Reposting from last night. Much of last year’s stuff, but I’ll also be sporting black, Flashdance leg warmers.

Wineglass Marathon 2011 – Race Report

Friday – We decided to make a long weekend out of the trip to Corning. Lar booked a hotel room for 2 nights. We arrive on Friday night and settle in. Lar heads to the shower, and I settle in with a book. Two minutes after I start reading, I see this slithering down the wall. Lar thinks it’s a caterpillar. I think it’s a centipede. I catch and release and get back to reading.

Saturday – First order of business today is apple picking. Yesterday afternoon we stopped at an orchard somewhere off the 17 and apparently found the only apple orchard in NY that doesn’t let you pick your own apples. Boo! So we bought a few from the girl inside. We got to the hotel and tasted them and they were nasty. Double boo! Today, we’re back at the same orchard we went to last year. We get a bag full of apples, a couple cups of hot cider and 12 donuts. I’m not having donuts today cause I’ve been off dairy since Thursday evening. I’ll stuff 5 of them in my mouth simultaneously after the race. That’s a promise to you, loyal readers!

The weather is cold and rainy. Same conditions expected for Sunday. The orchard is a mud pit. We don’t have boots, but we decide to go for it. We have seriously turned into city folk cause we’re completely psyched to be apple picking in the rain/mud. And this vid is a warning to all you punks and thieves that prey on unsuspecting apple-pickers (watch till the end).

The only thing left to really do today is read and make dinner. Back at the room now. Lar is out shopping. I read all afternoon. At @ 6:30 Lar calls and says she’s on her way back. I start making dinner. Pretty simple since we’ve brought pasta (Barilla thin spaghetti) and sauce (Barilla Tomato Basil – original jar, not the new, redesigned one). We bought a great loaf of Italian bread and some mixed baby spinach salad from Tops.

In bed at @9:30. Planning for a 4:00 am wake.

Sunday (psych!)- I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Look at the clock and it’s 10:30 pm. I had been asleep for about an hour. Doh! Let’s try this again.

Sunday (real) – Wake up at 4:00. Out of bed @4:15. Into the kitchen and make myself a pbj with the leftover italian bread from last night. I eat it quickly, not even thinking that I had planned to eat it on the way to the start. Over the next two hours I have the following: cup of tea, cup of oatmeal (Quaker apple & cinnamon), bottle of water. We cut it too close last year, so I want to leave a little earlier so that we get to the start without having to run like idiots. It takes @ 35 or 40 minutes to get to the start from the hotel. The gun is at 8:00 so we want to leave by 6:45. I’ve brought my laptop and am trying to stream music from my home itunes library via subsonic. It’s working for some tracks, but not for others. I wanna listen to Bruce, but I have to settle for Def Leppard instead.

I had prepped all of my stuff last night. I’m taking 10 Gu’s with me. I’ll probably only carry 5. Three in the side pocket, two in the back pocket. Lar will carry the rest, along with a granola bar and extra water. I don’t wear my contacts much anymore. Last night I opened the case to find the right lens almost completely dry. I covered it in solution last night hoping it would be ok. It seems alright, but I definitely don’t see as well with the right eye as I do with the left. But it’s better than running with only one, and since it’s raining, it’ll definitely be better than running with glasses.

Well, it’s 6:30. We’re leaving at 6:45, and my driver ain’t up yet. Which means she ain’t had her coffee yet. Which means if I have to go in and wake her, it isn’t going to be… Oh wait, now she’s up. We’re out the door of the hotel at 6:50.

Wunderground says that it’s 39 degrees and light rain in Bath, NY. Temp for the race start may be a couple degrees warmer. And wow, there is nothing but shades of green on the radar. This should be interesting.

Last year’s start was near the Phillips Glass place, but this year it’s @ a half mile down the road. Unfortunately, they aren’t letting private cars down the road for that last half mile stretch. We park the car @ 3/4 mile from the start and start walking. Because of this change, the traffic was worse than last year. Now it’s getting late and I see that if I don’t walk faster, I’m not going to be able to make my PoP stop before the gun. Lar has her knife out and is making arm warmers for me out of a cheap pair of black dress socks that we bought yesterday. I run ahead of her so that I can get to the PoP line.

Out of the PoP and find Lar. It’s starting to rain hard now, so we take cover under a tent that has been set up in the staging area. We overhear people say that there are rumors that the start is going to be delayed a few minutes because of the traffic. Looking up, we see runners still walking down the road trying to get to the starting area. A voice comes over a loudspeaker saying that the start will be delayed 10 minutes.

