Tag Archives: ottawa races

Ottawa Race Weekend – A Volunteer’s Perspective

21 Jun

I have been traveling the past few weeks so didn’t get a chance to put up this post on Volunteering at the Ottawa Race Weekend so here it is….


On May 25th, I volunteered at the Ottawa Marathon again this year. Just like last year, it was a great experience. I picked up the t-shirt shown above at the Race Weekend Expo. I love large race expos even if I am not running in the races. So many things to see (and buy!)

This year I didn’t take part in any of the races, but over 48,000 did and it made for a really exciting weekend in Ottawa!

In an effort to remain involved with the event, I decided to sign up as a volunteer once again. I wanted to be at the finish line and hand out medals to the half and full marathon runners.



The day started early, being downtown at about 6:30am but the weather was absolutely gorgeous for volunteers and spectators (wayyy too hot for runners and it showed out of the course).

I had invited a friend of mine to volunteer this year and so got to enjoy some time catching up in the midst of all of the race frenzy. Once we had the medals all prepped, some of us were able to move up to the finish line to watch the elites finish. It was more than impressive to watch these men and women cross the finish line.

I even got to experience the finish of the fastest marathon ever run on Canadian soil (and somehow got a photo at the exact finish time: 2:08:54)


I handed out medals to thousands of people for about 7 hours that day (including a handful of people that I knew!) and noticed that as time went on the reactions of the finishers changed. The longer that each finisher was out there, the more emotional they seemed to have been. It was touching to see the reactions of some runners and the sense of accomplishment that each of them felt.

I stuck around until the very end to see the final finisher. The race organizers very thoughtfully were ready with a bouquet of flowers for that final finisher and she graciously accepted them and was so happy to have made it through her race.


Overall, it was a wonderful day. I love volunteering at this event, it is one of the biggest running events in Canada, how could I not take part in it?!

A little evidence of how lovely a day it was – this is what my sun burnt nose looked like at the end of the day!


I’ll definitely be back next year at the Ottawa Race Weekend – running or volunteering!




One Year Later – 2013 Ottawa Race Weekend

20 May

This time last year I was in full training mode for the 2013 Ottawa Race Weekend – 10km. I was also in my absolute busiest time of work in my entire life so didn’t even have a chance to blog about one of the best running weekends I’ve ever had!


With the 2014 Ottawa Race Weekend fast approaching, I was reminiscing on that weekend and wanted to capture some of my favorite photos and memories from that weekend on this blog….even if it is a whole year later!

Saturday: 10km Race – Personal Best!

I ran the 10km race on the Saturday evening and had been raising funds for a charity as part of the True Sport Running Team. It was one of my 2013 Running Goals and I was happy to accomplish it and support a great cause in the process.

I remember the weather being a little chilly but ultimately great for running. I had to spend most of my day pre-race at the office working but the good news out of that was that I was able to find some old clothes there to use of my throw away clothes that were key to keeping me warm before the race started.



There were over 9000 runners in the 10km and the sight of that many people running together was just amazing!

I had what felt like the best long distance race of my life and finished with a personal best time of 47:30! I felt great the entire time and even managed negative splits throughout the entire 10km.


Of the 9000 runners, my husband some how managed to spot me running by and was able to snap a photo in the process.


Sunday: Marathon Finish Line Volunteer

On the Sunday of Race Weekend, I accomplished another one of my 2013 Running Goals – to volunteer at a race. I was a Marathon/Half-Marathon finish line volunteer, which meant helping out at the finish line distributing medals and race blankets and various other miscellaneous tasks.


I met some great people and had a really fun morning being involved on the other end of a race. One of the perks of working the finish line was that we got front row seats for the finish of the elites.


Those runners were incredible and inspirational. Definitely an exciting experience to be a part of. Throughout the morning, as the thousands of marathon and half marathoners streamed in, I gave away thousands of race blankets and was even more inspired by each of those runners than I could have imagined.


2014 Ottawa Race Weekend

This year’s edition of Ottawa Race Weekend I will be volunteering at the finish line of the Marathon/Half Marathon once again! If you are running, let me know and I will keep an eye out for you at the finish!


Shoppers Run for Women 5km Race Recap

12 May

The Shoppers Drugmart Run for Women was this Sunday, May 11th. It was an event I really wanted to be a part of but for the past few months it didn’t look like one that I would actually be able to make…until this week. Some things changed and all of a sudden I found myself signing up at the last minute for the race!

run for women

I was thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful event. Funds collected went to support the Women’s Mental Health Program at the Royal Ottawa Hospital so it was definitely a worthwhile cause.

The race kit and victory bags were also pretty impressive – full of goodies and samples. Shoppers Drugmart did great filling up the bags for all the runners.


With this race being a spur of the moment thing, I really wasn’t sure how things would go. I haven’t raced since October 2013 and have not really run a whole lot since then.

