The good: I loved everything about this race except the weather.
The bad: The weather.
Long story short, I didn’t BQ and I didn’t PR, but I did have a damn good weekend and probably sweat more than I ever have in life in a 3 hour, 45 minute and 49 second time period. Now here is the long:
Betsy and I started our journey from NYC to Corning, NY at around 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. And since I haven’t driven a car in about 10 years, Betsy did 100% of the driving which was probably best for our own safety.
It took about 5 hours with some bathroom/stretch stops and we went right to the expo to pick up our bibs, shirts, wineglasses and free champagne. I had been feeling ok most of the day, but when we got to the expo it was sunny, hot and humid out and reality set in that yes, it was probably going to be like this tomorrow too. Betsy gave me a little pep talk and we avoided checking the weather for the rest of the night. After chatting with Baker, Abbe and Claire for a bit, we headed to Wegman’s to get some essentials (water, frozen broccoli, candy) and settled in at the hotel. We didn’t want to deal with busy restaurants, so my mom, who drove down from Buffalo, brought us pasta, sauce and pizza from my family’s Italian restaurant. Our hotel was very no-frills, but it had a mini-fridge and a microwave, so Betsy and I prepared a gourmet meal of pasta and broccoli with a side of pizza and animal cookies.
We watched chick flicks on TNT (The Holiday, Valentine’s Day), and it was so incredibly relaxing – perfect pre-race prep. All of the negative thoughts were gone and I was just truly happy to be there with my buddy, ready to run in whatever conditions we were given. I think the relaxing night helped with sleeping too, because we each got a decent amount before our 5 a.m. alarm. After it went off, we hydrated, ate a little, bathroomed and drove to the shuttle busses that would take us to the start.
It was foggy and humid when we got there – probably about 60-65 degrees with 90+% humidty. We hung out with Baker, Abbe and Claire and marveled at how we did not need throw-away clothes and were almost sweating waiting for the port-a-potties.
Abbe, Claire, myself, Betsy (missing: Baker)
As we lined up for the start, a light rain began to fall which actually felt kind of good.
A few years ago I went to an event where Ryan Hall was one of the speakers, and the advice he gave on running a marathon was something like: “No one else will ever tell you to do this, but I always start out fast. It’s easier to slow down than it is to speed up.” I remember during Philly last year that was my problem – I had started out somewhat conservatively but then wasn’t able to hit the gas when I should have. Regardless of weather, my plan was to start right at about goal pace and see what happened. The heat and humidity solidified this plan, because I knew deep down the weather would slow me down eventually and wanted to get some faster miles in the bank while I could.
Miles 1-5: 8:06, 8:11, 8:13, 8:13, 8:13
I split up with Betsy, Claire and Abbe and stuck to the plan (Baker was already zooming ahead). Pretty consistent here, and I felt good but not as good as I should have. The rain had stopped so it was just cloudy and incredibly humid after about mile 2, and sweat was already pouring.
Miles 6-10: 8:15, 8:03, 8:14, 8:19, 8:19
The course is known for being net downhill, but there was one fairly significant hill around mile 6 that threw me a little. I had been running alongside two girls, one of whom ran the race last year and said, “This is the biggest hill in the whole course.” What a relief! I took my first gel at mile 6 as per my plan, which definitely gave me a boost but I was still slowing down gradually.
Miles 11-15: 8:27, 8:30, 8:34, 8:20, 8:47
Here’s where I came to terms with the fact that a BQ was highly unlikely. I wasn’t feeling amazing and it was taking a good amount of effort to stick within the 8:20-8:30 pace. So I had a little pep talk with myself and said something like, “Ok listen. It may not happen today and you have to be ok with that. You can’t control the weather but you CAN control how you react from here on out. Be smart, hang in there and finish this thing as strong as you can.” Took my second gel at about mile 11 as per the plan. I saw my mom at the half point which was really fun, and shortly after that decided to start walking through the fluid stations to make sure I was getting enough in.
Miles 16-20: 8:42, 8:28, 9:01, 8:41, 9:04
My pace slowed down as I took at least 10-20 seconds to drink at the aid stations, but it was necessary and helpful to have something to look forward to every mile or two. The volunteers were wearing bright blue t-shirts so you could see them coming up and it kept giving me a little boost. During these miles I thought a lot about Betsy wishing she were running with me and hoping she was having a good race. I will say that the small size of this race helped with the cameraderie though, so even though Betsy and I didn’t run together there were the same people around me for large stretches of time and we pushed each other on (runners are the best!). I took my third gel at around mile 17 as per the plan.
Miles 21-26.2: 9:00, 9:13, 8:55, 9:09, 8:59, 8:52, 8:05
I think miles 20-23 are the absolute hardest. You’re so close, yet so far away. I walked through a few aid stations and on a whim, chucked my (empty) handheld water bottle so I could double fist Gatorade and water. Decided not to take my fourth gel and instead focus on Gatorade, which was tasting pretty delicious. As soon as mile 23 hit, I kept saying ok, less than 30 minutes of running. Then mile 24 – less than 20 minutes of running. 1.5 miles to go – just going to meet Betsy on the bridle path! This helped immensely, and I actually felt pretty good the last few miles and skipped the last aid station. I hadn’t been paying attention to my watch for a while and didn’t know where I stood with time, but was surprised to see I could probably hang around the 3:45 range if I just kept it steady to the end. So that’s what I did, and strangely had a bit of a kick that last 0.2.
Crossing that finish line was pretty sweet, as was getting the really cool glass medals and cold mini-carton of chocolate milk that I inhaled in 30 seconds. After I grabbed random snacks (none of which I felt like eating), I saw Baker and we went to go find my mom and wait for the others to finish. Betsy came in about 10 minutes after me and we hobbled around while she tried to calm her upset stomach. It was so hot at that point (75 degrees and sunny), we wanted nothing to do with our heatsheets.
We had to head back to NYC pretty soon after the race (i.e., no wine for us), so we showered at the hotel and packed things up. The drive took us about 5.5 hours with plenty of stretch breaks and fluid stops, and gave us ample time to debrief on our post-race thoughts. Looking at the big picture, we agreed that it has been an awesome training cycle. Even though we didn’t hit our goal, the experience both leading up to the race and race weekend was awesome. You can never control the weather on race day, and we rolled with the punches as best as we could. I’m pretty proud us for that
I’m feeling pretty good today despite having some gnarly post-race insomnia, and thankfully took the day off work. This week will be about recovery and slowly getting some easy runs back in. I told myself I wouldn’t decide on running the 2013 NYC Marathon (I’m registered) until after Wineglass, but you better believe the only thought I had about 2 seconds after crossing that finish line on Sunday was, “Alright – it’s on. Bring it, November 3.”