"Biggest sandbag job of all time?" -NavEng, posted to my Strava feed, 10/2/17.
I suppose I deserved that. Two days prior to the race I posted a rant in Loopville about injuring my back and complained that I didn't think I could run the race. A quick recap in case you missed that: After the best training cycle to date I was down to the last 5 days before the marathon. Everything was pointing to a huge PR. (Even bigger than the expected PR in Philly... Before the weather gods dealt us the windstorm from hell.) But then there was this sudden sharp pain and tightness in my low back upon pushing up and out of the car on a hill with a file in my lap. I could hardly walk by the time the elevator arrived on my floor. My dreams of a Wineglass PR, or even finishing, seemed to disappear in those few seconds climbing out of the car. A PT pushed, pulled, twisted, kneeded and raked those tight muscles until I could walk. She also had me change my form slightly to take some pressure off the tight area. Still, it seemed that running Wineglass wouldn't happen.
Or maybe it would? After a successful test run Friday evening (and a very large Margarita) it was decided that a DNF would be better than a DNS, so clothes were packed and on Saturday morning I was off on the long car ride to Corning, NY for the Wineglass Marathon. KRG, Peg, J-Zee and I met up at the expo. From there Peg drove KRG and I to a restaurant in Corning where we gorged on pasta while catching up and making plans for the next morning. After dinner we enjoyed ice cream. You can do that all this without guild when you're planning to burn 3,000 calories at the crack of dawn.
The alarm went off at 4:00 AM. Not sure why I even set it since sleep was elusive, at best. After instant oatmeal and juice I met Peg and KRG in the lobby. We drove a few miles to Corning and were safely in a parking garage with minimal delay. After parking and peeing we boarded a bus for the starting line 26.2 miles away. Not quite the same as Dave driving us to the corrals in Philly, but we made it, peed again and were directed into the warming tent. We passed the time by goofing around and taking selfies while waiting for Hot Pink Sneakers and J-Zee to arrive.
After J-Zee and HPS arrived.
We talked about goals. Mine had gone from a 9:10/mile (4:00) to "just take it easy and finish without aggravating my back." Then we noticed that speedo man was holding a 4:20 sign. He was a pacer. I had no choice but to change the goal to "stay in front of that guy." Soon it was time to pee one last time and check our bags.
It was cold and foggy when we lined up behind the starting line. I had decided to take it easy through the first half and see how my back felt after that. If everything felt loose I would pick up the pace. I lined up with the 9:30/mile pacer since that would keep me just in front of speedo pacer man. After the National Anthem and some announcements the gun sounded and we were off. Apparently 9:30 was a popular pace group. We were packed in very tight for the first 6 miles. Everything felt good. The back was loose. For a while I was running with a woman who was running her 100th marathon. Yes, 100 marathons. So impressive. But, that isn't the most impressive part of her story. Prepare to have your mind blown. This was her 100th marathon in 5 years and only 3 were in her first year of running marathons. She ran 97 marathons in 4 years! Absolutely amazing.
The 9:30 pace group reached the halfway point at 2:06 and I had no back complaints so I picked up the pace. My back didn't bother me unless I let my posture relax or if I twisted to the left. No problem because the lane was closed so there was no need to twist left and watch for traffic. The course is a net down hill, but it was still hilly in between. There was another hill at around the 19 mile mark, which is never appreciated at that point in a marathon. I was tired and starting to drag by mile 22. The slight posture change helped avoid back pain, but it's tiring to try to hold a different form than you're used to. My hamstrings were tired and close to cramping up. By now the sun was high in the sky and it was hot. I drank water at every water stop after 20 miles and also walked 30 steps at each water stop, hoping that would keep any hamstring cramps away.
Finally, we turned the corner onto Market Street and the finish line. I was the last of our group to finish. The official time was 4:07. A new PR. After staggering through the chute and chugging chocolate milk and water, J-Zee led me to the others where I learned we were 6 for 6 with new PR races. Here we are celebrating:
The race was well run and the free stuff was nice.
Eventually we made or way back to the hotel and then home. These weekends are always over way too fast. I miss everyone and can't wait to do it all over again.