Ottawa Marathon Pace Bunny Report

on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 10:06 PM

Lots to document so excuse the length. Picked up some take out pasta and drove about a quarter of the distance to Ottawa before taking a dinner break at a highway rest stop. Arrived in Ottawa just before 11pm or so.

Saturday morning had the friendship run which is sponsored by the Running Room at city hall. It's a short 2 mile run and breakfast. Pretty basic food: bagels, fruit cup, coffee and hot chocolate. Picked up my pacing kit which consisted of a shirt, sign and the bunny hat. Had the opportunity to meet several people from Running Mania who were also pacers.

Also met up with the other 3:50 pace bunny. I was doing continuous and he was doing 10 and 1's. That's me, second from the right.
After the friendship run, headed back to the hotel to change and then hit the expo to pick up my kit. They have shuttle buses that run from city hall to Landsdown park where the expo is. Picked up the kit and noticed they had free bus marathon course tours. Decided to do the bus tour thing. Though they did do the tour of the route, it was more like an actual tourist tour where they point out interesting buildings and historical facts. Glad I did it. Didn't get back to the hotel till about 4:30.

As bunnies, they also gave out free tickets to the pasta dinner which I gladly accepted. I was trying to arrange to buy a ticket before hand. You couldn't buy a ticket online only to the pasta dinner, you had to bundle it with a race entry fee, but since i wasn't paying for the race, it wouldn't let me do it. I emailed around and after some email tag and telephone calls trying to arrange payment with a credit card, the race decided to just give us free tickets. That was nice of them. Pasta dinner was at 6pm and I was there prompt and early cause with a 7am start the next morning, I had to make sure my dinner was good and digested and out of my system before race start. Chatted with a lady from Quebec and found out that she had run with me at the Niagara half last year when I paced 2 hours. Small world. Left dinner at 7pm and had to go meet up with some friends who had made dinner plans for 7:30. I thought 7:30 was a bit too late to have dinner so i just dropped by to say hi, swap some stories and have a beverage. I was back at the hotel by 9:00.

Prepared my race stuff for next morning. One benefit of staying in the overpriced "Gold" floor at the Chateau Laurier (which is the only non-suite rooms they had available when I booked) is they give you free continental breakfast. Breakfast started at 7am which wouldn't be good for me, but they did set out saran wrapped bagels the day before which helped. With that taken care of, I decided to do one last foam roll of the legs and stick my calves. I noticed that one part of my legs was really tender which had me concerned about the race. I looked it up after and it was the peroneus (fibularis) longus. This was coupled with the fact that the weather forecast was predicting temperatures of 14C at race start with the sun out in full force. I started having doubts. Anyways headed to bed at about 10:00pm. Woke up at 4:00 and ate half a bagel with some peanut butter i had taken from the friendship run and downed it with some water and gatorade. I actually wanted to eat the whole bagel, but for some reason i just felt full. I then decided to go back to sleep for an hour. I've seen that other people do this, and i've never had the opportunity to, but with my hotel being a 5 minute walk to the start line, i could afford to catch some extra rest. Woke up again at 5:30, had a shower got changed and headed out at 6:15am for the short walk to the start line. Arrived and checked my gear, used the facilities one last time. About 10 minutes before the start, I downed a gel with some water and then headed to the start line. A woman came over to me and said she was going to run the race with me. So we entered the proper corral, where i located the other 3:50 bunny and then the race starts.


Really crowded at start which helped as I usually tend to start races too fast. A lot of people had some garmin problems at the start. I was luckily able to get a satellite lock, but if you check out the Garmin Connect route below, it's pretty clear that it wasn't the greatest. I was carrying my sign and a bottle of gatorade. I had decided to run with the full bottle of gatorade at the start. As i've mentioned before, there was only one concern that I had and that was having to stop to use the restroom, but recalling my analysis of that fateful day back in 2007 when I bonked trying to BQ on a slightly warm day, i realized that it would be better to have to stop and finish a minute late then bonk and finish 10 minutes later. Thanks to Tedlee for the pic.

I passed through the first km in 5:35. I had decided to run the race with both the garmin and my Polar watch. i was going to rely on the Polar and a pace band to determine how I was doing overall, but I was going to use the Garmin for pacing. I also wanted to wear my HR monitor to see how the effort level was. During the first km, my HR spiked. Now I've done three marathons in the past with a HR monitor and though I've had HR spiking problems in training, it's never happened during the marathon. Normally during training, I would slow to a walk and eventually it would come back down, but I obviously couldn't do this in the race as a pacer so i trudged on hoping it would come back down which it did at the 6km mark. The first 5km are about on pace, slightly fast, but a net elevation loss means i'm right on target.

