I’ve been holding off on writing my first marathon recap because once it’s written and posted, it’s really over.
Training for, running and completing the Wineglass Marathon was by far one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve had thus far and I will certainly struggle to put it all into words. But I will try, because my confidence is pretty high right about now. I can do anything!
Friday after work my foam roller and I made our way to Penn Station to make the trek to Long Island to stay the night at my parents. As soon as I got there, I was greeted with an amazing dinner. I was in full on “Calories are energy and you need energy to run” mode which meant my parents looked on in amazement as I packed away enough food to feed at least 2 people. Salmon, sweet potato, some of my dad’s spaghetti for good measure, and a delicious Mitch creation – artichoke heart salad with feta, red onions and chick peas. Talk about spoiled.
I was convinced by my mom to join her in drinking a cosmo. Totally fine.
Oh, did I mention my mom had also bought me a gallon of Fudge Tracks ice cream? Since I was only home for a night, I made myself a generous ice cream sundae complete with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
I diligently iced my shins and calves, did some stretching and crawled into bed.
(Thank you, Claudia, for my patriotic KT tape!! Keeping my legs from doing anything too crazy.)
Saturday morning I took advantage of my parents’ fully stocked kitchen and made myself a delicious, healthy breakfast of whole wheat toast, hummus, an egg, Swiss cheese, tomato, avocado and some feta crumbles for good measure.
My grandparents picked me up at 8 a.m. Saturday to start our journey to Corning, NY. I napped on and off pretty much the entire ride, wrote my pre-race thank yous, stared out the window- you know, typical car ride stuff. For lunch, my grandparents and I stopped at the Liberty Diner, where they used to stop on their way up to Oswego when my dad was in college! Talk about a throwback!
Diner menus are by far the most intimidating things ever…all the options. So many possibilities. I ended up ordering tuna, lettuce and tomato on an English muffin with coleslaw and a pickle and LOTS of Ken’s honey mustard. Also my grandma’s French fries, dipped in the honey mustard. Oh, and my grandpa’s buttered toast with strawberry jelly. Pre-race nutrition, I was rocking it, right?
After about 7 hours total, we reached the Corning Glass Museum, site of the 2014 Wineglass Marathon Expo! WOOHOO!
(We made it!)
Packet pick-up was crowded, but pretty quick and Curly and Melissa found me and had already been through it, so they guided me.
What you get with this race is AWESOME, especially given the fact that registration is less than $100. At the expo I got a neon green long sleeved tech shirt, my bib, bag-check bag, safety pins, wine glass, and a cute little bottle of champagne- all in an awesome canvas drawstring bag. Two thumps up for swag!
I would have loved to walk around the expo for hours, but I was kind of overwhelmed and my grandparents were waiting upstairs in the glass museum so I didn’t want to take too long. I saw that there was another Wineglass marathon tech shirt for only $15 since they were out of every size except XS. I bought it for myself, sampled some yogurt and granola, and went back to my grandparents.
(They're good at taking selfies. They've learned from the best...)
I wish we could have actually gone to the museum, because it looked awesome!
Next, Curly, Melisa and I set off to drive a portion of the course while my grandparents went to check-in to the hotel. We wanted to see these two parts that looked like fairly significant hills – but after driving them, they were no big thing! From the car, the route didn’t look as “scenic” as we had thought it would.
We got back to the hotel and I changed quickly before we all set out for dinner in Horseheads at a place called Louie’s Hanover Square.
(It was a gorgeous night!)
I chose an Italian place because people eat pasta the night before marathons, right? I was really struggling on what to order. I didn’t want to get anything too cheesy since I don’t typically eat a lot of cheese. I also didn’t want to go with salad because too many veggies aren’t usually good for my stomach. Also, I was still full from lunch – adding to the indecisiveness. I finally settled on filet mignon with vegetables and a side of pasta. A little bit of everything – protein, carbs, greens! The best thing about the meal was probably the bread and olive oil before our salads came out. It was bangin’.
My meal was delicious too.
Oh did I mention I drank a glass of red wine, too? Because I did. Again, pre-race nutrition is my strong suit.
