The Niagara Falls Marathon recap

So, here I am. A few nights after running the Niagara Falls marathon, lying in bed recovering from the marathon and battling a common cold. What better time to reflect on Marathon weekend.
Niagara Falls is roughly a 2 1/2 hour to 3 hour car ride from where I currently reside. So, after a brief pit stop in Toronto, where my wife was seeing her physiotherapist, which led to her physiotherapist doing a quick consult and tape job on my injured left foot (post tubular tendinitis was her assessment, more than likely from my flat foot collapsing in when I was landing on my left foot when running). I have little to no arch, so it was quite uncomfortable to have this new arch. It took a while to get used to it. But it was getting more and more uncomfortable…but more on that later.

We arrived in Niagara Falls during a miserable drive (high winds and rain) to see that Niagara Falls was sharing the same weather as back home. We drove straight to the expo and gathered what we needed and then got out of there and headed to the hotel that I booked. Lucky for me, my sister, who lives in the Falls, volunteered to have the kids overnight so I could have a little bit of me time before the race.

We checked into our over priced hotel with a great view of the south end of Niagara Falls!! Lots of parking lots for the casino…and organized items for the race tomorrow and then headed out to our pre game meal at Strada West on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls. Great Italian restaurant! I enjoyed some mussels, some bread and some gnocchi as my pre race meal with a pint of Rolling Rock to wash it down (having an a beer before a race is becoming tradition) with my family (and extended family). Had the best server ever (you know who you are) and my extended family unknowingly picked up the check (much to our ire!!!!). Then, dropped the kids off at my sisters, had a little family visit and then back to the hotel room to ice my injured leg, watch more of season five of breaking bad (shhhh. Don’t tell me how it ends) and the. Went to bed…and proceeded to wake up every hour!

Got up at six. Ate my morning meal (oatmeal, Applesauce, Greek yoghurt, granola, hemp seeds, clementine, banana), then got dressed in my warm clothes, packed my bags and got picked up by one of my high school friends that I was racing with and drove down to meet the bus to take us to Buffalo.

I was blessed to be able to run with people I knew. Deb, my high school friend, Cheryl, Deb’s friend that we know from visiting Deb, and Rebecca, who also lives in the same town as Deb and Cheryl. I also ran into another high school mate, Trisha, who was also running the marathon, on the bus. Then we drove to Buffalo. Yikes. Scary driving through parts of Buffalo along the thruway that had lots of decrepit or abandoned buildings, until the bus pulled up to the Albright Knox Art Gallery, which is the start of the marathon. Nice area!

We toured the museum (cause it was cold), argued about abstract art and really ‘loved’ a painting called ‘Narrow Passage’!!! Got ourselves ready, had a few portapotty visits and then packed our stuff onto the bus and then headed to the start line. And off we go!! We raced down Porter Avenue, which was lined with beautiful houses and gorgeous churches (who knew Buffalo could be so nice?). The start was a bit fast for me, but we settled into a good pace (and not as fast) as we headed onto the Peace Bridge (passing the best running sign on the day that said, “you run better than the government”) and out of Buffalo and into Fort Erie.

It was about 4k into the race that my left ankle/post tubular tendinitis flared up, but I was able to run through the discomfort. The first ten k should be easy. And they were. Great pace, good effort. Felt great. It was a bit cool, so I wore my running jacket, a short sleeve shirt, running shorts, compression socks, my orange gloves and my beanie (with helicopter blade on top) and felt great as we toured Fort Erie. All was good. It got warm. Had to take my gloves and jacket off the sun came out. It was gorgeous! And then we hit the turn on the parkway out of Fort Erie, headed to Niagara Falls. The clouds got thicker, the sun went away and the wind picked up! At the 21k mark, we were on pace for a 4:04 marathon. That was impressive. I was happy with my fuel, my conditioning, and how I felt. All was good. Then 26 k hit. Then my right IT band got tighter and tighter and the knee pain became more and more prevalent and then bam, I told the girls I had to stretch my IT band. That was the beginning of my steady decline. My pace got slower and slower as my right IT band got tighter than my dad’s wallet and my left foot started to get more and more uncomfortable from the taping and striking. It was at this moment that I remembered two important things.
1. I haven’t run longer than 5K in three weeks.
2. I haven’t foam rolled in two days (forgot the foam roller at home. Didn’t bring it with us to Niagara).