It’s nearly 8:10, so we walk over to the start. I’ve taken off my long running pants, and given them to Lar. I have a long-sleeve, hooded coat on and I’m so cold that I’ve convinced myself that I’m gonna run with it. It’s not waterproof at all, but the hood might come in handy. Luckily Lar has followed me to the start, and I come to my senses, shed the hoodie and give it to her. Just my gray, long-sleeve, the arm warmers and my short sleeve tech on my upper bod. Shorts on the lower.

They’re making announcements over a P.A.. My stomach feels a little acidic. Really? I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. I take a Rolaids chew and decide that right now, and for the next 26 miles, I’m just gonna work with what I’ve got.

The gun fires.


“I’m wide awake
Wide awake
I’m not sleeping, oh no”
“Bad” – U2

I’m the last person to cross the start and a voice over the loudspeaker says that the 4:40 runners are crossing the start. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I’m not one of them (no offense intended).

A light mist is falling. The good thing about the cold temp/bad weather is that it gives me an extra incentive to finish quickly. We head toward the main road in front of the Phillips Glass factory and turn left. The only problem with starting dead last is that I spend a good deal of time passing to try to get to a pace that I like. That means that I spend a lot of time on the right shoulder and often I have to hop onto the grass in order to pass.

I have 5 Gu’s on me. Three in my side pocket, and 2 in my back pocket. During my training runs, I never carry stuff in my back pocket and now I remember why. The weight of the 2 Gu’s in my back pocket is weighing my shorts down. I end up having to pull my shorts back up every 20 seconds or so. So much that now I’m holding my shorts up with my right hand (bottle of water in my left hand). A couple more minutes and I realize that I’m going to shoot myself if I have to put up with this for much longer. I take the 2 Gu’s out of my back pocket and hold them in my right hand until I see Lara at mile 10.

I’m wearing two pace bands, one is my in-case-of-fire-break-glass pace, the other is my pipe-dream pace. The former is 4:00 and the latter is 3:50. The 4 hour pace would be 9:07 min/mile. The 3:50 pace is 8:48 min/mile. My 2 longest runs were well over 9:00/mile; 20 miles @ 9:05/mile and 19 miles @ 9:14/mile. Although the training plan actually says to do long training runs at 45-90 seconds slower than marathon pace, it’s hard to do. It’s difficult to feel confident that I’ll be able to hit my goal if I train so slowly, even if the slow pace is only once a week.

Because it took me a while to cross the start, I would guess I’m about 2 1/2 minutes off the race clock. If I can catch up to the 3:55 pacer (if there is one) and sit with him, that would be great. But that’s going to take a while.

I’m very aware of the time. I keep thinking about what Matt said about doing a 20 mile run with a 40k tacked on the end. I’d love to be able to do that, but if I’m going to stay on track, I have to constantly gauge my pace. The Garmin and I become really good friends. It kinda sucks, but with the nasty conditions, there isn’t that much to see anyway.

It’s mile 7 and the rain has been coming down at a pretty good clip for a while now and everything is water-logged. My light gray long sleeve is now dark gray. The rain rolls off the bill of my hat and sometimes hits my face. It’s cold, but mercifully, there is no wind. I think about taking off my long sleeve and giving it to Lara when I see her at mile 10, but I decide against it because I’m thinking that while this shirt is completely soaked, it’s providing some warmth.

I’d been dealing with a problem in my right foot that started about 12 weeks into training. I kept getting a pain that would radiate from the inside-bottom up to the top of my foot. It was right around the time I changed shoes (Saucony Triumph 8′s). I told Lara when I got home from my first run with them that something didn’t feel right with the shoes. The left shoe was fine, but the right one felt noticeably different. Another couple weeks and that pain developed. I would ice and Alleve but I couldn’t get it to go away. Then one day before a long run, I moved the right insole slightly to the right. I mean really slightly, less than an eighth of an inch. That made all the difference. The shoe instantly felt normal. I never had that pain return. The lesson? I guess sometimes the fix is so blatant or so easy, that I don’t see it or assume it must be something much more complicated. Makes me wonder what else I miss on a daily basis.

It’s mile 10 and I feel pretty good. In fact, according to the numbers, I’m on pace for a 3:50 finish. My slowest mile so far was mile 1. Lar is up ahead. Instead of giving her my shirt, I get rid of one of the Gu’s that I’ve been clutching. Only one in hand now.

