2007 Niagara Falls Half Marathon

I ate spaghetti for dinne last night, and then went to bed about 8pm. I set the alarm for 3am. We needed to be up in Niagara Falls Ontario early enough to find parking and get my runners packet between 6 and 7 am. And I wasn’t sure about the parking.
I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep well. I finally got up about 2:45 and shut off the alarm. I took a shower, and got dressed for the race. I was going to be wearing my Elvis costume for the race.
I ate a quick breakfast of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich and a diet pepsi. We got out the door about 3:45. We got on the New York State Thruway heading west. We stopped at a rest area, and got some more breakfast at a McDonalds. It was early and the race didn’t even start until 10am.
The border crossing was a cinch. There were no other cars there at all. We tried the parking lot down by Table Rock, but there was no one there, and were concerned about getting the car towed if we just left it there. We left there and headed up to Fallsview Casino. The parking here was only $5. And if we joined the players club, it was free. So we parked here. We met another runner who was heading over to the Brock Plaza Hotel also. So we walked together talking about running. He was working on running 50 marathons in 50 states. I mentioned I was trying for a BQ, he asked about my previous running times. He proceded to tell me I wasn’t fast enough to run a 3:30 marathon. He was a nice guy other than this.
We found the Brock. I got my runners packet, and then waited at the Starbucks. The race shirt was great! A tech shirt, and it wasn’t covered with advertising at all! It was about 6:15. We were supposed to meet Shirley aka Hammergirl, and catch the 8am bus. I wasn’t sure what time she was planning on being there. She came shortly before 8am. We caught the bus, and arrived at the starting area about 8:15. And the race doesn’t start until 10am. The forecast said the temps for the day would be 36-47 degrees. It was chilly. They had tents that the runners could gather in to stay warm. I was wearing sweats over my Elvis costume. I hung out with Shirley, and some girls that were planning on running with her. Shirley was going to be the 2:45 pace bunny.
At about 9:45, I finally stripped off my sweats, put them in a bag, and put them on the bus to be transported to the finish.
We all headed over to the start line. Shirley and the girls headed towards the back of the pack. I saw a 1:40 pace bunny (too fast), and a 1:55 pace bunny (too slow). I line up about a third back from the start, closer to the 1:55 pace bunny. I wanted to start off not-too-fast.
After the national anthems, we started running. I turned on my metronome watch. As I crossed the start line, I hit start on my Garmin 305.
I was running a little fast, and focused on slowing down, and staying around 7:45-7:50 pace. After a couple minutes, I remembered the metronome. It was vibrating away on my wrist at 90bpm. I started to focus on matching my cadence to the metronome.
I was passing people, people were passing me. The water stations were all located just before the mile markers. They all had water & gatorade. I normally like to grab a couple cups of water, or a cup of water and a cup of gatorade. I like to pour one water over my head, and drink the other cup. But I managed to get only gatorade at the early stops. I figured out the people at beginning of the line have water, and the end of the line have gatorade. The problem is that you don’t know where the dividing line. As the race the race proceded, the racers spread out, and the the water stations weren’t so crowded. Since it was chilly out, I didn’t miss pouring the water over my head too much. Each station seemed to have a different flavor of Gatorade. At each water station, I walked while getting water, and while drinking it. Only about 10-15 seconds. Then I walked for about 20-30 seconds when I passed the mile marker. My pace was averaging out to about 8:00 minute/miles, or just barely faster. I did manage to take some pictures along the way.
Somewhere around the middle, a girl running in front of me pointed back on the ground saying theres $10 on the ground. I looked back and sure enough there were a couple Canadian $5 bills. I went back, picked them up and shoved them in my pocket. Hey, $10 is $10!
During my walk break just after the one hour mark, I downed some sport beans. This was my longest walk break.
I really missed my mp3 player!!! At this pace, people don’t talk much. I could have really used some distraction from the tedium of running.
Somewhere around the 2/3rds mark, were started running into a strong cold headwind. It was tough to actually keep my pace below 8:00 minute/miles. It took effort, but I did it!
As the race went on, I started to have doubts whether I would be able to hold this pace for 26.2 miles. But I also thought that I hadn’t tapered for this race as I would the full marathon. That this was a training run, and it was supposed to be hard.
As we got closer to the falls and the finish line it seemed to get colder. As I passed the 11 mile mark, I made an effort to pick up my speed. This wasn’t easy running into the cold headwind. But I did get it up a little. As I approached the 12 mile mark, I slowed took a picture, and only walked for maybe 10-15 seconds, then started running again. I tried to pick up my pace as much as I could. Only 1.1 miles to go. This last two miles was supposed to be downhill, but didn’t seem like it. Most of the guys around me had also pickup their pace. I was able to pass some of them though. I caught up to one guy as was about to pass him when I looked over and said “Are you going to let a guy dressed in an Elvis costume beat you?” He replied that he would cross the finish line with me and get his picture on the front of tomorrow’s paper. True to his word, he picked up his pace and crossed the finish line along side me (actually a split second behind me). I thought about doing the Wazzu kick (jumping and clicking your heels together). But I finished with people around me, so the photographer probably wouldn’t have gotten it. And when I was right at the finish line, I saw the photag was right there actually focusing farther down the course with a long lens.
Racing towards finish
I stopped my Garmin 305 which read 1:41:53 just a little after I crossed the line. Way cool!
They cut off my chip, gave me a finisher’s medal. I went to the food. I was disappointed by the food at this race. I am used to a buffet style thing with pizza, hot dogs, doughtnuts, pasta, bananas, and stuff like that. But here they simply gave each runner a plastic bag with a banana, apple, piece of bread, cup cake, and a granola bar. WTF? I need frigging calories!!!! I ate the cupcake, banana and bread. I couldn’t eat the unsliced apple because of my braces.
I looked at the results pages, and it showed my chip time as 1:42:49. WHAT? But my Garmin said I came in under 1:42. I figured it out later. I used the training mode, and set it to 1/2 marathon @ 8:00 pace. But the Garmin slightly exagerates the distance, so it thought I finished before I actually crossed the line. It then displays some sort of message, and I think it pauses the timer during this. So I lost part of a minute.
We watched the runners come in and cheered then on. They announced the lead runners for the full were about a mile out. About 10 or more minutes passed and no elite runners. Close to 15 minutes after their anouncement, the winner came and crossed the line. I think he finished slower than 2:30.
We waited for Shirley to finish. She came with a couple of her runners, and was right on target for her 2:45 time. She was all smiles and looked great. I got some great pictures of her. She did a Wazzu kick right in front of me, but I didn’t get the picture as I wasn’t expecting her to stop right in front of me. We met Shirley and exchanged congratulations.
Shirley aka Hammergirl
My wife and I walked back to the car…Okay I sort of hobbled a bit. We drove to a nearby Dairy Queen. Using the 2 Canadian $5 bills I had found, pluss a few Canadian dollars my wife had, and also couple American dollars, we bought a couple Ultimate Burger meals. I wolfed down the food. Soon we were on road driving home. I slept most of the way as my wife drove.
Later last night, I ran another 7 miles on the treadmill at 8:30 pace to fill out the 20 miles that I was scheduled to run.

Pictures:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=63s6442n.a6pyienb&x=0&y=vyoeh8

Garmin 305 Data:
http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4322615