Niagara Falls Half Marathon

My first ‘International’ race per say.  This weekend (my birthday weekend to boot), I headed to Niagara Falls for their 1/2 marathon.  It’s been a good 15 yrs since I’ve been to the Falls that I can remember.  I left Friday afterwork and drove about 3.5 hours to Canada.  I love my passport card, as it’s less to worry about than my book.  It took maybe 5-10 minutes to get through customs, then I was able to pick up my packet at the expo.  Going from mph to kph in a mater of 30 seconds was a shock to the system, that’s for sure.  Not a huge fan of the expo- it was at a mall, so you had to figure out where the bibs were.  Once you picked up your bib, you had to make sure it was activated and then go to a separate location in the mall to pick up your shirt.  After you found your shirt, you had to go to a third location to get your swag bag (which included a box of pasta).  I get trying to get people to walk through vendors and stuff, but someone’s bound to miss something, especially if you’re not familiar with the layout.

I drove to the hotel and was able to check in and get somewhat settled.  I found some food (used a $10 off coupon) and headed to the Falls, which were all lit up.

IMG_0274 Saturday (my birthday!), I treated myself to sleeping in until 9 AM.  I got myself out of bed and scheduled myself for a wine tour (because who doesn’t love some wine?).  I went up the sky tower and got some good sites of the Falls from high up and close up after I came back down.  Lunch included Tim Horton’s.  Cleveland doesn’t know what it’s missing by not having Tim Horton’s, so it was a must to order.  Around 1, I went to where the wine tour departed from.  We went to 4 wineries total and I was introduced to ice wine, something the Niagara region is known for.  The last winery, we got a full tour before the tastings.  Between the 4 venues, I may or may not have ended up with more than a few bottles of wine that I won’t be sharing with anyone.  I went back to the hotel and stayed up until way after midnight thanks to OSU winning in double OT against Penn State.

Sunday I was up at 730 AM.  Race time was at 10 AM, but we had to be shuttled to the start (I have no idea where it was at).  I was in a crazy long line by 820 (I even forgot my garmin) and I was to the start shortly after 9 AM and even had time to use the bathroom.  We were huddled together in tents prior to the race start.  We had a moment of silence for 2 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives earlier this week prior to the playing of the US and Canadian national anthems.  The wheel chair athletes were off and we followed shortly there after.

The course itself is very scenic.  You have some crowd support at the start and throughout the course, but it really is a course to enjoy your surroundings.  It’s also a relatively flat course.  I was doing fairly well, holding about 2:10, but I fell back towards the end, a combination of walking the day before and having just run the Columbus Half Marathon last weekend.  You pretty much have a straight line up until after mile 11, where you have some turns.  Water stops were every 2 miles initially and then got funky towards the end.  The Marathon started in Buffalo and crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada, and they started at the same time as the half marathon did.  Throughout the course, you’d see both the half and full marathon markers.  I trucked along and was glad to finally cross the finish, right behind Niagara Falls.  As you crossed, you were given a throw away type jacket and then were given your medal.  Food and water were right behind.  I kept walking to stay loose.  Shuttles holding bags for anyone who checked were waiting, but I wasn’t a fan of checking anything this race.

In Canada, or this race at least, pacers are called bunnies.  One of the bunnies loved my yellow pants and said that I had been pacing her a while.  Woohoo!  They still beat me.  I walked back to the hotel, though I took the Niagara Falls incline up the ridiculously steep hill I had no desire to climb.  I had the million dollar shower before packing up my car and heading back to the states.

Overall a decent race.  I’d change the expo because I was freaking out I was going to miss something.  I might have worn one more long sleeved shirt, but I’m always cold.  Successful weekend for sure though!

Discount Monday

The nice thing about race expos is that there’s race promotions and discounts.  Enjoy!

