Sunday, October 30, 2011

Niagara Falls International Marathon Recap

Niagara Falls Marathon Results: 2:52:16 for 1st female ($1,500)

(results from Garmin: 2:52:17 for 26.33 miles ~ 6:32 pace)

Wow, can't believe that was already a week ago! So after celebrating Maddy's birthday for the 4th time with my father, Sunday brought us to race morning.

At 10:00 AM on the dot  I toed the line with about 1500 others in Buffalo, NY for the start of the Niagara Falls International Marathon.

Maddy being funny...putting her cups on her head opening presents on Friday night.

Start (Miles 1-4) Albright-Knox Art Gallery to downtown Buffalo
6:31, 6:33, 6:34, 6:33

Once the gun went off right outside the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, I quickly looked around to find out who I would be running with. I counted two females, one of which seemed quite content running 6:30s (not the goal, but it would do). By the time we reached 2 miles, we had already caught up with the (then) leader, as we continued downtown buffalo towards the beautiful Peace Bridge (USA/Canada boarder) at this point the pace felt slow, and though we were running with a large group of men, no one had really committed to leading. It was windy and I was getting impatient so I thus began pace setting for the group.
Niagara Falls Marathon Course Map
Miles 5-13
6:36, 6:31, 6:37, 6:29, 6:36, 6:39, 6:31, 6:31, 6:31 (1:26:20 for the first half)

SO yes I started getting impatient early (not good, really). The pace was not consistent and I needed it to be. I took the wind early and led our group across the bridge and into Ontario. Here the wind was strong and the air felt cooler. By mile 7 I felt terrible and by mile 9 my back started cramping up. I did not think I was going to have a good race.

Mile 12 I took a chance and broke away from the rest of the group with two other men. My watch started registering 6:25, and from the words from the guy running next to me in the blue shirt, "We are locked in."
The Start

6:36, 6:25, 6:29, 6:25, 6:25, 6:31, 6:24 (miles 14-20)

We hit a water stop around mile 14 and the two men I was running with disappeared once again. From here on I ran completely solo with the exception of a few that had been broken by a too early fast pace (or perhaps they hit the wall?). So as beautiful and quiet it was running along Niagara River Parkway, it was also one of the most loneliest of any race for me this year. In order to not burn out later on, I just tried to maintain pace because it turns out that I could...possibly(gasp) win this damn marathon after all. Winning became more important than a sub-2:50 effort, as bad as that is to admit. I wanted to cross the tape first.

Besides being very quiet, there was not a hill to speak of, which made it very easy for me to see water stops and clusters of fans ahead of me. Around mile 18 I passed my Father's girlfriend holding Maddy. When I passed by them my Maddy immediately started screaming and crying. It hurt more than I thought it would, I still had an hour or so left before I could get to her.
Along Niagara River

Niagara Falls

Around the finish

Miles 21-26.33 
6:37, 6:28, 6:36, 6:37, 6:47, 6:36, 2:00 (6:08 pace)
My legs were really heavy and tight from mile 16 on, so every time I hit a water stop and slowed down to get fluids I had a hard time picking the pace back up. About the time I hit 20 miles, I saw a crazy man in a white t-shirt sprint by me on the side walk, hurdle a road barrier and jump out right in front of me holding a bottle of gatorade. This crazy man turned out to be super supportive husband. He asked me how I was feeling: fine, I can maintain this. He was relieved. I could tell he wanted this win just as bad as I did. I mean, being a coach and all.

It was around this time that a few negative thoughts started to creep in, so I was really thankful of my bike support trying to keep me positive. At one point a man on an ellipti-go bike (I really want one of these) came up on us and asked our bike support how far second was behind me. He said "Like a mile, she broke away at 12.) Well, that was good news! Wanted to see if there was going to be any challenge for the tape, ellipti-go bike went back to time the distance between me and number 2. When he came back he told me "2 minutes". This got me going again, if I was going to win this race I needed to stay focused and positive as I was still not in the clear.

At mile 24 the bikers started coaching me on. I was not sure if that was because 2nd was coming up behind me, or if they could sense I was struggling. I had dropped my salt at about mile 15 and I started to get a cramp in my chest. It slowed me a little and they sensed it. I started to worry as we battled walkers from the 10k/half marathon (the half started at the same time as the marathon at the 13.1 mile mark) I really wanted to win this race, who cares about pace, just take me to the finish first!