Nonetheless, I carefully planned my race day outfit. The weather being forecast looked like it was going to be a perfect day for a run..


When I woke up on race day I went for my usual pre-race favorite foods…


The race took place on the Aviation Parkway in Ottawa and started at the Aviation & Space Museum. I have run several races in this location and always enjoyed them.

As forecast, the weather looked fantastic…except for the wind. There was certainly more wind that I would have liked, and when I realized I would be running into the wind during the final 2.5km of the race, I was slightly worried about it.

Race organizers were very enthusiastic and had everyone warm up and get moving together before directing everyone to the start line.


With that they also announced a few special guests present – local politicians, Shoppers Drugmart representatives, the Royal Ottawa Hospital representatives and perhaps the most exciting, a celebrity who was in town for Comicon – Sean Austin (from Goonies, Rudy and Lord of the Rings). 

Pre-race he spoke with passion about being at this event in support of women’s mental illness and talked about his mother’s struggle with bipolar disorder. He took part in all the race festivities and even ran the 5km with everyone!


Photo credit: @SeanAstin twitter

Fun to have a celebrity at the race, but I really had to contain myself to not start chanting “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy….” every time I saw him!

At the beginning of the race, I lined myself up near the front because I had a feeling there would be a lot of walkers or slower paced runners and I wanted to get out ahead of that as much as possible.


I successfully got off the start line and was in about 6th place overall right off the bat. I knew there was at least one faster runner there today so I expected her to catch up to us fairly soon.

Within the first few hundred meters, I spotten my husband on the sideline with the camera so waved and said a quick hello.


From there, I set out on the out-and-back loop with the intention of placing well. I wasn’t sure what kind of pace I would be able to maintain as I had been out of training for a while, but I knew I had enough in me to place well today.

I ran with the same woman beside me for a while, then slowly pulled away from her at the same time as I passed someone else. By kilometer 2, I was in third place with the first and second place runners a good distance ahead of me.

I maintained my third position at the turn around point and then ran head first into the wind – serious WIND. I was telling my husband yesterday that I would rather run in anything else but wind. I have a slight build and the wind just slowed me right now. No chance of negative splits today and by that point I was just hoping to hold on to my third place position.

I started to really struggle with about 1.5km left but kept moving. As I rounded towards the finish line, my husband was there for another photo op but I was not as keen to wave at that point – very much hurting!


I ended up with a third place finish overall and am very pleased with it! Finish time was 23:27 – not a personal best time but still one to be proud of for sure. My last 5km race was exactly one year ago today – recap here – and today I finished 12 seconds faster than I did last year, so that’s good news!

I stuck around for a bit afterwards and I am glad I did because they actually announced the top 3 winners and called everyone on stage to receive a medal.


At the finish line, instead of a medal they provided a finisher’s bracelet, a piece of jewelry designed by Foxy Originals.


It was a fantastic idea for a women’s race and something unique that I really loved about today’s event.


So happy that I was able to take part in this run – hope to make it an annual tradition and I strongly encourage people to participate in the Shoppers Drugmart Run for Women if one is taking place in your city! Great race, great cause…and great race goodies!



Terry Fox Run 5km Recap

15 Sep

Today was the Terry Fox Run. For those who do not know what it is, the Terry Fox Run is an event that is held every September in communities all across Canada and throughout the world.

Terry Fox, an iconic Canadian, developed bone cancer at the age of 18 and in 1977 had his leg amputated because of it. He decided he wanted to do something to fight this terrible disease and began his preparations to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He called this journey the “Marathon of Hope.”



Terry started on the far eastern side of Canada in Newfoundland and over the course of a year and half ran his way, a marathon a day, across Canada. Along the way, he began to gain support for his cause and money for cancer research.


Unfortunately, Terry never did make it all the way across Canada and in Thunder Bay, Ontario, he passed away at the very young age of 22.

A nation was saddened with the loss of Terry but his legacy was just beginning…

Terry wanted Canadians to join him in this fight against cancer and so the annual Terry Fox Run was born and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in cancer research.

Personally, I am proud to support this cause, and have been a proud runner in the Terry Fox Run since the age of 5. Today marks my 26th Terry Fox Run, and I still get emotional thinking of Terry Fox, the impact he has made on Canadians and the contribution his legacy has made to cancer research.


The Terry Fox run connects Canadians from coast to coast, and running in it is truly something every Canadian should take part in.


I participated today’s Terry Fox Run with my friend and her 4 year old daughter. It has become a new tradition for the past 3 or 4 years that I have run/walked/jogged the Terry Fox Run with her, and I hope we can continue to for many years to come.


Terry Fox said, ““Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me” – as Canadians, we will continue for you Terry!



