Now that this month is winding down, it finally feels like I can maybe get caught up a little bit. Quite literally and figuratively, I have been on the run for the entire month.
New York – Canada – Wineglass Marathon
I never did a race report for the Wineglass Marathon at the beginning of the month, but that happened after having done a lot in the four days before I even got to the start line. (How that predictably affected my marathon will come up a bit later)
New York City (9/30 – 10/2)
My lovely bride and I landed in NYC in the late afternoon on September 30 and hit the ground right off the bat, spending our first evening out and about in Times Square. Having made it a priority and planned it a long time before, we spent most of our first full day at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum paying our respects and taking time to reflect on all that happened on that day and the days since. The memorial, the museum, and the progress in retaking that ground with the Freedom Tower and other buildings is inspiring and impressive. We were pretty exhausted by the afternoon, mostly emotionally. That evening, we headed up Broadway to the Gershwin Theater to see “Wicked.” It was a great show – surprisingly funny and the singing performances were quite good.
On Thursday, we took off on foot through Midtown, Soho, Tribeca, and the Financial District. Initially, we took the subway from our hotel near Greeley Square, below Times Square, but it was a beautiful day and we wanted to see a lot of the city that we didn’t get to see in 2010 (when we were there for the NYC Marathon). That afternoon, we went all the way back up to the Upper West Side and spent a couple of hours on a CircleLine boat tour around Manhattan. It was cool and blustery, by that time, but still a nice October afternoon. After dinner we wanted to back to see the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower at nigh, which would have been great had we remembered that the memorial closes at 9:00 PM. Still, we were out and about. There are always things to see in NYC.
Corning & The Wineglass Marathon (10/3 – 10/5)
On Friday morning, we made our way to the Upper West Side via an exciting NYC taxi ride, and rented a car to head to Corning, NY. Usually, I am a freak-o about plotting out the route and knowing exactly where I am going, but I didn’t really do that this time. I knew how we were leaving Manhattan and, generally, what interstate highways we would be on, but I never even bothered to look at which states we would be going through. Anyone who knows me know this is highly unusual! So after crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania – my first time in that lovely state since 1991 (Gettysburg) – we passed through Scranton and stopped for lunch in Clark’s Summit at a restaurant that turned out to be where Pam & Jim of “The Office” had Valentine’s Day dinner in 2013. Small world.
After a mostly scenic drive through PA and west through New York’s Southern Tier, we arrived in Corning in the early afternoon and drove through town. That didn’t take too long. It is not that big of a town! After going back and getting settled in at the bed and breakfast I found online back in January (thank goodness – it was awesome!), we went back into town to the Corning Museum of Glass. That was the location of the expo, which may have been the most disappointing part of the entire experience. I have been spoiled by that aspect of running in large events. They have race expos to match.
Saturday, we toured the museum, drove out to Bath, NY – site of the start line – and had some lunch before driving almost the entire marathon route back to Corning. Except for the driving, I was on my feet entirely too much, especially after all the walking in New York City. We ended up going into town and finding a place that could get us seated in a reasonable amount of time and had a pasta special to boot.
Before a recap of my particular marathon experience, let me first say this about the Wineglass Marathon. It is a great event in a quaint, beautiful setting and offers a very scenic marathon route. In spite of being small, the crowd support was good, and the on-course support was as good as any marathon I’ve run before…and better than a few. However, if you are going to Corning, NY expecting a “big time” marathon and everything that goes with it, then you’ll be among the spoiled whiners that complain about it afterward. That does not mean there is not room for Wineglass to improve, but rather an equal amount of opportunity for people to be grateful for the effort that goes into putting on an event like this.
Wineglass increased the field size this year for both the marathon and half-marathon – 2500 and 3000, respectively, I believe. It is too many. The town itself has a difficult time with enough lodging and restaurants, but the start area of the marathon also suffers from limited pre-race shelter and amenities. However, once on course, there were never any crowding issues. It was wide open.
I had a both a good day and a very rough day. The good? I qualified for Boston in 2016 with over a two-minute cushion. I was aided by the fact that I’ll turn 45 in 2016 and needed a 3:25:00 to qualify versus the 3:15:00 I needed before. Originally, I wanted to try to PR this race, but it was clear by September that my training and my recovery, specifically, were not going well enough for that to be realistic. So I wanted to break 3:20:00, and that didn’t happen either.
Other than having to make an unexpected pit stop at Mile 7, the first 16 miles went basically as planned. However, I started “feeling my legs” way too early, and I knew I was in for a struggle in the last 6-10 miles. Indeed, by the time I got o Mile 20, my legs were gone, and I knew I was going to have to dig down to make it the last 10k. Short walk breaks at aid stations gave me some short-term recovery and allowed me to make it across the line, but it blew up my splits. I came in just over 3:23:00.