Coming up towards the finish. Beautiful day for a marathon
That is a Canada sticker on my shorts. To bad you can't see it :(
 Once the finish came into view I started to really drive home and my legs responded nicely. I was smiling and hyperventilating a little bit....I couldn't believe it.
I think I got it now...

OMG, I'm actually going to win this.

Not sure where that came from....

Cross the tape. Couldn't help it, I was fired up...and my first marathon win!

Right after the finish I was pushed along into the VIP tent where we would wait until awards. This time I made sure I ate something (mostly because I could barely walk!) as I waited impatiently for my Maddy and family to join me! What an AWESOME DAY!

As far as the race went, I really have to hand it to the Niagara Falls International Marathon crew for their wonderful hospitality! My family and I were treated like royalty all week, and if I get the chance to come back in a year or so, I would really look forward to it. I also want to thank Brooks for all the support this year, I am so thankful to be a part of the Inspire Daily program! It has been a major part of my success this year!

If you are looking for a neat marathon on an extremely flat course with great weather and a nice calm...BEAUTIFUL...route, I recommend this one. Just be warned! Passports are required, and it is very much Fall in Niagara Falls.

Even though 2:52 was not what I wanted to run, it was a huge PR done almost completely alone through half way. I am going to take it, recover and move on. It looks like there will be another marathon in my future, another chance to run 2:49, and I am looking forward to it.

Thank you to everyone for the good luck and the congrats, I am behind on seeing how everyone has been do with training/racing. I have noticed a few PRs! I will say that after I get caught up, I will be taking a short break from the blog as I recover from the marathon. Good luck to everyone in their Fall races and I look forward to reading the recaps!



Monday, October 24, 2011

That hurt.

Niagara falls marathon results: 2:52:16 for 1st!
Led the last 24 miles...the last 11 miles solo. That wore me out. Great recap coming soon! Thanks for all the support!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Training for the week..7 days out from 26.2

Monday: 9.7 miles
Tuesday: AM: 30 minutes PM: 2 miles with the neighbour
Wednesday: 2 mile w/u, 4X 1 mile on the track, 5:29, 5:22, 5:16, 5:13 (rest of 3-3.5) 10 min c/d
Thursday: 9.16 miles
Friday: 45 minutes easy
Saturday: 12.7 miles in 1:27 (relaxed and easy, 6:50 avg with some 6:10's thrown in just to make the legs feel good)
Sunday: planned 50-60 minutes

The workout on Wednesday confirmed that the track IS much fast than mugshots. I felt great the whole time, actually looking forward to doing a few more of those sessions after the marathon. This was a very much needed week of taper. 7 days...26.2 chances for the race to go badly...1 chance for it to go well :)

Miss Maddy turned 1 yesterday. We had a great time playing with balloons and stuffing our faces with cake.





Being funny with Mom.

After a good nap

Happy Birthday to my sweet little girl!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This past weeks log.

Monday: 60 minutes
Tuesday: AM: 20 minutes PM: 8.25 miles (treadmill)
Wednesday: 2.5 mile w/u, 7X800m w/ 90sec rest on Sanderson Center loop (2:43, 2:42, 2:39, 2:43, 2:37, 2:39, 2:30)- no c/d, ran out of time
Thursday: 65 minutes
Friday: 70 minutes
Saturday:16.00 miles in 1:46:33 (6:38 avg)
-7:37, 7:02,  6:41, 6:30, 6:32, 6:04, 6:38, 6:36, 6:27, 6:22, 6:56, 6:40, 6:31, 6:12, 6:41, 6:52
Sunday:47 minutes easy

1st week of the taper. 14 days until 26.2
In a bad mood. I have not had enough chocolate today.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Atlanta 13.1 Race Recap

Better late than never!
Last Sunday: 2.5 m w/u, Half Marathon in 1:20:37, 2 m c/d (17+)

Top 5 Results:

Emmanuel Ngatunyi  1:03:59

Reuben Mwei 1:04:33

Jynocel Basweti 1:07:30

Devon Berkness 1:09:49

Nathan O'Connell 1:10:22

Lilian Mariita 1:17:28
Justyna Mudy 1:17:46
Meggan Franks 1:20:37
Jill Horst 1:21:16
Tamara Karrh 1:23:39

Maddy in her Jammy's getting ready race morning!
My Mom flew into GTR late Friday night so we waited until Saturday morning to finally leave for Atlanta. The drive is always difficult for me with passengers as I have no patience driving in traffic, so by the time we picked Houston up at ATL (he was getting off the plane from the Paul Short meet) I was pretty stressed! After picking up the packet, we went to a nice pasta restaurant for dinner (HA! Pasta, of course I never ate it, filled my face with bread instead,) Maddy had had enough by 8:30PM so we all ended up with a pretty good night's sleep.