5k: 26:56 (8:40 min/mile) Should have been 27:15 (8:47 min/mile)

The first two km pass by parliament hill and the Supreme Court building and are quite nice, but then the route goes through Hull which is a bit of a dump. I had passed the 10:1 3:50 bunny during the first km. Technically he should have been ahead of me cause his run portion for the 10 minutes of running should have been faster than what I was doing. Ideally, we would have swapped the lead going back and forth where he would pass me on the run portion and then I would pass him on the walk portion. Well up until 8k, I was ahead of him, then during the 9th km, I see him tear ahead of me on his own. I thought that maybe he had to use the facilities and wanted to get ahead of his group, but checking the 10km split time, he was over a minute ahead of me.  I started to notice a slight twinge in my right achilles/ankle area.  It wasn't pain, just a dull ache.  I started to worry that it might get worse, but it never did.

5 to 10k: 27:21 (8:48 pace) 54:17 (should have been 54:30, -13s difference)

The course up until this point had rolling hills. This marathon course is definitely not flat. So we leave Hull and then move into what was probably my favourite part of the course. We ran by the prime ministers and governor general's residence and then through Rockliffe which has a lot of really nice homes. People were out in full force cheering and the tree cover provided some needed relief from the sun.

10 to 15k: 27:06 (8:43 pace) 1:21:23 (1:21:45, -22s)

Coming up to 15k, there's a bit of a stretch out in the open. I had some problems holding up the sign at this point cause the sign would act as a bit of a sail and there was quite a bit of wind. I kept the sign close to my body while occasionally sticking it up in the air to let people know where I was. All the while, the km are ticking by. I had a pretty good group of people with me. It was hard to know for sure since I was running continuously. When you're doing 10:1's, it's easy to see how big a group you have when you take a walk break cause everyone's walking with you.

15 to 20k: 27:19 (8:48 pace) 1:48:42 (1:49:00, 18s)

I hit the half mark at 1:54:31 or 29s ahead and on pace for a 3:49 marathon. I was pretty happy with this. I had personally been burned by bunnies going out too fast and I was determined not to let this happen here. Now after the half mark, the race then proceeds back onto the main roads of Ottawa and away from tree cover. As the sun was now out in full force, it was starting to get warm.

20k to 25k: 27:12 (8:45 pace) 2:15:55 (2:16:15, -21s)

Somewhere around the 23k mark, I made the decision to toss my 3:50 pace sign which I did at a water station. I had been carrying the thing for more than a half marathon and with my gatorade bottle running low on fluids, I knew that I was going to have to start relying more on the aid stations, grabbing 2 to 3 cups at a time. The crowd around me had thinned out enough that I didn't think people would have difficulty seeing the bunny ears to know where I was. I probably should have announced that i was going to toss the sign, as i bunch of people starting asking me whether i was bailing on the 3:50. Nope. Just getting sick of carrying the sign I said.

25 to 30k: 27:23 (8:49 pace) 2:43:17 (2:43:30, -13s)

Between 25 and 30k, I finally caught up to the 10:1 3:50 pace group during one of their walk breaks. The other pacer had started out a bit fast and was slowing down. Unfortunatley, when the other group started running again and passed me, most of my group left me for the other one so that I was basically running alone. :( From this point on, we would trade the lead back and forth though I think most people ended up appeciating the walk breaks more so they stuck with the other group.

30 to 35k: 27:13 (8:46 pace) 3:10:31 (3:10:45, -15 s)

I ended up emptying and tossing my gatorade bottle shortly after the 31k mark, relying solely on the aid stations and gels. In total, I started with 4 gels, but only took 2 total in the end. Can't remember exactly where, but I only ate half a gel at a time with a couple of gulps of water. At this point, things were getting tough. They had a couple of stations where they would hand out sponges with cold water in them. These things were great. I found out that squeezing water onto my quads gave them a refreshing breather, so much so that I would end up spilling water on my legs at the remaining aid stations. Around the 34k mark is a bit of an overpass on Heron Rd. affectionally called the "Heron Hump". This was a really tough climb for me trying to maintain pace as there was a full on head wind uphill. My HR hit the highest point in the race and this was my slowest km. I probably couldn't have gone much faster if I had tried. I didn't check, but i wouldn't have been surprised if I lost everyone that was running with me here.

35 to 40k: 27:24 (8:49 pace) 3:37:55 (3:38:01, -5s)

The distance between 35 and 40k was pretty tough mentally. I was pretty sure that I could maintain the pace, but I was just starting to wish that the race was over. In my mind, I was counting down the km and minutes to when it would be over. For the first time in the race, I was conciously trying to run the tangents. This was moreso to prevent me from losing time as I figured I had only about 10-15s in the bank. Around the 38k mark is when the half marathoners merge with the full course. Though there was a lot more energy with all the additional runners, it was also sort of demoralizing because all these people were streaming past us on fresher legs. The crowd support I have to say was pretty good at this point.

The last 2.2 kms i ran pretty evenly. I had 5s banked at 40k and I wanted to maintain that through to the end which I did crossing at 3:49:56, 4s under where I should have been.

It was hard to know if anyone gunning for 3:50 crossed the line with me. There were a lot of half marathoners around, so it was hard to know who was doing the full and the half. I ended up looking through the split times after and there were two people who were with me through the 10k, half and 30k split times who would end up finishing within 2 minutes of me. I think that was the closest anyone came to sticking with me for the whole race. One of these people was the woman who had found me at the beginning of the race and said she was going to run with me. She ended up thanking me afterwards while I was waiting in line for food.