The road is wet, but I find that each runner I watch is doing the same thing as me. Maneuvering to stay out of even minor puddles of standing water. Sometimes taking the higher part of the road, sometimes darting left or right. As weird as that sounds (cause I couldn’t be much wetter), this makes a huge difference.

I find a nice bit of a space-cushion and zone out for a little bit, listening to the rain falling on the trees to my right. Further off to the left, there’s a field. Last year’s run was alive with color, the sunlight on the leaves making the autumn colors pop. What a difference a year makes. This marathon Sunday is cold, somber and grey, but quietly beautiful.

Mile 14 and my stomach is starting to hurt slightly. Ok. Been here, done this before. Going to nip this in the bud. I take the Gu that I’ve been holding this whole time. And hey! One hand free!

From mile 13 on, I decided that I’m going to do Gatorade at the water stops. If I want water, I’ll drink what’s in my bottle. I’m also not going to skip any water stops from here on out. Gatorade at each stop even if it’s only a sip.

Mile 16 and my stomach is starting to get achy again. I sip water and it helps, but I’m thinking about something that I’m going to refer to as the Carlson Paradox™ (CP). During the CP, you desperately want to stop at the nearest Burger King and eat a Whopper to relieve your belly ache, but you can’t because you’re compelled by the need to kick ass!

What’s that? I’m misusing the word ‘paradox?’ Do I write like a guy that cares what you think?

Mile 18. Something interesting is happening with my right eye. Every time I blink, my peripheral vision is distorted slightly. It’s like the field of vision on the side is taking an extra second or two to focus. It isn’t painful or anything, but it is annoying. This is sign of the miles setting in. If this and my stomach are the only concerns for the rest of the race, I can deal.

I have a look at the Garmin and check my pace-bands. I do some rough math in my head. If I kick it up a little bit, and I can maintain the pace, I can finish pretty close to 3:50. It’s pretty tempting, but I quickly dismiss the idea. I remember how things fell apart last year, and with the stomach and eyes acting up, I’m not going to risk blowing up.

19 miles. I’m alone on the road now, with a good amount of space-cushion on all sides of me.

Let me say that again, I’m freakin’ alone on this road right now.

I glance at the Garmin, and get excited about the fact that there’s less than one hour left. I’m enjoying this small morale boost, when an older, bearded guy passes me on my right. But he doesn’t just pass me. He makes sure that he’s so close that he brushes my right arm. I didn’t hear him coming and it surprises me. I dart to the left and step in a huge puddle, completely soaking my left foot and most of my right foot. Thanks a lot, Dick! Why on earth he felt the need to do that is beyond me. If this had happened to Lar, she would have… um… reacted poorly. I’m guessing it would have been the first time a marathon runner had been hospitalized due to pistol whipping.

Mile 20. There are kids giving out assorted Gu’s. I wasn’t going to take one, but one of the kids had Vanilla, so I grab one. The stomach isn’t great, and I take the Gu immediately. The eye thing has gotten a lot worse. It’s the same deal, only it’s affecting both eyes and to a much greater degree. I’m seeing ok in the very center of my field of vision, but every time I blink, my peripheral vision is very wavey. It looks like I’m seeing the world through a wave-filled puddle that someone has just thrown a stone into.

Running on the right side of a country road. There’s a small farm house up ahead, and I see a table just off the right side of the road in front of the house. There’s a farmer walking toward us and she says, “That’s beer in those cups, help yourself.” I get closer and sure enough, there are half a dozen clear plastic cups and a plate of pretzel rods sitting nearby. At this point, my eyes and stomach are putting me on edge and I don’t want to risk anything happening by introducing alcohol into the equation, so I pass the stand and keep on going. I get a little ways past and decide that a pretzel rod might not be a bad idea. I double back and grab one. I’m not saying this is the ideal race food (it’s dry as hell), but it is something solid to eat.

Mile 21. I’m tired and on top of that, I’m not able to see the road very well. Last year I was run-walking at this point, just trying to make the finish, so I guess I’m doing pretty good, considering. The eye thing is starting to worry me though. If I focus on it too long, my mind starts to ‘go there.’ I think about runners that are a lot younger/fitter than me dropping dead during marathons. I slow a little bit, and a bunch of runners come up behind me on my left. It’s the 3:55 pacer (his name is Chris) and his pack. He’s chatting away with the bunch of folks running with him, every once in a while offering encouragement. I decide that I’m going to try to stick with them as long as I can.

