September 23, 2014

Army Run Race Report

by pyrad
Categories: Race Report
Tags: ,
Comments: 6 Comments

Last weekend I ran the Army Run half-marathon in Ottawa. This didn’t go as I’d planned. I’ve listed a lot of excuses at the end of this post, but the hard truth is that I didn’t before as well as I would have liked. My heart wasn’t in it.

I know a lot of people wished me good luck, so I feel like I let a lot of you down. I apologize. I feel quite a bit of shame in my failure.

Date Event Goal Time Chip Time Gun Time
2014/09/21 Ottawa Army Run 1:59:59 2:17:54.5 2:37:26.0

But, I want to highlight some positives too. I really want to thank the volunteers and spectators that braved the pouring rain to be a part of this. These races only succeed because of you! And I want to congratulate my friends from the Square One Running Room who also did this race. For many of you, it was your first half-marathon, so huge congratulations!!


Travel to Ottawa And  Expo:

Like Disneyland, I traveled to this race with my mom. It was a fairly pleasant 5-hour drive to Ottawa.

We went to the expo on Friday afternoon. It was held at Ottawa City hall. The Bib-Pickup process was simple. The expo seemed a little small, especially comapred to the massive one held for the Ottawa Race Weekend. But, it did have everything you could have wanted. The Brooks booth had my shoes, the Brooks Glycerin 12’s for only $129! If I hadn’t just bought a pair I would have gladly bought. What a steal! And I bought a new running belt from Fitletics. It’s the same as the iFitness belt I’m currently using but slightly improved and they changed the company name. I wanted to buy an Army Run hoodie, but they didn’t have my size.

Speaking of size, I registered for a Men’s Large shirt and found it was WAY too small. I was able to switch if for an XL, and it’s still a little small. Future athletes please keep this in mind when registering!

There were also lots of soldiers and military equipment outside the expo. I took some cool photos with the tanks and stuff. A few elements of the “army” theme made me slightly uncomfortable, but that’s a story for a different post.

Big gun on display in front of Ottawa City hall
Big gun on display in front of Ottawa City hall
Military Humvee on display by the Army Run expo
Military Humvee on display by the Army Run expo





Friendship Run:


Obligatory patriotic selfie in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Obligatory patriotic selfie in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

On Saturday I went to the Friendship Run. Well, on my way to the Friendship Run I took a detour to Parliament Hill and took a selfie.

At the Friendship Run, they introduced the Race Directors the head pace bunny and the other pace bunnies (or “pathfinders” according to the race literature) and of course, John Stanton. I got a great picture with the John Stanton. He’s still recovering from an injury, so he couldn’t run, but it was still really awesome that he was there.

With the Running Room's John Stanton at the Ottawa Army Run's Friendship Run
With the Running Room’s John Stanton at the Ottawa Army Run’s Friendship Run



The head pace bunny Mark made a really good comment: He acknowledged that the forecast for race morning could have an awful lot of rain. But, he said something funny and reassuring: “We’re runners, not golfers.”


Stage before the Army Run's Friendship Run
Stage before the Army Run’s Friendship Run


The friendship run itself was quite an experience. We ran up 3k and down the Rideau Canal, and the way back to the start at City Hall mimicked the last 1.5k of the race, which was nice. During that short run, it was hot and humid, then rainy, then windy. We got a foreshadowing of all the weather that would haunt us race day.

Sample Pacer
Sample Pacer


Race-Day, Pre-Race: 

"Flat Runner" Race gear laid out and ready to go
“Flat Runner” Race gear laid out and ready to go


Unlike the Disney runs which start at a super-early time of 5:30am, the half-marathon at the Army Run starts at 9:30am. Quite frankly, I think the temperatures would be a little cooler if they started earlier in the day. But it was nice to sleep in a bit.

The weather network’s satellite didn’t predict rain in Ottawa until noon, so I didn’t bring a poncho. I shouldn’t have believed the forecast…

Square One Running Room runners before the Ottawa Army Run (photo stolen from Clive's Facebook wall)
Square One Running Room runners before the Ottawa Army Run (photo stolen from Clive’s Facebook wall)



Before the race I met up with a big group of other Square One Running Room Runners, including Clive, Jessica, Justin, Ryad, Juan and Larraine. I ran with many of them throughout the summer so it was nice to see them before the race.

I also had the opportunity to meet a friend from University: Michael Rennick. He’s easy to find since he’s almost 7-feet-tall! The last time I was in Ottawa was for his wedding. On that day, I got to see his wife, mother-in-law and his two beautiful children Abigail and Isabel. Mike went on to finish the half in a blistering 1:25:59 and 71st overall! Wow!!

I did a little warm-up and headed to the corrals. I was a little miffed that I was placed in the Green Corral for runners doing 2:15-2:30. I wanted to start near the 2:00 pacer. The 2:15 pacer wasn’t even in this corral! But, it seems it all worked out anyways. Maybe the organizers knew something I didn’t…

It was a ‘wave’ start, so my wave didn’t get going until about 9:50am, about 20-minutes after the first regular wave. And I started way back of the 2:30 pacer…



After standing still for over 30 minutes I got cold and was eager to get going. Unfortunately there were a lot of people and I couldn’t go very fast at the start. It was nice to run by Parliament Hill less than 1k from the start though.

After that I got into a groove around 5:30 min/km which was close to my target race pace. That went well for a couple of kilometers, but then the course went over some small rolling hills which slowed me down and tired me out quickly.

