Radiance Running – A Haiku and Race Review of the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Grey clouds have no chance

When radiance runs with heart

Summer sun follows

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, I ran the 8th Annual Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon and 5K. I signed up because a good friend of mine, Danielle had signed up for it and I wanted to run an “international race”. Niagara Falls is a few hours drive from my in-laws’ house so we were able to see them on the way to and from the race – bonus!!

Read my pre-race ramblings here!

If you’ve never visited Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, then you are truly missing out on an awesome sight. The majesty and power of water as it rushes over the rocks is truly humbling. You can hear its roar and see its misty beauty from the walkway next to it or a boat ride (for an up close and personal view) or even overhead on zip lines.

The morning of the race was cold and grey. The forecast said rain later in the day but obviously the weather did not get that memo. It started to rain as I waited for Danielle to pick me up at my hotel and the rain would continue on and off during the race.

As if the rain wasn’t enough of an ominous start to the race, Danielle arrived frazzled – she had left her running belt at home and her lucky sunglasses had broken that morning. She also just had a baby a year ago so her First Big Race after the baby. But, Danielle is one determined woman who doesn’t give up with or without her lucky sunglasses. She joked that as long as her pants didn’t fall down, she was going to run this race!

When we got to the race site, Danielle’s friends, Tiffany and Angie, were already there. This was Tiffany’s first half marathon. Angie was coming back from an injury as well. If there ever was a tougher group of mother runners, this was it! Check out the awesome shirts they had especially made for this race just to show how truly kicka$$ they are!

There was some music and a tent at the start of the race but not much else. There were a few moments of heavy rain that stopped just as were starting – the sun showed its face for a brief second before it became overcast again. Perfect running weather in my opinion!

One cool thing that Danielle reminded us when we were lining up was that when the announcer was saying that there were so many other countries represented at the race, that those “other countries” included us. We were Americans in Canada so that made us one of those “other countries” running the race. This is what it’s like running my first INTERNATIONAL race! Mind blown!

The course started out by Marineland, went out towards the Rainbow bridge then back on the same street, past the start area and then further down the other side of the falls along the Niagara river. This was a pretty flat course on streets right by the water. The course formed a “lopsided bow tie” shape. While the first loop was beautiful and had some people cheering, the second loop was almost devoid of spectators – not even the people who’s houses we passed, opened up the front door to cheer us on. Maybe it was the rain at the start of the race that kept the spectators away?

It didn’t keep Katherine Switzer away though! That woman is simply amazing and so full of energy and positivity!

The four of us started out together before Tiffany went ahead. This was her first half marathon and she totally ROCKED this race finishing about an hour before Danielle, Angie and I did. While this race wasn’t the my fastest, it was full of great moments like this one

and this one

and of course, this one!

At the end of the race we were treated to cold towels, which was perfect for cooling off from that final sprint. There wasn’t much in terms of post race festivities. Maybe it was because of the rain and/or because we were towards the back of the pack? There were still a lot of ladies left so this was somewhat disappointing (don’t they know the back is where the cool kids are??).

Still, I couldn’t have asked for a better first race of the year! Thank you, Danielle for telling me about this race and training with me. Thank you Danielle, Angie and Tiffany for some wonderful memories!

©️ iido 2019

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Before – A Poem for Paulette

Before you crossed the finish line

Before you said, “I’ll sprint the last few yards”

Before you couldn’t believe there was only a 5 K left to go

Before you passed the halfway point and were surprised you made it that far

Before you changed your strategy, doing intervals so you can finish strong

Before you ran 4 miles, your longest race distance since you had just raced 5ks

Before you toed the line at 8 AM in the pouring rain

Before you signed up for your first ever half marathon

You were already a winner

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #190 – Before and written for a lovely young woman I met at the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon.

Paulette was walking the course during a stretch when my friend, Danelle and I, were also walking. We struck up a conversation. I don’t remember what we said but when Danielle and I started running again (since we were doing intervals) Paulette joined us. She said she liked our energy and felt she would be able to finish if she continued doing intervals with us.