  1. UltraFit USA: $5off any 2015 race with UFUSA2015
  2. Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon (Louisville, KY; 4/25/15): 10% off through 11/19/2014 with KDF2015COL
  3. Columbus Turkey Trot (Columbus, OH; 11/27/2014): $5 off with EXPO14
  4. The Heights 1/2 Marathon (Huber Heights, OH; 6/13/15): $5 off with COLUMBUS
  5. Hot Chocolate 15K/5K: 5% off with MRTT5
  6. Jeff Galloway Half Marathon (Atlanta, GA; 12/14/14): 10% off with HOTLANTA

Columbus Half Marathon

What better way to cap off a week of nights than to drive to Columbus for a weekend of football, food and running!  I finished day (or night) 7/7 yesterday morning and drove to Columbus from Cleveland.  The perk of being the senior resident is that if things aren’t insanely busy, I can pass off admits to the interns and sleep if we get any.  I napped for about 2-3 hours overnight and headed out around 10 AM.  Since my parents lived in Lancaster and my body gets thrown off with nights, I stayed in Columbus for the race so it’d only be a 10-15 min drive max.  My mom had picked up my bib from the expo on Friday when she volunteered and met me at the hotel.  We picked up my dad and headed off to the OSU-Rutgers game at The Shoe.  We had some entertaining Rutgers fans in front of us (who boo Rutgers more than we did apparently) and enjoyed another OSU win.  We went to dinner afterwards with my sister, some of her friends and a fellow resident who was running the full. I promptly passed out at 10 pm.

This morning, we were up by 5:15/5:20.  Mom was volunteering again from 6-10AM, but got free parking ridiculously close to the finish line.  I hung out in the car until about 7:10 before hopping out to go use the bathroom.  I showed my bib to get into the corrals and was able to be in and out of the bathroom in about 5 minutes.  Anyone who says the line was too long, you didn’t have to wait in the line for the first like 3 port a potties, people were getting in line for individual port a potties towards the middle!  I made my way to Corral B and off we went.  Wheel Chair racers started at 7:27 and the rest of the field at 7:30.  The start was at North Bank Park this year instead of closer to the arena district, which I thought was a good change.  People were out cheering and excited for runners.  Though, if I weren’t a runner, I might be annoyed with the amount of noise we make.  Sorry!!  For a good 2.5-3 miles, it was a straight line.  We passed by St. Charles school and made some turns into Bexley and passed my old high school (CSG).  Running through Bexley made me think of the runs we had to do for any sort of athletic team.  We passed Graeter’s ice cream (which sounded so good) and turned onto Main street.  We kept on chugging along and passed Children’s Hospital around mile 8 or 9.  As we headed towards the split where marathoners kept going and 1/2 marathoners went towards the finish, there was a sign that showed how you know you’re in Buckeye Country:
“You’re running faster than Hoke’s Offense.” That’s about right.  By mile 12.5, we split from the full marathon runners around 12.5 miles in and headed in to the finish.  I finished right as the second place marathoner was finishing.  I can say I won something right?

With the change in location, the finish was more spread out, which was appreciated.  You weren’t stepping all over people.  We got our warmers and then came to the medals- they were literally bringing the boxes in as I was getting there.  We were telling the volunteers to hand them as they were (still in boxes, still in the individually wrapped plastic).  What had happened was the order for the medals had been placed earlier this summer.  They were shipped and got stuck in a typhoon, which held up their delivery (my mom had talked with one of the Committee Members on Friday who had found out Thursday or Friday about the medals typhoon issue).  As I was walking towards the food, I was sending people back towards the medals since my wave of people must have been some of the first to get them.  I got to food and met up with my mom and we headed out.  After a shower at the hotel, I headed to Lancaster- can’t pass up the free laundry while I’m this close to home!!

Overall, I liked the course changes and the start and finish.  Please don’t get on the committee for the medals- they can’t help a typhoon was holding up the medals.  An overall well run race!!!  I’m kinda glad I was able to get a transferred bib

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