Well. I may have been avoiding you, Interwebz accountability peeps. Let’s get it over with. I did NOT run a 3:35 at the 2012 Wineglass Marathon. I in fact ran a 3:56…and took the
worst best finishing photo known to man.
Not really sure what’s going on there. I do know that I laughed so hard I cried when I saw this gem (thanks, Brightroom; excuse me if I don’t drop everything and pay $24.99 to get a non-illegal, high res version of this one), and at the time I definitely needed a good chuckle. I still get ridiculously giggly just thinking about it. Go ahead, share it with your friends. Have a caption contest and report back to me. Maybe you can figure out what I’m looking at, or what (besides my time) has me so incredibly horrified. Or why I have tiny tyrannosaurus arms. Thanks in advance.
I am 100% sold on mini destination races. After our awesome experience at the Flying Pig in Cinci this May, my sister and I immediately picked Wineglass as our fall marathon of choice. The Wineglass Marathon is a point-to-point race in the Finger Lakes region of New York, starting in Bath and ending in Corning. The course is a fast one (BQ-able), with a net elevation loss of 250 feet and a scenic route through the hills and small towns of wine country. There are also half marathon and 5K distances available race weekend. The swag is notoriously killer, and to top it all off, at least ninety percent of my entire family lives within a fifty mile radius of the starting line (including my mom!).
Saturday morning I woke up with a sore throat. I packed my bags (including three possible race outfits), then snoozed on the couch until the guys arrived. Jim and Matt got to our place around noon, and we loaded the car and headed to marathonville. Jim (our chauffeur slash photographer for the weekend) had decorated his rear window with pictures of us running, and we beeped and yelled randomly at prospective fellow marathoners on the four and a half hour trip east. Well, they did. I slept most of the way.
We headed right to the expo at the Corning YMCA to pick up our bibs, shirts, and string bags and to make ourselves our own motivational signs. Kelly wrote “I am awesome,” while I chose a classy line from a very sophisticated piece of popular music. We then hopped over to Market Street to grab our half bottle of local “champagne” and commemorative wineglass and spent some time frolicking in the street before dinner. I had perked up quite a bit by this time, so I took my now signature jumping picture in the crosswalk on Market Street. Totally safe. Please ignore the car in the background.
Corning is an adorable little town and is dubbed the “Crystal City” for its glass industry. We didn’t have time to check out the Corning Glass Museum, and the art galleries were all closed (#fail), but we enjoyed the little time we had strolling down the sidewalk and window shopping (which is translated as “window licking” in French, btw). Corning is definitely on my “Weekend Destination To-Do List,” along with Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, and Indianapolis. And Paris.
After an excursion to the grocery store (mmm…Wegman’s), we settled in at the hotel. I selected an outfit and carefully organized my marathon gear. I suck at mornings, so for me it’s best to have everything already ready to roll. I tried to go to sleep early, but my heart was beating so loudly that I had a hard time relaxing. I panicked a little bit. Okay maybe a lot. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I know the alarm rang way too early for our 6:00 breakfast rendezvous.
We parked close to the start and wandered about a half mile to the line (next to the jail), shivering the whole way. I decided to leave my throw away shirt in the car (good move), but gave my inhaler to Jim to carry just in case. It felt like there was no one at the start. With only about 1,500 runners, I found the 3:35 pace group lined up terrifyingly close to the starting line. In fact, at the end of the day, my chip and clock times were only 19 seconds apart. To put it into CLE perspective, our Turkey Trot alone has three times the number of runners, and CLE marathon and the Pig both have about 15,000 runners toeing the line on race day (all events). Even though there were an additional 1,500 Wineglass half marathoners, they started at mile 13.1, and we never saw them. To be honest, the start was subdued and quite disappointing. No national anthem, no speeches, no music, no spectacle at all. A man with a bullhorn yelled, “Runners set, go” and we were off.
My pace group was one of the largest, made up mostly of women about my age who were trying to finish in 03:35:00…or less. Everyone had Boston on the brain, and some even had it written on their bodies or bibs. I chatted up as many people as I could, including an ultra runner, a French Canadian, two (?) women who spoke Danish, a man from PIttsburgh with whom I declared a truce for the day, and a girl who was dressed like my Cinci Flying Pig twin – the very same black, red, and white striped shirt, black shorts, AND yellow Adizero Bostons I wore in May. I saw Jim and my mom and step dad Hank among the sparse spectators in the first half of the race. Mom held a sign that said, “Just do it,” and I glanced at my Fearless bracelet with every mile my Garmin announced. My confidence was pretty low going into the race, so I was shocked around mile 9 when I considered for probably the first time that I could actually do it. It seemed I could run all day long at that pace (8:05ish). It wasn’t super comfortable, but it didn’t hurt. My faraway Boston dream seemed so close.
I hit the halfway point in 1:47:24, a half marathon PR and right on target. I remember thinking of my running BFFs following me at home and sent them all some love as I cruised across the mat. Then…I don’t even know how to describe it. I came unplugged? I found myself drifting farther back from my pace group. I would rally, catch up, slowly slip back a couple hundred yards, catch up again, then fall back once more. I did this countless times, then watched that little sign get farther and farther away, turn a corner, and finally disappear. My legs didn’t hurt. I didn’t cramp up. I just couldn’t convince my legs to turn over any faster.
The rest of the race was a constant struggle. I was passed constantly. I slowed down. I thought about quitting.
Somewhere along an empty road, I came across a lone woman watching the race from her front yard. As I passed by, she said to me, “I am so proud of you. Do you realize what you’re doing? This is amazing.” This complete stranger seemed so genuine, so full of emotion, that she made me think of all the people I know that cannot run 26.2 miles – at any speed – no matter how bad they want it. And I felt guilty. Guilty that for me, 26.2 wasn’t enough. So I plodded on, crossing the finish line in downtown Corning after three hours and fifty-six minutes – a forty-five second PR. And despite my best efforts, I found my mom and shed a few tears for my Boston dream deferred.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past week trying to figure out what went wrong. Was I overtrained? Under confident? Did I overanalyze? Underestimate? I’ve discussed my race with many a veteran runner, and they all pretty much say the same thing. “Stop agonizing over it. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. It simply wasn’t your day.”
It wasn’t my day. I can accept that. But my day is coming. See you soon, Hopkinton.
STATS: 03:56:22:76, 615/ 1586 overall, 43/128 in age group
SPLITS: 1:47:24 and 2:09:16. Oops.
PROS: scenery, 10% dinner discount and pasta specials for runners, cutsie pie Corning, running with friends, mini road trip, homemade signs, street jumping, Mennonite spectators with tambourines, our personal photographer/chauffeur Jim, ample potties, seeing Mom on the course, flat course, good grub, sweet race swag (LS shirt, string bag, wine glass, mini bottle of sparking wine), coolest medal ever (see below), and the sign that read “Run faster or I’ll vote for Romney”
CONS: Way too small of a race, no music/bands, few spectators, massages a HALF mile from the finish line, bonking