Or did I? According to my watch, which I started and stopped at or near the start and finish lines, respectively, I ran around a 3:23:35. However, according to the official timing, I came in nearly a minute faster. An alternate timing site (don’t ask me why there was one…Wineglass won’t answer my inquiries) reflected my finish time accurately, but that was not the “official” time and Wineglass claimed on Facebook and Twitter that the site had timing errors. Even when a number of others noted the same issue, Wineglass stuck with its story.
Why do I care? Any runner worth his or her salt is proud of what they have run and would not want to be part of cheating the system. I am stuck with the official time because that is what will be reported to Boston. However, depending where the cutoff is to fill the field, that means some of Wineglass’ runners will get into Boston when they should not have and perhaps crowd out someone who legitimately deserves to be there. I have to admit that has left a bad taste in my mouth. I know what I ran.
In retrospect, although I was aware of it at the time, all the sightseeing we did in NYC before getting to Corning took a toll on my legs. I was not fresh on marathon day, and I paid for it in the last 10k. However, I had an awesome time with my lovely bride, and I would not change a thing if I had it to do all over again. It will definitely change how we plan future trips that include a marathon.
The rest of the trip – Niagara Falls, Toronto, and back to NYC (10/6 – 10/9)
On the day after the marathon, we left our wonderful B&B after the biggest breakfast I think I’ve ever had and headed for Niagara Falls. We thought about taking the scenic route, but since we weren’t going to have a lot of time up there, we took a pretty direct route. Over the next couple of days, we covered a lot of ground on both the Canadian and US sides of the border, including an awesome “Maid of the Mist” ride. If you are ever there, take the Maid of the Mist (on the US side) versus the Canadian boat. For whatever reason, the Maid boats get up closer to the falls, which you can clearly see if you watch them both from above.
We also took time to visit Toronto, although it was a quick visit and most of the time was spent looking around from the observation deck of CN Tower. Toronto is definitely a city I would love to explore more someday, especially given that it has a pretty rich history. Maybe I’ll run a marathon there someday.
After our last evening in Niagara Falls, we headed back to New York City along the northern tier of the state the next morning. We stopped in Syracuse and found Dinosaur BBQ quite by accident, but since my friend Hollie had recommended it, we had to stop. It turns out that restaurant was the original and it did NOT disappoint! After a scenic route back that took us through the edge of the Catskills, we arrived back in New York City and had time to go see the 9/11 Memorial at night. Mission accomplished!
…but that only got us through the first nine days of Oct-GO-ber!
The rest of Oct-GO-ber – a football extravaganza
There was no slowing down the rest of the month, at least until today (Halloween). After getting back home, I had a full week of playing catch up at work, as well as an early 5th anniversary celebration with my lovely bride. Even though our anniversary was on Friday, we covered different parts of the region over the weekend. She went to Fort Collins for parent’s weekend/homecoming at Colorado State, and I went to homecoming at my alma mater, the University of Wyoming, following a short run with my running group that morning. After a full day of tailgating and football, I headed home to get ready for a full Sunday morning. In a week moment, I agreed to lead a 2:00 pace group for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Denver Half Marathon, which meant getting downtown by 6:00 AM. I love pacing, and I had a blast, but I was spent by the time I got home.
I had little time to rest, though. After Mrs. B returned home, we gathered our strength and our Broncos orange to head down to Sports Authority Field for Sunday Night Football. The Broncos vs. the 49′ers on what was a record-setting night for Peyton Manning. He is now #1 in touchdown passes, surpassing Brett Farve. It is one of my most memorable Bronco moments. There was no rest for the weary, though. Four nights later, we were back to the stadium for Thursday Night Football vs. the San Diego Chargers. Of course, the Broncos won and moved to 6-1.
Two days later, we packed up the car and headed to Fort Collins for the 106th Border War game between Wyoming and Colorado State. To there is no other game I want Wyoming to win more badly than that one is an understatement. The schools are 65 miles apart and bitter rivals. (Yes, I know my step-daughter is going there…but I still love her) CSU is good this year, and Wyoming is…rebuilding. Thank goodness our 4 hours of tailgating was so awesome because the game got out of hand for Wyoming early, and while the final score was respectable, it did not reflect the first half thrashing that Wyoming took.
A solid week of work closed out the month - a very busy month. I got my running shoes back on toward the end of the month, and I’ll have to start getting back into running shape again throughout the winter. For now, I am relishing a great month – most of it spent with my lovely bride – and all the miles we put on. My plan for the rest of the year is to have a balanced approach to everything and really enjoy the fall and the holidays.
Doctor’s orders. Happy Halloween!!