I didn’t really like seeing the ‘out and backs’ during this race. Normally it’s nice to see other people, but I didn’t like it that much this time. It made me feel even further behind. Juan from Square One passed me around the 3k mark.

It was hotter and more humid than I would have liked, which was causing me to struggle even before 5k. I kept glancing at my paceband and Garmin and realized I was quickly losing speed and falling behind.

There was a flyby by a couple of military helicopters about 30 minutes into my run. That was pretty cool.

We crossed a bridge into Quebec after 6k. I think it was about that point when it started to rain, A LOT! So much for the Weather Network’s forecast radar.

We weren’t in Quebec for long. Ryad caught up with me around 8k and we ran by the History Museum together. I went to the History Museum (formerly the Museum of Civilization) the day before so it was a nice memory. I crossed the 10k line at 1:00:02.

When will this be over??
When will this be over??

10k to Finish

Ryad sped up on the Alexandra Bridge and I lost him. The course went North on Sussex past the National Art Gallery. It was an out-and-back again and I didn’t really want to see other runners at that point.

I was struggling. My heart wasn’t in it. Early in the race my mind was getting in my way, but at this point I could feel my heart and lungs struggling. I forced myself to stop looking at my watch and paceband to avoid getting too discouraged.

The course also went right by 24 Sussex Drive, where “Steve” the Prime Minister lives. There wasn’t much to see from the road except for the security booth. But, right after that the course went to Rideau Hall.

The highlight of the race for me was running through Rideau Hall. The Governor General David Johnston was out in front of his “house” high-fiving” runners as if he was in front of a suburban home on the race route. I got a high five from the Governor General!
There were also a lot of Koreans who I suspected were security staff; there was more Korean than Canadian security! I later found out that South Korean President Park Guen-hye was coming to Rideau Hall that afternoon.

I was still struggling through the pace after Rideau Hall. I was unhappy at that point. I felt like a phony, mediocre runner. And I was soaked since it was still raining. I would have thought that the rain would cool me off, but it really didn’t, and I was super thisrty throughout the last half of the race.

My mom met me around the 18k mark. That helped lift my spirits a bit.

The last 3k was just a grind. I was struggling to stay below 7:00 min/km and it was STILL pouring rain. I just desperately wanted to see the finish line. I could see the 2:20 pacer closing in on me, which lit a small fire in me and kept me from walking. I didn’t have any kick left, but at least I didn’t stop.

The finishing stretch
The finishing stretch

Chip Time: 2:17:54.5
Gun Time: 2:37:26.0


In the end, I missed all my goals:
I missed setting a new season’s from Chilly Half-Marathon 2014 time by 15 seconds. *sigh*

I was in a pretty dark place mentally after the race. All I wanted to do was get back to my hotel and get out of my soaking wet clothes. Strangely, I had the most pain in my ribs. I guess it was from breathing so hard for so long. The day after the race, a lot of other muscles hurt too but I guess that confirms that I gave it my all. I suppose I can take some solace in that.

Modelling the Army Run shirt and "dog tags" medal. After the race, a forklift would have been required to move me
Modelling the Army Run shirt and “dog tags” medal. After the race, a forklift would have been required to move me

Some people have already tried to snap me out of this funk by encouraging me to focus on Vegas. I will have another opportunity. There’s always another race. I guess there’s no use in dwelling on it. Failure isn’t permanent unless you give up. And it’s a damn good motivator!



I have a lot of excuses, but no matter what I say, I have to accept that it’s my fault that I failed; it’s no one else’s fault.

The biggest thing that comes to mind is the illness or flu I was battling for the last few weeks. I overestimated how quickly I’d recover. I wasn’t quite 100% when I woke up on race morning, and I think it affected my cardio performance.

It was also much warmer than I would have liked. It was about 20 degrees when the race started and humid. Most of the summer has been in the teens, so this was unexpected and unwelcome. There was frost on Friday in Ottawa, and it was much cooler every other day except Sunday! Lucky me!!

And it rained. I don’t know if or how much it hurt, but it certainly didn’t help! I hoped that it would cool me off, but not really. It was just extra weight with the wet clothing and shoes to carry around. This is my second race in Ottawa, and the second race where it rained. I’ve got bad race weather luck in this city!

And I was running alone. It would have been nicer to be with a group or pacer and that could have helped keep me motivated.

But really, I don’t think I trained hard enough. #5amRunClub was nice for junk miles, but it didn’t prepare me for the temperature. And I needed to do more high-intensity intervals, threshold and marathon-pace runs. Five ten-minute intervals at 5:27 min/km isn’t the same as eleven of the same intervals! I don’t enjoy those but I’m sure I would have done better if I’d done more of them.

I will do better next time.



Edit: September 16:

Addendum to this race report here:

Comments closed


  1. Justin Inoue says:

    Hey Paul,

    Regardless of the outcome you are amazing. You inspired me to run my first marathon nearly 5 years ago and continue to inspire me to run and have fun! Let us not define ourselves with our failures but let our failures be a guide for our futures! Bravo my friend!! 🙂


  2. Nagini Pappu says:

    Hey Paul, I second what Justin said above. You will always be my first running teacher 🙂 You continue to inspire me. I had similar experience @ Oakville. I am glad that I did not giveup. There is always some thing new to learn from the experience :-). Good luck for your next race.


  3. Javaid says:

    Paul, Congratulations on finishing another half marathon. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. I think you did really good considering the flu and the weather. Don’t underestimate the effects of these two. You crossed the finish line and it is a success.

  4. Javaid says:

    Great to see your pictures as always

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