Name of the race: Wineglass Marathon & Half Marathon
Where: Corning, NY
Date: Oct 6, 2013
Time: 8:00 am
Distance: 13.1 miles
Terrain: Road race, small rolling hills, but net decline in elevation
- $60 thru 12/31
- $70 thru 2/28
- $80 thru 5/31
- $90 thru 6/30
- $100 thru 9/30
- $110 10/1 – 10/5 if there are still open slots
Swag: Long-sleeved technical shirt, glass finisher’s medal, wineglass, a small bottle of champagne, large tote bag, and $10 gift card to Connors
Post-race Food: Pepperoni and cheese pizza, chocolate milk, apples, bananas, various cookies, different bagels, soda, water, Gatorade, string cheese (and hot chicken noodle soup for the marathon runners)
Time: 1:49:51 (PR)
Performance:Overall 198/1855 (based on gun time)
Weather: 64 degrees and 94% humidity, overcast
Who says wine before racing doesn’t help? I didn’t drink alcohol, but I did consume the official Wineglass cake – Riesling soaked apple-almond cake from a local baker at the expo. It was divine!
Ever since I signed up for Wineglass last year (I registered the first day it opened), I thought about it constantly. This was it. It was a my big goal race. I had a few different goals before I eventually settled onto a sub-1:50 goal. I missed that goal in the spring because of a lingering foot injury and a lack of training. Wineglass will be where I redeem myself. I found out about Wineglass when Ben and I did some research on a marathon for Ben. While Ben settled on racing Steamtown (next week! Wish him luck!), I became enamored with Wineglass. It was Corning, a little town that I had been to and loved. It was a smallish local race with lots of character. It reputed to have a beautiful course. And perhaps what Wineglass is famous for, the incredible swag — a beautiful finisher medal, along with extras, such as a wineglass and wine. How could I resist?
We drove up Saturday afternoon, got my bib at the Expo, and then went to the pre-race pasta dinner with Bart Yasso. Lots of good food and funny stories from Bart, along with lively conversations with our table mates made for a great evening. The next morning we got ready, drove to Corning (we were staying a few miles away) and miraculously found free street parking on Market St. just yards away from the finish line and where the shuttle buses were picking up runners. There were lots of porta potties so the line was short and fast. I think they must have rented every school bus that was in the Corning area for the runners. Buses started taking runners to the start lines (Bath for the marathon and Campbell for the half marathon) starting at 5:30. We arrived at 6:30 and got on a bus just after 7 am. As the bus was driving away, Ben and I saw a few girls frantically running toward the shuttle bus pick up area. We wondered if and how they got to the start line because the last bus was right behind us. I hope they somehow got to the start line. About 20 mins later, we were dropped off in Campbell. Again, lots of porta potties. The wait time was a bit longer, but still we had plenty of time before start time.
We made our way to the start line. Originally Wineglass said that there would be waves, but at the expo there were signs that there were no waves. So instead runners “seeded” themselves even though no one said anything. I’m used to the jostling and jockeying of positions at a NYRR race, but at Wineglass everyone was quite respectful. At first Ben didn’t even think people were lining up for the race because no one was fighting to be right up at the start line. There was no pushing nor any shoving in an effort to get a little closer. Nope, everyone was courteous and quietly placed themselves where they thought it was appropriate. The slower runners let themselves hang back.
Ben and I discussed my race strategy beforehand and we decided that I would run 8:20 miles for as long as possible. When I first starting doing long runs and half marathons, I consumed a fair amount of shot blocks. At one half marathon I ate almost three packages. In the subsequent half marathons I’ve been eating fewer and fewer of them. In the last few steady state long runs, I didn’t have any shot blocks at all. As my running efficiency improved, my need to consume calories has decreased, despite running faster. However, I do need something. I fell apart in the last two miles of my last long training run because I didn’t have anything. As I’m running faster, like Ben, I’m finding that the thought of eating something mildly repugnant. Ben suggested that I drink Gatorade. I stopped drinking Gatorade in races because of my inability to drink neatly out of cups while running. Yes, I tried crushing the cups to form a little spout. It helps, but I still spill water all over myself. If I spilled Gatorade on myself, I know I would the spend the rest of the race incredibly unhappy and distracted by the sticky mess. Ben suggested that I carry my own supply of Gatorade in my Simple Hydration bottle. It was perfect. Drink water from the aid stations and Gatorade whenever I needed a sugar boost.