Mile 23. We’re on a series of roads and paths that run through a park. It’s nice because there isn’t any car traffic to worry about. Not that far to go now, but even though I’m in this pack of 8 or so people, it’s awfully quiet, nothing but the sound of shoes on pavement. I gather that everyone is thinking the same thing; “The end of this run is someplace warm and dry.” All of sudden, the silence is broken by Chris and his thick Australian accent. He proceeds to tell the most amazing egg-pun story. The pack chuckles and groans with each awful pun. I’m astounded at the length of this damn story! It’s gone on for well over 5 minutes now. I wonder how long it took Chris to memorize the story and if he kept it filed away for an occasion like this. Either way, it was just what I needed to take my mind off of things for a while. We’re out of the park now, and back on the streets.

Mile 25. One mile to go, and I feel damn good. I accelerate and pull away from the 3:55 pack, determined to finish strong. The bridge is ahead. Last year the finish was just on the other side, but they’ve changed it this year. There’ll be about a half mile more to go after leaving the bridge.

The left side of the pathway to the bridge is lined with the same tall grass that I see on my Hudson River Park runs. I extend my arm and let my hand pass through the tips of the moist grass. I step onto the bridge.

The more things change, the further you go, the end of all our exploring… .

A lot of times, I have to drag my ass out to run (it’s too damn hot, it’s too damn cold…). Once I’m out, on those rare occasions where I can just let my mind go and be free of worrying about things, even for just a little while, I feel a greater appreciation for things: the clouds clinging to the Verrazano, the deep blue sky against the Chrysler Building, the cats in back of the Costco that look at me like I’m crazy whenever I run past.

I think about Dom, the reason I started running. Forever 26.

I catch up to a taller guy on my right. We make a wide left turn onto West Market street. Far down, I see banners and hear music playing. We pass a banner that says 800 meters.

“Hey,” I ask the guy, “Is that the finish?”
“Yeah,” he says. I pause to let that sink in.
“That’s really the finish?” I ask. “There isn’t another turn after the banner, is there?”
“No,” he laughs, “that’s really it. You’re done.”

Yes, I am.


I cross the finish at 3:54:14, a personal best. Two volunteers step up to me. One wraps a heat blanket around me and the other puts a hand on my chest and shoulder to steady me as I almost fall over. As good as you feel, stopping cold after running for so long is tough. I’m light-headed for a second. He asks if I need a ‘walking buddy.’ I tell him that I’m fine. A third volunteer puts a medal around my neck. I’m off to find Lara and soup!

These races would not be possible without the support of Lara. She is the reason I was able to pull a PR out of this day of less than ideal weather. Thank you, dear. I love you.

Pre prep

Pre prep, originally uploaded by poorsparky.

wineglass II


Hard to believe it’s been a year since I’ve posted. Many drafts sitting here, but nothing worth publishing. Anyway, I have been running, and today was my last long run (8 miler). Next weekend, I head to Corning to run the Wineglass Marathon. You’ll recall last year’s attempt was not great. I’ve thought about what went wrong last year, and I’ve narrowed it down to two main things.

1) Nutrition – A percentage of this is a crap-shoot (i.e. some times your stomach feels great, other times you just know it’s gonna be a long day), but some of it isn’t. The night before, I had pasta and red sauce, which is good, however I didn’t have a good half loaf of Italian bread as I had been doing before my long training runs. In short, I didn’t eat enough. I’m thinking that the bread would had not only provided extra carbs, but may have also helped with the acidic stomach on raceday.

2) Pacing/’Banking’ Time – While I did not feel 100% during the beginning portions of the race, I felt well enough to run faster than I had planned. At the half, I realized that I was well ahead of my half split time, and decided that I could, if needed, slow my pace during the second half because I had effectively ‘banked’ time from the first half. What I failed to realize is that by allowing myself to run faster than planned, I had spent my energy reserves too early. By the later stages of the race, I had no more energy to give.

manhattan bridge sunrise

So next weekend, I’m going to do a few things differently.

1) We’re staying in a suite with a kitchen. The night before, I’ll be making my own dinner so I’ll be eating exactly what (and how much) I want.

2) And it was written “Thou shall watch thine pace carefully during the early portions of the race, so as to not tire one’s ass too soon.”

There were more, but I can’t think of them right now.

