Buffalo Half Marathon

It’s over!  Finally!  I’m so relieved but I can’t wait to do it all over again.  I may have even found the course I want to run as my first marathon (if NYC doesn’t happen first).  Basically here’s a recap I wrote with no specific order, then added titles to make it look less wordy.  I think that was effective.  Maybe.

Pre-Race
Despite looking at 40 degree temperatures at the start, I don’t think the weather could have gotten more perfect.  It was sunny and cool, but warm enough for me to wear a throw away long sleeve shirt (Sorry Buffalo Bandits, but your shirt was one size too big and almost in the Good Will pile about 4 times now) with gloves to the start and ditch the shirt before the gun.   My warm-up was about .75 miles from the car to the start, just a little too fast (but I was so excited!) where I met up with John, Cheryl, and an old college friend, Danielle, who I run into at every race.  It’s nice to run into her because she was the only welcoming person when I attempted to fit the track team into my ridiculous schedule for a few weeks.  We also run the same pace and previously she’s always beaten me so I strive to stick with her for as long as possible.

The First Mile
When the gun went off, I was somewhere between the 1:45 and 1:50 pacer, but decided I had my Garmin this time and would just run my own race.  I started paying attention as soon as I broke out of the crowd and realized I was clocking 7:40 or so.  I saw Danielle charging ahead but refused to stay with her — she either got way faster or she was heading out way too fast, either way it didn’t feel like my race.  I kept trying to will myself slower, but running anything slower than 8:00 felt too slow.  I spent the first mile waiting for my heart rate to jump into zone five or for myself to get out of breath, but it didn’t happen.  I casually kept passing people, feeling fantastic.  The first mile clocked in at 8:05 which was way faster than I anticipated, but I just kept running based on effort.

Tossing my gloves to my Mom around mile 4.  Who looks this happy during a half marathon?
I’m too happy, clearly.

Miles 2 – 3
As we went through mile two and started to head into mile 3, I started to open my third Gu packet of the morning (the first two were before the race).  I knew it was early, but it’d take me about a mile to finish it and I wanted to plan according to the water stations.  My Mom and James were stationed around mile 4 so I was instantly pumped at the thought of hearing them cheer me on.  Even though my gloves were throw away gloves, I tossed them at my Mom when I passed — it was getting hot!

Miles 4 – 6
The entire 4th – 6th miles were lined with people, way more than I remember seeing as a spectator last year.  Reading the signs and having everyone cheer you on felt amazing.  I also spotted the photographers here and made sure that I was prepared — I put on my best running face and acted like I wasn’t nervous that I was consistently running under 8 minute miles in the first half of my race.  I’m hoping these photos particularly come out great because they are right along the lake and I’m jealous of everyone with great race photos — I want one!

Miles 7 – 12
The entire last half of the course was an out an back which I knew about before hand but didn’t really think about until Danielle mentioned something at the starting line.  She said how it was so mentally taxing for her last year but now she was prepared for it and to not let it bother me.  It was pretty awesome going towards the Ohio Street bridge because we started seeing the police motorcycles coming through with the half marathon leaders and you can’t help but cheer for them, here we are at mile 7.5 and these guys are at 12.  On the way to the out and back, we go up a bridge (thank you long runs with hill training) which I used to pass a good number of people (including Danielle, to which I offered my best “Go!” cheer in between pants), but conserved energy on the down hill and tried to get back into “the zone”.

Mile 12ish.  This is how I discovered I still heel strike.
Mile 12. This is how I learned I still heel strike.

Coming through here I finished my 4th Gu packet and started to feel sluggish, which is exactly what happened last September.  I started to slow down a bit, averaging closer to 8 minute miles.  This is where I started trying to take my mind off how my feet hurt from the pounding.  I started looking at my time and doing the math.  Okay, I have three miles to go.  Let’s say I get really tired and average 10 minute miles… I’ll still finish in faster than last year.  But I probably won’t average 10 minute miles, or even 9 minute miles.  Well, if it’s a 9 minute mile I’m looking at this finishing time.  If I keep this pace I’ll probably end up around… oh my God, please let me keep this pace up!  I somehow convinced myself to continue pushing rather than settling into a rhythm and tackle the bridge on the way back at the 12th mile.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Less than a mile to go!  (This is where I learned I still heel strike.)
Less than a mile to go!

