Now Onward to Chicago!

By Jenna Schifferle

On a cool, hazy May morning, I started passing people. Ten miles in to a half marathon, and I felt strong — like the iconic Rocky Balboa himself. My feet were weightless. My airs formed perfect pendulums. My lungs moved rhythmically with my stride. As the crowd looped along the Outer Harbor, I knew I was going to set a personal record. Call me confident, but I felt it three miles before I ever saw finishers’ chute. When I crossed the finish line, I threw my hands in the air as a sign of victory.

This was my fourth year running the Buffalo Half Marathon and my ninth half in total. It was also the first time I’ve managed to cross the finish line feeling refreshed and reassured with the knowledge that I’d brought my best. Sure, I’d trained with Fleet Feet before in preparation, but there’s something about race day that usually makes me shoot out of the gate too fast or forget to fuel quite right. For this particular race, though, everything fell into place and my training paid off. Couple that with unparalleled crowd support and a well-organized event, and it made for an unforgettable experience.

For anyone who’s never been in downtown Buffalo on Memorial Day weekend, race weekend is kind of a big deal. It kicks off on Friday with free yoga and shifts to a convention and 5K before culminating with the half marathon and full marathon on Sunday. To make it even better, there’s something for all ages and stages, including a Kids Mini Marathon, Diaper Dash, and even a Ruffalo Stampede for pups. Part of the proceeds from the events go to benefit various local charities like Girls on the Run and Hospice Buffalo.

My friend from Syracuse comes in yearly with his wife to run the race with me, and it has been incredible to see the event grow by leaps and bounds each time. While I’ve run the same race on four separate occasions (more if you count running the course during training), there is always something more to see and do. This year, my friend’s son did the Diaper Dash and came away with a mini medal, a Buffalo onesie, and a new milestone.

For me, achieving a personal record is incredible, but being surrounded by such a strong community of friends and fellow runners is what makes the miles worth it. Buffalo’s energy always gives me the fuel I need to channel my inner Rocky. Just picture it: Spectators brandish hilarious signs, as lines of people crowd the sides of the chute and shout names as runners pass by.

Not every run comes easily. Oftentimes, I miss my mark or watch my goals disappear around the corner. But every now and then, an accomplishment is worth celebrating and the Buffalo Half is definitely one of those achievements. Now, I turn my sights to Chicago and envision what it will be like to cross the finish line after going the distance.  In the meantime, I will practice my victory pose, and start adding on the miles.

Now onward to Chicago!

“Writer on the Run” is a monthly column written by Jenna Schifferle of Cheektowaga. She chronicles her experience training for the Chicago Marathon in October.