Saturday, October 17, 2009

TR - Ottawa

Sun, Oct 11/09
Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon
Ottawa, Canada
Marathon #319
4:00:40 – 1AG

As mentioned in my last report this marathon was just the result of lucky timing. When I was booking flights for a family wedding and reunion in the fall I happened to notice that there was a marathon in Ottawa the weekend after our family events. I extended our trip to Tundra Land (aka Canada) for a few days in the hopes that I would be healthy enough to run the race?

I really didn’t commit to running the marathon until I finished the Boulder Marathon in late Sept w/o any body parts falling off or hurting. Only then did I call my good friend and mentor Wally Herman to inform him that I would run the marathon with him. Unfortunately by that time the Sport’s Manager’s hip was really hurting and she had to shorten her visit to return to FL to prepare for surgery.

We attended the wedding of our niece (my baby sister’s daughter) on Sat and then Nicole had to return to Ottawa for a family reunion on her side while I stayed in Carleton Place to begin the Wallace reunion. The Wallace family has seven siblings and we meet every two years at a different place hosted by one of the four brothers. Our reunion was fun as usual and since it was held in our hometown/birthplace many relatives and cousins were able to join us for a party/dinner.

The weather was not great – cool and rain most days – but it did co-operate with sun for both the wedding and the family golf match. Each morning I would run out into the country past the old family homestead/farm that had been in the Wallace family for more than 150 years! I fondly remember running the three miles into town often when I was a young kid (is that where it all started?). By race day I had logged more than 60 miles on those country roads!

When the reunion was over and we said our goodbyes I drove to Ottawa to stay with Nicole's sister and brother-in law to be closer to the race. I also wanted to visit Wally before the race. Wally is 83 years young and still runs 10 to 12 marathons every year (OK – what’s your excuse). Ottawa was marathon #714 for Wally and # 322 for Maddog so we represent a total of 1036 marathons and 199 countries! The local paper wrote a nice article about Wally and Maddog before the race -

I visited Wally and Marie on Sat before we drove out to Cumberland (a small village 20 miles east of Ottawa) to pick up our race packets. Wally planned to start at 6am (3 hrs early) so he would finish under the 5-hr time limit. The weather was cool – much cooler than had been forecast two weeks earlier when I packed for the race! Now maybe you can understand why I jokingly (but lovingly) refer to my native homeland as Tundra Land! The race started and finished at the Heritage Village Museum in Cumberland. The course consisted of two loops on country roads around Cumberland. It was hillier than anticipated but scenic with the fall colors in the leaves. On Sun morning the weather was COLD – temps in the low 30s and a wind blowing at 20mph/30Kmh! Since I had not packed cold weather gear I was dressed in shorts and T-shirt with a throw-away long sleeve T-shirt and gloves and stayed in the car until the last minute before the 9am start. When I jumped out of the car and headed toward the start line I was surprised to find my baby sister Mary Lou and Tim looking for me. That was a nice surprise! But short since I had to jump into the crowd of 200 runners (a small race) to start the race.

I had researched the results for the past two years to learn that the winning time in my AG was around 4:05 so I figured 4 hrs should win the race? I wasn’t sure if I could run that fast but if I don’t set a target I can’t push the old bod. It was so cold –especially with the wind - that I didn’t even remove my garbage bag/wind jacket until I passed 5K in 26:47. The first 10K had a LOT of hills – more than I had anticipated – so I was surprised when I reached 10K in 55:04! I had settled into a 5:30/km (8:50/mile) pace and decided to hold that pace as long as I could. The hills continued till 16K and finally we dropped for the next 5K back to the start line. I reached the Half in 1:57:28 – a wee bit faster than expected. I hoped that I hadn’t gone out too fast?? The legs felt OK – much better than they had 3 weeks ago in Boulder so I decided to push the pace as long as possible. I really did not have much confidence that I would run the entire course – I was hoping that I could make it to 37K before the old legs crashed?

The 2nd loop followed the same loop for 10.5K – which meant 10.5K of climbing hills – and then looped back down the hills to the finish line. It had warmed up a wee bit and I contemplated finally removing my warm-up shirt - but when we started up the hills for the 2nd time the 20mph wind was directly in our faces and COLD so I never did remove my warm-ups! I also decided that the wisest strategy would be to slow down and try to conserve energy going up those hills and into the headwind in the hopes of having some energy left to push the pace on the return loop down the hills with a tailwind. I reached 25K in 2:19:31 and caught up to a fellow Country Club runner, Hajime Nishi, from Japan (he started 1 hr early). I slowed and ran with Hajime for a few minutes to catch up on his stats. He confirmed that he has now completed 72 countries which moves him up into 4th place on the CC list. I then pushed on and passed 27K in 2:31:56. A quick calculation – 15K to go in 88 minutes if I wanted to break 4 hrs! It would be very close since I still had 4K of uphill to run. I had to run a sub -6min/Km pace? That was very difficult on the uphill into a headwind but hopefully I could lower the pace to 5:30/Km on the return loop downhill with a tailwind?

I met Wally for the 1st time near 30Km as he was on the return loop and finally I reached the turn-around at 31.5K. I sucked it up and pushed the pace down to 5:30/5:40. I passed Wally again at 37K – the old legs were still churning and I knew right then that I would be able to keep them churning to the finish line. However when I reached 39K in 3:41:52 the course became flat and turned back into the wind which was then gusting at 40Kmh. I had 18 minutes for 3.2Km. It was going to be real close! But that wind was too tough! I just couldn’t keep the old legs churning fast enough to make up the minute I would need for the final 200 meters! However Maddog was not willing to give up and he dragged my tired/sorry ass the final 3.2k to cross the finish line in 4:00:40! I was not disappointed! In fact I was very pleased that I had been able to run the entire race and I soon learned that my time had indeed won 1st place in my Age Group. And no body parts fell off or hurt during the race!

The weather seemed to get COLDER as soon as I finished so I retreated immediately to the car to add more warm-up clothes and get my camera before returning to the finish line to cheer Wally across the finish. He finished in 7:13. After a few finish line photos we both beat a hasty retreat to the warmth of our cars! I hope to see Wally again in the winter and run a few more marathons together in FL?

I am back in FL now. The Sports Manager has successfully completed surgery to replace her hip and begins the recovery process under the careful care of Nurse Maddog!
Cooler weather finally arrived in FL this weekend (Oct 17) so I can start adding some intensity and speed work to my training program in the hopes of getting my marathon times below 4hrs again!

As part of my program I plan to run another ‘training’ marathon in Nov in Fort Worth, TX.

Stay tuned!

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