Susan: i heard it was super humid
Susan: well, i guess it can’t get worse
Previously on The Lewis Report, we learned two things:
1. It was hot.
2. I peed my pants.
And so, to not leave my six readers in the lurch, I’ll get you up to speed at the recent Wineglass Marathon.
Walsh, who was so nice to pace me (I’m sorry, I’m apologizing again!), also offered His Lordship and I a place of slumber at her parents’ abode in Connecticut, as well as her parents’ vehicle as our mode of transportation (thank you, Walsh family!). After fueling on beer and pizza in Midtown Manhattan, we arrived in Stamford around 10:00, drank more (obviously), and went to bed at a reasonable hour.
Saturday was pretty typical: arise, drink coffee for necessary bowel movements, perform a shake-out run, and shower. Throughout said shakeout run, I sweat quite a lot, but didn’t really think anything of it, as 90% of this training season has been in swamp-like conditions.
We bid adieu to the Walsh family, and set off for Corning. I will spare you six kind readers the details of the 4.5 hour long drive. But I will mention that, in some town an hour east of Binghamton lies a glorious sandwich shack along the highway called Last Licks. Go to there. (Now, if you can.)
We head straight to the expo immediately upon arrival, and after a painless process, we obtained our bibs, shirts, and drop bags. We met up with other New York friends running the race, and had the normal pre-marathon talk. And while most pre-marathon talks are pretty standard—”Yeah, I feel okay”—this one had more to do about the weather.
“Yeah, it’s hot. We’ll see how it goes.”
Call it foreshadowing, if you must. Either way, we said good-bye to our friends, set off for our hotel, and promptly went to the bar at 5:00 for pre-race/pre-bedtime $2.75 adult beverages (seriously). After which, we returned to our room to eat a pasta feast and fall asleep to the soft voices of Nick Cage and Justin Bartha (quick—name that movie).
Related: I waited
quite possibly forever 3 months to actually book a hotel for this race, which is not something I recommend when you are traveling to a small town with only a handful of inns. Our original hotel was in Pennsylvania, some 30 miles from the start. Upon learning this knowledge two days prior to departure (I never said I was a bright lightbulb), I panicked and started looking for other hotels closer to the start in hopes that there were rooms available due to last minute cancellations. I was in luck—thanks to those kind folks who bailed out of the Painted Post Ramada Inn.
Unfortunately for me, an 8:30 p.m. bedtime will lead to a 1:30 a.m. wakeup call. Which then led to mind wandering about the upcoming race. After a brief panic attack, I fell back asleep and woke up to my Rocky-inspired 4:45 alarm.
Walsh and I went in search of coffee, and luckily found some in our lobby (no thanks to our “gracious” concierge). And after our pre-race rituals of caffeinating, fueling, dressing, and listening to loud gangster rap, we set off to catch a bus to the start.
After a 30-minute bus ride with some fairly loud and obnoxious women (who ARE you people who think marathons are just a walk in the park!?), we reached our start destination. At this point in the morning, I felt pretty good. Like, really good. I wasn’t stressed, and I did what my comrade wished of me—I left my mind in the hotel room. Truthfully, the heat wasn’t bothering me. In fact, it was somewhat comforting. We met up with our fellow friends and got into our “corrals,” which was more like, “go find your pace group.” (An advantage of a small race.)
A few words from Bart Yasso, a Star-Spangled Banner, and the gun went off.
And I don’t remember much from here.
I do remember the first couple of miles, the first of which Walsh yelled at me for starting too fast. I also remember missing mile 3 completely, as I stated, “Oh wow, we’re at mile 4 already?,” when we got to mile 4.
I remember the first hill just before mile 6, which made Central Park’s Cat Hill look like a monster. I took my first Gu shortly thereafter.
At this point, Betsy had joined Walsh and I, and she was trepidatious about how she would perform in the given conditions (100% humidity, and roughly 70˚F). And around mile 8, one of Betsy’s friends pulled up behind us. She stated that she wasn’t feeling “great” and that the heat was miserable. I started thinking to myself, ‘Is it weird that I feel okay right now? Why isn’t the heat bothering me?’
We continued on, ran past some horses and some dead thing in the road (what WAS that?!), and I popped another Gu just before mile 12. Miraculously, I had managed to get through what is normally my wall miles of 10 through 12.
And then shortly after the half mark, I blacked out.
Ok, blacking out is too harsh, but I did manage to see spots. I told my pacer that I needed to slow down, that it was getting too hot and that I needed a minute. Honestly, I desperately wanted to walk. Instead, I took more energy, and started shuffling my feet. It was at this point that my pacer started giving me tough love and told me that the back half was a cake walk—I could run 9:00 miles and still break 4 hours.
