(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|
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."
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|
|Around the finish|
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 :(|
|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!
THANK YOU ALL!