Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon

Half marathon number 6 done. I didn't hit any either of my time goals so no new PR for me, but I'm okay with that.

Saturday morning, the husband and I headed out to Niagara Falls. Our first stop was race kit pick up which was very quick and well organized. Besides the usual shirt (which I quite like) and bib, there was a bunch of health & beauty products and best of all, a bottle of wine. Big improvement on the race kits (if you can call it that) from Goodlife and Sporting Life.

After picking up all of my goodies, I stood in line for a bit to meet Kathrine Switzer. She spent a good couple of minutes with everyone, asking about their race goals, whether this was their first half or not, taking photos, signing bibs and books. She greeted everyone with a big hug and just made everyone feel special.

Ready to go.
Sunday morning, we drove over to the starting area (conveniently the same spot as packet pick up and lots of parking).
The much advertised "classy" porta potties.

Tents were set up. Tables out with linen tablecloths (all very civilized). Great announcer getting everyone pumped.

The start line was a bit disorganized. They asked all of the runners to get into the starting area 15 minutes before the race started and line up appropriately. They did have signs for finishing times (sub 2, 2-3:30, 2:30 - 3, 3+), but I don't think they were spaced out enough so runners were just getting in wherever they could. Than they brought a marching band through the starting area which was kind of fun, but everyone had to move to the sides.
 The organization was also just left up to the runners which I don't think is ever a good idea. The crowds weren't huge (1700 runners & walkers) but once I crossed the start line, people on one side of me took off and people on the other kept walking.

I looked for the 2:30 pace bunny and none was to be found. Their Facebook page listed bunnies for 2:30, 2:45 and 3 but I only saw the 2:15 bunny and the two 2hr bunnies. I'm not having good luck with pace bunnies.

Katherine Switzer gave a little pep talk, we did the wave a couple of times, high fived our neighbours and were off!
Yay! Happy!

The course was quite pretty, all along the Niagara Falls Boulevard, the falls and the Niagara River.
Very flat, just a couple of little inclines.

Running by the falls was nice with the cooling mist.

It was pretty hot, very humid and quite windy. Not my favourite running conditions. My right leg started hurting early on and I just felt kind of groggy for most of the race.

The course is an out and back that takes about 7km followed by another (longer) out and back. This would have been a fun race to do with a bunch of friends cause you would see each other a couple of times along the course. The race leader passed us back of the pack people on the first loop quite early. Everyone was cheering and clapping for her and she actually acknowledge us and gave us some applause too which was really nice.

Coming back to the starting area at 7km, there were quite a few spectators and the marching band from earlier. My husband was out taking pictures. I yelled out to him "this isn't going very good so far! I'm struggling" He told me later that he thought this was the half way mark and I had run 10K in 45 minutes (ha!) so was a bit confused.
The crowds, seeing my husband and getting a high five from Kathrine Switzer gave me a second wind and I was feeling better for the next 4k's.

With the heat and humidity, I was trying my best to stay hydrated. I had my fuel belt on with two bottles and took at least one cup at every water station (either to drink or refill my bottles). Around 15k, I ran out of water in my fuel belt. The next water station was around km 16. They had about 10 cups of powerade out and had run out of water! Not good. Next water station was at km 20 so I took two cups to refill my bottles. They were also handing out timbits which was the most disgusting thing I could imagine eating at that point.

My leg was hurting quite a bit so I was alternating between running and limping. Saw a friend right before turning into the final 200m. Lots of people and cheering in the final stretch. Sorry to say that I didn't finish strong or with my arms in the air. Kind of went out with a whimper.
Looking tired.

Despite feeling cruddy for most of the race, I finished in 2:34:06 making this my second best half and just a minute behind my half marathon PR.

Firemen handed out the medals followed by volunteers handed out cold, wet washcloths (more races should do this). Picked up a bottle of water, powerade, a chocolate milk and snacks in a box (once again, much better than Goodlife and Sporting Life).

Besides the water issue and the start line disorganization, I really liked this race.
The course was scenic, the swag was good. The runners seemed very encouraging of each other. The volunteers were very enthusiastic. One interesting note - the top 3 runners were all over 45, the first place runner in age group 50-54. I would definitely do this race again at some point, probably not next year as I'm determined to make SeaWheeze happen.

Now that this race is done, I have a few weeks off before starting training for the fall. Looking forward to a few weeks of unstructured running and exercise.


  1. Great job!

    I might do this one next year.

  2. Sorry to hear you didn't have such a great race! I agree - it was much warmer and more humid than I prefer to run in - especially at this time of year when you haven't had time to adjust. I didn't take my water belt but I think I would in the future. (Also agree about the Timbits! Ha!)

  3. Congratulations on a great finish, especially if you were having problems with your leg. Looks like a great event and I hope to get out there one day and do it!

  4. Congrats on your finish! Great report and lovely photos. I've avoided this race for the past few years, but I may have to bite the bullet next year!

  5. I thought the name Kathrine Switzer looked familiar. I followed your link to her site and immediately remembered her! It's amazing you got to meet her and that she cheered you on!

    Your comparisons to Goodlife are very valid and point out a lot of things that would be good for all races to have! A good learning experience in many ways!

    And congratulations on a great finish! You did your best!!

    And you said "husband"? I must have missed something because you referred to him as your "fiancée" at Harry's Spring Run Off.

    1. Thanks!
      Must have just been pre-race excitement if I called him fiancee. We've been an old married couple for 4 years now.

  6. Congrats on completing another half marathon! Sorry that it wasn't the race that you were hoping for but great job. Those timbits remind me of the chocolate that they give out at the 20K point of the Toronto Women's Half. Uh, no thanks! I enjoyed your photos a lot. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great review and congrats on a great time, you did great and wouldn't know it with your leg pains. How are you feeling now? Lack of pace bunnies and lack of water is not good, but its their second year, lets hope they keep learning from their mistakes and next year will be even better :)

  8. Great post with nice details. And so sad that you were having problems with your leg.. Thanks for sharing this great story. niagara falls