This was my first time participating in the Army Run and know I totally understand why it is such a popular race. The Canadian Army puts on an amazing, well organized race. It is very inspirational to run alongside active and retired members of the military, including many ill, injured, and disabled athletes. The race is very family friendly with fun activities for kids, displays of military equipment, live music, and a good sized race expo.
So what about my race...
Well, I went in to the race with very low expectations for my finishing time. I knew that I couldn't expect a PB, given that my body really doesn't know how to run fast right now and that I hadn't trained for a PB. Since Timberman, my longest run was about 12k and I had only done 3 tempo sessions.
The day before the race, I had a realization and posted this on my Happy Triathlete Facebook page:
Running a half marathon in the morning. I've been worried about not running it as fast as I would like, but had a realization today - this race isn't about me and it's certainly not about a PB. I signed up for this one as a fundraiser for a charity I feel very strongly about. This race is about having fun in support of an important cause. And it's about the 4 friends and family members that battled hard against cancer over the past 2 years that inspired me to get involved with Imerman Angels, and the many before them and the many that will have to face their own battles or support someone through cancer in the future. So I'm running for them. And of course, because it's the Army Run, I'm running for the courageous men and women of the military, who put themselves in the face of danger for us everyday.So I did exactly as I said... I had fun and when my legs got tired, I thought about all the courageous people who face cancer every day all over the world.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but my "strategy" on Sunday was to just run and see how long I could hold on to a decent pace. My goal was to run faster than 8:00 miles if possible, or as close to it as I could for as long as I could. Looking at my 5k splits, you'll see exactly where the wheels started to fall off! The first 10k went pretty smoothly. My legs felt strong and overall, I felt good despite what was turning out to be a very hot, humid morning. The course had tons of people along it cheering, as well as official cheering stations, which was helpful. My only complaint was that there could have been one or two extra aid stations, especially given the heat, but I think I was spoiled at Timberman, where there were a ton of aid stations. I was carrying a bottle with electrolytes in it and grabbing two to three cups of water at each station - some in my mouth, and the rest over my head.
At the 10k mark, we had a steep climb up the Alexandria Bridge, and that was when my legs decided they weren't going to bring the pace back down. Luckily there were tons of people at the end of the bridge around the National Gallery, so I did get a little boost there. Then we ran by my office and towards Rockcliff, which was awesome because we actually had quite a bit of shade in Rockcliff. At 13.5k, I saw Chris Koch. It was so inspiring to see him crushing the course on his longboard. Chris was born without both arms and both legs, so he was doing the full Commander's Challenge - 5k plus 21.1k on a longboard. Truly amazing! Then at 15k, I got to give the Governor General David Johnston a high-five outside Rideau Hall (his house).
As we ran back along Sussex Drive, the winds really picked up and I started to hit a wall. My legs weren't turning over the way that I had hoped and I started to struggle. At 17k, my stomach decided it had enough too and a bit of nausea set in, making the last few kilometers quite uncomfortable. As much as I kept telling myself to speed up and just use up whatever was left in the tank, my legs just weren't up for it. The last few k seemed to take an eternity, and finally, finally the finish line was in sight. Instead of speeding up, I just smiled and relished the people cheering, the Canadian flags lining the chute, and the fact that I was healthy enough to do a half marathon. After crossing the finish line, I got my dog tag finisher medal from one of the military members and thanked her for her service.
For the first time ever, I grabbed a space blanket since I was soaking wet and afraid that I would get too cold post-race. After filling up on as many water cups as I could hold, I found a few OTC friends and one of my favourite former colleagues. I was definitely happy to be finished that race, but all in all had a pretty good time! Final time was about 10 minutes off my PB, but also 10 minutes faster than my half marathon at the end of Timberman, so I'll take it!
Final Time: 1:45:33
A HUGE thank you in particular goes out to all the wonderful friends and family members who supported my fundraising efforts for Imerman Angels! Together, we've raised over $1100 and I can continue fundraising until December, so if you'd like to contribute to this amazing organization, you can donate here: http://imermanangels.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=3045
Thank you to Brent Smyth for encouraging me to get involved with Imerman Angels. Thank you also to the amazing Army Run volunteers and to our Canadian military, past and present, who serve our country and protect us all day in and day out. Thank you to the supportive, amazing women of Team Coeur Sports, who inspire me everyday.