As I mentioned in my last post, I've been experiencing a major lack of running mojo lately. In all honestly, I think I just need a break and probably should not have signed up for another half after my marathon. This was my 14th race in 7 months and I was just not physically or mentally up for it.
Thanks for all of your comments suggesting that I don't necessarily have to race every race. I ended up taking your advice.... sort of. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Hubby and I checked into our hotel yesterday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised with a rate almost $50 less than we had been quoted (unexpected marathon discount). $75 for a king suite is a very good deal in Niagara! The room was nice and the bed was comfy - we were happy! (Free breakfast, too.)
We made the short walk to the expo at Skylon Tower where they had some great deals, but we didn't end up buying anything. The race swag was pretty awesome, the highlight being a Brooks gym bag with the race logo.
The yellow thing is a poncho.
We then wandered down to the falls to scope out the finish area and snap a photo. No matter how many times a year we see this, the view never gets old.
After our little walk, we had some time to unwind at the hotel before grabbing some pasta at T.G.I.Fridays for dinner. Holy huge servings! Neither of us could finish even half of our meal. We then had a quiet evening before hitting the sack early. I had a great sleep - I love hotel beds!
Since the race wasn't starting until 10am, we got to sleep in until 7. We headed downstairs for the continental breakfast, then had some more time to chill in our room before driving to the start line. The drive was smooth and quick (20 mins.) and we arrived in plenty of time.
It was a sunny and cool (about 7C/44F) at the start with a slight breeze off the river. Hubby stayed with me until the start so I could keep my warm layer on, but I was thrilled about the weather. People had been filling my head with horror stories of torrential rain and heavy winds, so the weather was a pleasant surprise.
After one final pit stop, ditching my sweats and a good luck hug from hubby, it was time to line up just in time for the national anthems (both U.S. and Canadian). I was excited and ready to go, even though I had no idea what this race would bring.
While I had some goals in mind, I was prepared to make a last minute decision to just run if I wasn't feeling up to it. I was on pace for the first few miles, paying attention to the KM splits on my Garmin and keeping an eye on my pace band at the mile markers. I was only about 20 seconds behind at the 5K mark, but I was working way too hard. I could tell that my legs (and heart) didn't have it in them today, and that's okay. I decided on the spot to slow it down, run comfortably and enjoy the experience. It's certainly not everyday that I get to enjoy this route and I wanted to take it all in.
We were running along the picturesque Niagara River and the rich reds and oranges of autumn made it even more scenic. I turned up my music, reflected on a great year of running (after getting off to a rough start in January) and just ran.
The course was very well-supported with plenty of volunteers (dressed up in their school colours) at the water stations every mile. I made an effort to thank them all, catching on to their inside competition to see who could hand out the most cups of water. I had my handheld and wasn't helping the cause, but it was amusing to watch. :)
One of my most vivid memories was at the 10 mile marker, noticing the mist over the falls along with an incredible rainbow in the distance. It was absolutely beautiful and reminded me what a unique experience this was.
My pace was slowing, but I wasn't concerned as I plugged along toward the finish. At some point, the 2:00 pace group passed me. I had been expecting it and I was unconcerned. I thought, 'This is not my race, but it's all good.' I was loving it.
I picked it up as I passed the 12 mile marker and coasted downhill toward the finish. I could hear the crowds and hear the falls. At that moment, "Proud" (The Biggest Loser theme) came on my iPod and I immediately remembered a comment from Tall Mom. I felt proud to be running, to be completing my 8th half marathon. I turned it up and passed as many people as I could (I love a good finish sprint). I could see the FINISH sign up ahead and the stunning horseshoe falls to my right. I was flooded with emotion and covered in goosebumps as I made my way across the mat. What an exhilarating moment, and one of my most memorable race finishes.
*No race photos yet but I hope to have some soon!*
Chip time: 2:01:25
(Notice the backdrop.)
I loved everything about the race. I definitely plan to return and hope to run the full marathon some day, which offers the unique experience of starting in one country and finishing in another.
It may not have turned out to be a great "race" but it was a great run and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not every race can be a PR.... especially since I've raced so much this year already. I can admit that I'm feeling 'over-raced' and needing a break. I had planned to run a 10-miler in November, but I've decided to scratch it in favour of a short break before jumping into Goofy training (more on that in a later post).
So this wraps up my 2009 racing year. Another day, another medal...