Niagara Falls International Half Marathon.. GOAL COMPLETED!

Monday, November 01, 2010

For months now, I've been working towards running a half marathon. I started with the c25k program January 2009-initially being able only to run 10 seconds without bending over, hands on knees, dry heaving. I've graduated to a half marathon completer.. and I did NOT come in last!
Here's how it went:
Oct 24th-Niagara Falls, Ontario- The full marathon was starting in Buffalo, NY, USA and ended in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The only marathon that starts in one country and ends in another. VERY COOL!
The weather:
Overcast, with the occassional burst of sunshine and an occassional burst of spittle of rain. 18 degrees celcius at 10am which was gun time; with about 99% humidity; so for weather-wise, it was warm. I was over-dressed.. something I didn't want to do.. here's pic prior to us leaving.

When I look at this pic; I look like a stuffed sausage.. ick.
Stayed at the Crowne Plaza on Falls Ave; which, to be honest, wasn't all that great, and we would have been better off just staying at the econo lodge, or something cheap. The Crowne Plaza had buses that picked us up to take us to the starting point (which was 21.1km from the falls)-WHICH by the way; when you drive it? When your driving in a straight line? IS FAR! I'm used to running out 10-11km and then TURNING around! 21 km straight out is FAR!
Here's a couple of pics:

This is a pic from about 10km from the finish line. There is a 'tower' in the distance.. the little tiny tower? yeah..that's probably NOT EVEN 10km from here!
THAT was daunting.
My BFF Penni went with me; THANK GOODNESS.. and we decided to drive the route the Friday night before. When we drove it, it kind of freaked us out when we were SOOOo far away and realized that we were CLOSER than we were going to the finish line~

Skylon tower -The Finish Line- ZOOMED from 10km away

The Skylon Tower, up close and personal.. BIG HUH?
We went to the Fitness Expo held at the Skylon Tower Friday night, and I'm glad we picked up our race kits then, cause Sat afternoon it was PACKED!
The infamous John Stanton was there, I was lucky enough to get my training log signed by him AND he posed for a pic with Penni and me!

What a great inspirational guy.. he reminded me that since it was my first half marathon, it will ALWAYS be a PB.. personal best.. and my two goals were:
FINISH and TRY to finish under 3 hours.
We picked up our race kit (the importance of having your race receipt came in handy here-as there were TWO Jennifer Smith's registered)- cool swag stuff but an AWFUL jacket, instead of a t-shirt. It was like a garbage bag. Pretty but NOT practical at all. Not water resistant even!

But, what are you gonna do?
Buy a t-shirt! So I did.. actually bought a couple of things at the fitness expo.. they had great deals on running room, brooks, nike, comfort fit bras, etc.. if you forgot anything (god forbid!) you could ALWAYS find it here!
We did some sight seeing on Sat and sat at the expo for a schpeel from John Stanton and Katherine Switzter.

Katherine is the first woman to run Boston -illegally, of course, but changed the history of the world by doing so. SHE is the sole reason why women are ALLOWED to run marathons. Shocking, I'm sure.. being ALLOWED to run? But until 1967 there NEVER was a woman who ran. EVER. She's an amazing spokesperson for women's rights, and you feel empowered by listeing to her account her tale of that enormously important event. I bought her book, Marathon Woman, which I have yet to read, but, luckily, have now had inscribed (yeah for me!) and will enjoy every minute of it!

An amazing story, you should all read!

Anyways-about the race.

The area near the finish line..

OOO, free massages at the fitness expo! WOW! PERFECT!
Oh, I forgot to mention, TWO days before the race I put my back out.. yes.. yes I did.
Well, not two days before the race.. Thursday night I put it out, leaning over picking up laundry, starting to stand back up, twisted a bit to start to stand and had the sudden urge to cough.. so I did.. and TWANG! OUT..
ooo.. was I mad!
Friday, my chiropractor was good enough to fit me in; and said my S.I. joint was f*cked.. and I should probably take it easy.
A four hour drive to Niagara Falls did not help.. so I was in bad shape. Friday night was still bad.. Sat at the expo I got to walk around a bit; and then had one of these 'massages' by a massage therapy student.
It hurt.. it did.. the S.I. joint gave off electrical shocks down my back, into my butt and down my LEFT side.. even though is was the right side that was usually painful.
The guy was awesome.. very gentle and wanted every detail.. like a chronic pyriformus injury.. right hip.. to S.I. joint messup related to a coughin spell.
After my 15 minute massage I suddenly felt better!
We walked for a bit, taking it easy... sight seeing for about 2 km or so.. and it felt great!
Woke up Sunday morning.. race day,.. with just a 'twinge'.. I lucked out, I really did!
Anyways.. Sunday morning.. all our stuff was laid out the day before.. shoes, chip, fuel belt, jacket, shirt, pants, socks, bra.. music.. extra food, camera.. bibs.. we were PREPARED!

