Sunday, October 25, 2009

Race Report: Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Pre-Race Rambles

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.


Race Rambles

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
Overall: 622/1746
Females: 246/1126
F25-29: 45/144



(Notice the backdrop.)



Post-Race Rambles

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...

50 comments:

Saface Macdonald said...

I love you and this race report shows why! You are a hero to me in every sense of the word. You inspire me and I love running because of you!

Enjoy the time off racing and enjoy preparing for Goofy!

xo

AddictedToEndorphins said...

woah.
Marlene you so rock.
Sorry I didn't get to meet up with you--we didn't make it to the expo until about...5:20 yesterday.
ha.
Great run, glad you enjoyed the view

Mel-2nd Chances said...

this race is definitely on my to-do list. Enjoy your recovery and break, you've had a race filled year indeed!

ShutUpandRun said...

Congrats...a great time and a great race!!!

Boris T. said...

Enjoy your recovery and enjoy the off season. Sounds like a heck of a location for a race too.

Aneta said...

Congrats!!!!

Mama said...

Sounds like an awesome race and you've come a long way if you can be running easy, not racing, and still run right around a 2 hour half.

Enjoy your break! You deserve it!

MCM Mama

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you decided to just enjoy it.

And now enjoy a well deserved break after an intense race season!

Marci said...

What a great race report Marlene! ITA too, not every race can be a PR and thats OK - there are many things to enjoy and celebrate along the way, like that awesome view! I'm sad you won't be running Whitby, but enjoy your well-deserved break!

Laura said...

Congrats on your 14th race in 7 months!!!! Holy Crap!!!! You're insane. (In a cool way.) 8th half marathon is a real feat too. I hope you feel proud. I thought by your race report that you were going REALLY slow, but that was still a good time. Glad you had fun!

yumke said...

i kinda know what you feel :). Down time is good for the soul. (And sole)

The Happy Runner said...

Sounds like a great experience overall. You deserve the break and will definitely benefit from it!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

CONGRATS!! I am so PROUD that you were able to just love the experience. Man you have done a TON of races.. Enjoy the rest...but PLEASE PLEASE don't go away I would miss you :)

Jess said...

Congrats! It sounds beautiful and inspriring!

chris mcpeake said...

Great job,
I understand the race burn out feeling all to well. Its nice to just run sometimes isnt it.
good luck training for goofy.

trialsoftraining said...

14 races?! Congrats, Marlene! Some of my favorite experiences this year have been the races that I DON't "Race". I love that running can still surprise you like that, and I'm so happy that you *enjoyed* this run/race/experience. :)

btw - TBL theme on your iPod? NICE! ha, never thought to download that...

Mark said...

Great report, sounds like a wonderful race!

Laura said...

Congrats! What an amazing year you have had.

joyRuN said...

Sounds like it was a great trip, & an awesome run! I'm glad you were able to enjoy it :)

Congrats!!!!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Wow, I didn't realize the theme to The Biggest Loser had a title!!!!! Sounds like a great way to end your 2009 season.

Carly said...

Great Job! It sound it a beautiful race and the perfect way to wind down 2009's season.

D10 said...

Great race report. Glad you had a nice day out there. It can be cold! Well done.

sneakersister said...

Well done! I'm glad you decided to run it and not race it. It just sounds like you have been doing so much and you needed a little break from all the self-induced training/racing stress. It sounds like you had such a great time! Hurray for you.

Good luck with your Goofy training.

Runner Leana said...

Congratulations on your race!! Goofy is going to be intense, so if you are sufferering from a lack of mojo then a short break might be a good idea.

I imagine it must have been beautiful out there. I'd love to do that race!

Morgan said...

Great recap girl! Congrats on ENJOYING the race.

FYI - I think we need to schedule a little meet up while you're in town for Goofy... I will be there spectating and I kinda live here. :)

Lacey Nicole said...

congrats on your racing season marlene!!!! you certainly got your groove on and even if you didn't feel 100% in this race you still did great. and i love how you mentioned most memorable markers, and that final picture backdrop is incredible!!!! sounds like a good experience, great weekend with the hubby, and it's never bad when you're running right? :)

Heather said...

