This past weekend I completed my last race of 2016. I ran the Montreal Rock n’Roll Half Marathon and it was truly amazing! Last year I ran the full marathon at this same race and had planned to do the same again this year however injury and circumstance made me rethink that choice and go for the half instead. Although I did miss the thrill of running a full marathon, at the same time I’m glad that I stuck to what I knew I could accomplish well at this point.
As always, we started out on the Jacques-Cartier bridge overlooking the beautiful city of Montreal. It’s an awe inspiring moment to stand with thousands of other runners and prepare to run a race that will wind through a city that seems so small from the bridge.
Just as it was last year, it was freezing on the bridge but this time I was prepared 😉 I chose to wear old sweatpants, two long sleeve shirts and a winter coat over my running gear! These would be my throw away clothes that would keep me warm until the last possible minute. At 4 degrees on the bridge I was super happy with my choice. I slowly ditched the coat and pants as I got closer to to the starting line and finally kept the last shirt on until about the 7th or 8th km. It made it so much easier to start without the pain of freezing cold cramped up muscles. Definitely a technique that I will use again!
The race itself is a beautiful course, around Parc Jean Drapeau, through La Ronde and along the race track. Then once on the island of Montreal, the course takes you through the Old Port -which by the way means running past tons of people who are out for their Sunday morning brunch. The smell of bacon, eggs and fresh bread coming from the restaurants is agonizing when you are running!! However the crowds are great in this area and there’s tons of support and cheering which helps a lot.
There’s also a lot going on with other runners and sometimes it’s fun to check people out as you go. I nearly died laughing early on in the race when I started to hear a familiar squeaking sound. When I ran a half marathon back in the spring I noticed a guy running on bouncy boots. I had never seen anything like this before and thought it looked both hilarious and fun. Maybe not for running long distances but definitely a fun toy! Turns out, here he was again!! 6 months later, running another half and still on those rebound boots! I just had to take a picture!!
Once I had taken one photo it seemed easy to keep snapping every now and then when I saw something memorable. This one I am particularly pleased with considering I never stopping running to take it. The pink balloons were just so pretty and festive, I couldn’t resist
During this race I planned to slow my pace in the first half so that I could end strong. Turns out that I wasn’t the only one doing this either. I found another runner who had the same pace and we paced each other almost the entire way. It really helped to have someone to do this with. Plus it was completely accidental which was quite funny. We realized around the 7th km that it was naturally happening and decided to keep it up the whole way. We were able to motivate and push each other to the end. Love how runners come together like that.
Towards the end of the race, I came up behind a lady with a super inspiring message on her back. I don’t know her story or how she got from not walking to running a half marathon in just one year but regardless, her message inspired me and made me so thankful for my health and the ability to run with ease. When we are healthy it’s easy to take it for granted but then you see people like this and you remember that we don’t all have an easy path in life.
Which brings me to a very special point. One of the best moments of this race weekend was not even mine. For the past 4 months, I have coached a long time friend of mine and her group friends, their hubbies and all their kids in preparation for their first ever race. Some ran the 5km, others the 10km and the kids all ran the 1km. Through our virtual run club, they followed a training plan and were encouraged and motivated along the way. They did it to raise funds for The Children’s Wish Foundation and it started as an initiative by my friend Karine’s 7 year old son Louka. The Children’s Wish Foundation grants wishes to sick children and their families. All together this amazing group of people were able to raise over $4000! They all loved their races and can’t wait to do it again next year. They are even talking about possibly running bigger distances 😉 To be able to help motivate others to run their first race for a great cause was truly an honor and I look forward to doing it again next year.
On all accounts, it was a fabulous race weekend and a great way to end the season. After a spring/summer of 4 half marathons, I feel ready to enjoy my fall running for just the pure fun of it. Although, I know it won’t be long before I will planning next season’s race calendar!
What is YOUR next race? Share in the comments below!