That would be part of the reason for the IT band flare up. So, once I hit 28K, it trudged on and my pace got slower and slower because of my aching knee, my aching post tibial tendon in my foot and ankle. It was at this point that I resigned myself to that finishing and not a finishing time was the goal.

Running slower, you get to meet more people, especially when they are passing you or using the run/walk strategy (where they pass you and then you pass them). The words of encouragement and conversations with people helped keep me going. There was never any thought of quitting. There was lots of thoughts of walking, but I just kept on running…slower and slower!

The last ten K were difficult. I was excited to run into Chippawa, a little village just outside of Niagara Falls where some of my friends live or grew up when I was younger. However, not running the course previously, I discovered that Chippawa was a lot closer to the finish line than I thought. There, patiently waiting for me, was my wife and her parents and Deb’s family to cheer me on through the last 2K.

It was there that I grabbed a picture of my uncle (on a stick) and carried it home with me. Funny. My uncle has a little Jesus quality to him with the beard, so by this point, music was off and I was running that slow that I could have ‘lengthy’ conversations with fellow runners and spectators people, especially when they asked who the picture was.

So, I trudged along and 100m from the finish line, my extended family were waiting for me.

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After some pictures and kisses, I finished the race with a classic heel kick! Done! In just under 4 hours and 30 minutes! I finished 10 seconds behind Trisha, about 20 minutes behind Deb and Cheryl and about 50 minutes behind Rebecca (impressive). But, it was done. I finished. Upright. But in pain!!!

The worst part was the walk after the race. I had to collect my belongings from the bus and then walk about 10 minutes to get to the van. That was tough. A quick shower at the hotel, we checked out and then headed to the YNot for a celebration dinner with family and friends. Pizza and beer. Best post meal ever! Then the long ride home.

Getting out of the van when we got home was comical. My legs were stiff. I couldn’t bend my knees. Had to go upstairs with straight legs and it was so painful to foam roll that I cried! Some water, Advil and some Lakota on my knees (never again…..) and went to bed.

So far, we have raised close to $1800 and counting for the Niagara Falls Children Museum in memory of my uncle, Brian the great. There are still donations coming in and my family and friends continue to remind me that the completing the marathon was a feat in itself, but raising close to $2,000 for the Museum would have made Brian the great proud. I am just glad I could do something to honour him. If you haven’t donated yet, head here to make your donation http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Till the next run…….

Andy

For more information on how to do this or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Countdown to the Marathon

Today is a grey dismal day outside. The temperature is dropping, the leaves are falling, the rain is starting and I am reflecting. Reflecting on my marathon training schedule, the long hours of training and preparation that I have put in to run this marathon and it all ends on Sunday. That is when the Niagara Falls Marathon takes place.

I am pretty excited for a variety of reasons.
1. Race day will finally be here. Race day is always exciting because you get to compete against yourself to see how far you can push your body for mental satisfaction (there is no physical satisfaction that I can think of….)!

2. I get to see my Niagara family and friends. I don’t see them as often as I should or as often as I would like, so I hope to make the most of the weekend!

3. Good meals! I can’t wait for my pre-pre game meal at my Mother in Law’s house on Friday (which means I don’t have to cook! Woo-Hoo!). On Saturday, I am looking forward to some traditional Italian fare via Strada West in Niagara Falls (so excited) and then Sunday, the post game celebration will take place at the Y Not Again in Chippawa! The BEST pizza and wings! And Beer. Mmmmmm…beer!

4. I get to run from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. Over the Peace Bridge. How cool is that?

4. I get to honor my uncle. For those of you that aren’t regular readers, there is a reason why I am running the marathon. And even for you regular readers, here is more information which inspired me to train for months to run this marathon http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2011/11/19/the-ballad-of-brian-and-debra

So, I am still hurt. I haven’t been able to run longer than 6k in the last two weeks with strong discomfort in my left ankle. I have spent more time in the last two weeks riding my road bike, averaging 20-35 Km a ride. And without pain or discomfort! Yet I remain anxious. Tired. Worried. Yet relieved that this weekend, it all ends. This could be me only marathon. Only time will tell. Only time will tell!!!

For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Marathon training continues….well, not really!!!

