So Sunday marked the 3rd annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. If you recall Rhoda and I participated in this race last year as well. We had really enjoyed our experience at the race last year, so when we received an email a few days after returning home - with an early bird deal we couldn't refuse, we immediately signed up - and I even managed to convince my MIL to sign up to come with us - for her first 1/2 e.v.e.r
We headed to the Falls on Saturday for Packet Pick-up...and the BEST...(and I am not exaggerating)...swag bags ever. Full size...not sample size...deodorant, dry shampoo, make-up, bronzer, lip chap, dental tooth-picks, body wash...and a bottle of wine from a local vineyard. B.E.S.T race value, considering I paid only $60 for this race.
Kathrine Switzer was also at the packet pickup taking photos and signing autographs. Our race shirts this year have the #261 on the front of them - that was her bib number in her 1st ever Boston marathon. She was even out along the course on Sunday, encouraging us on and providing high-five's.
Race morning, I ate my banana, drank my dt.coke and had about 1/2 a granola bar (my typical pre-race meal). As soon as we arrived at the park we headed to the porta-potties before lining up. Although this race does not officially have corrals, they had the areas marked in the chute for expected finish times. My MIL and I headed to the 2 1/2 - 3 hour finish time. This race is so well organized and provides so many nice touches, including pace bunnies - both running and the combo run/walk pace bunnies. To kick off the race for the day a local high school preformed a drum processional...talk about a great way to get all us runners pumped, then there was the singing of the Canadian National Anthem...and then we were off. The race did start a few moments late (maybe like 2-3 minutes), but nothing crazy.
This course is so beautiful, you are literally running along the water the entire time.
Just after we started the race, and just before we made our way down along the Falls, they had a band set-up along the side playing live music all morning. Another km or so there was a trumpet player, another few km's and there was a harp player. Since this course has 2 turn around out and backs - we got to enjoy these musicians twice! Another great benefit from a 2 turn around out-and-back is seeing everyone out on the course, and hearing all the encouraging words being passed around. 5km in and my MIL couldn't believe that we had already finished almost a 1/4 of the run. This year about a week and a half before the race they posted on the race FB page where all the water stations were going to be. This was a tremendous help mentally to know where they were going to be. Before the race started I had applied Lakota to my knees and taken some ibuprofen - I had also put a pill in my pocket and had decided I would take it at the 9k water station. That also happen to be the station where there an assortment of goodies...jelly beans, m&m's and orange slices are the only things I remember them having. This station messed with me a little mentally though, because last year it was before we went over the bridge, and this year it was after, but nonetheless we got to that station still feeling good. I swallowed my pill that I had brought along and then enjoyed an orange slice. I think this strategy of taking a couple pills before hand and then one during the race really helped me. I was able to physically get through this race feeling great, and for the 1st time ever - no knee pain!!!
My MIL and I just kept soaking in the scenery and enjoying ourselves, while talking and wondering about all these ladies' running stories. After we hit the 15k marker we were into new distance records for my MIL, so each time we saw the km signs I would high-five and congratulate her. Right before we turned the corner to run the last 250m to the finish line they had a little beauty salon set up along the side with full length mirrors, and combs and brushes so you could make yourself look fab for your finishing pics! We didn't stop instead we rounded the corner and headed to the finish...and low and behold standing along the side of the road to cheer us on was my sister in law, her hubby and the kids. We ran over for a quick hug and hello before heading to cross the finish. We did it!!!
We finished in 2hr 40min...a 3min PR over my race here last year!!!!
We grabbed our ice cold wet wash clothes they were handing out, and then went and found Rhoda and our surprise visitors!
From the organization of this race, the super friendly and encouraging volunteers, to all the special touches they put into this run...there is nothing to complain about...I actually think this has got to be my favourite race to participate in...so much so...I have already signed up for next year!!!
I had a great time running this race again this year, I am happy to report I physically finished the race feeling good...and I am so proud of my MIL for completing her 1st half marathon...and she enjoyed it!!!
And the real reason we all race...for the bling
What's the prettiest course you've ever raced?
Your go-to meal post race?
...we always go for pizza
...can I convince any of you to come run this race with us next year?!?!?