The Last Mile
I saw John and Cheryl with the last .8 miles or so to go as they were rounding their 7th mile.  I gave them a breathless cheer and realized just how little I had left to go.  I was starting to get passed in this point by people who clearly conserved their energy for the past mile, but I tried not to get discouraged.  I just kept telling myself to go as fast as I could and it’d all be over soon.  Unfortunately the finish is slightly up hill and I couldn’t see the arch and I didn’t know just how far I had to go.  A man passed me as I was running towards the chute and usually I’ll find another gear to kick it in that makes me wonder if I could have run faster, but I had absolutely nothing left to give and I just let him pass.  As I got within 100 feet or so of the finish, I caught a glimpse of the clock – 1:43?  Ohmygod.  I almost lost it when I crossed the line and stopped my watch because it read 1:43:00 and 13.2 miles.  Holy shit.

Post Race
I had tears in my eyes when I saw that.  I just felt so damn proud.  It’s a good thing I didn’t immediately see James and my Mom because I would have lost it and blubbered like a baby.  I thought 1:50 was a potential stretch, but even two minutes under 1:45?  Never did I think that would have happened in this race.  After the race sucked though.  I couldn’t find James or my Mom, I was freezing and didn’t have my phone, but there was nothing I could do.  Long story short, I used some kind person’s cell phone to leave my Mom a voicemail (because she never answers when it’s important), my Mom left to go to work and I went upstairs to the convention center to see the awards just hoping somebody would find me.

Post Race!
Post Race!

Eventually James did find me since he remembered I wanted to watch the awards and all was happy after that.  It was funny because they didn’t even see me finish because I told them the course looped at the wrong point and they realized it too late, but they did see another “Brittney” Champagne finish in 1:58!  They called her name as she crossed and he thought about how I was going to be upset with that time, so he was pretty happy for me when I told him what I really ran it in.

I'm all about the bling.
I’m all about the bling.

Overall, the race was great and now we know better for next time.  I loved the course, but that’s because I absolutely love running downtown and through the city of Buffalo.  I can see why it’s one of the top courses for getting a BQ!  I finished 16th out of 330 in my age group, 72nd out of 2086 among females, and 267th overall out of 3057!  Even better, my chip time was 1:42.49.  That’s a 15:10 personal record for me between the two races.  I even negative split the race, well at least the 10ks.  My first 10k was 49:11 and my second was 48:26, which put my 20k at 1:37:37.  I’m still ecstatic because that means my 2nd 10k was a 10k PR, which previously was broken during my Spring Forward Distance Run 15k.

I wish I iced bathed after the race, but I chose epsom salt instead.  I was really hurting yesterday so I did a light 12 mile bike ride in the evening and tested out my KT Tape on my legs (the outer shins hurt) and groin (I do believe I strained it slightly).  Today I’m a little tight so I should spend the next hour or so stretching and foam rolling to make it better.  I definitely feel a difference in my legs between the ice bath after last half and no ice bath after this one: much less recovered.

Well deserved ice cream!
Well deserved ice cream along the Niagara River!

What’s next?
I already have my 5k summer training plan picked out for a skeleton.  As always, I don’t fully stick to the plans I use or make because I get bored and life gets in the way, hence dubbing this the skeleton.  Training for a faster 5k is something I haven’t done since high school so this should be exciting and new.  I’m super pumped to get under 22 minutes this summer.  I also intend to increase the length of my long runs upwards of 15 or 16 miles and incorporate some two-a-days geared toward November’s Dirt Cheap Stage Race (barring no Hurricane Sandy-esque storms that make me cancel).  Hopefully getting my legs used to longer miles will create less recovery time and soreness for my next half marathon (possibly the Rochester Half marathon in September?)

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Brittany

Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

14 thoughts on “Buffalo Half Marathon”

  1. Congrats on such a great race. Wow, what a PR and I am happy to hear you even snuck a 10k PR in there. Though honestly, if you race a 10k you could probably be under 45!

    Are you doing wineglass half? That is such a great course, I’d probably always chose it over Rochester LOL. 😉

    Also I love your race outfit. Finally someone else that runs in spandex. 🙂

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    1. Thank you!! I am sooo relieved and happy over it still.

      The 10k PR is mainly because there are ZERO 10k races out here (didn’t you just mention that recently, too?). I have only run one since last August so practically every race longer provides a PR for the time being haha. I’d love under 45 though!

      Wineglass looks nice but it’s more $$ and further away 😦 I don’t want to spend a weekend if I don’t have to… If only student loans didn’t hinder my race choices!

      And yesss on the spandex. I hate when extra clothing is unnecessarily catching wind and making me uncomfortable!

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  2. I don’t know what a lot of your running stat terms mean, but I’m still super proud of you and excited for you! I read like 6 pages of your blog just now haha, it is so cool and interesting! You’re awesome!

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