So, it is close to a week away from the Niagara Falls International Marathon and I am typing this, lying in the comfort of my bed, wearing shorts, compression socks and an ice pack tied to my left ankle. It seems that I am still recovering from an injury that has compounded with marathon training that has made running extremely uncomfortable. The discomfort comes for my left lower leg in my ankle. The strong discomfort comes from pushing off in my running stride and I can really feel the strong discomfort at around kilometre three or four when I run. So, I have resigned myself to running the marathon in discomfort or possibly pain, as that seems to be my reality.

Not running the marathon is not an option. There is no turning back. When I decided to run the marathon, I did so with the intention of running in memory of my Uncle, Brian the Great, who passed away in March 2011 from Non-Hodgins Lymphoma. It would be a great way to honour his memory, provide some spread to his legacy and help raise funds to support the educational programming for the Niagara Falls Children Museum, which he helped create. So, I really am running this for him. I am not trying for a personal best or to qualify for another marathon. My moral purpose is for another. That is why I will throw in my compression socks, my shorts, shoes and run. Strong discomfort, pain and all.

So, as I lay here, I think to my family who is gathered in the Northeastern United States to remember another uncle who recently asked away. I hope they are strong in their memories, short on grief and remember to spread the legacies of my uncles (both of them) on a daily basis.

Andy

Ps. Help me spread the legacy of Brian the Great. For more information on how to do this or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Oh no……..

Last Sunday was my last big long run before I started tapering in preparation for the Niagara Falls International Marathon, which takes place at the end of this month. I had a great run, but near the end, I started to develop some ‘discomfort’ in my left leg below my calf and into my ankle. I could run through it, but there was discomfort. So, when at home, I threw on my compression tights and iced my leg, especially where it was sore, and did some massage and pressure point release on the areas of my leg that were sore or sensitive to touch. All is good, right?

Wrong! The next days was a day off from training, but a a work day. My ankle and lower leg were sore. I tried to ice and massage at work when I had time, but I don’t sit still long enough at work to ice or massage my leg, so my plan to rest and ice my leg didn’t actually happen, nor did it the following day. However, my leg felt better. So, I went out for a run when I got home from work. That lasted just over 5 k. The ‘discomfort’ that I felt on my long run returned, this time a little bit stronger. I knew I needed to head home and stop running before I hurt myself further. I got home, stretched and iced my leg and then made the decision to take some time off. So, I have missed about 26k of training before I went out for a test run yesterday. That run lasted 6k.

The ‘strong discomfort’ lingered. It was very present as I ran. However, I could run through the discomfort. I got home, stretched, iced and then went and bought some compression socks to help see if they could help with the injury and recovery. I also realize that the marathon run will be a pain filled exercise that will probably last longer than 4 hours and could involve me running with compression socks and changing my running plan to run and walk, which I don’t do very much (if any) at all.

This sucks! I didn’t train to hurt myself weeks before the marathon, but it is a fact. Combine my gait, training, shoes, heel strike, stride and that is a recipe for overuse of some muscles causing other undeveloped muscles to take over, hence the cause of the injury. The injury will slow me down, but I hope it doesn’t stop me from completing the marathon. Less than two weeks away! Stay tuned for details!

For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Marathon Training continues: tips for recovery from training

Hi everyone. First off, I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea that my training for the Niagara Falls International marathon is all gruelling and long and disheartening, because it isn’t. I re-read my last couple of blog posts and I firmly believe they come across as negative and ‘poor me’ when I really didn’t intend for them to come across that way. However, when I decided to do the blog, I wanted to be honest and true to my feelings, emotions and, as you can read from previous blog posts, the ‘ups and the downs’ of training to prepare to run a marathon. So, I am going to make a more concerted effort to make my posts less depressing and woeful and more positive!

This week is the last week for my last big training run before I start to taper and wind down my distance, and I started to think of the various strategies I utilize to recover from my long runs on Sunday that allow me to walk on Monday and resume my training on Tuesday (Tuesdays my legs still ache a bit but that is the best run date I usually have all week!)

1. Foam roll. I can’t speak highly enough of the use of the foam roll. It has helped me immensely through my training and recovery for bike riding this summer and for my marathon training. There is a lot of emerging research on the effects of deep tissue massage post exercise as a way to help your sore leg muscles rebound, and the use of a foam roller is the easiest and most convenient way to get a deep tissue massage. By the way, I hate foam rolling! It hurts! I mutter cuss words to myself while rolling, but I can tell the difference when I foam roll and when I don’t! I use it on my lover body, especially my calves, hamstrings, quads and IT bands. Even though it hurts, I still go back to it!

