Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wineglass Half Marathon Race Report


Hi Runners :) This is way late. It's been a crazy busy few weeks for me. I wanted to get this race report out right away so as not to forget any details, but silly grad school, and life in general, got in the way. But, better late than never!

On October 5th I completed my 7th half marathon-- the Wineglass Half Marathon. This was my 3rd Wineglass event. I completed my first ever full marathon during Wineglass weekend in 2012, and I returned again in 2013 to complete the half marathon. I was super excited to do another Wineglass race. The race in held in Corning, NY during the peak of the trees changing color for autumn, the temperatures are generally perfect for running, and there's plenty of small town hospitality. 

Race Bib and Glass Finisher Medal

To make the weekend extra special, my mom came along, and her and I walked the 5K together Saturday morning. This was her first ever 5K, and she did a great job. It was cold and rainy Saturday morning, but that didn't stop us. She met her goal of finishing in under an hour and she's already talking about the next race. 

My mom and I after crossing the finish line :)

Race day morning for the half marathon started with waking up around 4:30am. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to eat and get to downtown Corning to hop on the shuttle bus taking runners to the start line. For breakfast I ate a bowl of granola cereal with milk, a banana, and some other fruit. It's always difficult for me to eat on race morning because I'm nervous and excited. I filled my Nathan Hydration Pack with a Gatorade/water mix; packed a zip lock bag with blueberries to carry in my front packet; and sliced two apples-- one to eat on the bus or at the start line and one for during the race if I needed it.

The day prior was predicting a chilly start to the race, with temperatures in the mid-30s. Luckily, Nick had an old zip-up sweatshirt and gloves I could wear until the race started, then could be tossed in the pile of clothes to be donated after the race.

Since the race grew in size again this year, there were no cars allowed at the start line, even just for drop-off. All runners were required to take shuttle buses from the finish area on Market Street in downtown Corning to the start lines. Nick and I left his parents house around 6:00am with the expectation that I'd be on a bus by 6:30am heading to the start line. We planned this based on our experience using the shuttle buses in 2012 when we ran the full marathon. Once we were parked downtown, the plan was for Nick to ride his bicycle up near the start of the race so he could see me right away.

As we left the parking garage heading towards the shuttle buses, we almost instantly hit a huge line of people. Asking the runners around me to make sure I was in the correct line, I found out that the buses were approximately four blocks down the street. This was at 6:30am. The last bus was scheduled to leave downtown Corning at 7:00am to accommodate a 7:45am race start. When I saw how long the line was, I got slightly anxious; but I thought "there's no way they would start the race until all runners were at the start line." I got really lucky with the people I was in line with. I met three female runners and we chatted the entire time we were waiting in line. I was also able to eat my apple while in line and drink another bottle of water.

At exactly 7:00am I boarded a bus heading to the start line. The bus I got on was the last bus in the queue to shuttle runners to the half marathon start, and as we drove away I could see that the line was still blocks long. In my head I'm thinking "there's no way we're starting on time." I was sitting near the front of the bus and could hear the bus drivers over the radio devising a plan to redirect the buses intending to take runners to the full marathon start, to get the half marathon participants to their start line. The full marathon was already planned to start 30 minutes later than the half, but I found out post race that the full was delayed by another 30 minutes because of the shuttle bus fiasco.

I made it to the start line around 7:20am-- Just enough time to hop into a porta potty line before lining up for the race. Once I was lined up at the start. There were so many people squished so tightly together that I was able to ditch my sweatshirt early. I did keep the gloves though. At 7:45am, when the race was supposed to begin, there were still throngs of people walking to the start line. We ended up starting 10-15 minutes late. When the horn went off, signaling the runners to go, there were still people trying to line up. It was very chaotic.

The first few miles of the race were very crowded, especially mile #1 when all the runners were trying to space out and set their pace. It was frustrating trying to maneuver around people. I felt like I was at a Disney World race, not a race in a small town in upstate NY (and I don't mean this in a good way). I would totally advocate for a staggered start or pace corrals if this race is going to continue to grow.

Even though I was frustrated, I kept telling myself that I'm lucky to be able to run, especially with such perfect running weather and beautiful scenery.


