Again this summer, I headed to Madison County to DeRuyter for the Tromptown Half Marathon. This race is held in conjunction with the Tioghnioga Firemen’s Field Days and is a Thursday evening race. Start time for the half – there is also a 5K – is 5:45 pm.
First, let me state that a 5:45 start time is odd. I have a real problem figuring out nutrition and fueling for a race with that start. Normally, I am having a small snack to sustain me until dinner is cooked at 5:45 pm. So how do you fuel so you make it through a half marathon but not eat too much or the wrong things? I’m still working on this. I can assure you I know no secrets about the fueling end as I had stomach issues the whole race.
This half marathon is a little bit in the village of DeRuyter and a lot through farm land and around DeRuyter Lake – which I believe is a reservoir created from the Otselic River. All day on Thursday the weather was threatening. The front that was to have moved through in the overnight was evidently moving slower than anticipated and it looked like the race may be run totally in the rain. While not ideal, at least in the rain and 80 degrees is better than in the rain and 40 degrees.
To be sure there would be a race, I emailed the race director early in the morning. If I heard back, great. If I didn’t, I was not going to worry about it. He did email me back and assured me the race would go on. In 35 years, they had only not run one. I had driven past the start line as I came into town.
I went into the high school gym and picked up my bib – I opted to not get a shirt as I really do not wear tee shirts very often – and headed back out to the car to finish getting ready. The high school and its locker rooms were open until 8:30 pm for the purposes of showering and changing. This also meant real bathrooms!
As I was waiting in the parking lot, I spotted Paul. Paul won my giveaway for a Blue Ridge Marathon entry last year. Oddly, he grew up in the area I live in. He was up here from NC visiting family. When he made his plans, he asked me about races and I gladly recommended several, depending on when he was here. He was running the half and his sons were running the 5K. I also ran into Dawn, a local runner, in the parking lot prior to the race. I would not see Dawn again until the finish line.
Paul and I headed up to the start line. The clouds did not look like they were going to let up. Rain would happen, the question was just whether the race would be over or not when it started. Guess I should warn you, since I am at about 500 words and not into the race that this will be a long post.
The first mile is in town – back down past the high school, past where the finish line will be and up on to NYS Route 13. As you head out of town, the hills start. I seriously did not remember this race having any hills in it so I slightly misled Paul in talking about the race. I swear races are like childbirth, you forget the bad parts once done. Just about mile two, I heard the first thunder. A woman I was passing at the time swore it was a tractor. I may not own a tractor but have heard many in my days and what I heard was definitely not a tractor.
The race wound through farm land as it got closer to the lake. At one point, I believe it was right before mile 5, there were cows on both sides of the road. It appeared to me – a runner who has had to stop on runs for a herd of cows to cross the road to get milked – that the farmer had gotten part of the herd to the barn and was waiting on the rest due to the race. There was a small calf that was stuck in limbo – not inside the fence but on the grass, not the road. A woman running in front of me with very bright red shorts on caused a lot of moo-ing to occur. I was wondering if it was the color of the shorts.
Thunder could be heard every now and then but nothing that sounded close and no lightning yet. Finally, I saw my first glimpse of the lake. Then, the lake houses appeared. I knew I was getting close to the cross road to the other side of the lake. I slowed to the side of the road and took a photo. There were two women, running together in bright pink shirts for some cause in Syracuse that came by, who asked if I wanted to be in the photo. Trust me, I still felt good but did not want my sweaty self to ruin a beautiful photo. We would, for the next 4-5 miles, play leap frog.
I am unsure what I did but about mile 6 my stomach started bothering me. I had been having gas most of the race. I think I know where to point for that issue but the stomach issue not so much. I had been drinking but not a lot. The temperature was fairly warm and humid so the drinking was a good thing. I had taken my normal energy gel at approximately mile 4.5 and was not trying a new one tonight. I worry that it may have had to do with electrolytes being out of whack. Nothing I could do about it right now but keep running.
About mile 8 or 9, a woman had cold bottles – the 20 ounce kind – of Gatorade. She was handing out the entire bottle. Like many of the numerous water stations in this race, this was simply a member of the community that wanted to help. She was not an official water stop. This is one of the great things about this race. The people of the community turn out to cheer you on, thank you for supporting the race, and give you what they think you need along the way – water, or, in this case, Gatorade. I took a bottle as I thought of my stomach and the possibility it was an electrolyte issue. I normally do not drink regular Gatorade and I do feel that when it is used in races and made from powder, it is seldom made full strength. I knew I would not be able to drink the whole 20 ounce bottle so felt slight guilty but needed to get something other than water in my system.
I cannot, now, even recall when the sprinkles really started. I was already soaked with sweat so it didn’t really phase me. My shoes didn’t feel like they were ever wet. Though, in hindsight, they and the compression socks did get wet. My feet just never felt it. Lightning started to prevalent about mile 10. I had seen the first of the lightning about mile 8. Dawn had asked me, as I said I kept waiting for someone to tell me they were calling all the runners in, what I would have done if they had told me I was finished. At mile 8, I probably would have been fine with it. At mile 12, I would have been pissed.
Just a little after passing mile 12, I came upon the woman in the red shorts that had had the cows all moo-ing earlier in the race. My plan was to walk with her for a minute or two, conversing, and then run again. Since I do a 5 minute run/1 minute walk interval, I was just moving my walk time. I was sure I would be fine. Evidently, that late in a half marathon, I should not make drastic changes to my interval timing. I could not get running again. She was all cramped up. We talked about my compression socks. I told her my legs felt great but my stomach was an issue. I think I sold a pair of ProCompression socks that night. Unfortunately, I could not start running again. She and I walked until we saw the finish line.
While this was not the race I had hoped for – I finished in my worst half marathon time ever, I love the route and would recommend this race to anyone in the area. I love the race and the area.