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10 March 2011

Winterman Half Marathon Race Review

The first half of my running season, the Winterman was an opportunity to try a new course, run in a new climate, and try for a PR in the midst of preparing for my first marathon of the season. It was also going to be the first of two consecutive weekends of half-marathon running. [blockquote […]

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The first half of my running season, the Winterman was an opportunity to try a new course, run in a new climate, and try for a PR in the midst of preparing for my first marathon of the season. It was also going to be the first of two consecutive weekends of half-marathon running.

[blockquote align=”left”]It’s the dead of winter in Ottawa – not exactly prime-time for a race.[/blockquote]

I was surprised by the amount of people signed up for the runs – a 3k, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, and full relay. After all, it’s the dead of winter in Ottawa – not exactly prime-time for a race. Freezing aside, 823 individuals and 64 relay teams braved the low temperatures to run.

Getting Chips

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0000.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0000.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Getting Chips”/]

Pre-Race

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0001.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0001.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Pre-Race”/]

Start Line

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0002.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0002.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Start Line”/]

Mid-stride

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0003.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0003.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Mid-stride”/]

Waking up early on Sunday, my wife and I were picked up by a friend to head to the race. I packed all kinds of gear just to be sure I’d have whatever layers I thought I’d require when I stepped out of the car. We’d read the very helpful newsletters and decided to avoid trying to park at the War Museum and instead parked at The Mill just a short walk from the starting line. The day was crisp, but sunny, so we decided to do a bit of a warm-up jog (mostly to keep warm) from the car to the starting area to pick up our timing chips. Seeing a long outdoor line was not what I was expecting, but the team at the army tent was extremely efficient and we whipped through the line and got inside where it was warm. The place was crowded with people chatting, stretching, drinking coffee, and lining up for the bathroom (which was likely the part of the whole experience that I would say was most frustrating – as usual. I’m just glad I’m a guy in those situations). The bag check was also quick, and I was off to stretch.

[blockquote align=”right”]One of the great benefits of the loop was getting to see them time a couple of times and getting/giving some encouragement.[/blockquote]

With a shotgun start for the 5k-marathoners, the field looked to be tight, especially since we were on a 5k loop. It turned out that by starting close to the front and keeping a decent pace I was able to avoid some of the clutter I saw passing the other way, although eventually the few once again became the many (although not that many) when we began to lap some folk.

I didn’t know the course at all, and although it was scenic, it definitely had some rolling hills that I didn’t expect. The nice thing about a looped course is that after one time around you know where there are flat spots, where the water stations are, and when to speed up/slow down. My first loop I was running with a couple of speedy marathoners who eventually pulled away from me, one of whom was an ultra guy from the states. Beyond that another guy and I kept trading for the lead between us, until I eventually pulled away from him in the third or fourth lap. My second lap was tough – I wasn’t feeling great and, after the race, my wife and our friend said I wasn’t looking so great either. One of the great benefits of the loop was getting to see them time a couple of times and getting/giving some encouragement (the topic of an upcoming post).

Finish Line

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0004.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0004.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Finish Line”/]

Champions!

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0005.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0005.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Champions!”/]

Shirt + Medal

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0006.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0006.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Shirt + Medal”/]

Medal

[image img=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_Thumb_0007.jpg” url=”http://runbydesign.com/images/Winterman_0007.jpg” rounded=”all” alt=”Medal”/]

Laps 3 and 4 seemed to breeze by, and the final mini-lap felt good, although it was slower than it should have been. I was excited to get a PR on this race – something I was hoping for but not expecting. Given the twisty, rolling nature of the course and the cold weather I hadn’t anticipated being able to sustain the pace required for a PR. Thanks to some gels, a decent meal the night before, and the training I’ve been doing I managed it.

[blockquote align=”left”]I found the Winterman to be an excellently run, well-organized race that had a decent course, good location, and great feel.[/blockquote]

I was impressed with the organization of this race, and although the shirts lacked some design-appeal and have a low re-wearability for my taste, they are good quality shirts, and the medals were quite good. The War Museum was excellent. There are lots of large open spaces to stretch and sit, the bathrooms are clean, and the ambiance is awesome. For spectators it was an awesome opportunity to be warm inside while waiting for runners to come back around. For runners it was a great place to be both before and after the race.

It was interesting doing the looped course, although I wouldn’t do any distance longer than the half. Whether I’m not sure if I’ll race it again, I found the Winterman to be an excellently run, well-organized race that had a decent course, good location, and great feel.

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[info_box_1 title=”Race Stats”]
Distance: 21.1k
Cost: $75
Weather: Sunny, -12C
Swag: Long-Sleeved T-Shirt
Terrain: Roads, slightly rolling
Time: 1:33:17 (PR)
Pace: 4:26/km
Shoes: Nike Lunar Elite
Fuel: Golden Grahams, and Gels
Overall Place: 15 (279)
Gender Place: 15 (147)
Age Group Place: 4 (20)
[/info_box_1]

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