Never doing another race without its own customized split of wine. That ought to narrow it down…
On Sunday, I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY. Corning is a small town and only recently started offering a half along with the marathon (which is 30+ years old) but they really roll out the red carpet for runners. There were a lot of super nice volunteers and spectators (some who were just hanging out on their front lawns watching us), and apart from the swag above they also offer a nice shirt, glass medals and a souvenir wine glass. And good heavens, upstate N.Y. is gorgeous this time of year, when so many of the trees are changing their leaves and you can see down into the valleys and up into the hills.
I went up with Betsy and Jocelyn as the slacker member of the trio — Betsy ran the half to taper for her 50K (what?!) and Jocelyn ran the full marathon. I love traveling for races, but for this one in particular I am glad I didn’t go alone. It was a fair drive up and it would be hard to get around in Corning without a rental car. Plus, when you travel with other runners then you don’t feel bad that you want to go bed early, eat all the things, and moan about how you can’t move. Speaking for myself, I had an amazing time, but maybe I’m still just high on the fact that on the drive up a bear ran across the road in front of us and we lived. (Stephen Colbert was right. Don’t trust bears!)
The race itself is a net-downhill course (this will be important later) through some parks, along a highway and some city roads, and heading into downtown Corning. I had prepared for a lot of things, but I wasn’t prepared for it being LITERALLY FREEZING at the start. It was so cold, I brought throwaway gloves and wore the arm warmers I bought on Amazon that turned up way too big (there’s a T-Rex Trying joke in here somewhere). We started outside of a high school (shout out to Campbell-Savona! Go Panthers!) with the sun not quite up yet.
For the first four miles, I felt achy and just kind of out of it, on top of the nerves and the “oh my lord this is happening again”s. Still, I was running “easy” and able to keep just ahead of the pace I wanted, so I carried on. By mile 6 I realized I would have to make a pit stop, which irked me but I felt better when I said “Okay, just make this stop, and worry about the rest of the race later.” At 8.5 I made my stop, and from then on I was raring to go. I had planned to pick up at mile 10 or 11 if I was still feeling good, and… I was, so I went.
Ultimately, I took 6+ minutes off my time from the Mag Mile Half in August. Realistically I know this was probably 25% my own effort, 25% the net-downhill course and 50% the weather. I don’t mean to cut myself down, I’m super happy with this outcome, but I’ll have to work harder to chop off the next 6 minutes. On the other hand, I have never finished a half and felt this strong in the last 3 miles before, never, and a lot of that is me learning to be smarter about what makes sense versus my “start out fast and try not to die” strategy of old. (I could write more about this, if anyone cares?) I’m not the fastest I ever was, but I am a smarter runner than I was, which I think augurs better things in the future.
After my race, Betsy and I went to find Jocelyn and we refueled at Applebee’s (no regrets). On Monday before driving back, we stopped at Wagner Vineyards for a wine tasting, which was both a lovely stop and drove us mad with the desire to visit all 10,000 (est.) Finger Lakes wineries. Next trip?
So, what’s next? I am formulating my plans for winter running and not either getting injured or bored by the time snow gets here. But I officially signed up for my first 2015 race, which is…
They might not actually provide their own wine but they do have margaritas.