So there you go. Lots of good things happening. More to come. Next stop Corning.

wineglass marathon ’10

west side

Saturday – Packet pickup in Corning ends at 5:00, so we leave Brooklyn at @9:45 thinking that it’ll take 5 hours if the traffic is light. Mercifully, there is very little traffic and getting out of Manhattan is a breeze. Lar’s driving first which means that technically she can’t fall asleep. That also means that it’s time for some Hodge family conversation.

Stopped at a light on the West Side Highway, I see another black Sentra in front of the car ahead of us.

Me: “I wish there wasn’t that car in between us so that we could be right in back of that other black Sentra. Then there’d be two Sentras that look exactly the same, right together.”

Lar: “Yeah, but that Sentra is a nicer Sentra than ours. Our Sentra is a c@#$&*%^ing @#^%$ compared to that one.”

Me: “Well, that’s all fine, but would you rather have the car you have now, or the nicer Sentra but with a severed hand?”

Lar: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Me: “I mean, what if as a result of wishing for and receiving a nicer Sentra, there was also a severed hand involved?”

Lar: “You mean like in order to get the nicer Sentra, a Nissan employee comes to the house, drops off the car and keys, but chops off one of my hands?”

Me: “Nah. I was thinking more along the lines of they bring over the nicer car, but hanging from the rear-view mirror is a severed hand. And you can’t just snip it off and throw it out the window as you pass a school or something, you have to keep it there. That’s part of the deal.”

Lar: “Hmm. How recently was the hand severed?”

And on and on for four and a half hours.

We’re in Corning and head to the expo. Grab my packet and look around briefly. Was going to buy a few more Gu packets, but they only have espresso and lemon, and I ain’t havin’ that. We go to the mall and find a Champs that has Vanilla and Triberry and all is right.

Our hotel is actually in Elmira, just a few miles east of Corning. Terra and Stella have driven in from Hamburg. We hang around the mall for a while, and decide to try to find dinner. We have our hearts set on the Olive Garden because I hear that that’s where real Italians dine when they stay in Elmira. Unfortunately for us, there’s a 35 minute wait for the Olive Garden.

Terra plugs “Italian” into Google Maps, and we’re off to Pietro & Son. It’s a modest Italian place with a fairly big Italian fish tank and an indoor fountain where the water shoots out of an Italian lion’s mouth. What’s that? Were there advertisements for local businesses on the paper placemats? Not only were there, but there were advertisements laminated onto the wooden table! This is one of them. I’ve been thinking about this for six days now, and I still have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If you can articulate a sensible explanation for this ad’s content, please do so in the comments.

I order spaghetti with marinara sauce. It’s good, but the portion is not very big. I was going to get an order of french fries on the way back to the hotel, but decide against it. I’ve got potato chips and some other stuff back in the room.

Terra and Stella head back to Hamburg, and I turn in at @10:00. Shooting for a 5:00 wake and drop-dead leave time of 7:00.

Sunday – Wake at 4:45. An okay night of sleep. I remember looking at the clock at 1:30, but I feel fairly rested. Pour my oatmeal into an old teacup and head down to the lobby for hot water. I step out of the elevator, into the first floor hallway, and there’s a runner dressed with rolling bag and he’s heading out the door! The hotel is about 30 minutes from the start, but sheesh! That’s early.

Back in the room. Finish my oatmeal and just finished a banana. My stomach doesn’t feel right. It’s not awful, but it just doesn’t feel 100%. Although I haven’t eaten any dairy product since Thursday night, I’m starting to wonder if the marinara sauce didn’t have a bit of parmesan cheese mixed in. As I say, it’s not terrible. Maybe a little acidic. I have brought no ‘Reader’s Digest’ or ‘Real Simple’ magazines with me, but none are needed, if you know what I mean.

An hour or so goes by of me sipping water, and snacking on pretzels and a few chips. I’ve brought the fixings, but decide to go without the pbj.

Wunderground says that it’s 36 degrees. It doesn’t feel that cold. The forecast calls for scattered showers, but I don’t see it. It looks like it’s going to be nearly perfect. We get in the car at @7:10. The road to Bath is line with clouds clinging to the low points of the hills and tucked in the valleys. In some spots, you can see them slowly starting to lift. In other spots, they just lie waiting. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the land stops and the sky begins.

We’ve left too late. That’s my fault. We park a little ways down the road from the start, and I jog up ahead of Lar to the POPs off in the distance and get in line. In what is becoming a PrepHo tradition, when the starting gun goes off, I’m… uh… still seated.