This was around mile 4, after the 5K racers had turned towards the finish line so we still had a significant amount of the race left to do. As we did our intervals, Paulette told us that this was her first half marathon, that she had only done fun 5Ks before. She was also running it alone since her friends had other things come up last minute. I was really impressed by her! This young woman had jumped feet first into an international half marathon – no 10K in between, minimal training beforehand and all on her own! What a strong and brave individual!

I could tell Paulette was also determined, bold and ambitious. She stayed with us despite dealing with cramping in her inner thigh area. She already had the mindset of a runner!

Towards the end of the race, her sister, brother-in-law and nephew came to cheer her on. Oh, the look of happiness on Paulette’s face! And the look of awe and happiness and pride on Paulette’s family’s faces! Her nephew even joined her running for a mile or so.

As we neared the finish line, Paulette kept on repeating that she couldn’t believe she had ran as far as she did. 13.1 miles (or 21.1 kilometers for the rest of the world) is no joke!! Going around the final bend, Paulette was hesitant to run to the finish line, but run she did, crossing the finish line looking powerful, happy and accomplished!

I am so honored to have run with Paulette on her first half marathon. This was a PR (personal record) for her. I look forward to hearing about her next race – because I know she will continue to run!

****

My full review for the half marathon will be coming soon! Stay tuned!

©️ iido 2019

Niagara’s Gift – An Etheree

You opened the door to a darkened room

Only the colored waters tumbling,

Like my heart for your thoughtful gift,

Into the steamy cauldron

Of sacrifice, support

Commitment and strength

Only with you

Life’s barrels

Withstand

Falls

This etheree was inspired by Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt of a beautifully wrapped gift. Gifts can come in many types – some are concrete objects, others are experiences, while still others are words or emotions. Gifts are usually given for special occasions but the best ones, I think, are the ones given “just because”.

The other picture is the view from our hotel room this weekend – a gift from my loving, supportive hubby who also drove us all the way to Niagara Falls so I could run the the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon. The race will start in just 7 hours but I am awake with nervous energy. I did not train very well for this race and I just got a new shoes two days ago (since my old pair were completely destroyed) so I am not setting the bar too high on my finish time.

I did get to meet the trailblazing Katherine Switzer who is as lovely and kind as she is inspirational! She is 72 and still so vibrant! She told me that her ancestors were Germans who settled in the Lancaster, PA area and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Who knew?

I’m also starting the race with a group of wonderful women from Moms RUN this Town, not to mention the hundreds of other fabulous women who are running this race. So, I know that no matter my time tomorrow – I’m going to finish and feel accomplished!

But I also know I wouldn’t be here this weekend without the gift of my family supporting this crazy obsession of mine to run. So this race is for them…although I’m still keeping the medal all to myself.

©️ iido 2019

Quiet Run – A Double Nonet

Crash boom ba dum ba dum ba dum boom

Drum practice or brothers wrestling?

Vroom vroom whee-ooo whee-ooo waah!

It’s mine! I got it first!

Stop annoying me!

Sister slams door

I tie shoes

Bye Hun

I

Run

Away

Quietly

Footsteps shushing

Faster to capture

The scent of mowed, mulched lawn

The feel of sunset’s soft breath

The taste of silent sanity

Glistening saltily on my cheek

This double nonet incorporates Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #189 – Quiet and also Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to write about any sport that engages me.

I have never been a “sporty” person – I was usually one of the last people picked for teams and I was definitely the last person to finish the mile run in high school (collapsing at the end just to prove how unsporty I was!). I didn’t even know my high school had a football team until I started dating one of the players. And I only learned about the rules of the game when I started watching football in college.

My first foray into sports was running which I discovered in my early 30’s. I figured if I could walk, then I could run since putting one foot in front of the other didn’t seem to require that much coordination or other athletic ability. Yeah, right. Still, I was smitten by the race medals and the opportunity to have some “quiet me time” when I ran. As my family can attest – I am a much nicer person after a run!