I got back to the hotel, arranged everything I would need in the morning, put some water next to my bed, and by 10:00 I was going to sleep. I slept surprisingly well, despite the fact that I had to get up pee about 4 times.
Then, it was 5:30 a.m. and my alarm was going off! AH! I had no trouble getting out of bed, getting dressed, doing some stretching and very light rolling, and eating a breakfast of Greek yogurt with some walnuts and raisins. Yummo.
(Wineglass marathon, sponsored by Chobani?)
So what did I end up wearing?
-Pink tech tee
-Bib (I was literally obsessed with my number 2434)
-Homemade arm warmers
-Old Navy split shorts with built in underwear (I have really been digging these more than spandex lately). The little pocket in the front of my shorts held my chocolate Powerbar gel with caffeine.
-CEP compression socks
-Saucony Guide 7s
-Goodwill purchased Chobani fit running jacket with pockets and thumb holes (The thought of having to part with this was upsetting me)
(So much style!)
I was packed perfectly in my clear, bag-check bag. All it had were some extra gels, a Quest bar, a banana, water bottle, and a Chia Squeeze since I didn’t know what else I’d want to eat before the race. It also had my heatsheet that I had snagged at the Brooklyn Half. I figured if bag check was easy, I’d do it, and if not, I’d toss the stuff. I packed a separate bag for my grandparents to bring with them in their car, so that I’d have it after the race (change of clothes, camera, phone, etc.).
Melissa and Curly picked me up and as I headed out the door I realized that CRAP it was no joke freezing out. Cars had frost on them. I regretted not buying a pair of throwaway sweatpants. We headed to the further of the two shuttle pick-up locations in Bath, which was about a half hour away and also the first of the spectator “viewing” areas. There was plenty of parking and we got out, used the porta potty, and hopped on the “Special” school bus. I was amazed at the fact that the shuttle area wasn’t packed and crazy. No lines, just walked onto the shuttle and casually drove the 10 minutes to the start. No cramming in and sharing seats. The bus was probably only half full.
(So far, so good!)
When we got to the start area, we walked up to a giant shed PACKED with runners. All the chairs were taken, people were standing and sitting anywhere they could. There were space heaters, but it was an open shed and 30 degrees out and everyone was still freezing. We had about an hour and a half to sit there. I found a spot against a wall, wrapped myself in my heatsheet, and tried to stay positive and upbeat instead of turning into Cranky Lauren. At the end of the day- my pre-marathon ordeal was a LOT better than most people’s. Wineglass was really well organized and is a fairly small race. But that hour in a shed was a little meh. I ended up eating a Quest bar and then we headed out to the long porta potty line. Very unfair that guys didn’t have to wait on it.
They pushed back the start about 20 minutes but it wasn’t bad. It was just COLD. We walked down a hill to the start and there were vans there to check your bag. Easy. And I made the bold decision that my Chobani jacket was going in the bag and not coming with me for the start of the race. The sun was up at this point, and if you stood directly in it, it wasn’t too terrible. We met up with Sam and took some pictures. “Take a jumping picture of me!” I shouted. I jumped up, and literally my legs didn’t work on the landing. Oh, cool, I am completely numb.
(My landing was certainly not a perfect 10)
The start was really crowded but I fit myself in somewhere around the 4 hour pace group and soon, I was over the start line, starting my GPS watch (David’s GPS watch) and I was running my first marathon! There were no spectators allowed at the start line, so it was just us runners cheering each other on at the beginning. It was kind of nice starting without tons of people cheering because that probably would have caused me to go out too fast. Instead, I eased into a nice feeling pace and tried to ignore the fact that everything was numb. There was a little panic that I was way underdressed but I just pushed it to the back of my mind.
There was a girl behind me who kept saying to her friend, “Ok, I need another story” and I just remember thinking damn if you need stories already you are not going to be enjoying this by mile 20…I quickly broke away from her.
My first real memory is entering the viewing area around mile 4. There were more people lining the streets than I had anticipated, and I was worried that there was no way I was going to notice my grandparents in the crowd. But my grandpa had promised he would be loud, and sure enough a little ways into the area I heard him and my grandma, whipped my head around and had the BIGGEST smile on my face. It was a sudden jolt of energy and I felt like I was on cloud 9 for the next mile or so after seeing them.