Penni and I in the lobby at 7am waiting for the buses.
WHICH I have to mention.. there was fantastic organization with this run.. I mean.. a free breakfast, a pasta dinner, buses.. enough porta potties.. nice race kit stuff, good communication.. it was really awesome!
Here's a map of the course:

The starting line.. people were friendly and welcoming.. saw a couple of girls in the vibram five finger shoes.. asked a bit about those.. they SWORE by them.. but of course, I passed one of them on the course.. and I did NOT pass a lot of people!

We started on time.. no issues.. it took about 1-2 minutes just to get to the 'starting' mat.. so it was a good thing it was chipped!
The pace I kept was about 7:30.. for the first part, I thought I'd do John Stanton's 10:1 pace.. run/walk ratio. BUT after 10 minutes, I really didn't feel the NEED to walk.. so I didn't.. it wasn't until about 20 minutes, when I noticed my pace was over 8:00min/km that I walked. I kept my 'walking' brisk.. less than 9:00min/km.. and walked very little. Stopped at almost every water station (every ONE MILE!).. they had awesome water stations.. with 13 festive and excited volunteers. Sometimes it was water, other times it was gatorade.. near the end there were orange slices, but not until 20 km in!
Here's a pic along the way.. and YES, I walked long enough to take a pic!

There was one guy.. a bigger guy.. younger than me though, who I noticed was walk/running near my pace.. I thought, if I can keep him in my sights, I'm good. We ran passed each other, then slowed for a walk then the other passed, gawd, we must have done it TWENTY times, before a REALLY great song came on my ipod and I SPRINTED.. yes.. I SPRINTED.. right passed a water station.. just WHIZZED by about 20 people... And let me tell you, there were some 'walkers' there? They were FASTER than me!
now, somewhere after 10km I just plum got pooped. I was over dressed, I had sweated every inch of my long sleeve technical shirt. I drank at every one, BUT one water spot AND drank both my fuel belt gatorades. I walked.. more than I wanted, because by then, I noticed that I was 'ahead' of my expected time for 10km.. I was at 1 hour and 14 minutes and was tired, yes.. but not exhausted... so I walked.. and walked.. and walked.. what a mistake! If I had kept up the pace I could have been done in 2:30!!! ARGHH.. anyways.. the last 10km was crap.
I just played head games with myself as some walkers would blow by me.. 'You're too fat to run, look at you? You ROLLED SAUSAGE! What gives YOU the right to think that you can run a half marathon?!".. despite the fact that I have previously ran OVER 21 km TWICE!!!.. head games are BAD!
Here's my stats from slowgeek.com

Now, my garmin is GPS, my nike is OFF.. I know.. It said I finished the half marathon about 2km from where it actually ended, so I know my pace wasn't 7:35/km or 12:13/mile.. but it was close!
I had 6 GU chewies about 12 km in, NEEDED them.. then thank goodness I brought a granola bar with me; cause at mile 12? I was DONE! STARVING.. absolutely ravenous~
I ate that, shoved the garbage in my pockets.. and kept on.
It gave me the extra OOOMPH to hoof it near the end. I saw the finish line was coming up, although poorly laid out because there was a sharp turn in the 'chute' before you cross.. so spectators can't see you coming, unless they're looking at the jumbotron which was post AWAY from the finish line!
So I blasted it at the end..like 4:23/km sprinting.. and shot past the finish line at 2 hrs 53 min chip time. I was pleased.. TWO of my goals met.. my mind was not pleased though, knowing full well I walked to much!
Penni finished 2:23 chip time and didn't even see me cross..
My parents drove so they could see their daughter run a race.. and left TEN minutes before I crossed the line!