It was also here that we were situated with another duo of females, one of which was a pacer. Said pacer was a little too over the top for the likes of my pacer and I, as it was quite clear that her comrade was in a state of complete exhaustion, and she continued to be an over-exuberant cheerleader.
And sweet shit, I’ve never wanted to hit someone in a race so bad in my life. It was at that point that I wish I had my headphones, and I reckon (related: I’m from the south) that Walsh wanted some as well.
And somewhere around mile 15, Walsh put her pacing duties aside and said the following:
“Please, do this as a favor to me. We need to get ahead of them and lose them, or I’m going to lose it.”
A fire was lit under my sore ass and we took off.
And then again, I don’t remember anything.
I remember being along a highway with the sun beating down on me. I remember pouring cup after cup of water over my head and down my back. I remember Walsh continuing to give me tough love and telling me that she had confidence in me. It was myself who didn’t have the confidence. All I felt was being weighed down by the humidity.
“You can be mad at me all you want and kick me out of your wedding! You’re doing this, Lewis!”
I couldn’t rightfully explain how I was feeling. I’ve never wanted to give up so bad. I was so exhausted and felt like I wasn’t moving. I had more Gu to give me a little kick, and it helped for only a brief moment. I started sobbing. I had flashbacks of horseback-riding lessons from my youth, where I wasn’t whipping my 25 year old pony hard enough to get him to a trot.
His name was Topsy, and this is a true story. And I cried on that poor pony. And then I stopped riding.
I remember a couple of things that Walsh said to me to keep me motivated, and here and there, I would pick up the pace.
Things kept getting harder. My legs, energy, and enthusiasm were all depleted. Walsh kept ahead of me and told me to keep up with her. I tried everything I could to keep up with her, but I just physically couldn’t. Somewhere along mile 20, I almost threw up.
The 4 hour pacers passed us.
“Don’t pay attention to them.”
At this point, I told my pacer that I needed to be smart. I knew I was out of energy. I took the extra Gu I snagged at mile 19. And more fluid.
And then, I felt something that I needed to do for 10 miles. I needed to use the restroom. (Way to sound so eloquent in a death march.)
I knew if I stopped that two things would happen:
1. I wouldn’t PR.
2. I wouldn’t want to run again.
Walsh looked down.
“Oh.. oh, yes it is!!!! HOORAYYYY!!!”
I have never been more certain than what I’m about to say: pissing yourself at mile 21 of a marathon is the most glorious and satisfying feeling in existence.
And in the midst of it all, I continued to run. I poured water down my front while Claire splashed water at my behind. I was honestly excited to know that I was hydrated through it all, and letting go of that gave me a bit of effort to push forward.
I remembered more of the end than I did the 10 miles prior, and truthfully, I wish I didn’t remember them. There was a lot of carnage: runners walking, collapsing, vomiting.
However, the final 1.2 miles are something I’ll never forget.
I knew I could PR. At this point, Walsh was screaming at me—and she should have been, for I just broke her sub 4 hour streak with my performance—”keep moving, keep up your pace, and for the love of God, we’re almost at the finish.”
I wasn’t in good shape. (But you knew that already.) We crested the final uphill, which was a bridge, and I looked at my comrade and said, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“I promise you, the finish is around the corner.”
I saw a photographer at the top of said bridge. I gave him a thumbs down. He was not appeased.
Upon turning the corner, the finish line had never looked so far away. I so wanted to walk. Walsh started shouting at me. At this point, I saw the clock. I could PR if I sprinted.
At that moment, I’ve never had larger strides in any run I’ve ever performed. Walsh was in front of me, screaming louder than the hordes cheering on their loved ones.
I crossed the finished and cried.
Those weren’t happy tears. I was exhausted. I had just put one of my best friends through hell on earth (a test of true friendship, seriously). And in that moment, I performed like a droid—I grabbed my medal and anything to satiate my depleted self (even though I didn’t eat it).
Walsh and I walked together to the clock tower, where we were supposed to meet His Lordship.
I stripped off my shirt and my shoes (I peed in them, remember?), and laid on the ground. I had completed my 4th marathon, and it was one of the most challenging races I’ve done thus far. Mentally and physically, I was done. I didn’t want to run New York City. In fact, I told myself that I was retiring for the last 10 miles of that race.
2013 Wineglass Marathon
So, what did I learn?
First of all, I learned that true friends last a lifetime—nothing says friendship like someone spraying a water bottle on your urine-induced shorts. And those friendships are to be cherished forever. That is, if your friend still wants to be your friend after pacing you.
Wineglass also lit a serious fire under my ass. This race year has been a series of trials and tribulations regarding my mentality, and the continual shitty weather gods didn’t make it easier.
But I know what I can do. It’s time to do it.
I cannot be more excited for New York City Marathon.
Redemption day is coming.
Lock and load.