All the other runners are gone, already down the road a bit. Find Lar and give her my sweats and hat. Do two quick stretches and start jogging toward the starting line.

“Are you running today?” an official looking guy asks as I near the line.

“Yes, sir!” I say.

“Go for it,” he says.


“Yeah I know what it’s like to have failed, baby
With the whole world lookin’ on
I know what it’s like to have soared
And come crashin’ like a drunk on a bar room floor”
“All The Way Home” – Bruce Springsteen

I am the last person to cross the starting line, but I catch up with the back of the pack pretty quickly. I head toward the right side of the road and start passing folks. On my left and slightly ahead of me, there’s a guy dressed in black who seems to be doing the same thing. After a few minutes of weaving in and out, I hear a guy in back of me say, “Just so you all know- Those are the guys that were in the port-o-potties when the gun went off!” Everyone has a chuckle and the guy in black gives two thumbs up.

I’m going out way too fast, but I’m kinda cold and I want to get into a spot where I don’t have to worry about running up on people. At mile 5, I settle into a nice @8:40 pace which is ideal. The goal is to break 3:50 (that’s an 8:47/mile pace). If I’m going to do it, this would be the day. Excellent weather, and a course that is largely downhill.

If you need a crowd to draw energy from, this is definitely not your race. When the crowds are out, they are very loud and very encouraging. They mostly gather in the main intersection of the small towns and villages. The course also runs very near route 86, so there are often large groups of folks that have exited the highway, parked just off the exits and walked toward the road so that they can see the runners.

It’s mile 5 and I’m nearing the only really big hill. I’ve started to keep my arms and hands closer to my body and swinging them up higher toward my chin when I run hills. For whatever reason, I find hill running much easier this way. It’s probably just a head game.

Mile 7 – I’m getting that tired feeling in my jaw. Not bad, but I know it’s there. More worrying, my stomach is now a little achy. Not cramping, but it feels as though I’m hungry. I wanted to wait until at least mile 10 before starting with the Gu, so I’m going to give it a bit and see if it goes away. Until now, I’ve only been doing water. At the next water stop, I go with Gatorade. I’ve caught up to the 3:50 pacer. Well, I haven’t really caught her, I see her maybe 50 yards ahead.

Lar didn’t tell me where she was going to be, but I’m guessing that she’s probably going to be at the next large spectator spot. I see that we’re heading into a town, so I take off my gray longsleeve and get it ready to throw it to her in case she’s there. She is there and the toss is made. Our form is a little sloppy this year.

It’s mile 9 and my stomach is no better. Take a vanilla Gu. It’s a little bit better, but not much.

I’m nearing the half and I look at my watch. My split time is very good, and I’m definitely on pace. In fact, I’m a little faster than I thought I’d be. Just after the half, I decide to take another Gu. I get it down, but now there is zero difference in my stomach.

Passing mile 15. My legs are starting to tighten up on me, and my stomach is burning. I rip open a Gu, try a bit, but the taste of it is repulsive. Really strange. I know I need to eat, but I feel like if I choke this down, it’s going to come up on me. I end up tossing the nearly full Gu packet on the ground. I think about a story Matt once told me from one of his Triathlons, and now I totally relate: I wish I had a hamburger right now. If I had something solid, I think I could get it down and my stomach would stop aching.

It’s pretty amazing how quickly things can change. Just before mile 16, I do something I never thought I’d do. I walk for @.2 of a mile. A good deal of pain in my legs, and my energy is gone. Looking back now, I see that the reason I’m feeling this way is because my legs are burning fat because my body has run out of carbs to burn for energy. My body has no carbs because my stomach won’t allow me to take any Gu. A nasty catch-22.

I run for another half mile and have to walk again. People are passing me. Even at this point, if I can just gut this out, I can still make 3:50.

I’m able to run another mile and 3/4. At around mile 18, I see Lara up ahead. She’s waiting to hand me my sunglasses. She’s expecting a quick transfer, but when I get up to her, I stop running all together. I feel pretty weak now. She gives me some water that she’s carrying, and I set off again.

