Thursday, 25 October 2012

Random Ramblings part 2

I know this is a bigger picture than usual but I just love it I think it's stunning!
I took this at the halfway point of the friendship/breakfast run on Saturday morning the day before our 2nd marathon of the week.  This was a 3km(ish) run led by Captain Canada followed by a hearty breakfast in Planet Hollywood.
It was a fun run, we met another Scots lady who comes from Ayr and whose name I don't know - though I guess we could look her up in the results :-)  A guy from Surrey called Robert whom I passed at 14.5miles which gave me an enormous ego boost - sorry Robert :-)  A lovely young Mexican couple who have travelled nearly as much as we have to run international marathons and many others - a 70something guy from the Isle of Man who has run almost 200 marathons I think John said... and so it goes, it's a great thing to do the day before a race and some people - us included, wear their national colours and flags so you get a lovely atmosphere.  Planet Hollywood and Tim Hortons provided us all with a substantial free breakfast which was very nice as it gave people a chance to sit and chat with each other.
Unfortunately this was the best of the day weather wise, it clouded over mid morning and then got quite rainy.  After lunch we had the joy of standing in a queue for 50minutes to clear US customs, even though we have a valid ESTA as a land borne immigrant you still have to fill in the green form and get it stapled into your passport - 21st Century USA and they don't have their computer systems linked up yet.... I ask you!!!
So having stood for forever and as always been dealt with very efficiently if bordering on churlishly by an official it was a pleasure to walk back across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada where the customs official on that side asked what we'd brought in with us, laughed when we said nothing we only went for the I-94 so we could run tomorrow and wished us a nice day!
We spent an hour in Starbucks using their free wifi then headed back to our hotel to sort out kit have dinner and get ready for an early night.
We had to be up at 5.30am even though the race didn't start until 10am, this is in order to get on the buses and clear immigration - AGAIN! then be driven to the race start...
It was like NYC all over again!  Sunday  morning dawned dry if cold, the rain of previous day had long gone and the forecast was for it to get sunny and warm up to 20C - It Did!!  There didn't seem to be too much wind either though John had spent all week assuring me that any wind would be at my back for most of the race so not to worry too much about it.
We got our bus at about 7.15 drove to the bridge and yes sat another 50minutes!  We then had to traipse off the bus, passports sighted by a much more pleasant young guy, then back on the bus again to be driven to Buffalo - about 20mins journey - yellow school buses are not the most comfortable coach transport on the planet though ;-)
However all the discomfort was more than made up for when we got off the bus (once the driver managed to find his way into the park) we were ushered into a building which turned out to be the amazing Albright-Knox Art Gallery it is definitely the most impressive pre race accomodation we have ever been in and the staff were lovely too.
It's not every race you get to warm up and stretch beside Van Gogh's and artwork made by adults with learning difficulties.  It was such a pleasant surprise it really calmed the morning.
Quick visit to the wobbliest port-potti I have ever set foot in, drop bags on buses to go back to Canada - slight fear here as we'd had to take our passports and leave them in our drop bags... then it was up to the start line.  This isn't a huge race so standing on my toes I could see the start line and the open road ahead - can't explain how it made me feel it's something you'd need to experience, but as there were no corrals it was really cool to be able to stay together at the start.  Both anthems were sung and the hooter went!  Off we headed into the leafy suburbs of Buffalo - not at all what we were expecting :-) lovely big houses, people out cheering, wide roads, and blazing sunshine, so far so good on the wind...
Almost 6 miles through Buffalo and you approach the river over a hill, phew it was windy!  Never mind I thought it's just blowing off the river so buckled down and got on with it, as we turned towards the bridge it was at my back which was pleasant.  We then had to run over the Peace Bridge which is one of the main road bridges between the two countries but although there was a fair bit of traffic there was a lane coned off and a sidewalk as well -  I really don't like high bridges over water so I had a bit of a fight with  myself to get to the half way point, however I made it and once I started to run down the hill into Fort Erie felt better again.  A wee loop off the bridge and under it and out along the shore for another 3miles or so to a turn around point, I saw John on the other side of the road - we'd passed in Toronto as well and that always gives me a lift to see him :-) especially if he looks like he's running well which he did.  Round the turn - some nice support from some residents along the way - fabby houses too!  Then back along the river and through the town of Fort Erie itself - great support from some firefighters who'd put flags on their platform- ladder and raised it across the street.
There were water/cheering stations every mile from here on in and the kids manning them were great - there was a competition to involve local high schools so they were all different themes and music and stuff.  It's the first marathon I've run which is only marked in miles not kms or both and I was surprised that they seemed to come round fairly quickly, though I'm sure this is because you heard them from way off :-)  By this time it was getting hot and I wasn't drinking much water but was wearing it, oh and the wind??? The bloody wind was a headwind for the whole way for the 20miles from Buffalo!! There I promise John I won't mention it again lol!
Anyway apart from the headwind (oops!) it was a beautiful run, this has to be the most scenic marathon course I've ever run and I'm sure there can't be that many  better, the sunshine and the Fall colours were magnificient.
Mile 24 there was a jelly bean station :-)
Mile 25 you see the cloud of spray that's always over the falls and can be seen for miles
Mile 26 and as you turn the corner to the finish line if you can look up, you can see the rainbow - I have to confess I didn't see it til I'd finished, but I did see our friend Eric who came and took photos, I didn't see June Ann who ran along in front of me but I was looking across at John at that point as he was waiting for me and taking photos.
When you cross the finish line you are wrapped in a foil blanket by a young cadet from the Mountie School, then you get your medal, some water, food if you want it, your bag and that's another one done :-)
Great Great races both of them and two lovely  medals :-)

