With great anticipation that I was going to participate in the biggest race in Ottawa and be a minuscule in the figures that produce the largest running event in Canada, I came to terms that I was going to conquer this fear. I was very open about my fear & spent hours meticulously planning out how I was going to get there, where I was going to park, what time I wanted to be places and what was going to happen afterwards. I watched the forecast for the 14 days that my weather app produces because that was going to be another factor that I couldn't control. My training was sporadic over the last month, but I still felt confident that I could complete the race without wondering who's brilliant idea it was to sign up. Having a newborn & a toddler at home (during hockey school season at that) was not allowing me to get regular training in, but I felt physically capable and mentally prepared.
The morning before the race I packed up #TeamOlivier & headed downtown to the Congress Centre to pick up our race kits. It was an inspiring yet intimidating experience that I'm not sure I was prepared for. I got there right when it was opening and so were 10,000+ other people! I should have known from the parking lot what the actual pick up was going to be like…it was like going to the mall on December 24th and expecting to get that close parking spot right outside the door! I lucked out that someone was pulling out of a spot as I came around the corner and it was big enough to park Marc's car easily. Up the elevator we went to the first floor and what I saw I was not expecting from a race kit pick up…people were running as if it were Black Friday and there were only 10 big screen tv's! I just stepped back and really looked at where I had to go and made sure I wasn't going to cut anyone off who was in hot pursuit of their race bib. The line up to get into the building snaked down the sidewalk. Here I was thinking it would be nice & quiet because everyone else should be at work right?!
In watching the crowd I saw a lot of everything imaginable…the average person who was out to keep fit, the businessmen dressed to the nines who look like they forego lunch at the mall for a gym workout and a hot yoga class, blind or partially blind athletes with their guide dogs or chaperones helping them get where they need to be, new moms pushing strollers with wee ones and VERY pregnant ladies looking like they could give birth right then & there. I was inspired yet intimidated by the shape & condition these runners were in. I left there feeling a little down that I was "only running the 5km", but had to put things in perspective when I looked down at #TeamOlivier having a great time looking at everything.
Race Day Saturday:
It was a normal Saturday around our house with DH gone to coach in a hockey tournament and me & the kids playing with blocks, puzzles & baby dolls. It was the first time I was going to run a race that wasn't first thing in the morning, so I wasn't sure what I should eat, if I should nap & it was a whole lot of time to sit & think about the race that I was already anxious about.
Much to my surprise, my plans were going off without a hitch…wardrobe worked when getting dressed, remembered all my race accessories, got downtown with good time (even ahead of expectations) and settled into the condo for a few minutes to relaxation. About 45 minutes before the start time we made our way to the starting corals. When we got there it was a manageable crowd…anxiety in check still.
Time was passing & the crowds got thicker…the first coral was off sharply at 4. It was a waaaayyyyys before we even started shuffling along to move up to the starting line. With 10, 742 people registered in the 5km race, it was going to be a feat to get them all moving in the same direction. At one point, the announcer at the start line informed us that the first runner had just crossed the finish line…and we were still 12 minutes before we were to start our coral! YES…12 minutes! The motivation tanked right then & there in the middle of Elgin street (not that I was expecting to win, more like just finish). Before we knew it we were off. I tried to keep my pace steady so that I could still have some gas in the tank to finish knowing that my training wasn't where I needed or wanted it to be.
It was fun to run through the streets of Ottawa where I wouldn't have normally driven let alone been able to go out for a run. The temperature turned out to be almost perfect and the decision to ditch the long sleeves before starting was a great decision. There wasn't anything I'd change from the preparation pre race to running the race (other than my training). Once we finished the "Runner Recovery Area" was a great size to be able to walk off the race. Medals, food, & drinks were spaced out enough to keep the crowds moving and not all bunched up.
Overall, while my time was not a personal best (nor a personal worst) I will definitely be signing up again next year. From not thinking I could even manage the crowds to get to my starting position, to finishing the race with nothing to complain about I'd say #TORW2015 was a success.
I will be recommending the race to all my other 5km race friends just so that they can experience the crowds along the route, the armful of recovery food & drink & the sense of accomplishment that I get to experience last night.
Well done Ottawa, well done!
Sunshine & happiness today & forever.