I was really proud of myself because the entire run, I didn't push my body too hard- I wasn't chasing anyone down, I wasn't getting angry at myself when the pace on my watch went over 8:30/mile. I had come to terms with the fact that I was running on legs that were nowhere near 100% and that if I wanted to cross the finish line I needed to be nice to body. I remember being very cold, and then slowly, the sun started to warm me.
The volunteers at the aid stations were all wonderful. The course was never too crowded, and the aid stations were a breeze. I did a good job getting water at almost every one and taking a few sips without choking- hooray!
Since Wineglass Marathon is only a semi-closed course, we were coned in on the shoulder of the road and the occasional car would pass. As I approached viewing area 2 around mile 10, all of a sudden, my grandparents were driving next to me! I actually think I jumped up in the air with excitement I was so stunned and excited. They must have driven ahead and parked super quick and gotten to the sidewalk because when I entered the viewing area, I got to see them AGAIN! And again, it gave me such a needed mental boost.
I loved all of the viewing areas because it was such a nice pick me up. But I also liked that the entire course wasn't filled with "fans." There were the occasional people outside of their houses with encouraging words, but if the entire 26.2 miles had been filled with screaming, cheering, cowbell ringing people, I think I would have burned out way too quickly from the excitement. The solitary miles through the foliage were great for taking a deep breathe, appreciating what was happening, and giving myself some pep talks.
Everything was a lot prettier running than it had been looking out of a car window.
(Not actually taken during my run since I had no phone)
At around mile 7 was the first aid station that was also handing out GU and I took a salted caramel and ate it. By mile 10, I needed a porta potty. No, not to pee. This was also a huge problem for me during the Brooklyn Half and I know that I seriously need to figure out my nutrition if I want to BQ someday. So at mile 10, I hopped into a bathroom, quickly did what I had to do, and was back out on the course.
I got another salted caramel GU at the half marathon mark and again, a few miles afterwards had to stop at a porta potty. Luckily, I was able to hold on until I found one that had no lines.
Overall, the course was wonderfully flat. I can't imagine how people run marathons with tons of hills because by mile 15ish, I was hurting. My quads had never felt like they warmed up and they were so tight that it was a burst of pain every time I planted my food down.
But onward! I didn't see my grandparents again until the end of the race, but some of the other spectators gave me fabulous confidence boosts by telling me I looked great, to keep up the pace, to stay relaxed, etc. You can definitely tell when someone that's yelling at you from the sidewalk is a runner too- and their words of encouragement are incredible.
Multiple people along the way told me I was looking great, which felt really good because I didn't feel great. My pace wasn't all that great either. But I was enjoying myself. Eventually, I settled into a pack with a very similar pace and cruised along for awhile with them. Miles 16-18 were probably my best- I was suddenly feeling amazing and scoffing at the wall that was supposedly going to greet me around mile 20.
At mile 20 I ate my final gel- the one I had in my pocket. It was absolutely vile.
Mile 20 is also where the course changed- we were less in the middle of nowhere and definitely getting closer to Corning. Then I was passing mile 22 and officially running further than I had ever run before! AH!
Mile 22-26.2 was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It seemed that every .5 miles or so, something new in my legs started to bother me. My right ankle? Ouch. Then my IT Band decided to be cranky. Hips? Oof, that doesn't feel nice. And the entire time, my quads were dead. At a downhill into a park around mile 21, I saw Melissa and Nate and gave them a, "Help me I'm dying look." On the downhill, tears sprang into my eyes because the pain was so horrible. I honestly started to worry that when I crossed the finish line, I was going to be one of those people who collapses with cramps and makes a scene.
These 4 miles CRAWLED by. And my stomach was hating me. Around 22.5 miles there was luckily a porta potty and I stopped and was there for probably 4-5 minutes. All I wanted at that point was to finish strong, and I had to freaking stop for the THIRD time to use the bathroom. So. Frustrating.
Once I was back out, I went back to seriously questioning whether my legs were going to hold on until the end. My breathing was fine. Mentally, I knew this was possible. But my body just wasn't having it.
