Sunday morning dawned – actually pre-dawn – wet and cold. A quick check of the weather web site indicated it was 41F and raining at the start line. Better yet, the wind chill was 36F. Now came the big decisions. Keep the short sleeve shirt? Hope the rain will end? Wear a jacket? I put on my shorts, shirt and shoes and went to the kitchen to make my oatmeal with ground flaxseed in it. I was concerned I wouldn’t want to eat this as it would be too warm out but no chance of that being an issue.
The past two years I have not run but have spectated at Wineglass. Because of this, I have always driven to the start just outside of Bath, New York. This year would be different. Steve and I would drive to Corning, park and take the shuttle bus to Bath. Buses were lined up and filling as we came out of the parking garage. Many had coffee from the $5 breakfast that could be purchased. A race official poked her head in the window. She had an Olympic trial qualifier, actually someone who was trying to hit the time for this, and her pacer. There was a bike involved. Our driver seemed a bit perplexed at first but finally said meet me at the back of the bus with the bike. The bus filled and off we headed. It was still dark and still rainy. Thankfully, the bus had heat.
Here would be my first issue. When we arrived at the Philips facility in Bath, there were only five porta-potties. I knew this must be a mistake. In previous years, there had been rows of them. Also, on the bus ride, I had sat with a man from outside DC. He had been at the start line on Saturday and said there was a large white tent. No tent was visible at the facility. I opted to use the bathroom while I could. It was still more than an hour before the race start but I was sure I would have to go again. Then, I understood. There was shuttle from the Philips plant to the new start line about 6/10ths of a mile up a side road. The biggest issue in the buses in my mind was that none had any signage. I do seriously believe that a sign in the bus window of those in Corning that indicated whether they were headed to the marathon or the half marathon start and in the shuttle to the start in bath bus would have made a lot of difference. Because there was no signage and no real communication of the fact that the bus from Corning was not dropping runners directly at the start line, there was significant confusion at the start area.
Now, the marathon sold out with a cap of 2,000 runners. There was hardly any place at the start line to keep these people out of the elements. We huddled together under the white tent prior to moving to a garage that someone opened for us as more runners arrived.
The final decisions were made and I kept my Nike jacket on and a rain poncho like the one Steve has on in the photo above (thanks, Steve, for having an extra around), shed my warm up pants and put my bag into the truck to go to the start line. This truck was not manned by anyone but maybe the organizers didn’t think this was an important item.
About 7:45 am, I headed up the hill to the start. I went past all the pacers as I was going to start at the back.
Then, comes complaint number two. Because of the confusion about getting to the start line and the shuttle bus, people were still down at the Philips location – the start for the previous 29 runnings of the Wineglass Marathon. I will say that the start line being different had been well communicated. I realized this point but had not realized the end was different until I got a good look at a map of the course. The start, with a good majority of us standing in the rain getting very wet and cold, was held up for 10-15 minutes due to getting all the runners to the start line. This has to be rectified in future years. Hopefully, the weather will not be as bad in the future but that time in the rain and cold is sure to have put the PRs or qualifying times of many “on ice.”
Eventually, the gun went off and we all started moving. I had partnered up or was close to Dawn. She is from Binghamton and we had run the beginning of two half marathons together in August. I knew she would start out faster than I really should but it is nice to have someone with you. My plan – weird as it may seem – was to be sure to run two two hour 10 milers and that would leave me an hour and a half to get the last 6.2 miles in. My normal 10K race time is about one hour and 12 minutes. My 10K training time is one hour and 20 minutes. I figured this would work.
As is the norm in a race situation, I went out way too fast. My first five miles had a slow mile (mile 5) of 11:30. I know you all are thinking that is slow but that is about average for me. My first mile was 10:25. Whoa! I hit five miles in just over 55 minutes. I knew in my mind I was going to pay for this at some point in the day. Even in fast training, my best five miler was 57 minutes. About mile 4 I had gotten so warm that I had peeled off my rain poncho and left it along the side of the road. I tried hard to leave it in a pile with others just so it was less pick up for volunteers later. I am not one to throw my energy gel containers or other things on the ground so this was a hard thing for me to do.
The next five miles were in about 59 minutes. I hit ten miles in under two hours. I had four minutes to spare. The plan was working. I had forgotten the whole “I was going too fast” thing. I was very happy. The only thing I could think at that point in time was I was working my plan. This was regardless of saying earlier in the race, to Dawn, that I didn’t know whose race I was running but I was pretty sure it wasn’t mine.
The weather these ten miles and at least another four was ugly. The rain would go from a spritz to a downpour. I had on a jacket that was totally soaked through. My arms and core were cold even though I knew the temperature was rising a little. When the wind would blow – and it did, I was downright cold.
Miles 10-13.1 were slowing but I checked my Garmin at the half way point – a part of my spectating the past two years – and I was about 5 minutes faster than my previous half marathon best time. It was 2:33:58. The good news from this is that I do stand a chance of breaking a 2:30 half marathon in the future. My miles were getting slower, though, and I was concerned.
At the next water stop after the half way point, I ditched my water bottle. I couldn’t stand to hold on to it anymore. Of course, right after that it stopped raining and I wished I had it with me. Miles 13 -20 were tough. I used up that four minutes I banked in the first ten miles and ate up an additional 16 minutes before hitting 20 miles. I remember passing the 16 mile marking. I had been playing leap frog with a guy and I went past him and said something like only 10 more. That sort of inspired me. I looked at my watch and thought only 10 miles, I can do that. The nagging question in my mind is can I do it in two hours.
Suddenly downhills were starting to hurt. I had to stop and fix my soaking wet sock twice! I was falling apart but was going to finish. About mile 22 I had a small asthma attack. I am not sure what precipitated this. I had not experienced asthma problems since my second half marathon in 2010. This caused me to walk for a quarter of a mile. As I ran under an underpass and onto the bike path, there was a runner sitting in a chair with a volunteer. I was unsure if he was stopping totally or just had some issue he was trying to fix. Trust me, the whole sock issue was easier to fix sitting on the guardrail the second time than trying to balance the first time. He would catch up to me about mile 25. We would urge each other on and he would then head across the final bridge just ahead of me.
Once across the bridge and turning onto Market St, I heard a yell of “Go Nicki.” It was Kristy. Kristy and Dan had had water and food at about mile six for the TCRC runners. I am so slow I missed them at mile 16 but she was there. She had rain boots on and still ran a block or two down the street with me. I was so happy to see her. Just before my family in front of the finish line was Dan with Quinn, his dog. A quick high five to Dan and then realizing my niece Logan had come with my sister and daughter and I will be lucky if there is a picture of me at the finish without tears.
Upon finishing, I was immediately wrapped in an aluminum blanket. This did help me to warm up a bit since I was soaked through every layer I was wearing. Then, the beautiful medal was put over my head and around my neck. This was so much lighter than the medal from my first marathon.
I am sure I am missing thoughts I had along the race. I know I talked to several other people along the course and I will do some small posts on these people in the future. Good news! While my legs are sore, I am already planning my next races and, yes, my next marathon.