©️ iido 2019

Heaven Sent Group Run – A Lai Poem and Running Update

Eyes up to heaven

Running mile seven

I’m tired

My legs feel deaden

“Come on,” you beckon

Perspired

Running moms hearten

Together driven

Inspired

Another Lai Poem for D’Verse. The topic for this one uses the prompt from Patrick’s Pic and a Word #185 – Heavens. I’ve been on a streak with Patrick’s wonderful prompts! Head on over and see the lovely photos and words he uses for his weekly challenge. Patrick’s photos and poems from his recent travels are magnificent!!

While I didn’t get to actually run my seven miles this weekend like I was supposed to (rain and family obligations had me cutting it short), I was very grateful for the women who joined me from my local Moms Run This Town chapter. I was running short intervals while two other mamas were running longer intervals and our speedster mama was just running. We would leapfrog each other on the out and back trail, coming back when we would get too far out.

Even though I was running by myself at my own pace for most of this group run, just knowing my running friends were ahead of me or behind me made me happy and kept my motivation high. That’s running heaven!

Edited to add: I’ve also submitted this for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing prompt on The Poet by Day to write about friends. Is it weird that most of my friends are runners or writers?

©️ iido 2019

Soul Fertilizer – A Haibun and Running Update

The packed, gravel path crunches like my favorite candy bar beneath my feet.  The smell is not delicious chocolate but cow patties, liquified and repurposed. The steam from this concoction rises from the turned earth like the steam from my body on this 6 mile run. The smells are similar but mine reeks of determination and accomplishment. Each run is risky – maybe if I was more consistent, I would know what to expect, I would know that I wouldn’t fail, that I would keep going and not give up.  But I don’t, except for today – today, my run wasn’t shit, but it did fertilize my soul.

Risk in every step

But I’m not going gently

In that fading light

This haibun was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #183 – Risk and also incorporates Beth’s Tuesday Writing Prompt at the Go Dog Go Cafe to use the phrase “fading light”.

I haven’t done an update on my training for the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon that I am training for – maybe it’s because I really haven’t been consistent with my training at all. With sick kids and spring break and other obligations, running has definitely taken a back seat except for this past weekend when I was able to get a run in with a local friend of mine who is also part of Moms RUN this Town.

Danielle was one of the first running moms I met when we moved to PA. She recently had an adorable baby boy and is training for the same half marathon in Niagara as I am (she was the one who actually told me about this race). Danielle is one of the most kind, energetic and determined women that I have met here.  Being a local, she taught me so much about this area (like how to pronounce certain words, introducing me to the local farmers’ market) when I first arrived.  Running with Danielle is always fun and this run was no exception. We were even able to see the Easter Bunny at the end of our run!

After this spring break week, I am getting back into a regular schedule with running so be ready for more sweaty pictures of me!

©️ iido 2019

Ode to the Taji100 – A Quadrille and Running Update

Dawn’s light blush appears

As I sip this bitter brew

Trying to feel connected

To the desert and to you

Soft heat on my tongue

Lacks sandy grit and dirt

My eyes closed in prayer

As yours stay alert

My peace

For your hurt

This Quadrille includes prompts from Mish at dVerse, Quadrille #74 – Sip and from Beth Amanda at the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Prompt – Light.

Another serendipitous meeting of prompts that helped me to express my thoughts about completing the Taji100. “Complete” might be too strong of a word since I am no where near the 100 miles I was supposed to run for this challenge during February. Between snow days and hubby traveling, finding the time to run was more difficult that usual. Coupled with freezing weather, I just couldn’t bring myself to run with the stroller either – Mommy guilt: it’s ok if I’m running in the freezing cold but I don’t want to put my child through that.

Still, I think about all the men and women in the military who suffer in heat and cold and other uncomfortable (to put it mildly) situations all over the world. I know my difficulties are nothing compared to the trials of being active military.

I asked one of my friends who was in the Army how he can run so fast. His answer was, “You learn to run fast when someone is shooting at you.”

My personal goal now is to run 50 miles before February 28. Yes, I know that’s tomorrow…I’m going out for a 10-15 mile run right after I post this. It’s 25 degrees out but at least there aren’t snipers in my neighborhood.

©️ iido 2019