Hospice Dash 2011

Two enthusiastic thumbs up for this inaugural race.  I have the sense there are many more  thumbs up out there based on conversations I had with other runners after the race.

Western New York has two half marathons that run in the spring.  Up until now there haven’t been any fall races of that distance.  There are some in the area: Niagara Falls, Canada, Toronto and Erie, PA.  This race fits nicely into the Western NY calendar.

Packet pick up was held at the Nike Outlet in Niagara Falls.  The outlet mall is out of the way for me, so this was a nice excuse to do a little shopping.

The race t-shirt was a cotton shirt.  I hope next year they do technical shirts.  They are so much nicer, especially for runners.  We run in technical shirts, never cotton.  I was excited to pick up a nice pint glass with the Hospice Dash logo.  I was told they only had 100 glasses to sell.  We use them all the time at our house, and not just for beer.

I laid out my clothes the night before the race.  I put the timing chip on my shoe and pinned my race bib on my fanny pack.  I treated myself to an Itunes card and loaded up my phone with new songs.  The Major went over directions to the race start which was about 45 minutes away from home.  Everything was all set.

The morning of the race I woke up before my alarm.  I got up and had some oatmeal and milk.  By the time I was ready to go Island Boy was up.  As I headed out the door I remembered that I hadn’t seen IB’s soccer uniform since last week.  I was leaving The Major behind to take care of the soccer game.  I had a frantic few minutes 20 minutes looking for his uniform.  I finally found it.  I had hidden it in his closet so he wouldn’t see it and want to wear it during the week.  Who wants to fight that battle.  I’m glad I took the time to sort that out since I know TM wouldn’t have taken too kindly to not being able to find the uniform.

I had Mapquest directions loaded on my phone and the directions TM had laid out for me.  I had a general idea of where I was going.  TM had pointed out some tricky exits I’d be taking.  I didn’t bother to follow the Mapquest directions.  That was my fault.  I made what I thought was the tricky exit, but found myself headed for Niagara Falls.  I called TM to confirm I was headed in the wrong direction.  I finally found a turn around.   I promptly got confused and had to pull over again to call and see which exit to take.  By this point I was in tears.  Nothing like pre-race jitters to set you on edge.

At that point, I pulled out Mapquest and followed those directions the remainder of the way.  I even trusted Mapquest when there were signs telling me to go another way.  I made it to the start and called TM to thank him for talking me through my drama.

It was a chilly morning, but I could tell it was going to be a gorgeous day.  There were plenty of people in long sleeves, but I knew I would be happy I was wearing short sleeves while I was running.

Starting Line

I decided to wait on line for a bathroom even though I didn’t really need to.  A woman behind me asked if I knew where she would get safety pins.  I lent her some.  At this point, we were about 10 minutes away from the start.  She asked me if I thought we would make it through the line.  I said I didn’t think so.  She began to try and convince me to head into the Men’s room.  I’m a rule follower, so I wasn’t so sure.  The men didn’t have a line and were walking right in.  The women in front of us began talking about going into the Men’s room.  The woman behind me said, “This is it!  Let’s go.”  I told the women in front of us that we were going in.  They followed us.  We left the men the urinals and used the stalls.  I think it all worked out.

The race started about 2 minutes late.  The start was sounded by a trio of cannons.  As we left Artpark we were serenaded by a group of bagpipe players.

I kept a steady pace and ran with a group of people for several miles.  The race was mostly along River Road with scenic views of the Niagara River.  There were very pretty houses along the way and lots of trees that provided shade.

I am proud to say I broke away from that particular group of runners when we entered Fort Niagara Park.  I didn’t see any of those runners again.  I spent the second half of the race with another group of runners.  I tried to concentrate on their pace to help me hold on as my energy was flagging.

We ran through Old Fort Niagara.  I was surprised that there weren’t any chip mats to run over.  For any non-runners, a chip mat registers the running chip you attach to your shoe.  Most races have you run over a mat if you have a turn-around.  This prevents people from cheating.  It can also let you know what your split times are for the race.  That means how fast you ran from the start line to that mat.  Then you can calculate the next leg of your race.  The hope is to run the second half faster than the first.  No chip mat means people could have skipped Old Fort Niagara and cut a few tenths of a mile off of their distance.

Old Fort Niagara

We came out of Old Fort Niagara and there was a case of water and two cases of Gatorade laying at the edge of a parking lot.  I joined several runners in raiding a bottle.  They may have been for the volunteers, but there wasn’t anyone around.  A bottle of water was most welcome at this point.  My one complaint of the race would be that the water cups were really small.  Someone joked that they were like shot glasses.

The last portion of the race was on a two lane road that was open to traffic.  There weren’t many cars out and about.  This section had a few ups and downs in the road.  Nothing too terrible, but when you’re tired at the end of a race it can feel worse than it actually is.

As usual, when we got to the end I started to see people with medals on.  They had finished the race and were walking to stretch their legs.  I always like to cheer myself up by joking with them.  I called out, “Hey, how does that medal feel?”  and “You don’t think they ran out of medals, do you?”  People always take me seriously and say, “Oh no!  They have tons of them left!”

The finish line was pretty crowded.  The people waiting for loved ones to come along tend to creep out into the road.  It can be kind of annoying.  Plus, by this point they aren’t really clapping for any of the runners.  They are looking for THEIR runner.

One of the runners I had passed and been passed by started to sprint ahead of me.  Then another one passed.  I tried to pour it on and passed them.  They ultimately both passed me before we crossed the finish line.  I was laughing and wanted to congratulate them, but they moved along.

I look weird, but hey, I ran 13.1 miles.

I received my medal and removed my timing chip to be recycled.  They had barrels of fresh apples for the runners.  There is nothing like a fresh apple.

I wandered over to the tents to look for a friend who had run the 5K.  It was very crowded and I never did find her, nor did I have her cell number.  I did however find a pumpkin bagel and was very excited about that!

I asked around about the buses that were taking runners back to the start line.  No one quite knew where they were coming.  I headed over to the parking lot and waited where it looked like the buses could turn around.

Three school buses arrived right on time.  Everyone crowded on and I had a very pleasant conversation with my seatmate.  It was all running talk.

When I got home I was able to attach a little sticker on the back of my medal to honor my mom and dad.  Hospice treated them very well.  I am looking forward to next year’s Hospice Dash.  I anticipate that I’ll need to sign up early.  I predict this race is going to be very popular!

Next up:  Niagara Falls Half Marathon, October 23, 2011

–Running Girl


One response to this post.

  1. I enjoyed reading about your experience last weekend at our run. I appreciate the vote of confidence and will take your suggestions into consideration (along with many others!) when we plan for next year. My goal is 2500 runners for the half! Thanks again for your support.

    Paul Beatty
    Hospice Dash Chairman


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