The route went through downtown Ottawa, across the river and around the parliament building. People were cheering us the whole way, banging on pots and pens, flashing banners like "Toe nails are for sissies!" , "I thought you said rum.." , "Who fartleked??" , "Your legs hurt so much coz you kick so much ass!" and my personal favorite: "You have good stamina, call me!". There were bands playing rhythmic music and even belly dancers.
The run started slowly while the enormous mass of people began moving forward. Everyone was jumping and twisting impatiently, eager to let their feet go. I found the 2:15 pace bunny* and decided to try and keep up with her. After a few kliks I realized I can go faster than my bunny and left her behind. On the third kilometer I glimpsed an encouraging sign "No, you are NOT almost there". On the fifth kilometer we started loosing people. A girl was laying down on the sidewalk wrapped in a termo-blanket, medics giving her water. On the tenth kilometer it started raining and did not stop until the end of the day. Two kilometers later my water belt dropped and I had to stop to fasten it back on my waist. One minute wasted. On the 15th kilometer my left hamstring started cramping. I told it to stop since it was just not the time or the place. It kept cramping nevertheless, but fairly moderately, so I could go on. On the 17th kilometer I passed the 2:10 pace bunny and was extremely pleased. During the last few kilometers I kept repeating the mantra "I am a running machine, I can run forever, I feel no pain, I feel no fatigue, I am a running machine". Finally the finish line showed itself and I crossed it finishing at 2 hours 8 minutes 53 seconds. I was very proud if this result since I did not think I could keep up an almost 10k per hour pace. Andrei finished 2 minutes before me with a huge blister on his right foot.
After the finish I realized how wet I am and how cold it is outside. Termo-blankets were a welcome sight. Before leaving we helped a lady runner with a bad cramp in her leg to find a medic. Walking back home we were quietly entertaining thoughts of a full-marathon..
* pace bunnies are runners that set a particular pace. For example a 2:15 pace bunny runs at a speed that allows him/her to finish the distance in 2 hours 15 minutes. The normally wear bunny ears with a sign that indicates their pace.