2. Milk. I am not a big milk drinker. However, I have found that drinking chocolate milk after a hard long workout has also made me less thirsty and makes me feel better after long tough workout (versus not having any milk post workout). Once again, I drink milk post workout only.

3. Muscle Milk. I love this stuff. Muscle Milk is the name of a high protein drink that we discovered last year at a ten mile race my wife and I competed with our good friends in Newmarket (the Olsons. Great people!) and have fallen in love with this product. I drink it only after my long runs as having high protein after a run will help the muscles recover without depleting the protein already stored in your muscles, which means you have longer to recover from abusing your body. As my wife tries to explain, your muscles deplete the protein stores in your muscle as you exercise. When your exercise is completed, you need to give your muscles more protein to repair themselves, hence why this product (which isn’t cheap) is so valuable and useful as a recovery drink post workout. I love the banana flavoured product. The chocolate version wasn’t bad. The vanilla flavour was sub par.

4. Greek yoghurt. High in protein and delicious tasting. See above for reasons why I eat it (high in protein).

5. Ice baths. I just started these and I strongly dislike them. But, I have been having some calf soreness, some Achilles soreness and some ankle pain, and when I put them in cold water, they tend to recover faster than when I don’t! I tried the immersion method, but am too much of a wuss for that. I prefer the bucket of cold water and ice method for my lower legs!

6. Hot bath. The hotter that my body can take, the better. These don’t necessarily make my body feel better the next day, but it helps get my muscles warm before a good intensive foam rolling session.

7. Ice. I ice my knees, below my calf and my right Achilles after long runs. It helps immensely with recuperation. Plus, I get time to sit, relax and decompress from the long run when icing my legs. Not a bad deal at all!!!

Well. There you have it. Looking over the the seven points, I still sense some negativity. But no one said you are going to love every minute of training and recuperation did they? I didn’t think so.
Thanks for reading and your support and the official countdown to the Niagara Falls International Marathon is on!

For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Marathon Training continues: Whole lotta hurting going on!

So, it is 27 days to the Niagara Falls International Marathon and this is my first day of running after running my long run at or near race pace. I ran 30K in 2:53:21 at a pace of 5:47. Impressive (for me) and based on my calculations, would put me running the marathon in just over 4 hours. Great news! My training partners did their 30K in 3:04, which is awesome. Super happy.

What isn’t super happy is my body! Where to start because I have lots of aches and pains as my body is preparing to do something it has never done before. 4 hours of continuous exercise! Heck, even baseball games are shorter than that!!! So, as I start tapering my distance over the next three weeks, I hope my body gets a chance to recover as these parts of my body are sore:

  • knees. My knees generally hurt Sunday after long runs and Monday (which are rest days because of Sunday). I am generally icing them, elevating them and trying to avoid the stairs. Funny thing, my knees don’t hurt after I resume training on Tuesdays.
  • calves. Tuesdays, Instead of my knees hurting, my calves hurt. Generally it is my left calf. A bit below the calf actually. It provides some soreness and discomfort in running but generally it doesn’t hurt so I usually run through the discomfort. Again, icing my calf (or the area below) helps reduce the hurting!
  • back – my back hurts because it is tight. I really need a massage but I am embarassed to say I have never had a massage and really don’t intend on getting one. I really don’t like people touching me….
  • Big toes – they hurt after my long runs. Probably my gait and where I push off during my stride. A nice bath really helps!
  • Soles of my feet – they also hurt after long runs. I give them a nice massage with the tennis ball and do lots of stretching and that seems to help

The common denominator for all my aches and pains? THE LONG RUN! When the marathon is over, I will need to reflect and re-evaluate my training schedule, as well as my gait, running stride, shoe selection, diet, fuel etc. I am pretty sure that I heel strike which leads to a lot of issues with running, as does my shoe selection, as they are heavy and supportive, but a lighter shoe would probably do my sore legs and running parts a whole lotta good!

So there is the hurt. That is the bad news. The good news is what I am doing to avoid extra hurt. But that is s story for another time!

Andy

—————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great,  follow this link http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/4117100-a-marathon-effort/ or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!