Just over a mile into the race, you come to the only major "hill" on the entire course. Nick was waiting towards the top to cheer me on. I threw him my gloves so that I wouldn't litter on the course. It was nice to see Nick and I felt strong.

Tossing my gloves to Nick

The next few miles went pretty well. I was keeping a good pace and I still felt strong. On this part of the course, we had the entire road to ourselves, so the runners were able to spread out a bit. At one point I looked at my watch and it said we were over 4 miles into the race. I never saw a mile marker so I assumed I somehow missed it. When my watch said 4.7 miles there was finally a 4-mile marker. I slightly freaked out-- "How is my watch this far off? Oh my gosh, I'm so far behind. There's no way I'm meeting my goal time now." The negatively took over so quickly. Then 0.3 miles later there was a mike marker for mile #5. Someone messed up the course setup.

I continued running. Nothing too exciting happening. I did end up stuck next to a girl whose watch kept going off every few seconds. It was incredibly obnoxious. I kept giving her dirty looks. She pretended not to notice. I think it was her heart rate monitor going off because her heart rate was too high. The noise and my turning around to look at her messed with me. Eventually I got enough ahead of her that I couldn't hear it. It was around this time that I also started to take in fuel. Blueberries were my food of choice. I felt better once I ate.

I don't remember the exact timeline, but Nick ran past me on the sidewalk pushing his bicycle. We were far enough into the race that I was not thinking very well, so I was really confused when I saw him. All I heard was "They deflated my bike tires." I expected not to see Nick again until the finish because it would take a little time for him to run there pushing his bike. But it turned out that a really nice Ham Radio Operator happened to have a tire pump in his truck and pumped Nick's tires back up.

I saw Nick again around mile #7. He was with my mom and his parents. They were all cheering me on. They even made a sign. It was great seeing everyone. It gave me a little boost. I wasn't feeling too hot at this point. My legs felt really heavy and mentally I was struggling. I was getting frustrated again by people. There was a group of three running together, and they would run side-by-side, even though we basically had only a shoulders-width of road. Unfortunately. I couldn't shake them. We were running the exact same pace.

My mom and Nick's dad holding signs for me!

Smiling and waving to my "fans" :) 

Once the course entered a residential neighborhood I saw Nick a lot more. He would bike ahead and wait for me. Towards the end I was really struggling. I'm not entirely sure why. I think I wasted too much energy trying to maneuver around other runners, and I wasted energy on being frustrated and negative.

Running through the park

Finally I was nearing the end of the course. I was still making good time. It looked like a 2:10:00 was out but a PR was still very possible. I saw the turn onto Bridge Street-- the last road before finishing on Market Street. I also saw Nick again. We had pre-planned for him to take my hydration pack so I could be light and speedy during the final mile. When I started to remove my pack, he yelled "No, don't hand it to me! I'm not allowed to take it." I had no idea what was going on. I've never seen a race before where your spectators couldn't give you things or take things from you. Nick then yelled to just drop my bag and he would grab it. So that's what I did.

I finished the last 0.5 mile of the race very speedy-- I'm getting good at the final "kick". At each intersection I picked up the pace. I crossed the finish line in 2:12:53! A half marathon PR :)

I know the photo is blurry, but I think it makes me look fast :)

Coming down Market Street

Overall, this wasn't my best Wineglass experience. There were a lot of logistics issues this year which I think stemmed from increasing the field size. Will I run it again next year? Probably. We'll see how I'm feeling in December when registration for 2015 opens. 

Nick and I post-race

Showing off the unique Wineglass glass medal

Slightly random side note: This past Sunday when Nick and I were doing our 22-mile long run for Philadelphia Marathon training. I hit the 13.1-mile mark (according to my GPS watch) in 2 hr 8 min. Umm, where was that time a few weeks ago?? Sigh, I keep kicking butt on my training runs, and not performing as well during the actual races. This could lead into an entire different blog post, but I think it comes down to 1) I'm not trying to maneuver around anyone and 2) there's no pressure, I'm just out for a fun training run. 

Now-- I want to hear about your recent or upcoming races! What went well and what could have been done better? There's so much we can learn from each others' race experience :)

Until next time!