Its hard to write a race review on a race you bonked on. I am still not sure how I feel about my performance and how I could have avoided what happened. However this race still deserves a great review because there were so few faults to it!!
Let me start wayyy back to last October, when myself and a few other running buddies decided we wanted to do a destination race together. In the end 9 of us agreed to this and we decided on the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon…and honestly..it was the wine in the swag bags that sold us. HA!
We decided to rent a house for the weekend as opposed to dealing with hotels and were so glad we did. The house had a hot tub. HOT TUB people!! And we were able to make all our own meals which is a huge plus for me!!
The weekend started with Saturday Race Kit pick-up. It was at a mall and the organization of it was…strange. There was no email prior to race kit pick-up so we showed up hoping we were fully registered. First you had to find your bib number on a wall of printouts. Then you had to line up for your bibs. Then you had to go to another line to scan your bib in and get your swag bag. This would all be much more efficient if bib numbers were emailed to participants and the swag bags were pre-packed.
The swag bag was great. We got a fantastic tech tee, a bottle of Vidal White Wine, and a whole bunch of cosmetics and toiletries.
Our group had a laid back Saturday night with a great dinner and some hot tub time. Then we were off to bed nice and early.
I had a TERRIBLE sleep. Like barely slept at all!!! I have always had a hard time with not sleeping in my own bed and I think the nerves got the best of me this weekend and resulted in the lack of sleep. My mind was reeling over my race outfit and trying to go for a PB.
On race morning I still managed to get some oatmeal in me but I wasn’t even able to stomach coffee (didn’t matter because the coffee maker was broken and most of it was brewed all over the counter anyways lol). We made sure to pose for a group photo then we were off!
We arrived at the Start Area for 6:30am as recommended by the race officials. We pre-purchased our parking pass at kit pick-up so we had an easy time getting parking super close to the finish and just hung around in the cars keeping warm since it was a chilly morning. But that did not last long.
About 45 Minutes prior to start we started to make our way to the port-o-potty lines. There were LOTS of port-o-potties and each had a small bouquet of flowers inside as well as scented hand soap. Nice touches!!
Eventually we made our way to the start line. They had signs with the corral times printed on them and a few of us plugged ourselves in next to the 1:55 Pace bunny. I wanted to keep her in my sights.
They had a few announcements before the start from Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, that got a few of us a little teary eyed from hearing her story. They sang O Canada, then a drum band made there way through the start line to get us pumped up and started. After the horn from the Fire Truck nearby we were off!!
The race brought us along the Niagara River and towards the falls first. It was a Sunny morning and quickly warming up so the mist of the falls was welcome. We made a turn around at about 4K in at Cliffton Hill and made our way back with an amazing view of the falls. I could not help but stop and take a selfie with this wonderful backdrop!
Once the excitement of the falls was over we continued along the niagara parkway along the niagara river. It was lovely have the river flowing alongside us on the route but this is where things started going south for me.
There was little to no shade on this whole route and with the sun beating down I started showing signs of heat exhaustion. At around 13K my vision started blacking out and I knew I was in trouble. I slowed to a stop and dumped the rest of the water in my water bottle over my head and the back of my neck. I slowly walked to the Aid Station ahead and asked the paramedics for some ice. Which they said they did not have. They checked my blood pressure and did give me more water. Eventually I did cool down and felt ok enough to continue on with the race (against their advice…but i am a stubborn lady). Albeit much slower paced and taking frequent walk breaks. At this point I abandoned all my race goals and decided I just wanted that damn medal and an ice cold beer lol!
I did finish the rest of the race feeling much better. I took each water station and dumped a lot of water over myself and filled my own bottle as well. The aid station with the orange slices was welcome at 19K!
Right before the finish they even had a mini beauty parlour set up so you could freshen up for your finish line photo!!!
In the end I did finish with my slowest half marathon time ever at 2 hours 12 Minutes. Really it is not that bad considering what I had to go through.
After the finish a VERY good looking fire-fighter placed my medal around my neck and i grabbed some water, powerade and the post race food box (cookies, banana and an apple) they were giving out (there was chocolate milk as well but I wasn’t in the mood) and parked myself on the cool shady grass to relax and cool down. We then watched the rest of our team come through the finish as well!
Overall I have to say if you are running your first half ever then this is the race for you. There is no pressure in this race and all the other runners were so friendly and chatty. I loved hearing the stories from other runners during my walking breaks. Also there were so many people cheering at the finish. It made everyone feel like a superstar whether they ran a speedy race or were speed walking it. I feel so humbled by this race and would for sure consider running it again next year if its just a teeeeeny bit colder out 😉