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 :-)

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