Upon Reflection

by Sinéad Brunet, Le Team du Rob

The luggage is unpacked, the laundry is on, the toenails are starting their regrowth, and it is now time to reflect on the weekend.  Ottawa has now officially become one of my favourite cities in the world.  Having not visited since the winter of 1987, this weekend was long overdue.  My family and I had an amazing weekend exploring the city.  We were able to take in the National Gallery and all of the beautiful Canadian art work, the Canadian War Museum and the Bytown Museum.  We had an amazing tour of the Canadian Parliament buildings, Rideau Hall, and a Ghost and Gallows tour of the spookier side of Ottawa’s fascinating past.  As well, we had some great meals in the Byward market, and met some incredible people.   We leave Ottawa feeling that we have to return, as we have not even scratched the surface yet.

As for the race weekend, I cannot say enough about it.  It was incredibly well organized, and the volunteers from the Expo to Race Day were nothing short of amazing.  We were all greeted with big smiles and any question was answered easily and enthusiastically.  The one thing I learned, is that everyone involved in Ottawa’s race weekend, loves it.  I was delighted to meet my teammates for the first time.  I was able to have a chat before the start line with almost everyone, including, of course, Rob Watson himself.  The President’s Reception was great for meeting all of the people from iRun and Run Ottawa that I have been in touch with over the past weeks, as well as some faces from my past high school and varsity running life, along with some Canadian running royalty.  Although I was a little put off by the fact that I was already 40 years old(!) according to my race bib, I forgave the gaff as soon as I saw it.

Now onto race day…it was nothing short of perfect.  Walking down to the corrals, it was a gorgeous 10°C, with no wind, and cloud cover to keep us all cool.  The corrals were full of positive excitement, as everyone knew this was going to be a great day to run a marathon.  We were given the start and were off to tour the streets of Ottawa on foot.  Having run races on three continents, including the original 5 World Marathon Majors, one of the great things about the marathon distance is that you have time to take in your surroundings.  We found ourselves running past the Parliament Buildings, through beautiful neighbourhoods, over the river into Québec and alongside the famous Rideau Canal.  We toured past 24 Sussex Drive, Rideau Hall, and Nôtre Dame Cathedral, and were able to watch the fog lift over the beautiful trees in the Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood.  The terrain was flat to rolling hills, and when asked at the finish line, I easily likened it to the course in Berlin, well known for being the fastest course in the world.  The temperature rose quickly and affected the end of the run for me, but all in all it was a great day and a greater marathon.   The nutrition training Rob suggested worked well for me (finally) and I will keep practicing it going forward.  I fell short of my 3:10 goal, but I still finished, upright and smiling in 3:14:51.  I’ll take it, and the enormous medal that marked the achievement.

I came on board with Le Team du Rob for a few reasons.  First, was to be in touch with and have access to an elite athlete and all of his knowledge.  The fact that he was so positive and approachable was what made this experience more than I had anticipated.  The second reason was that I was finding that I was getting bored.  I have now been training for marathons for over 5 years; I still love it, but I needed something to keep me focused and interested.  Being in touch with Rob and writing the blog has kept me going.

After weeks of preparation it is all over in a matter of hours, and, rather like Christmas festivities, we take a deep sigh and look around at the carnage and inwardly smile, yes it was all worth it, and I cannot wait to do it again.  I am already sitting down with renewed energy, and the same goal to achieve.  Starting from Sunday, October 26, 2014, and counting back 18 weeks, I will write out my next training cycle and start making plans to travel to another capital city, Washington D.C., to take in 26.2 miles on foot in the Marine Corps Marathon.

A final and huge thank-you to Lisa Georges from iRun for giving me this awesome opportunity.  Special thanks to Anna Lee Boschetto for the continuous editing and getting my posts up on the iRun website.  Another big thanks to Andrew Vincent of Run Ottawa for keeping me going on the blogging and being so encouraging, and especially for the big congratulations hug at the finish line!  Thanks also to Susan Marsh of Run Ottawa for pulling such a great team of runners together.  Finally, thank-you to Rob Watson for your leadership and encouragement over the past weeks, and in motivating me to the start line while at the same time having to keep up with your own demanding training.  The Ottawa Race Weekend will always be one of my favourites, and likely will be one of the few marathons I return to.

Sinéad Brunet ran the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on May 25th, 2014 as part of the Le Team du Rob. Her blog can also be found at iRun.