Tuesday, October 26, 2010

race recap- Niagara Falls Half Marathon

So, on Sunday Oct 24, 2010, I completed my first half marathon! I didn't take many snaps at all, so here are the few I did manage.

Spotted at the race expo- not sure how politically correct this is, but it made me chuckle.

What awaited us at the finish line! If you haven't been to Niagara Falls before, this is the view from Table Rock- the edge of the Horseshoe Falls, aka the "Canadian Falls".
I was a little upset that we were so rushed to leave (and find the girl that "ran" with me- aka ran nearly a full hour faster than me, wow!!) that I didn't even get a pic with my medal and the falls as the backdrop. I'm waiting for the professional photos and praying they aren't too horrible... I'll explain why below!

My (self personalized) bib & finishers medal! I wrote my name on because I know at a lot of bigger races people will cheer for you if they see your name- except in Niagara Falls, apparently, because no one else had their name written and no one said mine haha!

So, the race review. Keep in mind I'm slow, and ok with it! My goal was to run sub 3 hours (well, and finish!)

It was great because it was a 10am start time, so I woke up at 7am to have my plain bagel with PB. We hung around preparing for the race a bit before driving to the start where my sister dropped us off. We got there about 1/2 hour before race time, and were in line for the porta potty the whole time! I was actually still in line when the gun went off! But I figured the chip would do it's job- better to get the bathroom break out of the way before getting on the course and adding to the race time.

So, I ended up being one of the last people to cross the start line, behind all the walkers. it wasn't too bad though, just under 3000 people participating in the half, so it was fairly light weaving through people. (I usually run Ottawa each year, with 8,000-10,000 runners hence 3000 seeming "light").

I started off quite strong, my first 3km averaging just over 6m per km which is quite speedy for me. It was actually really warm, and within a few minutes had taken off my earwarmer and rolled up my sleeves. I reached 8k at about 58:30, shaving a minute and a half off my average time these past few months. I hit 10k at 1 (hour):15, which I was pleased with- in Ottawa, due to both poor pacing and lack of training, my 10k took 1:22. Big difference in 5 months! 11k was around 1:22- I was feeling good and thinking I might even be able to beat my secondary goal of 2:45.

Roll around to just before km 15- my sister was waiting for me at the water station to run the final 4 miles (roughly 6.5km). At this exact point I started experiencing extreme muscle cramping first in my calves, then my toes, and finally in my right inner quad.I'm suspecting sodium depletion. I would attempt running for about 50-100 metres and just seriously could not do it. I had to pause for a stretch out, and made the decision that the final 6kms had to be speed-walked - running was just not happening. I had been taking water and energy gels (Clif- 90% organic), but avoiding the sports drinks because I try to avoid artificial icky stuff. I was just losing more sodium than I was taking in. My sister jogged slowly beside me, since my walk is actually not much slower than my run (THAT's how slow I am, haha!). I kept checking my Nike+ sportsband to ensure I was on pace for my goal, and everything looked all good.

As we neared the last km, we could see the mist rising in the distance over the river from the falls- that's how I knew we were close! We rounded the last corner and could see the finish line. I gave my iPhone (slash music player!) to my sister, and she jumped off the course. I had about 150m to go and decided screw the pain, I am running! I started up again, tried to smile for the first photog through gritted teeth, and then i could taste it! There were 2 people ahead of me and I sprinted past them, pain with every step in every muscle of my legs, ignoring the finish line photographer and probably looking totally ridiculous for the final pictures, and crossed the finish line to the announcer shouting my name and cheers of random people! The clock read 3:00:30, but my chip time was 2:55:59. Yay for the final sprint getting me in just below!

After 20 minutes I finally found my friend, and we hopped in the car for the ride home (for a bridal shower my sister didn't even end up going to). I took an ice bath, which I definitely think saved me a lot of soreness! After a warm shower I did a few yin poses to stretch out. I feel it the most in my lower back, and a little bit in my calves, achilles, right quad, and hip flexors. I am looking forward to a 90m full body massage tomorrow. It is much needed :)

goofing around at the motel before the race - I really hope this is not my best picture!!

article and personal photos copyright of Callah at