Niagara Falls International Marathon Race Recap

So, remember when I said I was going to keep you updated re: marathon training? And when I said I would be posting a marathon recap soon? Oops. Better late than never! Things have been so busy around here that I totally forgot about my race recap. I think I need to set a goal to do one blog post per week – I personally find writing about running to be therapeutic!

Race Preparation

We went to the race expo to pick up our race kits and go through customs two days before the race. This was so well organized. When we arrived at the expo, we were directed to go straight to customs, which was quick and easy (tip #1: go on the Friday before the race to get your race kit!). We got our bibs scanned, picked up our shirts and browsed around for a little bit.

img_7146
The customs officials kindly obliged to my request for a photo.

img_7145
The day before the race, we had a late Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s place. My sister-in-law is pregnant, so it was a way to celebrate that as well. It was nice to spend time with everyone – it really helped to calm some of the pre-race day jitters. While everyone else enjoyed all of the Thanksgiving fixings, myself and Paul enjoyed our plain and boring veggie pasta. I followed that with all of the pretzels later that evening. Then it was off to bed!

Race Day

For breakfast I ate oatmeal with PB and a banana. This was not a wise move, as I have never fueled with this during any of my long runs. I thought it was pretty plain, and that it wouldn’t bother my stomach, and luckily it didn’t. But, I won’t be doing that again (tip #2, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, don’t fuel with fuel that is new to you the day of your race)! I also had half of a cup of coffee and about 250mL of water or so. This was all about 2.5 hours before the race was due to start.

My mother-in-law and her husband brought us across the border and to the race start in Buffalo (tip #3, DO NOT forget your passport! Even if you are taking the shuttle offered by the race – apparently it has happened in the past).

img_7159
We lined up for the porta potties and by the time we were able to use one, it was time to go line up for the race.

Leading up to the race, I knew that achieving my goal time was going to be difficult. The marathon didn’t start until 10am, and at that point it was already going to be approximately 23 degrees Celsius, but feeling like 30 with the humidity. The winds were also going to be gusting to 80km/hr and steady at 55km/hr. I know people say that you shouldn’t set goal times for your first race (that’s probably even more true when you’re dealing with those types of weather conditions for a fall marathon), but I decided on a couple of goals so that I would walk away happy. My A goal was to finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes; my B goal was to finish in under 4 hours; and my C goal was to finish. I knew I could finish, even if I had to roll myself to the finish line, so I decided that those were appropriate goals for me.

Paul and I decided to run together, and for the first 5 miles, we were running at our goal pace. However, after mile 5, I started to feel dehydrated and could feel myself having to work harder to stay at our goal pace. I slowed down to about an 8:20 min/mile pace after mile 5, and knew by mile 8 or so that my A goal was not going to be achievable. I decided to voluntarily decrease my pace to 8:20-8:30. But, but mile 12, things started to feel harder – I started to experience mild muscle cramping and slowed down a lot. Paul decided that he needed to take a break and walk for a bit, and I continued on at about a 8:40-8:45 pace.

img_7161
Then, at mile 21, my IT band flared. This left me with no choice but to run/walk the rest of the race. I knew I could still finish in under four hours if I continued to walk/run, so I decided to be ok with my IT band’s decision to get angry at me. At about mile 23, I asked a random fellow runner if I could try running with him, because he seemed to be going at a pace I thought I could run, even with my knee pain, and he said yes. He was so incredibly nice to me, talking to me here and there, but my knee just wouldn’t let me keep going at his pace. I was about 1.5 miles from the finish at that point, and continued to walk/run while being passed by so many runners. I was emotionally and physically hurting a lot, but everyone who passed me clapped and gave me a thumbs up or said words of encouragement, which really turned what could’ve been a lonely and discouraging last mile into one filled with hope that I could still finish the race in under 4 hours.

I was able to finish in 3:54:26, and am very happy with that. I ended up coming in 89th overall (out of 809 finishers), 22nd woman overall (out of 409 female finishers) and 6th in my division (out of 60 finishers).

