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/

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