the rain cleared up and all that was left to deal with was the 25km/h gusts of winds here and there. After much debate about wind breakers and thighs vs loose pants, I decided on my tempo outfit that has seen me through some fast times before:
We slowly headed to the start area and I waited for the gun to get going. With about 2500 runners, the start area was crowded but it was still manageable.
As soon as we started running I noticed the gusts of winds. We ran by the giant roller coasters of La Ronde and then looped it up to run by the start line again (this course looks familiar! ;). It was a good thing that the course is fairly loopy, with all the winds, it helped break up the resistance to alternate between tailwind and headwind. I ran well and fast. My conservative strategy was to run the first half at a 1:40 pace and see where that would go. Instead I let myself get carried away by the tailwinds and didn't worry about my speed until I hit a headwind where I pushed to maintain my target pace. This paid off big time with my KM splits:
  • 4:40
  • 4:36
  • 4:31
  • 4:26
Thiago was really good about finding spots to see me.
I kept going after the first loop where started heading towards the F1 race track.
  • 4:25
  • 4:31
  • 4:32
  • 4:33
  • 4:39
  • 4:30
  • 4:31
Running on the race track was awesome. I could see the stands where all the spectators come to watch the races. Tire marks were visible everywhere. I chatted with someone from Ottawa that had been to the race before and he kept recounting me where he saw cars pass each other, etc. Surely everyone's minds were on the track and how cool it was to run on it. When I passed by the start line, I noticed the small squares that the cars use to align themselves and the inscriptions Salut Gilles! at the start line. How awesome! Once we turned around the water bassin, the wind really became a killer. Runners organized in flocks (just like geese) and took turns breaking the wind for the rest of the group.
  • 4:36
  • 4:48
  • 4:47
  • 4:41
  • 4:40
My strategy was to conquer the wind and to the surprise of my fellow runners to issue a huge shout: AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! every now and then to release some of the pressure and get some more frustration to carry me through. Sorry guys if you found this annoying :) We finally turned the corner and got into more sheltered area where the wind wasn't such an issue. That's where I started thinking about my finish and realizing that I was way ahead of 1:40 and that if I pushed, I could probably even break my goal of 1:38, which I thought before the race was pretty aggressive already without the crazy winds.
  • 4:30
  • 4:40
  • 4:26
  • 4:35
  • 4:37
Then a final sprint to the finish line that was tucked away after a turn and somewhat uphill!
With a last minute sprint where I passed 2 or 3 guys, I was able to finish with a super time of 1h37m20s! A new PR! I was ecstatic. Couldn't believe my eyes! Look at my time! Look at my time! Awesome! Yeah! The Endorphin were surely rushing through my veins!
Overall this race was an awesome event. Even with the weather I would do it again. The course is a bit loopy but affording us the ability to run on the race track really makes up for it. If I was the organizers I would rejig the finish area a bit. I like to see the finish line from far away so I know how much I should push. Also put markers like they do in Ottawa 1km to go 800m to go, 500m to go, etc. The swag was decent with a good shirt and an OK medal. The fact that I spent the weekend shopping in Montreal also made the experience one to repeat often ;)

I think I ran a decent race and wouldn't change anything about it. My chosen outfit was comfortable, my strategy of bringing my own sports drink allowed me to stay hydrated on my own terms and my pacing paid off big time. Now I have to see if I can repeat this in Ottawa and break the 1:35 mark.
Right after the race we showered at the race facility (how awesome is that where you can shower right at the race!) and headed home on the bus. We were fortunate that the bus wasn't full, so I could kick it up and relax with a nap:
A lot of the Montreal runners are coming for Ottawa Race Weekend so we'll see you out there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ready for Montreal!

First of all, I apologize for being so quiet lately. If you are my friend in real life or even on FaceBook, you will know that I have been going through some changes over the last few months that culminated over the last 4 weeks, the most significant one being my return to being single. It's allowed me to refocus my priorities and objectives and devote lots of time to my training. I'm actually doing great given the circumstances and have a positive outlook on life and beyond! Now that this is out of the way, let's talk about the good news!

I feel very much ready for Montreal. I believe I can get a new PR and probably even break 1:40 if I am having a good day. Yesterday's training was a regular speed 10k with a 2km speed test thrown in there that was meant to confirm my confidence about this weekend's half marathon. I ran with my friends from the Ottawa FrontRunners. Let me rephrase that, I met with the FrontRunners and Mark and I went ahead and left everyone else in our dust ;)

While I had warned Mark that I would speed up for a 2km interval at the middle of our run, he was caught by surprise when I darted off. To my surprise, he caught up with me and didn't even feel winded. We'll have to be rougher on him in the future, he is definitively under training. The 2km went by fairly quickly with splits of 3:52 and 4:06! Woot Woot! I was aiming for 4:20 splits so my confidence is now way up. The recovery after wasn't even that difficult with the next 2 kms at 4:51 and 4:45. Look at all that green on the heatmap:
I think I'm definitively getting my shape back this Spring. It was awesome to be running in shorts and short sleeve tshirt again. I am looking forward to my performance in Montreal and the rest of my running season this year!

If you are in Ottawa, consider joining us for the Ottawa FrontRunners speed workouts on Thursdays. We meet at 6:30pm at the Lisgar entrance of City Hall and head to either Parliament Hill or a local track to do some drills. We try to keep the drills varied every week and the bunch is always a fun group to be with.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Run for Japan!

As I'm sure you have heard in the news, Japan has been the victim of a huge earthquake and a devastating Tsunami. In solidarity to Japan, I have participated in the Run for Japan! initiative. There are a lot of runners in Japan, in fact the Ottawa Marathon last year was won by a Japanese when Arata Fujiwara set a new course record.

I ran a total of 10 miles (16km) dedicated to the victims of the natural disasters in Japan, their families and their friends and I then donated to the Red Cross for their operation in Japan. It is my hope that the world will unite and help Japan come out of this.

Hopefully Japan can come out of this quickly and return to normal. Some good news today out of Osaka that there were close to 155,000 people that applied for the Osaka Marathon which has a cap of 28,000 runners.

My thought are with you Japan and I hope that other runners and non runners will donate and have thoughts for you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Ottawa Route

There was big news with Ottawa Race Weekend earlier this week. New routes were unveiled for pretty much all the weekend's various events. Notably, the half marathon and marathon course were reviewed to snake through more neighborhoods. Runners will get to run through the arch in Chinatown, go down Preston street through Little Italy passing through Wesboro and snaking alongside the Ottawa river before going to Gatineau.
The new courses still have to be measured and finalized. Overall, I think the new route is a good change and will allow runners to see a bit more of the city. I can't wait to see the type of support that runners will have in Chinatown, Little Italy and Wesboro. Hopefully the stretch along the Ottawa River parkway is not too deserted. We do lose the amazing sights of running on Wellington in front of Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court and the National Archives buildings, but it is very likely that out of town runners will venture to these sights anyways even if in town just for a day or two.