You are such a superstar! Way to enjoy a beautiful run. :)

alexandra said...

your report gave me goosebumps!! I loved it!
i am so glad that you took the time to thoroughly enjoy it- you notice other things about the 'racing' experience you may have otherwise missed.
I think you will enjoy your little break- you will come back from it stronger, I guarantee!

B.o.B. said...

Congrats! Way to look at the positive and just run a race with the thought of enjoying the course. Love the medal display.

Shannon said...

Congrats! I'm so glad you had a nice run!!!

macnic said...

Great time, great recap and great reminder that first and foremost we are runners, not racers. Well done.

Marky Mark said...

Congrats on a great season, especially given how it started!

I'm glad you enjoyed yesterday--when you're not feeling it, why not enjoy it instead. As it is you had a really good time anyway.

Denise said...

You have done so much this year, you definitely need a break. Better to take it now before you get injured from pushing too much.

The race sounded great and you still did terrific!! Now go get some nice recovery in...you deserve it.

Emmett said...

Love the pictures! Soo pretty Niagara Falls, great choice for a run. I am doing my first half marathon this December here in Las Vegas.

Badgergirl said...

Nice job! Enjoy you're break!

Marky Mark said...

Will there be a guest blog post re: the upcoming Hamilton marathon? ;)

Natalie D said...

way to go!!!

EndorphinBuzz said...

Good work on finishing another race! I'm exhausted just reading about them!!

And do enjoy your little break, you deserve it!

I Run for Fun said...

Congratulations on another race well-run. It's amazing how motivated you are. What an awesome finish. Enjoy the break!

shellyrm said...

I have to tell you, I felt right there with you as I read your post. Goosebumps and everything. What a great way to enjoy the journey! It sounds like you've had an amazing racing year. Congratulations! Enjoy a little racing break. You deserve it.

Meg Runs said...

Great race year, you're one tough and diligent runner. A true inspiration.

lindsay said...

congrats on another half! i'm glad you were able to enjoy the race. it's a nice change to race for fun and not worry so much about time. (i know, you manage to have fun and pr at the same time too)

enjoy a little break before ramping up for goofy!! now that's gonna be a party (and a half) ;)

J said...

Great job on the race Marlene! You have been racing a lot so I know how you feel about needing a break! Sometimes winter comes at the perfect time for cutting back on the running!

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations on another race! I think it is totally healthy to take a "mental health race" and just run it for the fun of running :)

I LOVE Niagara Falls and really hope I can do this one day.

I hope we get to meet up at Goofy!!

Amanda said...

Oh I would love to run this race someday. I've never seen Niagra Falls and it is definitely on my must-visit list. And yes, hotel beds are the best!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Congratulations, Marlene!!

It sounds as if you ran the race just perfectly. I personally can only seriously race maybe 2-3 long distance races a year. And what a beautiful course and day you had. I've only been to Niagara Falls once before but still remember how incredible the views were. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing it. Thanks for the photos!

Felix said...

That's a great scenic route to enjoy a race. This one is definitely on my Marathon to-run list. Maybe see you there next year :-)

Irish Cream said...

I haven't been to Niagara Falls since I was a kid. I will DEFINITELY have to add this one to my list! Sounds like a beautiful course.

And btw, great job, lady! It's so awesome that you were still able to enjoy the race despite it just not being your day. And I hear you--I'm a little burnt out on racing as well. I'm sure we'll be good come January, though ;)

aron said...

i bet that was SUCH a beautiful race :) its so true that not every run can be a PR, especially when we run a lot of them :) congrats on another half marathon finish!!

lindsey said...

The Niagara Falls is a romantic getaway. It is one place that can be oodles of fun for the entire family too. A lot of families already feel this way and make annual trips to the falls. There's always something to do around this place.
Niagara Falls Tours