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Wineglass Marathon 2011 by Alan Hirsch
Dina, Sue Fenimore and I traveled to the Fingerlakes this weekend to run from Bath, NY, to Corning in the rain for the Wineglass Marathon.

Executive Summary: A good time was had by all: Alan PRed by more than 5 minutes (3 :56) Dina PRed by about 2 minutes (4:31) and Sue was extremely pleased with her time, not having run a marathon in 5 years or so. No injuries, moderate levels of whining (mostly by me)... it was a good race.

And now, the introspective overview (i.e. whining), strictly from my perspective:

The weekend started out promisingly with dinner at Kathy and Dave's house, who were hosting the Columbus All-Stars ( April and John's fast running friends). Lovely dinner,gracious hosts, great people. Got excellent pre-race pep-talk from Debbie Nack, who shared with me that she always starts her race in the pace group one interval slower than she wants to run. Yes, I have received this advice from many (my wife, April, John,'s a pretty long list), but getting it again on the eve of the race was really helpful. In addition, I was running for the first time with a heart monitor, to make sure I stayed in my "aerobic zone" for the first 16 miles or so. I was convinced this would make all the difference. I had a plan. I wanted to finish strong.

This was my first out-of-the-closet attempt to BQ, which for me is 3:40. I wasn't expecting to get there, given my recent history, but I wanted to come close. I wanted to not run out of gas at the end. I maintained my discipline throughout the beginning of the race reasonably well, keeping my heart rate at 154 or below, and maintaining a speed of around 8:40--I would need to run about (10) 8:15 miles to make up the difference, I figured, and then maintain an 8:25 pace through the end. I still thought I had an outside shot by mile 12, but by mile 16, even though I was running well, I had readjusted my sights to 3:45, and then quickly to 3:50, which I thought was in the bag. Until mile 22 when someone cut open my fuel line. I didn't feel bad, I just couldn't run fast anymore. I saw numbers like 9:20 and 9:40, and then 10 something... I was pushing at that point to keep it under 4 hours. I concluded during the last 40 minutes of the race that I just don't want to do this anymore. I don't like running with nothing in the tank. My low back was burning for the last 6 or 7 miles--it was really tight. Hip flexors hurting as well. Not a lot of fun.

I ran hard...felt like I gave it everything I had. After the race, the people at the finish line asked me if I needed to go to the medical tent. Within the next half hour, FOUR more people, very kindly, asked if I needed help. By the third one, I asked, "do I look that bad?" "Yes," was the answer.

The good news: I didn't throw-up, I wasn't thinking about quitting during the race, no blisters, etc. However, sometime after mile 22 I felt like I was right on the edge of hitting the wall. The slightest elevation in what is a pretty flat (net downhill course) forced me to walk for 20 or 30 seconds to regain my leg strenghth. I had to do that about 5 or 6 times during the last 4 miles. Having hit the wall in my first marathon, I know what the feeling is like, and I was right on the line.

I know at this point I don't want to run marathons competitively for much longer. Not if they are like this. One of the other runners said to me in the locker room that he runs ultras regularly and he finds them much easier and more fun than running a marathon as fast as you can.

Any thoughts or advice are appreciated. Thanks, of course, to all the Snails who have trained with me a long the way. I think I race so I can train.

Meanwhile, my next event will be this Sunday, the Annual Snail Yom Kippur run on the NCR trail. Details to follow.

I wrote the linked article a few years ago, and for the most part it is still accurate.