We got into a little park and at mile 23 I finally took the arm warmers off and threw them away. Then came the most amazing moment. I was running behind a woman who was coaching someone, and heard her saying, "Only think with this." She was pointing at everything from the waist up, and telling her friend that her legs weren't going to be what got her across the finish line at this point.
I ran up next to her, told her that was the most helpful thing I had ever heard, she told me to go get it, and I pulled up ahead and continued on. Except that everything was different after that. I started thinking about everything that running means to me- which is a whole damn lot. I started thinking about everything that has been going on in my personal life lately, which is also a whole damn lot. I thought about the long runs, the early mornings and the countless amazing people I've met since I got involved with the NYC running community. I thought about my grandparents and how incredibly lucky I was to have them there for this experience. I missed my other grandma. I looked around at the leaves changing colors, appreciated the absolutely perfect weather, the sun shining. I was crying and I didn't care how crazy I looked. Except then I realized that crying is really not the best activity for breathing and trying to finish a marathon so I tried to get myself together.
I wish I could say that from mile 23-26.2 everything got easier after that but physically, it didn't. It still hurt. A lot. But whatever. I was just thinking and feeling with my heart and my brain and focusing on anything except my legs.
Eventually, I was on a bridge and I saw a photographer and I cheesed super hard and then everyone was yelling at us that when we turned the next corner we would see the finish line! I rounded the corner, and saw beautiful Market St. lined with cheering faces, beautiful fall foliage, and at the end- the finish.
(My new favorite street)
I literally have no idea how I ran Market St. as fast as I did- it was like my legs weren't a part of my body but I kicked it into high gear and flew down that final stretch. People were like, "DAMN" - I could tell. And then my grandparents were on my left looking SO HAPPY I could have exploded. I was so glad that I was able to finish strong.
(I will actually buy these eventually, I promise)
And then I was crossing the finish line and I HAD RUN MY FIRST MARATHON and I was crying and having a heatsheet put on me and getting my amazing medal and wow I was still standing and then I was cheesing with my medal for a photographer and then I was filling up a bag with cookies and fruit and eating pizza and chicken noodle soup and my legs felt very wobbly but I found my grandparents and we were hugging and babbling and then ah thank god sitting on a bench and I was talking to my parents and telling them that I had done it and my time and that it was under 4 hours and I was feeling lost without my phone and then I easily picked my bag up from the bag check trucks. And Nate and Melissa found us and said Curly should be finishing soon.
(He finished too!)
Then my stomach was like ouch ouch and I was in a bathroom in the information center for quite some time.
Eventually, we went back to my grandparents car and I changed into leggings and boots and was finally out of my compression socks and had my phone and my camera and we walked back to take some pictures at the finish line.
And then it was time FOR BRUNCH at a cute little martini and wine bar called The Cellar. Salmon eggs benedict. Yes.
Oh, and THE BEST DRINK I'VE EVER HAD! My grandma and I split a peanut butter banana martini! Heaven.
I'm a little confused by all the different times I've been shown for my finish- but the one I'm going with is 3:50:09.
The Wineglass Marathon was incredible from start to finish. After running it, I think that 2,500 is the perfect amount for a marathon, and I'm not sure I would like anything significantly bigger. It was the best first marathon experience I ever could have imagined.
Since I've been back, I've tried Googling "Post Marathon Depression." Because I am missing that feeling of floating on cloud 9 that I had all day on Sunday. Maybe it was the endorphins, but I think it was more the fact that I finally had proof that if you put in the time and effort to achieve a goal, you can make it a reality. I have been needing a confidence boost- to believe in myself, and to appreciate myself. And this showed me that I can be pretty resilient. But it was also such a bonding experience with my grandparents. I have always appreciated them beyond words, but now, I appreciate them more than I ever thought possible. I couldn't wipe this ridiculous smile off my face all day- despite the soreness and inability to walk. Because this marathon wasn't just running 26.2 miles. It was about so much more- I've learned so much from training for and running this race and hope to one day get that feeling I had at mile 23 again- thinking only with my head and heart, feeling complete appreciation and happiness for the exact moment that I was in.
It doesn't get much better than that.