Monday, October 3, 2011

30th Wineglass Marathon: Race Report

Sunday, October 2 was the 30th Wineglass Marathon, held between Bath and Corning, NY. This was my FIRST MARATHON! (Coincidentally, this was also my 30th race since I started running in 2005.)

Dude gets a cup of The Best Soup EVER.
Training and Race Plan: Well... the idea was to follow the Brooks-Hansons beginner plan, which was written about in the January 2011 Runner's World, and train for a 3:45 race (8:35 pace). Adam Buckley Cohen's article convinced me that high-fatigue, lower-mileage marathon training that focused on goal pace runs was the thing for me. Unfortunately, I started this plan by neglecting stretching, ignoring various trouble spots, ignoring the fact that I have never been able to safely run 5-6 days a week, and ignoring the fact that I just turned 40. One prescient comment on this article: "This guy has run 40+ marathons with a 2:36 PR. The results are based on a guy who has experienced everything up to that point. His legs feeling like crap at mile 22 says it all. To each his own, but this plan doesn't sound very successful." You do the math - maybe next time. Yeah, next time I'm 25 years old.

I started Week 4 of the 15-week training plan after the Vestal XX in June. By mid-August, I developed some tendinitis and calf pain below my left knee, and I wasn't stretching out my left hip. My longest run was over 18 miles on August 21. It was a good three-hour run, and a time/distance PR, but my left leg was pretty wrecked.

Then it started raining, and I don't mean the day before the race. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee blasted eastern and central New York with over 10 inches of rain each, causing catastrophic flooding and infrastructure damage. I worked almost 90 hours of overtime between August 28 and September 14 (in 17 years with NYSDOT, I had less than 10 hours of overtime).

I didn't do another significant run until September 17, and didn't do any more long runs. I did a couple of short tempo runs and 8x800 once, but I was probably prepared for no more than half the marathon distance at goal pace. Last week, I decided to step back my goal from 3:45 to just break 4:00. By race day, I was planning to run with the 4:00 pace group for 15-20 miles, then accelerate if possible.

Course: The course map is here: Wineglass course map (PDF). It's a point-to-point course, so if I came in under 2:04, it wouldn't be an official world record due to IAAF rules (shucks). They also had their first half marathon (eliminating the marathon relay), which conveniently started at the halfway point.

Saturday Expo: It's cool that a couple hundred of you ran Boston, but I'm sure you had another jacket you could have worn. It looked like a BAA meet-up.

Swag: Thanks for the nice long-sleeve tech shirt. It fits well and it has a unique color and logo that are very eye-catching. The champagne split was delicious. The bright blue poly bag will come in handy for grocery shopping.

Field: The full marathon was capped at 2,000 entrants, but only 1,447 finished. I'm sure many of the DNFs posted in the results were no-shows, although there's some discussion on the Wineglass Facebook page about possible chip problems and finishers showing up as DNFs. Also some confusion about people switching between the full and the half.

Weather: When we left the motel in Bath at 7:05 it was freezing cold and raining heavily. Needless to say my mood soured while we made our way to the Phillips plant. The rain slowly tapered off by 7:30 when I donned my garbage bag and walked from the parking area to the start. I met a couple of nice guys from NYC who seemed to also be fans of Glad couture - I hope they had a good race. The rain picked up around 8:00 as we stood around waiting for hundreds of people to trudge up to the starting area. I met a few people in the 4:00 group, and several first-timers. By 8:05 it was really pouring again and we grew anxious to start.

Clothing: I started the layering with a compression tank, then my heaviest long sleeve poly top, windbreaker and fancy trash bag. I had to wear my poly running pants instead of shorts - with the rain and cold, you have to lean toward preserving heat because you generate less when running more slowly. If anything happens that forces you to slow further, hypothermia is a real possibility. I stuck to my Saucony Fastwitch shoes because their light weight helps keep my legs fresh, and wore my Injinji socks to prevent inter-toe blisters. I also wore a light cap and gloves. Clothing choices seemed to be a success, as I was really never too hot or cold even though I was wet the whole time. My feet got soaked and my toes got cold the last hour, but no blisters.

