Monday, June 2, 2014

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon

How did I end up running a half marathon in Canada? Especially since I swore I would never travel far for a race? Well, let me remind you. My friend Amy called me up and told me she was going to run a half marathon as one of her 'signature' events for the year. You see, she tries to do events that challenge her every year, just for fun, and to get the most out of this life as possible. When she called and asked me if I wanted to do it with her, I quickly called up Sue to see if she was on board (Sue and I train together for most races), and she said yes!
Photo bombed by Katherine Switzer

And so the story begins...

Sue and I have been diligently training for the half marathon in Columbus, while Amy and her friends were training for the half in Dayton, Kent, Cleveland and Ottawa, with the plans of all meeting in Niagara falls, this month, to run a half marathon. We trudged through the snow, the heat, the spring like weather, the cold, the rough days, the awesome days, all with the same intention of crossing the finish line of our half marathon. The journey to get here was different for all of us, but probably just as empowering for each of us.

So let's talk about my first international race. We all met up for dinner on Saturday night and talked race plans. My plan was simple, run the half marathon. Others had more specific plans; under 3 hours, first one to cross the finish line from our group, start out slow, finish on two feet. You name it, it was in our plan... On Sunday morning, we all crammed into my car and headed to the start line. Excitedly, we stood around, watching all of the women swirling around us, getting excited for the race. We all hit up the bathrooms, some of us one time too few, and then we were off. 

I was a little worried about the fact that this was an international race, and the route was marked with kilometer markings, rather than mile markings. Why? Because that meant we were going to pass a marker every kilometer, and there were 21 of those, rather than 13 miles. Our group split into 2, with me, Amy and Sue hanging out in the back. We quickly descended the first hill on what was supposed to be a very flat course. We passed the falls once, ran into the best little cheerleaders in the world, and then headed past the falls again. It was awesome to have one of the 7 natural wonders of the world there, greeting us and spraying us with it's water filled glory during the race. Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the kilometers over the miles. They seemed to tick off a lot quicker than a mile marker.

Me, Sue and Amy post race
Anyway, I had to hit up a bathroom about 10k into the race (total bummer by the way), Amy and Sue waited for me at the next water stop, because they are amazing like that, and off we went to finish this thing. Like any typical race for me, I ran with conviction, until I fell apart; tears and all... Sue only let this last for a very short period of time, and made me kick it back into gear and get over myself. Amy flicked me off at some point, because of my enthusiasm, and Sue was the rockstar that held us all together.

Amy after her first half
We crossed the finish line to a hug from Katherine Switzer, and we all collapsed (well I did, but it sounds better if I say we all did). We celebrated a first half marathon for two, and another race for the rest of us. We ate food, saw a little bit of Canada, and ate some more food.

What I don't think this post highlights enough is the awesome fellowship we all felt, having a group of six new and old friends with one common goal, and a race bringing us together. Although I only knew Sue and Amy, coming into this weekend... I feel like the race has given me three more friends, who have enhanced my life in some way, from this one significant shared experience.

Will I ever travel to do another race? Absolutely, if Terese, Erika, Marina, Amy and Sue are all involved. No egos in this crowd, just women who were all here to push each other, and celebrate each other along the way. 

Now to see more of Canada!
Our race crew


2 comments:

  1. Sounds great, Sarah! Congratulations! And how awesome to meet Kathrine Switzer! She's such an inspiration. Hope your summer training continues to go well! :) (Oh, and I know what you mean about the markers every KM as opposed to every mile!)

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  2. I'm adding this one to my list. So glad you had a great time. WTG!

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