The weather wasn’t particularly cooperating. It was a little warmer than I would have liked, but the temperature wasn’t bothering me as much as the humidity was. With 94% humidity, I felt like I was running in muck. I rather run in warmer temps with lower humidity. I don’t mind the heat, but I do hate humidity. Luckily it was overcast, otherwise it would have been a very hot course. There’s very little shade on the course. In cool temps, this doesn’t matter, but on a warm day, it does.
Ben and I decided to line up before the 1:50 pace group. I took a good look at the pace leader, Dean. If all went well, I would never see him. A little past 8 am, a horn blasted and we ran. The course runs from Campbell to Corning through little towns and along side farms. Although there’s a net decline in elevation, you don’t really notice it. There are tons of little (I do mean little) inclines to keep you from thinking that it’s downhill all the way.
The first 5-6 miles of a half marathon go well for me. I’m excited. I’m fresh. Ben paced me. And by pacing me, I mean that I ran whatever pace I felt like running and Ben dutifully followed along and tried to helpfully suggest that I was going too fast by saying, “You’re at 8:10 pace” or “You’re at a 8 min pace.” The first five miles were faster than we had intended, but I was feeling good. I ran at what I felt was a comfortable pace. I didn’t want to run faster or slower. As you can see, I’m happy and feeling good.
I loved running through small towns where people were lined up to cheer for strangers. A portion of the course is on a frontage road right next to the freeway. Ben and I thought it was super cool of the drivers to honk their horns and for passengers in the car to yell and cheer for us as we ran beside the freeway. There is something about local races where people are far more supportive about spectating. As I ran by I heard lots of locals yelling encouraging statements that we looked good (I should hope so, we just started) and that we were awesome. I heard over and over again that Wineglass is a friendly race and everything we experienced that proven this statement. A local racer told us what to expect farther up ahead. There were lots of spectators for a course that goes through rural areas. The leaves were turning color. We ran over several bridges. I love running over bridges. I was really having a lot of fun.
As I said before Miles 1- 5/6 are great. The next set of miles are a bit more grueling. Miles 6 – 10 are when I start to feel fatigue, and I start anticipating the end. I’m starting to feel the pain, but I’m able to fight it effectively. At Wineglass I was running along on pace on my way to a glorious new PR, when at Mile 9.5 that’s when my breathing became more labored. I heaved and gulped down huge gasps of air. I was tired and ready to be done. I joke with Ben that half marathons are too long and that they really should be 10 miles long. He then asks why I don’t do 10-mile races then. I answer that those are too long too. They should only be 6 miles.
Ben got worried and encouraged me. He knows how much I like photos of me on bridges, so he took some more. I was aware of him taking photos, but I was too tired to pull myself together. I looked like death running and I didn’t care that it was captured forever in pixels.
At Mile 10 I was ready for the half to be over. But I mentally told myself that I just had to do another 5K. I can’t remember exactly when the 1:50 pace group almost caught up to us, but it was around that distance. I could hear a loud booming voice encouraging racers. At first I thought it was an overenthusiastic runner, but Ben looked back and yelped, “That’s the 1:50 pace group! They’re right behind you!” I panicked. Because of my fatigue, my pace had been slowing down and the pace group was slowly catching up to me. Believe me, I had never been so scared of a friendly-looking guy approaching me before. If I wanted to meet my sub-1:50 goal, I could not let the pace group catch up and pass me. I frantically ran a bit harder. Even though I ran faster, I couldn’t run fast enough to not hear the pace leader. In a resounding voice, he cheered on his runners. He was their leader urging them on to greatness. To me, he was the voice of my goal time slipping away. I didn’t have to turn around to see where he was. I could hear him just fine.