After gulping down a cup of some of the most highly unpleasant ( nasty)  hotel coffee ever, Houston drove me to the start line about 15 minutes away and then drove back to pick up Mom and Mad. The air felt good and so did my legs, I tried my best to keep warm and relaxed before the gun went off exactly at 7:00AM
Mad and Dad cheering around mile 6
Miles 1-4 - Running in the dark
6:18, 6:06, 5:55, 5:44
The first 4 miles felt like we were running in circles up and down a freakin mountain. I could feel my hip and calves slowly tighten up but my breathing was controlled. The pace was fast even though Meagan and I had planned running about 6:10 pace, but the effort was the same being that the first 4 miles seemed more down hill than up. Still, once we hit mile 4 the tightness in my hip caused me to slowdown and relax.
Somewhere around the second half
Miles 5-8
6:08, 6:12, 6:16, 6:06
Once we hit mile 5 on Peach Tree Rd, the lady that would eventually finish second had already gaped by a respectable 20 seconds. The pack I had been running in broke up completely (Meagan finished her very respectable 5 mile tempo run before heading back to work the "after run party") and I found myself in no-mans-land. It was about this time I discovered I had a biker companion and he did everything he could to shower me with positive comments. It was around mile 7 that I was passed by a male runner (AKA "Taste The Win" is what I called him, that is what his singlet said) and instead of getting discouraged  I convinced myself that if I didn't catch up to him I would end up fourth and out of the money (literally).

Miles 9-13.1
6:17, 6:16, 6:29, 5:55, 6:05, 49 (5:20 pace for .15)
Heading into the hilliest section, I passed "Taste The Win" and really started to get after it. I heard a little rumor (from Meagan) that the second half was harder than the first- heck, YES! miles 8,9,10 were filled with sharp uphill and downhill climbs. Even though I really FELT like I started moving, my garmin said otherwise. I split 10 miles in 1:01:30 and felt I still had a chance to run 1:19 high. This goal disappeared quickly when we headed into a windy, paved, trail and split a 6:29 (groan).
Atlanta 13.1 Elevation Chart
My friend the biker told me that 4th was 40 seonds back, so if I wanted to end up third I really needed to get after it. Once I got my legs turning over I was surprised how good I felt, and almost disappointed that I didn't pick it up sooner. About 11 miles I passed me Husband screaming at the top of his lungs and my Mom and Maddy playing paparazzi. Houston would later catch up with me (on his feet) to which I would scream at him "That's illegal pacing you know." (Not really but funny at the time) I will say that if he caught up to me when I was running 5:55 going up, he must have been running 5:20 effort in jeans and boots. Got to love an overly dedicated Coach and Husband!!!

Half mile to go....
Typically when I run half marathons I feel sorta like I am running on the verge of passing out. I guess I was "waiting" to finally get tired or die. When I heard my biker yell "half a mile" I was almost in disbelief, "Am I really doing this?"
After a quick downhill my biker and I finally parted ways and I ran the last 250 meters or so to the finish (at 5:20 pace with the help of the hill). I watched the clock tick 1:20 and I couldn't help it, I was smiling and fist pumping! I had done it, skipped the 1:22's, 1:21's completely!
Feeling good coming into the finish!

Huge PR= Fist pump!

1:20:37 ranks me 14th on Canada's 2011 best list. Not as good as the marathon, but Atlanta 13.1 is not what you would call a "flat and fast" course! The goal is to run NOLA in the spring for a 1:19 or better.

Thanks for all the support and congrats! Was a well deserved PR! Look forward to reading everyone's updates! Niagara falls only 15 days away!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good day for a PR.

Atlanta 13.1 half marathon results: 1:20:37 for 3rd female
PR, hilly as heck, perfect weather!
Recap coming soon!

Maddy- cheering me on, even though I am HER biggest fan :)
Mom took this just after 11 miles where I split a 5:55!

I wanted Maddy to get a picture with the bear. Maddy did not enjoy it. Yes my pants are falling down.