2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. With 2017 right around the corner, many of us are looking to turn the page and start fresh. A new year is a time for celebration, reflection, new beginnings and goal setting. There’s something about a new year that gives people a blank slate. People get honest with themselves and finally commit to that thing they’ve been putting off.
This is the year I finally quit my job and launch my business.
I’m going to quit smoking and get healthy.
I’m going to run a marathon.
It’s a beautiful thing. People make these bold statements and challenge themselves to achieve great things. “I’m going to run a marathon.” I remember the first time I said that in my mind. I thought it was such a great idea. A few months of lackluster training later I found myself at kilometre thirty-something of the Ottawa Marathon, a tired, broken, pathetic man, trudging his way down the never-ending Birch Avenue. “You’re almost there!” someone shouted, hoping to encourage me.
Side note: Hey, people who come cheer at races. We love you. We really do. You’re great. But listen. The only time you’re allowed to yell ”You’re almost there” and not get a death stare from a marathoner is when you’re in the last 500m of the race. Kilometer 32 is not “almost there”.
So there I was, somewhere in Rockcliffe Park, hating every second of my life and promising myself that I would never - NEVER - run a marathon ever again. It was 2013. I had just come off my first half marathon in the fall of 2012, in which I ran a 1:34. I was feeling pretty good. Basic math (and stupidity) told me that I could run a marathon in 3:08 and feel just as good. At least that’s what I had told myself at 12:01 AM on January 1st. As the race clock hit 3 hours and 33 minutes, I dragged my sorry ass across the finish line. Marathons suck. At the time, I vowed that I would never do that again. Even though I had finished the race, it beat me up so badly that I felt like a failure. I resented the marathon.
After a few weeks of honest reflection, I finally wrapped my head around it all. Marathons don’t suck. I suck. I suck because I broke a promise to myself. I had committed to training for and running the Ottawa Marathon. Sure I had finished it, but my training was nothing to be proud of. I tried to get by without putting in the work. A marathon will quickly put you in your place.
I have since learned that valuable life lesson, and apply it to everything I do. Marathons require hard work. Building a career requires hard work. A strong marriage requires hard work. That’s life. And if you’re not willing to commit and give it your all, you can’t expect to reach your full potential - and you’re the only thing to blame.
My pathetic sob story aside, 2017 is your year. It’s your year to achieve great things - to take a leap and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. And if that thing is to run your first marathon, look no further than Ottawa Race Weekend.
7 reasons you should run the Ottawa Marathon in 2017
- Marathons are awesome
Sure, they can suck. They are hard. But at their core, their are truly awesome. The marathon will teach you so much about who you are and what you are capable of. It has changed my life, and I hope it will change yours as well.
- Ottawa puts on a world-class event
That’s right. Ottawa. World-class marathon. I’m not just saying that, it’s true. Yep, that boring little government city that most people outside this country don’t seem to know about puts on one of the best marathons (and race weekends out there.) Aside from having 50,000 participants across the seven events, the marathon is the largest in Canada and has been certified as a IAAF Gold Label road race (yes, it’s as fancy and important as it sounds!)
- It’s a Boston Qualifier
Every marathoner’s dream. I was lucky enough to qualify for Boston in my third marathon, but some runners chase it for decades. Being one of the most well run and respected races in the world, there’s no doubt why the world’s greatest marathon relies on this Canadian gem to accept runners to the start line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
- It’s a beautiful course
Now that I’ve run dozens of races across Canada and the United States, I can truly say that Ottawa is one of the best, most beautiful running cities in the world. It’s got it all. Clean streets, natural beauty, historic monuments, friendly (and rambunctious crowds), affordable accommodations (looking at you Chicago hotels…) and a local craft beer scene that might keep you around for a week after the race. Seriously, though. This course will take you along the famous Rideau Canal, over the river in Quebec and back, past 9 national monuments, and through the streets of many of Ottawa beautiful neighbourhoods. It even manages to throw in a couple of sneaky hills - nothing too crazy, though.
- Run with some elites
While you may be an Average Joe when it comes to running, the Ottawa Marathon attracts some of the best runners in the world. The event has seen some of the world’s most elite marathoners run times as low as 2 hours and 6 minutes. It has also been home to the Canadian Marathon and 10K Championships, meaning that you can run in the same race as Canada’s best runners including Lanni Marchant, Rob Watson, Eric Gillis, Reid Coolsaet, and Natasha Wodak.
- It’s for everyone
Don’t let my last point scare you off! This race is literally for everyone. From elites pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible to those running their first marathon. There’s a kids marathon, people doing their first couch to 5K, those gunning for a PB in the half and, of course, the dedicated bunch who are chasing their Boston qualifying time.
- 2017 is a big year
If you haven’t already heard, 2017 is going to be a pretty big year for our country. Canada’s 150th celebration will be one for the ages, and the city of Ottawa will be at the forefront of it all. With dozens of events, activities and attractions planned, Ottawa Race Weekend - which is already one of the biggest weekends of the year in the city - will be huge. They have been pretty tight-lipped about their plans, but they did hint that runners would get to run “coast-to-coast”. This could be really cool. The bottom line is that you will not regret running the Ottawa Marathon, nor will you ever forget it.
I'm telling you, this race is worth it. Sitting on the fence? Need a nudge? Have questions? Scared shitless? Drop me a note. I'd be happy to chat about anything running with you. Don't worry, I won't bullshit you. Marathons are hard. They do hurt. They are scary. But I promise you that they are freaking awesome. And the only way to truly understand how awesome they are, is to run one.
Go sign up. I'll see you on the start line in 2017!