MEC Ottawa 10km Race Recap

9 Sep

On a whim Friday I decided to sign up for the MEC Ottawa 10km Race that was held this Sunday, September 8th. I wanted to get a 10km race in in sufficient time before I run my half marathon in October (another post to come about what race that is!) and as I will be out of town for most of the weekends leading up to the half, I knew this was likely my last weekend to get a 10km race in.

I had missed the online registration deadline so had to go into the MEC store to sign up. It was a smooth sign up process as it was only a small race. I got an awesome drawstring bag, a magazine and 10% in store so I purchase a lovely little 4 pack of NUUN.

Mec Race 9135

Sunday morning I had to be up early so was fairly tired. I had a bad case of pre-race jitters but managed to eat half a bagel and a small pack of Welches before the race so I wasn’t running on empty.

It was a bit of a chilly morning but with the temperature above 10c I knew I could still pull off running in shorts and maintain my comfort and warmth. I was cold pre-race but once it got going, I was the perfect temperature with a long sleeve shirt on top.

The field for the 10km was really small, only 37 runners. There was also a 5km and a 15km race going on with a total of about 175 runners out that day.

Once the race started I immediately scoped out my competition. I had a race plan and I knew how I wanted to pace myself but I also knew if there was a chance I could place well I would push myself to get there. When we started I noticed right away there were only 3 women ahead of me, so I made it my mission to at minimum place in the top 3.

The first kilometer people always so go out too hard. I try to hold myself back and maintain my pace and it has typically paid off with negative splits on race day.

I started out by passing the first female almost right away and set my sights on the 2nd place female ahead of me. She wasn’t far and after about 2km I passed her. With that I only had one female ahead of me for the rest of the race – I timed that she was about 30 second ahead of me so I wasn’t sure I could actually reach her.

Nevertheless, I plugged on sticking fairly close to my race plan and passed a few guys through kilometers 3-5. The course was a 5km loop which we had to run twice. At the end of the first loop, I noticed that the female ahead of me was only about 20-25 seconds away, and I then realized I was gaining on her and might actually be able to catch her in the second half of the race.

As I began kilometer 6, she got closer and closer. I struggled with the thought of whether or not to pass her now or to hang back and pass her at the end thinking I would have the upper hand knowing exactly where she was ahead of me.

I then thought otherwise and decided I was there to run my own race regardless of what anyone else ran so I maintained my pace and zipped by her somewhere between kilometer 6 and 7. I didn’t see her again until she finished 1:25 behind me. I was glad I trusted my instincts and ran my own race at that point!

The final few kilometers of the race were my fastest of the entire 10km. I managed to pass 2 males and have a strong sprint to the finish line (which was around 300m of a track – making for a pretty cool finishing experience!) I finished in an official time 48:18.

It was a small race so not much fanfare or cheering at the finish. I didn’t have anyone there watching me so I just smiled to myself after a well-run race and wondered why I had such nerves in the first place!

This was the final race in the MEC race series this year, but I certainly hope to run more of them in 2014 – they were inexpensive to participate in, the parking was awesome because there was not a huge crowd, there were no bathroom lineups, the post-race food was great (cliff bars, bananas, oranges) and there were door prizes to be won!

Stayed tuned for an update on my fall running plans, which include a major half-marathon update!


Day Before Mother’s Day 5km Race Recap

13 May

Saturday I ran my second race of the year – the “Day Before Mother’s Day 5km.” I didn’t sign up for this race until a couple weeks ago when a few friends asked if I was running it, and am happy that I did.

It was a good to get a race in before my 10km race on May 25th and I ended up having a great time (and even coming home with some prizes!)


Saturday started out rainy but after intensely studying the weather radar and changing my race outfit a couple time, I am happy to report, race conditions were pretty good. Cloudy and a little windy but luckily the rain had stopped. The race was held on a parkway so it was pretty dry by the time the race began.


Just before my race started was the kids 1km. One of my good friends had her 2 daughters run the race so I gave them a quick wave and headed up as close to the front of the start line as I could.


The race start was crowded as all the 3km, 5km, 10km and Half Marathon runners were starting together, but after figuring out what races the different colour bibs referred to, I knew who would be running in my race.



As expected, the first few hundred meters of the race was very crowded so finding a comfortable place took some time. My husband was waiting a few hundred meters from the start line to take some photos but because of the crowds, didn’t get much of a photo of me – more of just the side of my head (white hat, blue shirt).


And then a photo after I had run by…


I started out the race at a good pace and felt confident I could maintain it. I knew this was a small race, and I set my sights at winning an age group award or maybe even a gender placing award.

After the first kilometer, there were still a lot of runners and I couldn’t tell who was part of the 3km, 5km, 10km or Half. Once we reached the first turnaround point at 1.5km (for the 3km race), what seemed like most of the runners turned around.