(I apologize for my blurry finish photo – I haven’t had a chance to buy any of my favourites yet)

img_7757
For my first race, I thought I had picked a good course. It was flat, and after you cross the Peace Bridge into Canada, it is only a mile or so until you are on a gradual downhill most of the way. Unfortunately, I had not run in those conditions since the summer, so the humidity was a little bit too much for me. However, with favourable weather conditions, I think the NFIM would be a great course for a PR. It’s also a relatively easy course for family members to come and cheer you on along the way (lots of places to park along the race route). We were lucky to have my in-laws cheering us on at several points along the course, which was incredibly motivating. I was incredibly happy with the number of water stations that were available as well – there were electrolyte drinks and plain water available at each water station. They also had gels at about every 2nd or 3rd water station, which was good if you didn’t bring any of your own fuel (I fuel with dates and had those stuffed in my pockets). Overall, this was a beautiful and incredibly well organized race. It was fun to be able to run across an international border and finish at the Canadian side of the Falls. This race gets an A+ from me! The race organizers can’t control the weather ha.

img_7163-1

OH! One last thing. I was asked by many people about the whole crossing back over into Canada without going through customs thing. When you go through customs at the race expo, they link your bib number to your passport. When you cross back over into Canada, there are a bunch of customs officials who look at your race bib as you run by them to make sure you cleared customs at the race expo.

I’ve decided to not share Paul’s experience, with the hope that he might decide to write a blog post and share it with you instead. 🙂

Happy week-end, everyone!

And, because it’s Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the U.S., Lest We Forget.

-Jessica

 

Advertisements

Race Day FOMO

Today was the 90th annual Tely 10 road race, a popular road race in St. John’s, NL.  Myself and Paul ran this race in 2015 and I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive on-course support. It’s also an extremely flat race and a great course for a PR. I decided not to run it this year, mainly because I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work with our marathon training schedule, given other plans we have this summer. I was confident with my decision, until this morning.

Paul kept telling me how I was going to have so much fear of missing out (i.e. FOMO, do people still use that acronym? haha) on the day of the race, but I maintained that I was confident with my decision and did not want to race and would prefer to a cheerleader instead. We went down to the four mile mark of the race to catch some friends as they cruised on by. They all looked so strong and happy and I immediately had the urge to jump in and run with them, Toms and all. The energy of a group of runners, especially those who are racing, is contagious. I think that’s what I love about the running community the most – you don’t to run every race happening around you to be an important part of the running community. Despite my fear of missing out on today’s awesome race conditions, I was happy to be on the sidelines cheering and offering my support. My goals may be different from another runner’s goals, but we can all be supportive and proud of one another, and that’s what makes this community my favourite.

HOWEVER, my happiness didn’t erase all of my FOMO. Therefore, I was left with three options to end my misery:

  1. Make cookies for my friend who ran her first race
  2. Eat said cookies myself
  3. Treat myself to a new pair of running shoes (not much of a treat, though – I have 422 miles clocked in my current shoes. oops!)

As tempting and comforting as cookies are, I decided to buy a new pair of running shoes. I will still likely make some treats for my friend, though. Haha.

And, now for the reveal:

img_5954
I decided to go with the Saucony Ride 9s. I’ve always gone with either Saucony or Mizuno but for my last pair of running shoes, I decided to try out Asics (Gel nimbus 18). They were good for someone with a high arch like mine (can you say supinate), but I found them to be a bit stuff. I decided to go back to Saucony and am excited to take them for a ride tomorrow morning!

In other news, marathon training is going well. I did a 14 miler with Paul yesterday and, although I crawled through the last two miles, I was extremely proud to have run that distance as I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles. I can feel myself getting strong each week and am continuing to work on developing/maintaining the strength needed to get to October 15th injury free.

Have a lovely rest of the week-end, friends!

-Jessica

To Marathon!

Happy 1st day of June! It’s almost Spring here now. Hard to believe but, there are buds on the trees haha.

img_4770

We just got back from a hilly 5 miler.

img_4824

The elevation change looked like this (those hills were HARD):

img_4825

Since I haven’t posted in awhile, I feel like I should update you on some important life events.

1. Bella got a new bed. She is obviously happy about it.

img_4657

2. We went to Twillingate for a wedding and it was beautiful (and cold).

img_4745

Please put this place on your Newfoundland bucket list!

img_4710

3. We went for an epic trail run on the East Coast Trail.

img_4601

4. I’ve decided to run a marathon!

I’ve decided on the Niagara Falls International Marathon for several reasons:

  • It’s flat, which (I hope) will lessen the physical demands a smidge.
  • I’ve run the half marathon before, which I’m hoping will help with the mental piece.
  • It’s a BEAUTIFUL course.
  • And, how many chances do you get to run across the Canada – United States border?!

I’ve decided to use a training plan from Runner’s World. I’ve used one of their half-marathon training plans in the past and it worked out well for me so, I’ve decided to give one of their marathon training plans a try this time around. It’s a 16 week plan that I will be starting the last week of June.

