All pre-race signs suggested disaster. My pre-race 20 mile training run was horrific. The weather for the race forecasted 55 degrees and rain, rain, rain. And Madeline and I both started menstruating (yes, you heard me). We agreed simply to finish the race before they closed the chute (at 6:30hrs) and hoped for the best (but secretly expected the worst).
Temperature 50 degrees
Precipitation: none (but very cloudy)
We suited up (all of us sporting our fabulous long-sleeved Wineglass race tech tees under our even more fabulous short-sleeved tech tees [$12.98 at Target]) and ate what must be the true breakfast of champions — Chicken flavored Nissin Cup Noodles.
We drove from Bath (where the race would start) to Corning (where the race would finish) and parked our car so that when we finished, we’d have easy and quick access to our vehicle. Parking the car at the finish would also be extra incentive to actually make it to the end of the race.
We took a race-provided bus back to Bath to the start line. It turned out that we didn’t even need to use the bus ticket for which we paid 5 dollars (and were warned by the race folks not to lose under penalty of death). Once at the starting area, we used the Port-o-Johns, drank some Gator-Aid (mixed properly, I might add — not watered down like at the other marathon), and waited around in the cool morning air. We amused ourselves by (1) picking out people that we thought we might overtake on the course and (2) making fun of all the funny looking runners (who are — us included — a motley crew, indeed). We met some ultra-nice folks from Nashville who came to NY expressly for the race. They were wearing hats and mittens and sweatshirts and looked like they were freezing to death.
After the singing of the national anthem (performed by someone who sounded vaguely Josh Groban-esque), we were off. . .
Mile 1: Madeline and I convince Deb that if she is going to beat Oprah’s time (4:29), she had better leave us now. After several attempts to motivate us into joining her crazy endeavor, she takes off like a blue streak (literally. She would finish in 4hrs and 4min. A running goddess).
Miles 2-5: We settle into a rhythm that feels comfortable. At the first water stop (Mile 3), we take Gator-Aid. We meet some fellow runners during these miles. A woman in a red shirt (who we will later find out is Rebecca [note: all names changed to protect the innocent], a philosophy grad student); a first-timer wearing a CamelBack; and Andrea (ahn-dray-ah), a field biologist who spent some time in South Africa and who seemed to enjoy telling us that she “thinks of Africa as her real home” and she can’t wait to get back there because “we-are-all-so-papmered-here, life is more real in the outback,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Mercifully, she pulls ahead of us. By Mile 5, our main entertainment was anticipating the first bathroom stop, which I thought was at Mile 6.
Mile 6: No bathroom. Madeline sort of snarls a question at the water stop volunteers: “Do you know when there will be bathrooms?” Their response: Mile 9. It’s entirely likely that I transposed the number and I secretly feel bad for getting our hopes up.
Mile 7: (I think — this could have been at mile 5. Madeline and I disagree on this point): Excitement of the worst sort — we see a runner take a header and fall to the pavement. She doesn’t appear to be really hurt, although a small cut on her lower forehead/nose bridge is bleeding profusely. Another runner takes off the wounded woman’s WHITE nike hat and uses it as a compress. Madeline steals my emergency toilet tissue (which I had stocked up on at the start-line port-o-johns) and gives that to the lady to use instead of her $40 hat (which probably wasn’t that absorbent anyway). There’s a small group of us hovering around the poor woman (who is probably just mortally embarrassed and wants us all to go away). Madeline and another runner try to flag down a passing car to get some help (we are, after all, in the middle of nowhere), and one car that slows down to view the carnage (slack-jawed locals, probably on their way to church or something) just drives on by . They actually had to swerve around Madeline and the other runner to get past. We curse them heartily. Some other runners finally flag down a course patrol car, and it radios for an ambulance.
Miles 8-13.1:We maintain our pace. Run up hills and down. Marvel at the beautiful countryside and the friendly locals who have come out to work the water stops and cheer us on. The course is well marked, and I probably spend too much time bad-mouthing the Buffalo Marathon because of the contrast between it and the Wineglass. At the halfway point, we run through the hometown of Polly-O string cheese. I am bitterly disappointed that there are no cheese snacks at the water stop, or even a poor schmuck dressed up in a Polly-O mascot costume to dance like a circus bear and amuse us.
The sun comes out and it gets warmer. I am so glad that I decided to put on sunscreen.
Our time at the halfway point is 2:20 — ten minutes slower than Buffalo, but we feel ten times better than we did at the same point in that race. We make a second pit stop, strip down to our short-sleeved tees, and continue on.
Miles 14-19: We meet back up with Ahn-dray-ah. And then we pass her. Bwahahahahahahahaha!
Miles 20-24: I start to realize that a sub-5 time is entirely likely. I get a bit excited. I keep this information to myself, lest I jinx our chances.
It starts to rain. And we don’t even care because we are in the last hour of what we expected to be a five hour battle with precipitation. After 10 minutes of sprinkling, the rain stops. My shoes don’t even get wet.
We pass through a water stop at which I see a chubby little kid eating NutterButter cookies. I make a comment like, “Yum — those look good,” and the kid’s mother says (kind of menacingly, I think), “If you ask him for one, he’ll give it to you.” At the time, I thought that she meant that she’d force her kid to fork over some of his cookies — kind of like a “learn manners via punishment” sort of thing. But it turns out — as Madeline later informed me — that they have scads of cookies at the water stop for the runners, and junior was just mooching off the water-stop snacks.
Oh yeah. Around mile 23 I start to get kinda tired. It’s only because I’m running with Madeline that I’m able to keep my pace steady. I decide that it would be physically impossible for me to run a marathon without her, which means that whenever I want to run one, I’m going to kidnap her for the weekend and force her to run with me.
Miles 25-26.2: We meet back up with Rebecca, the super-polite philosophy graduate student. She’d left us around mile 3 (around the time that Madeline dropped the F-bomb upon hearing that no, despite what the race fliers promised, the water stops were not stocking band-aids and vaseline.) We had speculated that it was Madeline’s potty mouth that had, perhaps, driven Rebecca away. But it turns out that that was not the case (we, of course, grilled her on this point. And as if to affirm that she was not the goody-goody that we took her to be, she mentions that “now would be a good time for a beer. Or a scotch.” Rebecca runs the last few miles with us, which is really cool considering that this is her first marathon.
When the final stretch comes into view, Madeline and I kick it into high gear — we actually have some gas left in our tank — and we finish neck and neck in under 5 hours: chip time 4:52:33.
What is next for the running trio? A sub-4 for Deb? A 4:40 time for Runningburro and Madeline? Tune in next time for more adventures of Team Yonker.