The 3:50 goal is gone. I make it to mile 20 and have to walk again. It’s hard to articulate what this feels like except to say that everything has consolidated into one giant ache. A group of 4:00 goal folks catch up with me. I try to keep up with them, but I just can’t find the energy. I watch the group slowly slip away down the road ahead of me. I’m truly running as fast as I can, and people are passing me. I’m starting to freak out a little. Thoughts are darting through my mind. Jesus. Should I just drop out? People must do it all the time, don’t they? I’ve read that some of the pros do it. If they feel as though it’s not going to happen for them early in a marathon, they’ll drop out and save it for another race.

I’m going to write a little about Dom now, but I want to make something very clear first. I’m absolutely not equating my minor discomfort during this day of picture perfect weather to the struggles that Dominic went through each day of his life. It’s not even close. Now then… .

I think about things Dom left undone, not because of lack of desire or loss of will, but because of time taken away from him. Dom was cut short through no fault of his own. He was forced to sit at the table and play his shitty hand knowing full well it was only a matter of time until he lost. But it’s different for me. Dom would have given anything to be here, to be able to run in the brilliant sunshine of this crisp fall morning. So I’m not going to quit. I’m going to finish. *I* will dictate how this ends and do it in memory of my friend Dominic who didn’t have this luxury.

I need a plan. I decide that I’ll walk a quarter mile and run the next 3/4 mile, sipping water and try to get into some kind of rhythm that way. It’s a little depressing. I trained hard, and it’s come down to this.

A guy passes me wearing a kilt and running barefoot. I wonder if that’s really comfortable? I’m sure the kilt is, I mean the barefoot running. I would be paranoid about stepping on glass and dog crap, in that order. With my luck, I’d step on the glass and then the dog crap would get in the wound and I’d get trichinosis or something. I heard that happened to a kid on a Carnival Cruise.

Mile 25 is finally here. The thought of one mile left gives me a little bump in energy. I’m going to try to run to the finish. At the mile 26 marker, there is some ornamental grass lining the right side of the course. It’s exactly like the kind I see on my Riverside Park runs. I run my hand through the tops of the grass as I pass, and for a minute or so, I start to cry pretty hard. I think about Dom and what has been. I think about Dad and what’s to come. This is the end. Is it an ideal ending? Nope. But it is an ending I can call my own. Official finish time: 04:13:23.


A volunteer hands me a heat blanket. I stop walking to put it on. When I start to walk again, I’m very unsteady. He grabs my upper, left arm and asks if I want a “walking buddy.” I tell him that I’m really ok, I just need to get my bearings and I move on.

I walk a little further and another volunteer puts a blue, glass finisher’s medal around my neck. I keep walking and Lara finds me. We immediately set off to find food. I grab an apple, a bagel and three cookies. Shortly after, I find a cup of chicken soup. By the time I’m done eating the soup, I feel 100% better. My stomach pain is gone and my mood instantly picks up. We hang around for a little while until it’s time to head home.

There is one more story that I need to tell, though.

I cross the finish, very drained. As I take off my sunglasses, a guy with scraggly, shoulder-length hair puts his hand on my right shoulder. He’s to my right, in the front row of spectators just after the finish line. I look up at him and he looks me in the eye. “You’re awesome, man. What you just did today… You did a really great job!” he says. It’s so unexpected, and I’m so taken aback, that I don’t know what to say. I say the only thing I can think of. “Thank you very much.”

I don’t know what it is about the marathon atmosphere that makes moments like this possible. All I know is that I think it’s unique to this situation, and I think it’s awesome. So for all of you raceday spectators who have ever yelled an encouraging word to a passing stranger, let me offer a sincere ‘thank you’ to you. You are the ones who make this day special.

Most of all, my deepest thanks to Lara for, once again, supporting me in all this madness. I love you.

Here’s a bit of footage of the race Lar took from the car. Quite a difference from the boroughs of NYC.


Just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I am alive.

The weather was beautiful, but the race was ugly. Full report to follow.

Elmira blues.

Elmira blues., originally uploaded by poorsparky.

early night

We leave for Corning tomorrow morning, so we’re getting to bed early tonight. It’s an 8:00 start on Sunday, and it looks like it’s going to be overcast, 40 degrees with a chance of rain. I will be liveblogging if I can remember how to do it, so keep an eye right here.

And hey, does your navigator fall asleep 20 minutes into a 5 hour drive? Mine does. Looks like another long, lonely drive tomorrow.

the long run – pics

Sept. 11 – It’s three weeks until the Wineglass Marathon. Today is my 20 miler. Planning to head over the Brooklyn Bridge and up the west side of Manhattan. Brought the blurry-cam along this time.