I couldn’t see far enough ahead to know where I stood amongst the competition so I tried to settle into a groove until our 2.5km turn around point.

The scenery was nice as it was along the Ottawa River and although it wasn’t a sunny day, I still enjoyed that part of the route.


At our turn around point, I was able to count how many women were ahead of me and how many were in what looked like my age group. At smaller races like this, I like to know where I stand and get extra motivation from trying to catch those ahead of me.

To my pleasant surprise, I only counted 1 female ahead of me in the 5km race, and she was well ahead. Happy about that, I felt if I maintained my pace, I could hold on to second place and maybe even a first in my age group (wasn’t quite sure how old the female ahead of me was).

When I got around the turn around point, I heard someone yell to me that I was their pace bunny…I didn’t know who they were, but it put a smile on my face that someone would be using me as a pace bunny (later I found out someone I did know had told that person my pace and that she wanted to use me as her pacer).

Also, after the turnaround point I saw Rebecca from Running.Food.Baby who was also running the 5km – gave a quick wave and hello as we passed each other.

The final 2.5km of the race naturally was tougher than the first half of the race, and with a bit of an added headwind, my pace slowed slightly.


With the 1st place woman out of sight and no other females close behind me, I tried to just keep up my pace until the finish.


Spotting my husband with only a few hundred meters to go gave me an added push and I smiled for the camera as I ran by.


I finished the race in 23:39. Not a personal best time but with not as much training as I would have liked, I am definitely pleased with it.


After the race, I met up with some friends, including Rebecca from Running.Food.Baby who had a great race and even scored a PR!


Curious to see if a prize was given out for the Top 3 Females as had been done in previous races, I headed out in search of the results tent. To my surprise, the results list didn’t have me listed at all, nor did it have the 1st place female either. When I heard all the chatter around the tent, I realized, it was a slightly bigger problem than just me not being on the results list.

After a bit of a wait trying to get things figured out, an updated results list appeared and I was finally listed with these finishing places:

Age group: 1/9
Female: 2/101
Overall: 18/176


There was still a problem, my finish time was off by about a minute, but again, there was lots of chatter and many others seemed to notice that same problem. The good news is that the timing company finally resolved everything and have updated my time to one that is much closer to my Garmin finish time: 23:39.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to have placed so well and to have gone home with some prize loot (Brooks backpack for my 2nd female overall).



True Sport Running Team

15 Apr

To start 2013, I decided that one of my 2013 Running Goals would be to fundraise for a cause at a race.

When I heard the organization True Sport (a group I am very familiar with and supportive of) was putting together a running team for a large, upcoming local race to fundraise and generate awareness for their cause, I was immediately interested in being a part of it.


For those who don’t know, True Sport is a social movement that believes in transforming lives and communities through sport. The True Sport Foundation strives to instill character in our youth and strengthen Canadian communities by fostering a quality experience for those involved in ALL sport. They set out to accomplish this through a variety of sport and education programs that focus on values such as fairness, excellence, access, inclusion and fun!

For the first time, they have created a running team to take part in the 2013 Ottawa Race Weekend on May 25-26, 2013.

Race Weekend is the biggest running weekend of the year here in Ottawa. Members of the running team can take part in any of the races being held that weekend (races range from 2km to marathon). I will be running the 10km.


As part of this running team I have set a fundraising role and have been included on the True Sport Running Team Website along with other members of the team.

I began my fundraising efforts a few weeks ago by sending an email out to friends and family members looking for their support and donations.

For an added incentive to get more donations, I decided to hold a contest. For every $10 donated, the donor receive 1 entry into this contest. The contest is “Guess Mary’s 10km Finish Time” and the closest guess to my official (chip) finish time will receive a $50 Bon Appetit gift card (good for Kelsey’s, Milestones, Montana’s, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s restaurants in Canada).

To date, I haven’t received many entries into my contest, but I still have 6 weeks to go, so am hoping the donations/contest entries pick up.

True Sport Running Team

If anyone is interested in donating, you can follow the following steps:

1. Donate as much or as little as you would like on my Giving Page
2. Email me at marycolleenmacdonald@hotmail.com to indicate you have donated and for every $10, you have one guess at what my 10km finish time will be (ensure you make your guess down to the second, for example 50:51 or 50 minutes, 51 seconds)
3. On May 25th stay tuned for my official finish (chip) time to see if you guessed the closest
4. In the event of a tie, whichever individual has made the largest donation will win
5. The $50 Bon Appetit gift card winning prize will then be sent to the winner (this card is only valid in Canada)

I am looking forward to being a part of a team for this event (with team t-shirts and all!) and most importantly raising awareness and funds for a cause and organization that I support.

As we are just over a quarter of the way through the year, I am happy to have this particular 2013 Running Goal well underway.

Stay tuned for additional updates as I work towards completing this goal, and all of my other 2013 Running Goals.