The last mile and half of Wineglass was the hardest mile and half of my life. I was ready to stop. I was so tired. My breathing was so labored. I told myself that if I got a 1:51, I still did a great job and it was all right. I wanted nothing more than to slow down so the pain would ease. I told myself to just keep running for a half mile. Then when I had just 1.1 more miles to go, I told myself to continue running for a mile. “I can do anything for a mile,” I muttered to myself over and over again. To make myself feel better, I thought about all the people who would love to be in my shoes running and grateful that they could experience this. One spectator very helpfully yelled, “Only two more turns and you’ll see the finish line!” That was the psychological lift I needed at that point in time.
At around the 12.5 mark, we made our last turn. I saw the finish line in the far distance. I concentrated on running fast to the more immediate landmarks and escaping the 1:50 pace leader. Ben was frantic. He continually yelled out how much time and distance I had left. I wasn’t sure if I would beat the clock, but as I approached the finish line, I just that I had just enough time. I poured out one last surge to beat the time clock was the seconds ticked away to 1:50. I did it! I ran the Wineglass HM in 1:49:51.
Another cool feature of Wineglass is the QR code on your bib. You don’t need to wait until they post up race times on the webpage in order to find out your official race time. Fifteen minutes after you cross the finish line, you scan the QR code and it takes you to a webpage with the finish times. It was great.
- 8:11 (for the last .1)
A volunteer gave me a beautiful glass medal. Another wrapped a space blanket around me and asked if I was all right. I numbly nodded. I was so tired. I stumbled a bit and got food and drinks. I sat on a bench and basked in the glory of meeting my goal. Ben wolfed down the food in the meanwhile. After a few minutes, we got our car and drove back to our motel to clean up. After showering and resting, we went back to Corning to see some of the marathon finishers and to enjoy the town.
We cheered and congratulated the marathoners. Then we had some lunch at Atlas Brick Oven Pizza, where they had a fantastic lunch special of two slices of pizza and a soda or beer for less than $8. I ordered the Atlas (tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, prosciutto, red onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives and our cheese blend). I recommend this. Then we went to Dippity Do Dahs for ice cream. If you’re in Corning, you MUST GO TO DIPPITY DO DAHS for their ice cream. Really good homemade ice cream, but even more incredible prices. A small scoop of ice cream is $2.75, but the amount of ice cream you get is incredible. The serving size is very generous. When I brought over my mocha chip ice cream, Ben thought I got two scoops.
This entire time you may of thinking, “Hmm. . . Corning . . . name seems familiar. Is this where Corning ware is from?” The answer is yes. Corning ware does come from Corning, NY. They have a wonderful museum, Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). Our admission price was only $6 each because of the Wineglass Marathon & Half Marathon special. I’ve been to that museum a few years ago. I was astounded by the number of changes that happened since my last visit. Corning Museum of Glass turned into more of a science museum. When I first visited, it was more like an art museum where they had several glass artwork displayed. Now there’s a science and technology side to the museum as well as an art side. They had several demonstrations (including glass blowing) and talks (we went to one on optic fibers). On the science and technology side, the museum had information about the science of glass and all of the improvements in making glass and making objects out of glass. On the art side, there were so many lovely pieces of artwork. Even Ben who is indifferent toward most art, was struck by some of the pieces. If you’re so moved, you can even try your hand at glass blowing or glass sculpting for a fee. I made a glass flower when I first came, so I didn’t feel the need to do it again. Then we went shopping in their really large gift shop. I don’t usually make a point of shopping at museum gift shops, but I make an excepting for this one. CMOG not only has the usual things that you expect from a gift shop, but they also sell Corning ware at a steep discount. If you ever wanted a Corning ware casserole dish or plate set, or anything else that they make, you should buy it here. I bought a couple of bowls because they were only a $1 and a beautiful glass Christmas ornament for $25. I’ve started collecting Christmas ornaments to commemorate my travels with Ben. After spending a few hours there, we drove home.
I had a great race at Wineglass. I’m so happy that I met my goal and that I didn’t fall apart toward the end. There’s nothing to whine about at Wineglass, instead it’s simply wine. I definitely recommend running Wineglass Marathon & Half Marathon. It’s a great course, with wonderful support and fantastic swag. I love Corning and I think you would too, if you’re a small town afficionado. I’m enjoying my accomplishments now, but I’m already starting to think about my spring 2014 goals. Happy running!