Tag Archives: Niagara Falls

I am a Marathoner

22 Oct

I am proud to announce that I ran the Niagara Falls International Marathon in 4 hours and 42 minutes. Those hours were long and painful and 42.2 kilometres certainly put me in my place but I am happy that I completed what I set out to accomplish. The weekend in Niagara Falls was nice as I haven’t been to the city in over a decade. It’s a beautiful city, albeit a little tacky (mostly Clifton Hill).

We arrived in Niagara Falls around noon on Saturday, checked into our bed and breakfast (which was hosted by wonderful people) and went straight to the expo for race kit pick up. The day was gloomy, rainy and windy but I knew Sunday’s weather was going to be much better so I didn’t complain. The expo was fun, well organized and most people were happy to market their races or display their running gear/attire.

After all the necessities were done, we wandered Clifton Hill and enjoyed a ride on the Sky Wheel – a large, enclosed ferris wheel similar to the Eye of London. It was a great way to see the Falls and enjoy some time to reflex on Sunday’s run. Mark and I found the closest Italian restaurant for a carb load: a HUGE plate of fettucini aflredo!

We hit the hay pretty early: 8:30. I didn’t sleep as soundly as I normally do but I woke up rested. I started to get a little nervous – a feeling that I hadn’t really felt since earlier in the week. Mark walked me to the bus, said our goodbyes, see you at the finish line, and I was off for Buffalo, NY.

I have to write my race report in miles as the course was marked in miles, not kilmetres. I’m sorry to all my Canadian friends.

Miles 0-11

I found a friend at the start line to run with. She was from Ottawa so we had common ground. She had a slow pace which was fine with me. I wanted to start slow as I wasn’t sure how my knee was going to hold up. However, as we got closer to the half way mark I found myself pulling away from her and slowing myself down to keep up with her. We said our goodbyes at about mile 11 and I was able to quicken my pace to something faster but still comfortable.

Mile 12-19

I ran by myself for a bit and found myself passing quite a few people. I caught up to one girl who, again, was from Ottawa and we kept each other on pace for a few miles. We ran with each other from about 6 miles. Her aunt and uncle were on the course twice so we had extra encouragement from them which was nice. They were loud and enthusiastic. I needed that extra push because I was starting to get tired, but we kept passing people. Although I walked through every aid station for water, it was beginning to get harder to re-start running once I passed the aid station and finished drinking. At mile 19 I had to leave my friend behind. She was starting to hit the wall and I still had gas in the tank. We wish each other luck and I continued my run. I held a good pace and the only thing keeping me going was knowing that at the end of every mile, I could walk and receive encouragement.

Mile 20-23

I was able to keep a steady pace, albeit beginning to slow down. I didn’t want to walk because I knew if I started to walk it would be difficult to re-start running. My knee was starting to protest but it held up. Funny, it wasn’t the injured spot that was bothering me but the outside of my knee – I think perhaps my IT band. I was staying positive because I kept passing people. At one point I starting thinking about the finish and how proud I should be that I began to get chocked up. I wanted to cry and my breathing became laboured. Not good! I need a steady breathing rhythm. I told myself to stop, calm down and I can do all the crying I want at the finish line. When mile 24 came around I was tired. My legs just didn’t not want to run anymore. In a group of spectators, I spotted a little girl with a sign that read “Jellybeans up ahead.” Oh my god, really? I had to yell out to her “Is that true? Are there jelly beans?” I think I scared her, she didn’t answer but her dad did. “Thank you!” I turned the corner and sure enough: Jelly beans! I grabbed two little cups full and ate them as fast as I could. Oh my goodness, instant sugar and energy.

Mile 24-26.2

So those jelly beans gave me energy for about 1 mile. I started to slow and eventually, I started to walk. Until one woman came up behind, gave me a tap of my arm and said “Hey, you can’t stop now! I’ve been following you for a while so don’t let me down!” That gave me motivation. I started to run and keep her pace (she was pretty fast for nearing the end of the marathon). At mile 25, I told myself “Ok, just 10 more minutes and then you’re done.” In reality, it turned out to be 12 minutes. But after 4 hours of running, it really doesn’t matter. I began the last mile, which was thankfully downhill, that gave me enough momentum to finish strong. I ran hard down the finish chute, spotted Mark and covered my face and started to sob. I had made it! Once I crossed the finish line, I was overcome with emotion. I was sobbing through a smile. I wrapped myself in a space blanket, received my medal and grabbed a banana and two granola bars.

Unfortunately the official Niagara Falls International Marathon t shirt was not very nice. It was bright, high lighter neon yellow with a little logo. So I bought my own NFIM shirt at the expo.

So, how do I feel? Tired, sore but proud. Would I do another one? Maybe, but let me recover first.

Life in the fast lane

19 Oct

I went swimming last night and it was really busy. I had a disagreement with the swimmers in the medium lane where I normally swim. I know, how mature! But I maintain that I was right. I won’t get into the specifics but it ended with me moving to the fast lane. I’ve always been afraid of making the move to the fast lane. Mark insists that I could hold my own but I prefer to be the fast swimmer in the medium lane. I often tire and slow down half way through my swim which would not bode over well in the fast lane. Regardless, everyone in the fast lane was friendly and welcomed me. I don’t know why I thought they were scary and competitive because there were not. I enjoyed my swim and was actually motivated.

My life on Sunday, however, will not be in the fast lane. I’ve gone through my 12 step program for the marathon: admittance, denial, frustration, anxiety and acceptance. Ok, I know that isn’t the 12 steps but they’re my 5 steps to accepting that I am running a marathon. I am happy to announce that I am in the acceptance stage. However, I will be back in the anxiety stage at the start line until that gun goes off.

Mark’s best friend Sunday will be Frommer’s Guide to Niagara Falls.

I love working in a library. I would have never thought to pick up this gem if I wouldn’t have been shelving books in the travel section.

One week countdown

15 Oct

Can you believe my marathon is only a week away? It seems like only a few days ago I was trying to decide in which marathon to participate. I had narrowed down by choices between two races: The International Niagara Falls Marathon and the Philadelphia Marathon. Both were equally appealing and I was drawn more towards Philadelphia. I had never been and what better place is there to run in the city of brotherly love? Also, my post marathon philly cheese steak sandwich would have been heaven. But I had to be sensible and think of our economic situation. Traveling to Philadelphia would be expensive and the drive would take us 8hrs each way. So, the next best choice was Niagara Falls. Over an hour away and we need only one nights accommodation, plus food.

I have to say that I’m looking forward to finishing this marathon. I really enjoyed my training until I injured my knee. I looked forward to my long runs on Saturday mornings and felt strong and confident after each one completed. My week day tempo or regular runs were also satisfying in the morning before the day’s humidity took over. I learned so much about what I can accomplish and felt great about myself. I was attempting to run a marathon! No one can take that away from me. Although the last portion of my training did not go according to plan because of my injury, I will still run and finish my marathon if I have to crawl across that line!

In Niagara Falls, Mark and I are staying at a bed and breakfast. This seemed like the best idea as it would be more “homey” and we have access to the kitchen any time we want. Also, I’ve never stayed in a bed and breakfast so I thought this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I might not be able to enjoy the wonderful breakfast that is provided by the owners of theĀ  b & b, but once that marathon is complete I am off to IHOP for some waffles with strawberries and whip-cream. I will have a breakfast nonetheless.

Once Sunday approaches I’m sure I will be much more nervous but right now I’m feel calm and confident. I need to remember that I can do this and that I’m ready!