The peroneus (fibularis) longus tenderness that I was experiencing the night before never materializerd though it was still quite tender both before and after the race.  Guess I don't use it that much when I run.

So for all you non-math people, ignore the next little part cause these are the stats. i missed a couple of the markers. If you're interested in the ottawa marathon route, you can see it in my Garmin Connect Route.

km Lap Time Time Diff km Lap Time Time Diff
1 05:34.5 0:05:35 +00:08 22 10:38.2 1:59:21 -00:34
2 05:08.9 0:10:43 -00:11 24 11:01.1 2:10:22 -00:27
3 05:21.5 0:16:05 -00:16 25 05:33.0 2:15:55 -00:21
4 05:26.5 0:21:31 -00:17 26 05:28.0 2:21:23 -00:20
5 05:24.8 0:26:56 -00:19 27 05:30.9 2:26:54 -00:16
6 05:20.0 0:32:16 -00:26 28 05:28.4 2:32:22 -00:14
7 05:31.8 0:37:48 -00:21 29 05:30.1 2:37:52 -00:11
8 05:33.9 0:43:22 -00:14 30 05:25.4 2:43:17 -00:13
9 05:22.7 0:48:45 -00:19 31 05:26.8 2:48:44 -00:13
10 05:32.3 0:54:17 -00:13 32 05:21.3 2:54:06 -00:19
11 05:22.1 0:59:39 -00:18 33 05:25.6 2:59:31 -00:20
12 05:30.0 1:05:09 -00:15 34 05:37.9 3:05:09 -00:09
13 05:31.6 1:10:41 -00:11 35 05:21.5 3:10:31 -00:15
14 05:16.2 1:15:57 -00:21 37 10:46.3 3:21:17 -00:23
15 05:25.7 1:21:23 -00:23 38 05:34.9 3:26:52 -00:15
16 05:32.4 1:26:55 -00:17 39 05:30.7 3:32:22 -00:11
17 05:26.8 1:32:22 -00:18 40 05:32.8 3:37:55 -00:05
18 05:36.1 1:37:58 -00:08 41 05:25.9 3:43:21 -00:06
19 05:15.5 1:43:13 -00:20 42 05:26.0 3:48:47 -00:07
20 05:29.1 1:48:42 -00:18 42.2 01:06.8 3:49:54 -00:06

5k split pace
5k 26:56.2 08:40.2
10k 27:20.7 08:48.1
15k 27:05.6 08:43.2
20k 27:19.9 08:47.8
25k 27:12.3 08:45.4
30k 27:22.8 08:48.8
35k 27:13.1 08:45.6
40k 27:24.7 08:49.4

So I had a couple of people come up to me after the race and thank me. In hindsight, I probably should have been a bit more motivating during the race. It would have been nice to be able to carry at least one person with me the whole way. I do much of my training alone, so talking while I run is not something i do very often. Oh well.

One thing with my pacing was I ended up winning the pace bunny prize for coming closest to my time without going over. I ended up winning a 2 lb bag of carrots and a chocolate easter bunny. Yah! Though I told them to donate it to a local food bank cause it seemed like a waste to spend more money on shipping the stuff to me then the stuff was actually worth.

So had lots of fun. Though, I'm not certain I would want to pace a full again. I don't mind pacing halfs since I run that distance at that pace almost every week on my long run. Running 26 miles even at a slow pace on the other hand is something I only do during a marathon race and it still hurts after like I had raced it. I probably would be thinking differently if it wasn't so warm during the race. I was definitely dehydrated afterwards and suffering in the last few km's.

I really like the medal. It's a double spinner.The maple leaf spins independently from the inner ring which spins independently from the outer ring.

Here are some additional pictures from after the race from around Parliament Hill.



jen said...

Congrats Fran!! You nailed the pace. More people should have stayed with you. You are such a great pacer- maybe one day you can be my person pacer. :D Great photos too. Enjoy your recovery!

Quinto Sol said...

Very nice report... AND excellent job of pacing!

Steve said...

Congrats on finishing yet another marathon and Great report too.(The medal is really cool btw).

It's amazing how you guys can get your splits times right down to the second.

The last time I did the SF half marathon, I followed the 3 hour pacer the entire distance. She slowed to let me pass at her at the finish line. Very cool of her.
We finished with 3 seconds of each other. She came in dead on at 3:00 ! amazing..

Robin said...

It's amazing that you can pace like that! Congratulations!

yumke said...

Meant to leave comment earlier, but what a fantastic job, Fran. You're a pro and I'm sad you lost some runners to the 10:1 guy :). I'm inspired to be a pacer one day. Maybe in 2010?

Mia said...

Loved the race report and pictures...GREAT job! Very inspiring :)

zbsports said...

I like the bunny hat so cute. the race looks very happy everyone is having fun.