It was a good race and I met my main objective of a BQ. It was also my best split with the second half only a minute slower than the first half. Temperature was good, but the wind was a mixed bag. Garmin lost signal at exactly mile 16 so it became a fancy stopwatch for the last ten miles.
I'm going to sign up for Boston tomorrow!!
Overall - 67
Overall Male - 60
Overall place at half - 117
The day before the race things did not look good for the weather, rain and 27 mph wind from WSW. The forecast improved with wind from SW with the high winds not starting until the afternoon. Race start time was 10:00 am. The buses left the hotel starting at 7:00. I had gotten up earlier after waking up throughout the night so I got onto one of the first buses. The bus got to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo just after 8:00 after a fairly uneventful border crossing (the one guy that forgot his passport got off the bus before we left so no one held us up). I chatted with the guy next to me on the bus. He was Steve from Ottawa. This was his third marathon and he was going for a 3:30. It was really nice having the art gallery to hang out inside. It was warm, the bathrooms were all open, they had live music (classical guitarist), and of course art to look at. With the temperature almost 50 at this point I wasn't sure what to wear, when the wind picked up it felt a lot colder so I settled on wearing two shirts, a tight short sleeve under armour shirt and a long sleeve tech shirt, as well as hat and shorts.
I went outside as the time was getting closer and I saw my Dad. Then my Mom, sister-in-law and niece and nephew showed up. I talked with them for a bit then did a short 5 minute warm up.
One nice surprise is that I saw a pacer, there was a guy holding a 4:00 sign and had rabbit ears on his head. I talked to him and asked about other groups and he said there was a 3:15, 3:20, and 3:30 group. I soon saw the 3:20 guy. In addition to the rabbit ears he was also wearing a full fuzzy bunny suit. I was tempted to find the 3:15 bunny but thought I would stick with the 3:20 and play it safe.
I lined up next to the 3:20 bunny. There were a couple of other guys wanting a 3:20 as well as a 20 something girl from Rochester (my home town).
The race started and we shuffled through the starting chute then pretty quickly got on pace. The warm up had paid off and I didn't have any starting out problems like I sometimes do. After one mile, the hat came off and I shoved it into my pocket. Hit some wind on the second mile as we were going southwest. Two more miles brought us to the foot of the Peace Bridge going into Canada. It rises up quickly with a gradual descent on the other side. The 5 mile point was not marked but it was someplace towards the end of the bridge. It felt nice going down the bridge. From the peak of the bridge to the finish line was a 120 foot elevation drop but mostly flat except for the bridge and the end. At some point I had gotten ahead of the pace bunny. I thought I would just go with what I felt running as long as it didn't feel too tough.
Mile 6 we were heading south to a turn around point at mile 7. It was pretty windy here with gusts coming off of Lake Erie, but I knew we'd soon be turning around. Mile 9 was just past the bridge and the start of a long steady stretch that looked mostly the same for the next 15 miles. The Niagara River was on the right, and lots of nice houses were to the left with an occassional business or just some trees on the left. The course varied between due north, northwest and due west.
I hit the halfway point at 1:39:30 (gun time). Was slightly worried because I felt a little more tired than I should have for that pace and wasn't sure how I was going to hold up. I could feel some small blisters starting on my left foot.
The aid stations were really cool, with each one a little bit different. Some were staffed by high school students, one was run by bikers, another one by a fire department - everyone dressed in full fire fighting gear next to a fire truck with ladder extended over the course, and another station was staffed by doctors and nurses in scrubs.
As the miles went by I ran with various people, some of them I talked to and some I just ran next to or behind. I spent several miles running behind a guy wearing a Mexico shirt. I was a little jealous because all the spectators gave a big "Go Mexico" shout out to him. Next time I'll wear a more exciting shirt!
Eventually I passed Mexico shirt guy. Every now and then someone would pass me.
At mile 16 I experienced a technical malfunction. The Garmin lost its signal. I knew exactly what was happening when my pace went from 7:40 - 8:03 - 8:11 - 8:41 even though I wasn't really slowing down. This was right at 16.0 miles one the Garmin, but just before the actual 16 mile marker point.
Time for the backup plan, Garmin was now just a stopwatch. I hit the lap button each mile marker and ran by feel in between. Mile 17 came in at 7:41 which worried me. I could not afford to slow down much this early on.
So, mile 18 was one of my best miles and gave me a huge confidence. With no continuous Garmin feedback, that mile came in at 7:26. I could still do this!!
Miles 20 and 21 were also great, coming in under 7:30. The end felt like it was coming within reach. I could see the Niagara Falls skyline. I was passing up the half marathon walkers. Physically this didn't make the running easier but it helped to keep me going.
About mile 23 the wind was picking up more and more, sometimes against me, sometimes just a crosswind.
Mile 24 went through the small town of Chippawa and across a small bridge.
Some time at mile 25 the pace bunny had caught up to me (but had ditched part of the costume). I was worried I would not be able to keep up. I also had a pace tattoo on my arm so I used that to keep a check on my progress.
Finally the last mile came up, the wind picked up more but it was downhill. The river was rough and was dropping off. I could see the mist coming up from the falls up ahead. As I was getting closer, and someplace on the last mile, I saw my brother Jim (who had just finished his first ever half marathon in 1:52). He ran along side me for a bit then dropped off. The pace bunny was right behind me and yelled at me to go for it. Next, my nephew Brian ran with me "Go Uncle Mark!". Last one was Jenny (who PR'd at 1:52 running the half with Jim). She said "Mark, you're killing it! GO! GO!" She ran with me to the 26 mile marker, then I ran in the rest of the way. I wasn't sure exactly where I was for time. Then I saw the clock, 3:19:3x ---- Yes, made it!
It was weird how time had seemed to slow down while on the course, then once I crossed I was back in the real world. I was happy with my time and glad I played it safe because even with that it wasn't very easy. I'm not sure what the final tally was with the wind, sometimes I was fighting it and every now and then it was giving me a small push.
It was so wonderful to have everyone there. I downed a gatorade and a chocolate milk We hung out for a bit by the falls and traded racing stories until we had to rush off to get back to our hotel before the late checkout time was up.
First half : 1:39:30
Second half: 1:40:13
My mile splits:
| 1|| 7:39|| :15 sync garmin w/ marker|
| 2|| 7:28|| |
| 3|| 7:37|| :05 sync garmin w/ marker|
| 4|| 7:31|| |
| 5|| 7:28|| |
| 6|| 7:43|| :28 sync garmin w/ marker|
| 7|| 7:39|| |
| 8|| 7:21|| |
| 9|| 7:31|| |
| 10|| 7:31|| |
| 11|| 7:31|| |
| 12|| 7:38|| |
| 13|| 7:38|| |
| 14|| 7:27|| |
| 15|| 7:32|| |
| 16|| 7:43|| Garmin died here|
| 17|| 7:41|| |
| 18|| 7:26|| this mile gave me hope|
| 19|| 7:43|| |
| 20|| 7:29|| |
| 21|| 7:24|| |
| 22|| 7:54|| |
| 23|| 7:53|| |
| 24|| 8:03|| |
| 25|| 7:56|| |
| 26.2|| 8:49|| 7:17 pace - thanks family and pace bunny!|
Summary race report - Niagara Falls Marathon 2008. I would definitely recommend
this race to anyone who wants a flat point to point race with great
scenery. Small/medium size race with not too many crowds, great
volunteer support - although not a lot of spectators along the way but
not so few that you ever feel lonely.