Alternate title: Canadian Mike and Debi from KC go for a really long run.
What a year! Going into this race I had completed over 250 km of racing (that’s 150 miles), spanning 6 months, and 4 countries. And that wasn’t including a training program that had began in January . That’s probably why I lied to my run coach and told him I was just doing the half (sorry Dave). In fact, I signed up for this race in mid June, but had kept my focus on the Death Race Marathon, so there was really no need to tell anybody.
This plan was hatched earlier in the spring as Debi and I wanted to run a fall marathon together. Or at least I think she did. I can’t remember all the options that we looked at, but I eventually convinced her to sign up for a flat marathon in Western New York.
Other than some wicked rush hour traffic in Ihthica, it was an uneventful drive down, and I picked up Debi from Elmira-Corning Regional Airport. All things considered, it was pretty amazing that we arrived in town at the exact same time.
Checking in to the Hampton Inn was a breeze, and the fresh cookies at the counter served as a tasty appetizer. We quickly dropped our bags in our rooms and headed over to Pietro and Son for some carby Italian food. It was a nice relaxed setting, and the food was pretty good. I’d definitely go back if I’m ever in Elmira again.
Afterwards, it was back to the hotel for a beer, and marathon weekend planning. You know the usual: when to get the race kit, when/where to eat, etc.
Race Kit Pickup
After a big breakfast, we headed to Corning, which was 19km away. It’s all on the highway and we got there in about 15 minutes.
The Expo was a decent size, and had plenty of helpful volunteers. They told us a great place to park (which ended up working perfectly), and provided general assistance on pre-race warm up areas, and about the bag drop. We also decided to buy a cheap pair of gloves. Debi also bought some arm warmers as the weather had cooled significantly (thankfully).
After snagging some Coffee Crisps from the Run Ottawa booth, we went upstairs to tour the Corning Museum of Glass. I was hesitant on going in until we were told that we could get in half price.
It was a pretty good museum actually, although I started to get cranky because I hadn’t eaten all morning, and this was supposed to be Carb Crazy Day.
We walked over the bridge, and wandered a few minutes down Market St, before deciding on a rather plain looking restaurant called Sorge’s. It was now after 2pm, and the place was still rather busy (always a good sign). After looking at the menu, and thinking about the time, we decided to make this our big meal of the day. We both started with a cup of minestrone soup, and then split a large order of garlic bread. Debi had a plate of pasta, and I went for the dinner sized portion of chicken parmigiana with a side of spaghetti. The food was so delicious and our server was a sweet motherly type woman (Sharon). So even though we were stuffed, we decided to go all-in , and we each ordered a very large, and very delicious piece of chocolate cake. I’m not saying it’s the best restaurant I’ve ever been to, but I will say it’s the best pre-race meal that I’ve ever eaten.
After waddling around downtown a bit, we headed back to the hotel, and basically just chilled for the rest of the day. I think I had a cookie and a few other snacks, along with plenty of water. And we had a nice long soak in the hot tub, which I’m sure was helpful.
One thing that we both remarked was how relaxed we were: going to the museum, the fine dining, vegging out in a hot tub all made the next morning’s marathon seem a bit unreal.
I had a decent night’s sleep, and was up by 5:15am. That’s really early, but we had to take a bus to the start line, as it’s a point to point race. I had a bagged breakfast that the hotel had given out, along with a cup of coffee to wake me up. And then it was the usual pre-race prep. As this was my 10th race of the year, I had my routine pretty much down to a science.
At 6:10, we headed down to the car. It was cool and very foggy. Seat warmer on, heat on full, we drove down to Corning, and got the great parking spot that the volunteers had suggested. From there it was a 10 minute walk to the bus, and pretty soon we were on our way. I’d say we timed everything perfectly as we didn’t have too much waiting around time at the start line.
And speaking of chill, we didn’t even know what time the race started at. We had to ask somebody, and they told us 8:15.
I didn’t have one. We didn’t talk about running it together. I didn’t even know her pace, nothing. Run, just run. And finish.
Runner’s, on your mark!
We found ourselves at the back of the pack, which suited me fine.
And we’re off!
It took us a few minutes to cross the official start line, and then we settled into a good running groove. We really were at the back of the pack, and eventually passed the 5 hour group, then the 4:45 bunch, and then we finally started to run in a small group that we called “our people”. These included a group of young women with “Sole Sisters” shirts, and various other runners that we leapfrogged all the way to Corning.
Excluding our water and nutrition breaks, we maintained a pretty consistent pace of about a 6 minute km (9.5 minute mile).
There were sections with great support, as well as people that you’d see over and over again.
People such as:
Sign guy: This guy had a white board, and he’d keep changing up the sign. I can’t remember most of the messages, other than “You’ve seen me before”.
Air Bud “guy”: This was a golden retriever in a t-shirt.
Thin the Herd guy: Wait, what ? Surely this didn’t apply to us, right ?
And horsing around.
There’s one picture that I didn’t take, that I wish I had. By mid morning there were still pockets of fog, and we saw a few fishermen in a boat, emerging through the fog. It was really quite a site.
Even as the fog lifted, the temperature remained quite lovely, at around 10 C /50 F.
Running wise, the first half went quite well, and we ran together the whole time. I felt great. Debi would occasionally mention that her hips were complaining a bit, but she maintained a consistent pace.
At 34km (Mile 21) we had a very short conversation where we decided to go on separate paces. She was well in hand to finish in sub 4:30, and I just wanted to get it over with.
So left to my own devices, I tried to keep up a good pace, but I had to stop frequently for water, as it was a very sunny day.
The End is Near
The unusual thing about this race is the fact that you can see the Finish Line from way down Market Street. I ended up sprinting for it too soon, and had to back off a little.
And across the line, in a time of 4 hours, 22 minutes!
Ok, it wasn’t a PR, but I didn’t care. I had a great long run, had over three hours of great conversation, and I burned about a million calories, so mission accomplished.
And Debi crosses the line, in a time of 4 hours, 27 minutes!
I didn’t have to wait around too long at all, before she got her PR.
Post Race and General Thoughts
The post race snacks were great, consisting of bagels, pizza, soup, cookies, and Coke. I wasn’t too hungry actually, and we didn’t stick around too long before going back to the hotel.
On the whole, it was the perfect day. Everything went off without a hitch, and I managed to have a tonne of fun. It’s hard to think of much that was lacking.
What’s next ?
Nothing is next, well at least for the rest of the year. I have a bunch of ideas for 2018, but I’m holding off signing up for anything at this point. Additionally, I’m hoping to run another marathon with Debi.
Thanks for reading, and keep on running.