This weekend, I traveled with four other ladies to the southern Finger Lakes for the Wine Glass race weekend in Corning, New York. After some not so great race experiences this summer and the ups and downs of marathon training, I was really ready for a nice, solid race. And the Wine Glass Half delivered!
The weather was frigid when we started – in the low 30s. I didn’t bring my running gloves or any warmer gear than capris and a long sleeve tech tee, so standing out at the start line was pretty cold. As a point to point course, the half marathon people started halfway down the marathon course, basically next to a giant corn field in the middle of nowhere, but with a lovely view. With the arrival of fall, the leaves were all turning and pretty much the entire weekend we all kept repeating “wow, look at this view” everywhere we went.
Once the gun went off, like any race, the start was pretty crowded. There were no corrals or separations based on estimated time beyond the pacers, so it was a free for all. I started off a little too fast, though it also warmed me up enough that I was comfortable pretty soon. I settled into the pace I wanted to run the whole race – not fast enough to PR, but a solid time for the type of training I’ve been doing this summer.
I tried to be really present in the moment of the race, take in the scenery and be especially grateful for legs to run and how far I’ve come in training that I am able to casually run a half marathon with no nervous stomach or anxiety. I passed some beautiful horses, some pastures of cows (how much of a country girl at heart am I that I loved that I smelled cows TWICE during a road race?) and several farms. The course also went through some residential areas and a park, and was mostly flat. It was an interesting combination of rural race and road race.
Around mile 8, my phone decided to reboot itself, losing my music and my GPS that was giving me my paces. So instead of “pulling over” and fussing with my phone, I just turned the music back on and finished the rest of the race without the GPS. Which in a way was quite freeing – just running by feel. But on the other hand, it made me lose time in those last 5 miles, because I finished with a lower average pace than I was carrying for those first 8.
For a rural area, I was surprised at the number of spectators and signs along the course, which I’m sure was especially nice for the marathoners. I love a good “No Time for Walken” sign with Christopher Walken’s face on it.
Like I said before, I was really ready for a good race. I was looking for that feeling I had when I raced last year – the excitement you get in the pit of your stomach when you round a final bend and see the finish, or when you realize right in the middle of the run how happy you are. This year’s running has mostly been challenge, with a distinct lack of actual fun. But coming across the final bridge in this half marathon, seeing the spectators increase and knowing the finish line was close, I finally got that feeling – the high that people talk about. For me it’s not a feeling of invincibility, but just a swell of happiness and pride in myself. A man who had finished the race was walking back along the course and looked at me and shouted “YOU LOOK SO STRONG! GO GET IT!” and I could have high-fived the guy.
I bolted for the finish in the last half mile – just all-out emptied the gas tank. I shouted something unintelligible at my friends who were spectating and just drove forward. I saw the time on the clock, knowing it was solid for where I’m at right now and was really pleased. It’s a great feeling to run across a finish line to cheers, knowing you gave yourself a solid performance.
In the chute after the finish line, we got our glass medals (Corning is known for its amazing glass) and headed to the most amazing post-race food line I’ve ever seen. Not only were we given a bag to collect our goodies, but we got water and chocolate milk, apples, cheese sticks, cookies, bagels, bananas and the kicker – hot chicken noodle soup and fresh pizza. That they were making right there! In the finish chute! I eagerly stowed the snack stuff in the bag an grabbed the soup and pizza and wolfed them down, sitting on the side of the road shivering on a spaceman blanket (the foil wraps they give you post-race when it’s cold). I thought I took a picture of them, but apparently I was too delirious with the delicious salt food in front of me.
All in all, it was a great race. The swag bags were solid too – we got a bag, a long-sleeve tech tee, plus a wine glass and mini bottle of champagne. All of the volunteers were very friendly and helpful. I feel like they treated the runners like royalty – and so did the town. The people we encountered in the shops and restaurants were all friendly and welcoming to runners – many of them having special displays or discounts for runners and spectators. Some of the restaurants opened at 5 a.m. to accommodate spectators, which was pretty nice considering the frigid cold outside.
I’d definitely come back to the area again – both to race and to visit. A good choice for a race during the taper, because it finally has me feeling something about Columbus – both excitement and nerves – the combination that I hope will propel me the last 6 miles over the finish in less than two weeks!