It's over :.-(

But it was awesome :-)

We had a fantastic holiday and I ran my two fastest marathons so far, had good weather, good food, good wine and met good friends - not much more I can ask for really (apart from being able to stay and not have to come home!)

After my last grumpy post on 21st Sept, things did get slowly better...
I still didn't manage to get back to my full training but I did manage to get some running done, managed a long steady run that weekend then the following weekend we went to Strathclyde parkrun where I managed to set a new 5k PB of 29mins! This was over 2minutes off my previous best so I was chuffed to bits and somewhat reassured that the previous couple of weeks of bugs and stress hadn't taken too much of a long term toll.
We got through the remaining days of work and headed off to sunny Toronto on morning of 10th October - and yes it was sunny :-)
Arrived safely at lunchtime which gave us heaps of time to find our way to our apartment and get freshened up before meeting up with the first group of the ever growing group of friends and fellow runners whom we meet every time we go.  First evening was a quick visit to the opening of a new running shop followed by dinner with friends, managed to keep going til 'normal bedtime' which meant we'd put in a 22 hour day but it helps to alleviate the jetlag.  Up early next morning and out for a nice gentle wee 8km run, it was supposed to be a 5k but John hadn't got his internal satnav quite tuned into the new time zone yet and missed the road sign, and because I was comfortable and enjoying myself I didn't think to question him - not that I would ever...
Next couple of days were spent quietly socialising, nothing raucous we had a race at the weekend! Weather stayed nice and crisp and sunny so we ran a little each day then spent time just chilling and catching up, it was great.  Weather forecast was threatening to turn for the weekend and there were really strong gale force winds and heavy rain on the way - this filled me with a little bit dismay as a long stretch of the race kms 10-20 head out along the Lakeshore and if the wind came it was going to be a real tough fight to run into it :-(
Sunday morning dawned wet and grey but seemed reasonably calm and true enough when we left to go to the start it was torrential rain but there was no wind - guess you have to take the breaks where you get them, and the rain was preferable to the gales in my book.  We warmed up by jogging gently to the start, got changed and dropped our bags - offering a silent prayer of thanks that we had managed to rent a place that was only 5minutes jog from the start line.  John's corral were off pretty quickly, but I had to wait about 20mins before I crossed, at which point the rain stopped! (another silent thanks sent heavenwards!)
Micro report of race - started off to fast had a great first 30km then struggled to 35km picked up again after that but was done and hurting at the end - however it was all sooooo worth it to cross the finish line 27minutes quicker than I'd ever done before!  Very happy bunny indeed!
Ice bath, shower and out to meet up with our fellow runners and supporters - no wild partying for me though by 9pm I was in bed and out for the count! Slept til 0630 like a baby!  Very gentle 3km recovery run first thing Monday morning then our friends Eric and JuneAnn who had taken a couple of days off came to get us and we went off to hunt down specialist running shorts which unfortunately the shop no longer stocks, had a nice Indian buffet lunch, home to change and out to spend the evening with more friends in their beautiful new home and meet their daughter who was born just after we visited last year.
Tuesday morning a better and further early morning run - 5k this time then lunch with E&JA and chilling and dinner with them in their home, we spent the evening watching US presidential debate which was interesting!  Wednesday was pancake day - pancakes for breakfast is part of the thrill of a trip to Canada or USA and I hadn't had any yet however I also didn't want to be too naughty and eat stuff that I wouldn't eat at home however I did want to have them once.  A little bit of internet searching found a place highly reviewed and not to far to walk from our appt - just over 1mile so that was our exercise for Wednesday we walked there and back.  Luck was on my side too the pancakes were made with oatmeal and banana so were reasonably clean, and they were delicious! It was a quirky wee place too so was fun to visit it was called Aunties and Uncles and I'd highly recommend a visit if your ever in Toronto.
Thursday morning we jumped(!) on the streetcar (tram) and took a trip to The Beaches - this is an area of the city which has only been part of the marathon route for the last 2 years and it was nice to go back and see where we'd run.  Another find for lunch and another evening out with friends.
Friday we picked up the hire car and drove to Niagara Falls to get ready for race 2 - guess I should do another post about it as this has probably bored the pants off you by now :-)