Saturday, July 26, 2014

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon 2014 Recap

Like I have mentioned previously, I have been really bad at updating my blog about my races and training so I am trying to do better. With that in mind, I am heading back in time to recap my race from the beginning of June (oops).

I had done this race last year for the first time and I had really enjoyed it. I had signed up the week after for a super discounted rate and I was looking forward to it. I even had convinced my mom to do it as her first half marathon. We made an entire plan of it, with my sister and niece coming with us (so the kids could sleep in) and my mom and I running. Then I found out my BRF (Best Running Friend) was getting married the day we had to leave to get to the race. There was no way I could make the wedding and get to Niagara Falls for the race so I knew I had to skip the wedding. I think this was the hardest running thing I have had to ponder. I would have let the race registration go but with passports being ordered/paid for and my mom ready to complete her half, I needed to be there. (We did make it up to them with a dinner out to celebrate, though even 7 weeks later I am still so sad I missed their special day).

So back to the race. We left Saturday morning for the trip over. It was uneventful which is GREAT when traveling with 3 kids under 6. We got to the race expo at the mall. Now this was different than last year. Last year it was just a tent in the parking lot where the race was held. I was excited for the bigger location until we got there. It was about 3pm and the expo had a couple hours to go and the line was NUTS. It was wrapped around and back to the center of the mall. We ended up waiting in line almost 45 minutes, which after a 5 hour car ride was not the best for the kids but they did great.

Again this year the swag was AWESOME. Included was makeup, bubble bath and WINE, yes, a full bottle of wine.

We went to check into the hotel and get settled. We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (never again, just too slow and overpriced) and went to see the falls. Then it was bedtime.

Sunday we got up bright and early and met a running friend in the lobby to head over to the race. It was smooth as could be from our hotel (we stayed at the Embassy Suites this year instead of Great Wolf Lodge like last year and it was SO MUCH closer). We parked and headed to meet up with some people from the Posse!!

When it was race time we all headed to our starting spots. My mom was a little worried, as is normal before your first race. I just knew I was hoping for another PR this year but I wasn't sure how it would go. As we were waiting to start I realized I was lined with with the same two ladies that I had lined up with the year before! What are the chances of that. It was so fun and a great start to the race. It is always nice to hear everyone singing the Canadian National Anthem too!

And we were off. I really did not have a plan for this race. In the first 3 miles I took 2 walk breaks then I switched to a 5:1 interval but sometimes I did 3:1. I really just ran more on feel this race. I did have in the back of my mind that a month earlier I had my best time in the hilly Novi half, so since this race was flat I was hoping to do better. I did, though not by too much!

I came in, got my food (boxes from Tim Horton's with cookies and fruit) and went to watch my friends and my mom finish. I have to say, it was awesome to be able to cheer people in and to see my mom cross the finish line. It really was wonderful.

Once my mom was done we met up, did a finishers picture and then we went back to the hotel to get showered and checked out. That was smooth as can be and then we were heading home.

Overall, again this was a nice race but I am not registered for next year. The expo was kind of a bummer with the long wait and also the drive is a bit long. Not horrible but there are a lot of other races the same distance away that I want to check out. I do like this race a lot though, just having done it twice it is time to explore others!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Escape to Belle Isle 10K

I know I have been slacking in my race reports so I am committing to getting better. Along those lines I am going to share about last weekend's race on Belle Isle.

I had noticed this race a couple months ago and since I love Belle Isle it was in my plans. Now, I knew we were coming back from Hawaii a couple days before and I wasn't sure how things were going to go so I held off registering since there was no price difference for registering day of.

June 1st I started a new training program. I am working with a personal running coach. This training has really changed how I train and how I run. At the most basic level, I am moving away from intervals for now since I have been using them as a crutch and I am also adding a lot more miles to my weekly runs. It has been a lot of work but I have honestly been enjoying myself. Now I know, what does this have to do with THIS RACE. Well, this 10K was going to be my first race with no intervals. Now remember, 7 weeks before I was using 2:1 intervals and enjoying it so this was a HUGE chance for me. Also, I usually averaged about 12-20 miles for a week with a race. This week the race would bring me to 24 miles for the week and it was a 10K!!

The day before the race, Abby decided she wanted to run with me. She has done 2 5Ks and I knew she could do the 5K. Problem was, I wanted to run the 10K for time. So what's a mom to do? Easy, I called my mom who said right away she would do the 5K with Abby and I could run the 10K for time!!! There were several other ladies from my running group (Posse Power) running so we all decide to wear our matching group skirts since Abby has one too!

Race morning was perfect weather for me! We were having another Polar Vortex (which is much better in July than in January I might add). We got to Belle Isle about 7am because I had to do same day registration. We registered quick and got our bibs and went back to the car to hang out. Everything was at the casino. The bathrooms there were open but there were no Porta Potties which was strange, I was really surprised. Didn't matter to us but I am sure the lines were a problem for some people.

It did start to lightly rain but since it was mid 60s it was fine. There was some slight confusion since when we registered Abby and I were given the wrong bib colors for our races but Running Fit Timing straightened it right out.

At 8am we headed for a picture at the fountain. Imagine my surprise when the fountain was ON. I cannot remember seeing it with water. It was clean and beautiful. It made me smile. I did a short warm up as I was instructed to do on my way back to the start line outside the casino.

Then it was time to start. I lined up and off we went. No national anthem or anything which was a little weird. Maybe they did it and I missed it but I don't think so. I was were I thought I should be and as usual I went off too fast. I was watching my pace and I knew I needed to slow down. By mile 2, I was in a rhythm and more comfortable. As we ran around the island it was like life had come back to it. They were putting new picnic tables out in one area, people were lined up for the Nature Zoo to open, sprinklers were turned on at the golf course and people were around fishing, playing with boats, biking and running.

I had made a deal with myself that I was only going to stop for 1 water stop. Well, around mile 4, I just needed to rinse my mouth so I grabbed a cup and kept going (I was so glad it was not a crowded course so I could just keep going). I promptly spilled a ton down the front of myself. It was warm out so it was fine but I had to smile. The next stop I had just taken a GU so I tried again. Well, this time it went up my nose. Oops but I didn't slow down. After Mile 5 I knew all bets were off and I needed to go as fast as I could and not pay attention to pace. As I came around the corner I saw the clock and it was at 59 minutes. WAIT WHAT?? I was going to go sub 60 so with a smile I pushed forward and finished. The end was great and my mom, Pattie and Abby were at the finish line cheering and waiting for me. I was just so happy. I had cut over 7 minutes off my best 10K time ever. The training had paid off (thanks Coach).

After we waited for my friends to finish so we could cheer them on. I love seeing people I know complete a race!

Overall, wonderful race. Flat, fast course and Belle Isle is so nice to run on. Good event. Nice medals (though they did run out for the final 10K finishers but they are mailing them out). I would do this one again!!