ING Ottawa Half-Marathon Re-Cap

Temperature: 17-18 degrees C

Clothes: Lululemon running tank, Adidas shorts, Asics 210s.

Distance run/type: 21.1k/ slow and steady pace

Feeling: Good. The temperature was perfect.


I broke the law.

The unofficial don’t-try-anything-new-on-race-day law, that is.

The day before the race, I bought a fuel belt and I wasn’t afraid to use it. I don’t regret my something new decision at all. For almost a year, I stubbornly stuck with my bobbing water bottle belt, because I painstakingly concluded last year that fuel belts were gimmicky and not worth their high price tag.

Well, I was wrong. From day one, my water bottle belt was a disaster. It bobbed around so much, that the bottle would shoot right out and onto the street, and kind runners within my group would risk their lives picking it up for me off the street. I didn’t want that. So, my mom helped sew an elastic strap that would keep my bottle snug – it helped, but the belt itself still bobbled around. Then, one of my running buddies informed me that my belt wasn’t tight enough around my waist. By tightening it significantly, I reduced the bobbling by a large margin. But every few minutes, the belt would loosen up on its own and I’d have to re-tighten it to keep it from moving.

Yes, I made it through two three half-marathon training clinics with this belt.

Yes, I ran two half-marathons and one 15k tune-up race with this belt.

Yes, I commented almost every single time that I should have bought the fuel belt instead.

Your point is?

As soon as I spotted the purple fuel belt at the expo, I gravitated towards it and began contemplating whether I was ready to make the commitment or not. When one of my girlfriends muttered “it’s time, Alison” to me, that was really all I needed to hear.

But I digress.

The Race
When my physio cleared me to run on Sunday, I decided to adopt runshorts’ (aka. my running coach) low expectations strategy. I was already way ahead of schedule in terms of adopting this strategy: I began tapering down two an a half weeks before race day, and I had been practicing a very lackadaisical approach toward the race itself. In fact, it didn’t even feel like I was about to run a half on the Saturday before race day. I tried not to think about the upcoming race and didn’t bother printing a pace band. I figured even if I lowered my time expectation, having a pace band would just distract me and I’d still feel some sort of pressure. I brought my Garmin, but decided to keep my interval screen open so that I could still take my breaks, but I would resist checking how I was doing for time.

A few minutes before the race began, my friends found the pace bunny and decided to follow him throughout the race to help them reach their 2:00 hour time goal. I really wished at that moment that I wasn’t injured so that I could give it a shot as well – but I knew it would have been a mistake for me to push myself. Before I could change my mind, I left them and headed to the back of the start corral. I knew that the only way to take all pressure off myself would be to run the race by myself, at a pace that felt comfortable to me.

I started out slowly, running at what I thought was just a little bit faster than my usual weekend LSD pace. I felt really strong, although I could still feel my left leg complaining here and there. I focused on making sure that I was running “flat-foot” and tried to avoid running with my toes as much as possible. When I overheard (I don’t run with music) some people running beside me commenting that their pace was quite fast, I decided to slow down a bit, not because I felt tired or that I was pushing myself too hard, but because I was worried that it would catch up to me later on.

Since I dont run with music, I had to rely on the tunes in my head to keep entertained throughout the run. The most popular song on my personal playlist was the “Just keep swimming” diddy that Doris sings in the Nemo cartoon. Obviously “swimming” was replaced with “running” in my head. It sounds suspect, but it really helped.

Although the course is advertised as being flat, I didn’t personally feel like it was all flat. However, thanks to all of the extensive hill training that I did during my half-marathon training (thank you, runshorts!!), my legs barely noticed the difference between those gentle slopes and flat ground.

And you know what? I had a great time.

The weather was perfect, the crowd was amazing, and the music warmed my heart.

When I got to the finish line and saw the time on the clock, I was surprised and pleased to discover that I didn’t run the race as slowly as I thought I had. I found it pretty impressive that I was able to enjoy the experience as much as I did, as soon as I took off any time pressure that I had on myself. I think there’s definitely something to be said about this low expectations strategy.

As a final note, remember my two friends who decided to run with the pace bunny? They completely blew the race out of the water and not only met but exceeded their goal on Sunday. Amazing!!


Notable List


  • Being given the choice between a ladies large shirt and a men’s small shirt at the expo (why we were asked to specify our shirt size when we signed up, I don’t know) 🙁
  • Getting a water-soaked sponge to help cool us runners down
  • Volunteers handing out Vaseline tipped wooden sticks – I neglected to take one as I’m not exactly sure where I’d apply it
  • Running along what felt like the longest, most narrow bridge between Quebec and Ontario. I was due for a walk break while we were crossing the bridge, but resisted taking it for as long as I could because there was so little room and I didn’t want to impede other runners.
  • Seeing a collapsed man near the end of the race. He was being helped by a lot of people, so I really hope it was okay!

Spectator signs:

  • “Remember you paid to do this”
  • “Run like you stole something”
  • Those #$@$@#%# 750m/500m/400m signs. I really didn’t need to know how far away the finish line was.


  • Cover of MGMT’s Kids
  • The really depressing “keep on running” song that sounded like a funeral march from the last band that was there before I reached the finish line


And that all from me now. I promise pictures of delicious food will make their appearance in my next post.  After I catch up on some much needed recovery rest.

Good night!

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6 thoughts on “ING Ottawa Half-Marathon Re-Cap”

    1. It may very well have been! But I can’t imagine slathering it on without jabbing myself! I’m sure it is useful though, otherwise they wouldn’t offer it at the race. 🙂

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