I think the biggest challenge for me will be getting my runs in during some pretty busy months. I think I just need to sit down with a calendar and plan things out (#structuralpersonality). I think I’m also going to need to do some experimenting to see what works best for me in terms of strength training. I do a “pre-hab” (as my physiotherapist likes to call it) routine for my glutes every day because I’ve been a little prone to ITB flares in the past, but I obviously want to make sure I’m strengthening my core, arms and other parts of my lower body to make sure that I’m as strong as possible for the marathon. If anyone is interested in knowing more about my pre-hab routine, let me know and I’d be happy to share it!

Have a great rest of the week everyone! Training updates in t-3 weeks!

Jessica

 

To Marathon or not to Marathon?

Well, it has been awhile since I’ve written a blog post! I tried to convince Paul to write one in my absence but was clearly unsuccessful. I’ll get him to explain himself when he finally gets around to writing something. 🙂

Speaking of Paul, it was his birthday last week-end! We went to Trinity, Newfoundland to celebrate with my parents (since it was also Mother’s Day).

img_4252
Mes parents

We did a lot of touring around but, unfortunately, it was far too cold to get any hiking in like we had planned. I thought I would share a couple of photos because this is arguably one of the prettiest places I have ever been in Newfoundland (second to my hometown, of course!).

img_4426
There is where most of the scenes from “The Grand Seduction” were filmed. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you must do so!

img_4464
“Random Passage” (based on the book) was filmed here. So rugged – I love it.

img_4480
And, of course, a photo of the birthday boy.

Now, let’s get back to talking about running.

img_4197

My (and Paul’s) training this week looked like this:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 4.2 miles of speedwork + strength training

Wednesday: 3.1 miles easy

Thursday: 4.0 miles easy

Friday: Off

Saturday: 14.2 miles

Sunday: Off

I was not impressed with my number of “off” days this week or my lack of strength training. I unexpectedly had to work until 9pm on Monday and was feeling so unwell on Friday that I decided to take those days off. Normally, I try to do something active every day of the week except for Sunday so, taking those many days off is definitely not in my comfort zone. With regards to strength training, I’ve been on the struggle bus since January. I was using Kayla Itsines’ plans diligently all of last year and I think part of the reason why I was so diligent is because my workouts were already planned out for me. I’ve actually been writing “add in more strength training” or be “more consistent with strength training” in my training journal every week for about 4 months now. Oops. This week’s goal!

On the positive side, this week’s long run was my longest run yet! We had some strong wind gusts on the ascent which made for a tough few miles but it was such a rewarding run (even though I’m pretty sure that at some point during my last few miles I yelled out “I HATE YOU NEWFOUNDLAND” when the wind really picked up and started to blow 90km/hr gusts at my face).

img_4576

On another positive note, I think this run really helped me to see that, as long as I slow things down, I’m definitely capable of running a marathon. I’ve been debating whether or not to train for a marathon for a long time now, but I can’t seem to get myself to commit. I think part of the reason is that the thought of running 26.2 miles scares me. I’ve raced enough half-marathons and other distances to know and be comfortable with the amount of dedication and time that is required of those distances. I know that the amount of time and dedication that a marathon requires is so much higher, and I think that’s what I find most intimidating. I’ve also got a big exam coming up related to my work next Spring and I needed to start preparing for that as of 2 months ago (oops). But, at the same time, I think that as long as I adequately plan for it I can strike a good balance between working, studying, socializing and training. I think I just need to find a training plan that I’m comfortable with.

Would love to hear any of yours thoughts, suggestions, and/or tips for someone who is contemplating running their first marathon!

Have a lovely Sunday!

-Jessica

Snowy trails, our iceberg quest and a walk down memory lane

Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. We started our week with an easy 5 miler.

We did a couple laps of this loop to keep things simple.


Sometimes it’s nice to not have to think about cars, stoplights, crosswalks, etc. Paul stopped at around mile 3 to bring Bella to a nearby dog park while I did a few more loops for a total of 5 miles. I had intended to run 4 miles but, at around mile 3, more runners joined us on the trail and all that positive energy made me want to run longer!

My training last week looked like this:
Monday: Off

Tuesday: 4 miles easy

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: 30 minute spin class + lower body strength training

Friday: 4 miles, progressive run

Saturday: 9 miles (this week’s long run) + 1 hour hatha yoga

Sunday: 1 hour vinyasa yoga

We thought for sure that all the snow on our local trails would be gone for our run on Saturday but, it wasn’t, which made some sections of our route a little more technical than planned. I feel especially lucky that I have Paul to run with during the hard runs. It makes them much easier. And, I of course love his company. 🙂

img_3848

I followed up our long run with some “doga” – yoga with dogs! It was a fundraiser for a local senior dog rescue organization. It was so much fun.
img_3847

We had planned to go and find the Ferryland iceberg that the whole world is presently talking about on Saturday, but we were both feeling a little toast after our run and decided to eat ice cream instead.  No regrets.

img_3855

We did venture out to visit said iceberg on Sunday, but there was too much fog to see it!

img_3898

The drive was beautiful and we were able to get a close-up look at the impressive amount of pack ice this year, which was well worth the drive.

img_3933

One of my provincial cross-country meets in high school was held in Ferryland so, we stopped at the trail where the races were held.

img_3998-1

Always fun to walk down memory lane.