I got worse with the self portraits.. cut myself out of most of them.
When I saw Penni she was COVERED in salt.. ALL over her face! COVERED! They had a great bag full of food.. bananas, rice chips, apple, cookies, water, at the finish line.. cool, big fat medals.. and one of those solar blankets for everyone.. which, being next to open water was needed when you finally cooled down.
I drank two bottles of water.. then we realized we missed my parents after wandering around for 30 minutes.. we gave up.. and then realized that the hotel room was about 5 or 6 km away and we had no ride back!

The baggage buses were full of baggage.. there were no notes/comments in the paperwork about what we were going to do! DOH!
I thought we would finish about 2km away from our hotel.. I was wrong!
And after finishing 21.1km I REALLY didn't feel like walking another 5-6km with legs that were like jello!
Luckily we had packed 5 bucks each into secret pockets.. we limped our way to a line of taxis near the bus station.. and asked how much to the Crowne Plaza.. ten bucks?? PERFECT.
It was a quick 10 minute ride and we thanked the driver perfusely for being alive.. and hobbled our way up the stairs and had showers, drank more water.. and took advantage of our 'late' checkout and pakced and left.
I drank another bottle of water in the car ride home (3 hours) and we stopped at Jack Astors for late lunch, early dinner, we were STARVED!
A huge glass of chocolate milk, and an enormous 750ml glass of sparkling lemonade. the chocolate milk barely hit the table before the waitress looked down and saw it was gone.. I was worried she wouldn't move her finger out of the way fast enough, and I would accidentally try to suck on that.. I SOOO love chocolate milk for post recovery drinks!
Anyways.. so in thinking back.. another 1 hour to get home.. so.. 12 water station stops.. what.. maybe 100 mls in the cups.. 1200 mls total.. two gatorade fuel belt holders.. 400ml each.. 800+1200=2000ml.. 2 bottles of water post race.. 1200ml.. total now 3200ml.. 1 bottle in the hotel.. 3800 total now.. 1 bottle in the car.. 4200 ml now.. chocolate milk.. 600ml.. total now 4800 ml.. HUGE lemonade.. at least a litre.. 5800ml.. got home and drank a big glass of water.. 700 ml.. GRAND total of 6500ml.. and..
Talk about being dehydrated, huh?
I finally peed at 9pm that night.. 11 hours and 6.5L later.. and it was a TINY amount and DARK.. ee gads!
I drank 2 litres of water the next day, and it wasn't till the afternoon that I no longer felt dehydrated!

So.. stats.

Place: 1896 out of 2198 participants
Jennifer SMITH Washago ON CAN
Bib #3289
Gun time: 2:56:25.1
Chip time: 2:53:49.6
Pace: 8:22
Women 40 - 44
category placed: 176/204
Gender place: 1114/1369

So overall, not the slowest.. not the fatest, OBVIOUSLY.. what I did feel good about.. is that guy? The one that we kept passing each other.. over and over again?
Well, he came in about TWENTY minutes after me!!!

So.. sorry it was so long.. but I wanted to give you a real FEEL for being there.
I'm glad its done.
Planning now a 30km relay in March
a 5km resolution run on New Years Eve and a Triathlon relay in the summer.. gotta figure out if I can swim though, huh?

Later gators!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo KKANAC
    Even though you told us about it in person, it was really great reading your play by play.

    kkanac = aka Cheryl Case
    3729 days ago
    Congrats on the great time!! Ya' done great!! Looks like a lot of fun! I love it when a race has a great expo :).
    3730 days ago
  • MARLIE13
    Ooooh congratulations! What a fun report to read and I LOVED all of the pictures! Great job!
    3730 days ago
    Excellent blog Jenny! Thank you so much for sharing the details.

    Congratulations on your race!!!!! That is so awesome. Love the way you are figuring out what you are going to do next.

    I find it hard not to over dress too. I think that is something that just comes with experience.
    3730 days ago
    WOW!! Amazing!!
    I have not come by in awhile.
    Keep up the Great Work.
    Thanks for sharing...
    3730 days ago
  • 45ANDFIT1
    CONGRATULATIONS!! emoticon emoticon
    3731 days ago
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