Wake at 4:30. For the last four weeks in a row, try as I might, I’m unable to get out of the house before 6:00. Mostly due to intestinal-scheduling issues. Lots of waiting around with nothing to show. I had been reading The Atlantic while waiting. Switch to US Weekly and things start rolling immediately. I don’t know what the science behind this is, but I’m going to start hoarding old Reader’s Digest issues from my folks’ house.


Out the door at @6:10. Just realized before I left that the light staining on the front of my white tech shirt is from Body Glide! It isn’t supposed to stain! Maybe I’ll have to try the round band aid trick.


Past Costco and down 36th street, over to 3rd avenue.

top monkey

Park Slope, hipster, tiara-wearin’ monkey.

baltic canopy

Hmm. This pic came out very light. Anyway, I love running down Baltic because the trees overhead make the road really dark.

brooklyn bridge approach

Manhattan Bridge in the background. Also, some of my readers should take note of the message. You know who you are.


On my way up, I notice there is zero traffic outbound which is unusual. To my left I see a tow truck heading Manhattan bound in the Brooklyn bound lanes. Get to the center of the span and head down and people are out of their cars looking around. A taxi driver grabs my attention and asks if I know what’s going on. Turns out it was an accident.


Cruise ship near the statue. Carnival or Norwegian. Lar wants to go. I’m always reading about people getting scurvy on those cruises, so count me out.

west side park

Jersey across the river.

On the way to the west side, I pass a lot of police. Around City Hall, there are police stationed at every corner.

looking north

Norwegian Cruise ship in the distance.

In the median of the West Side Highway, there are two women holding American flags and a guy holding a sign. I get a little closer and see that it reads “Hero Highway.” I hadn’t put it all together (the police, the traffic, the flags) until right now. I had completely forgotten it’s the 11th. Not only that, there are dueling protests scheduled for after the memorial ceremonies.

helicopter landing

west side highway

old docks

I’m not certain what this was.

ornamental grass

This looks like wheat to me, but whaddo I know? I just know that it’s cool and I like running my hands through it as I run by.

george washington bridge

the building across from chelsea piers

freedom tower

One World Trade Center (formerly the Freedom Tower) in the distance. It’s been a hole in the ground for too long. As of September 10th, they’re up to 38 stories.

All in all, a really good run. 8:48 pace which is pretty good for me. No major issues. Best of all, no skittish feeling near the later miles. Overall, training has been harder this time around. Not sure whether I’m just a year older or what. Early on, I read something about power coming from the spine instead of the legs, and I’ve become very aware of my hips and quads. I feel like I’m using my hips for power, and that I’m not pushing off with my legs as much as I should. When I’m aware of it and I try to use my legs for more push, I get tired quickly and I shift back into ‘hip-power’ mode.

Anyway, it’s taper time. New shoes on the way. Found a cheap pair of Triumph 6′s online. (I have to keep scrounging to find them because they’ve been discontinued for a while.)

cheers & jeers

While we wait for those devastatingly funny race reports, I thought I might vent a bit. It’s time for PrepHo Cheers & Jeers™.

First up, cheers! to the good people at St. Ives, makers of St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub. It makes your face feel pirdy! Check it out!
Yeah, that’s right, I like facial scrubs now.

You know what? While I’m at it, I’ll send out a bonus cheers!
Cheers! to the folks at Colgate, makers of Ultra Brite toothpaste and creepy toothpaste commercials.

See how shitty the world is when you have shitty teeth? Look how dejected Nurse Jackie is at being blown-off by Doctor Phil. Damn.

And I’ve always wondered what they mean when they say “The rest is… semi-private.” They’re intimating some kind of physical contact. Does that mean it was Skinemax-type involvement? I’m guessing so or else the copy would have read, “The rest is something you’d find in the back room of your local video store.”

Holy crap! Did you know they still make Ultra Brite toothpaste? If that’s true, I’ll bet my Mom uses it. My Mom is also big on buying from QVC. She’s the only person in America buying from QVC and using Ultra Brite.

Moving on, a big fat Jeers! to Kashi and their Peanut Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars. You know why? Because they’re filled with pubes, that’s why. I was enjoying a bar recently, got near the very end and found a nicely trimmed blonde hair baked into the center.
Shame on you, Kashi!

btw, I don’t think Kashi is alone in fortifying their food with genital hair. I have hard-drives full of pictures of food pubes. Lar thinks I’m crazy. I think she’s just not chewing thoroughly.