Hope you have a great week!

-Jessica

Last Week’s Training & Vacation

Hope you all had a nice Easter weekend! We just got back from Ontario where we were visiting Paul’s family. We had such nice weather while there and were able to get in some really nice runs. Fast forward to today, in Newfoundland, where I am back to struggling with wind gusts of one million km/hr (slight exaggeration…haha).

IMG_3779
How beautiful was this sunset in Ridgeway!

Last week’s training (for me) went like this:

Monday – 5 treadmill miles (intervals, alternating between 10k/5k/mile pace) + strength (core)

Tuesday – 30 min spin class (using Aaptiv) + strength (arms)

Wednesday – Off

Thursday – 3.1 miles with Paul (easy pace)

Friday – 5 miles with Paul (easy pace)

Saturday – Off

Sunday – 10 miles (4 miles at goal HMP)

I took one extra day off last week than I normally do, due to a lack of sleep and feeling generally unwell on Wednesday. I’m trying to be kinder to myself this training cycle and recognize when I should rest versus when I should try and push myself. Wednesday definitely needed to be a rest day.

IMG_3756
The beaches – one of my favourite places to run!

It was so nice to be able to run in shorts again! My runs on Thursday, Friday and Sunday were all outside and we had such beautiful weather. For my long run on Saturday, it was 20 deg C and humid. I’m not used to those temperatures anymore so, I got a little overheated but, was far too happy to be running outside in warmer weather to even think about complaining about that!

IMG_3815
Ridgeway – another one of my favourite places to run!

I am really missing spring this year. We moved back to Newfoundland earlier this winter and here, our seasons are: winter; sprinter; two weeks of summer; and, fall. Not exaggerating with that one. BUT, we do get icebergs, and they are beautiful. So, that makes sprinter and two weeks of summer kind of ok. 🙂

IMG_3822
Saw this on one of our runs last week – such a simple and good mantra.

On a side note, is anyone else out there using Aaptiv for any of their workouts? I follow the Aaptiv members’ facebook page and it seems like a lot of people use the app for their treadmill and outdoor runs. I use it mostly for the spin classes but, lately I’ve been using it for some of my strength training sessions for variety.

IMG_3800

On another side note, we went to see the band in the photo above while we were in Niagara last week. They’re called Theatre Crisp and they are so fun and inspiring. Besides a trombone player, they have a tap dancer – his instrument is his feet! I just love it. The tap dancer is Paul’s friend from grade school. If you are in the area, you definitely need to check them out!

Have a great week everyone!

-Jessica

It’s Not Always Sunny on Race Day

Happy Saturday everyone! It has been far too long since our last blog post. Oops.

Paul is feeling pretty under the weather from a cold so, Bella and I ran 8 miles together this am.

jessbella

I haven’t run outside since January and it’s still very wintery in our neck of the woods (we had two back-to-back blizzards last week). We’re finally starting to see some milder temperatures, though! I was really looking forward to a long run outside when I woke up this morning. I knew it was supposed to rain but, I find running in the rain so peaceful. That feeling changed when I checked the weather forecast and realized that the winds were already at 50 km/hr, gusting to 65 km/hr. Not so peaceful. It’s supposed to be much nicer tomorrow so, I was very tempted to change my running schedule around. Whenever I feel like that, I tell myself that I can’t control what the weather is like on race day so, unless it’s dangerous, it’s much better for me to run outside, despite the weather. Even with that (attempted) shift in attitude, there were so many times during my run that I, and I’m sure Bella, wanted to quit. I kept telling myself that I could stop after I ran x number of miles but, when x number of miles were clocked, I was able to push myself to keep going. And, I feel so much better for it.

I spent the afternoon working on a presentation for work and trying out an Easter egg recipe (from Oh She Glows) for Easter festivities with my in-laws next week. Two people have already called dibs on these so, I only have two left for myself. Sad times.

easter eggs

With my run today, I’m at 21.64 miles (precise, I know haha) for the week. I’m feeling so good about slowly making my way up to what is a much more comfortable mileage for me. We leave to go to Ontario next week and I’m very much looking forward to logging some miles there. This photo is from mid-April in Toronto last year:

jess running

I need a repeat of that this week!

I hope you all have a great week-end!

-Jessica