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.

—–
race

“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.



—–
post-race


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.

4 comments to Wineglass Marathon 2011 – Race Report

  • SoundDawg

    Another great recap!! Really enjoy your writing and honesty! Congrats on your PR on what looked like a really shitty day!

  • catmarlson

    Now that you bring up the hamburgers… As you say, you really want a big ol burger but really not the best plan. Maybe White Castle is missing an opportunity here. Those mini burgers might just be the answer late in the run. Can you imagine that? Runners clutching a dollar bill until mile 20 so they can buy a mini burger from the White Castle stand… No neither can I.

    Fantastic, as always.

  • catmarlson

    Oh, and that thing you caught in your room. Are you sure it’s not one of those Ceti Eel things from Star Trek II? Bad news if they get into your ear.

  • Thanks, guys.

    re: White Castle – I can totally imagine runners loving the idea of a slider or two at mile 20! That could be an option right along with Gatorade and Gu. Dude! Write up a business plan!

    re: ear slugs – Yeeeeesh. The nastiest moment of any Star Trek movie (old and recent casts). I always thought they looked like big earwigs.

    Holy crap! If you want to see something freaky, dial up “giant earwig” on your google machine. Yikes!

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