Race: By the time the gun went off around 8:12, the rain had let up again. There was a nice downhill start and I hit my watch as I ran across the timing mat.

First hour: Kept on pace, met up with Andy from the Binghamton area who was also doing his first. We got ahead of the 4:00 pace group because we were slightly impatient and feeling good. Passed people going up the hill at mile 4 - a little early to be busting a gut and showing off! The trash bag came off somewhere in the first hour. About every half mile I noticed Andy and I would both squeeze the water out of our gloves. The rain kept up but I wasn't cold or feeling too wet.

Second hour: We stayed a couple minutes ahead of the pace group. Someone even mentioned that 3:50 was "just up ahead" but I didn't see them and I was in no condition, physically or mentally, to accelerate. Scenery was pretty limited but there were lots of spectators in the villages. Spotted my wife and stopped to give her a kiss around the 9-mile mark. I think it was still raining.

Third hour: Still not too bad. Andy was beginning to feel it around mile 18 and by mile 20 we got separated. Right around three hours I got passed by the 4:00 pace group at a water stop. It didn't really cross my mind to try to keep up with them but I got back on the road and kept plugging. I think the rain let up around this point. My pace was very steady through mile 20 averaging 9:07, with my fastest mile at 8:53 and slowest 9:24.

Fourth hour: As I said on Facebook, "I wouldn't call Mile 20 'The Wall,' but I wouldn't call it Puppies and Rainbows either." Although I was prepared to run right through this mythical Wall, my pace for the last 6.2 miles dropped to 9:45. I had been eating a gel every 4 miles and getting water or Gatorade at almost every water stop so hydration and nutrition were OK. But everything began to ache at the same time. The little muscles and tendons that had been feeling understandably overworked were joined by the big muscles. My fingertips went numb not from the cold but from tension in my neck and shoulders. I tried not to slow down or speed up, and managed to keep grinding. The Corning bike path was very nice, a refreshing change of scenery and lined with spectators, signs and a water stop.

Finish: I was not familiar with the finishing stretch, so I tried to pick out landmarks once we got off the bike path. The white and blue stack at Corning (with the glass blower on it) was a welcome sight. Then it was over a bridge, past Wegmans and a left turn down Market Street - a great sight, to see all those people lining the street and the finish line banners. I could actually hear people cheering for me - they lied and said things like "You look great!" which were actually encouraging. I spotted my Dad, then my wife, then the finish line mat, and I was done in 4:03:10. They handed me a bottle of water, a handmade glass medal and a mylar blanket. Somehow it's the iconic post-marathon mylar blanket that made it finally feel "real".

Finish line food was great - I saw cookies, cheese sticks, Gatorade and water, pizza, and hot soup. I'm sure there was more, but all I wanted was the soup. Within minutes I felt nearly human again and ready for the long walk to the car. Maybe it was only a quarter mile - get off my back!

Official Results:

Volunteer Report: They were all AWESOME to stand out there in the cold rain, handing out Gatorade, water and gels. The Girl Scouts, the handicapped kids, the H.S. cross country teams, regular people, gave up half of a Sunday when they could have been sleeping in, going to church, and watching football in warm, dry comfort.

Spectator Report: I understand, it's hard to hold an umbrella and clap at the same time. Thanks to the spectators who handed out candy!

Injury Report: Surprisingly, the left knee and PTT have not flared up - they actually feel pretty normal. However, both calves/Achilles and the hip flexors are not happy. My Clarkson School classmate Wally Murdoch reminded me to go for an easy recovery jog today and start getting the kinks out, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.

Time and Place: My time - 4:03:10; official time 4:03:09.67, 717/1447 (top 49.6% - yeah!), 87/128 in M40-44.

Conclusions: I couldn't do much about the lost training, which was probably good for my knee. No one could do anything about the weather, and I was as prepared as I could have been. Cold gels suck. Yes, the race was 2/3 mental and 1/3 physical - and this was only the last 6 miles. The first 20 miles felt like a nice long training run.

Overall, I consider this race a success. Please don't ask me right now if I want to do another marathon!


Duane said...

Great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Sunshine said...

I second what Duane said!