The concept of ‘Mind over Body’ is nothing new to the Marathon and Ironman community. Runners commonly refer to a marathon as 10% physical, 90% mental.
For Week 2 of my NYC Marathon training plan I ran:
Wednesday: 5M Easy
Thursday: 4M MGP
Friday: 3M Easy
I had a discussion with Dr. Levine about the Wineglass Marathon and we decided it would be a great opportunity to get an aided training run in. I was to run around 16 miles, if it hurt at any point stop.
I stayed home from work on Friday because I caught what Abbe had the day before, this random sore throat thingy. After resting for most of the morning and drinking my magic ginger elixir I walked down to the drug store to get a flu shot. It later dawned on me that getting one 2 days prior to a race might not be smart as I could have gotten slightly sick.
That night I met Abs, Claire, and Bojana down at Naples 45 for happy hour and dinner. After stuffing our face with meatballs and pizza we shuffled onto a train heading to Claire’s folks (Kathy and Mike) house. I was feeling slightly better.
Mike picked us up and delivered us safely to the Walsh Lair where we had some tasty alcoholic beverages. I retired early to ensure that the germs would leave my body.
Then next morning, feeling great, the 3 of us went on a shake out run around Connecticut. We even passed Gene Wilder’s house. I am only mentioning that because I love him for all of his Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryness. My knee felt awesome.
Later on, as we prepared to leave crowds gathered, wishing us well on our journey into the wild. They brought us glad tidings and many gifts. I’m just kidding, but Kathy and Mike waved as we departed! Our 5 hour car adventure had begun with Claire ‘Booze Cruise Control’ Walsh behind the wheel.
After 2 hours on the road it was approaching feeding time. We all agreed that we were too snobby to stop at a fast food place and a mom-n-pop shop or a diner would be much more suitable. As we came over a rolling countryside hill a sign for ‘Last Licks Sub Shop’ caught our eye. We were very very excited and exited appropriately.
DISCLAIMER: If you have no interest in how great our food experience was, because I am going to elaborate, please skip to SECTION: 7759
Imagine if you will, a white one story house with an outdoor wooden patio nestled in a gravel parking lot surrounded by the tallest and most beautiful pine trees. Wood cut outs of kids and sandwiches in vibrant colors attached to the outside. If the Muppets (more specifically Dr. Teeth and the ELECTRIC MAYHEM) could have opened a sub shop, this was it!
We entered a small room, with an open ordering area to our right and were greeted by the owner. He was a man in his 50’s casually dressed who welcomed us with open arms. “Well hello there! Are you looking to use the bathroom, or are you hungry?” We smiled and informed him of our desire to gorge ourselves with sandwiches. “Well you have come to the right place. We can serve em up toasted, on rye, a sub roll or maybe you want a panini?” I am a sucker for a good turkey sandwich so that’s exactly what I ordered. Unlike NYC, he told us we could pay him AFTER we ate. “Go sit outside on the patio, I’ll bring these out to you when ready.” What? If only all humans could be as nice and hospitable as this man. SIDENOTE: If you could pay after you ate in NYC, you wouldn’t get paid.
Needless to say, the sandwiches were awesome. We sat out in the clean mountain air in peace, taking in mother nature and our much needed lunch.
Back on the road we started to notice just how beautiful it was out in the mountains. The trees were in full autumn color.
Arriving in Corning and making our way to the Expo we immediately saw Kelly and Betsy on the street. Abbe hollered out at them and it kinda felt like some gang from New York was converging on this small town to take over. Actually, that IS what was happening!
We got our Bibs, shirts, etched wine glass, champagne and then made our way to the luxurious Ramada. Claire was hungry so we made the decision to go to the hotel bar. Oh, and c’mon, what else were we going to do, we had 4-5 hours to kill.
The hotel bar ‘It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere Lounge’ was certainly not a lounge and opened ironically at 5PM. It was more like your friend’s dad’s man cave, but with a bunch of 4 top tables. The whole place was carpeted like the hotel and in one corner was a pool table and a TV on a roll-y stand. The 10 seat bar had Quick Pick games playing on one TV and Nascar on another.
Numbers representing 26.2, Bib 63, Bib 1980 and Bib 1031.
The draft beers were $2.75 and I have to say I loved the place. I was really sad we had to run the next day and really couldn’t take advantage of our time here in the ‘It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere Lounge’. After a couple beers, potato skins and some french fries (yes, I know you are all shaking your heads) we headed off to the room. Abs had made us a homemade pasta dish which we nibbled on as we watched National Treasure. Claire had never seen it so Abs and I were trying to fill her in on why it was awesome. She will probably never watch it again. Abs fell asleep by 8, Claire and I watched Can’t Hardly Wait until 9 at which point we both decided it was time to go dark.
I slept so damn well. The gals wanted to wake up at like 4:45AM and I was like “F that!” Even though I heard them giggling and prancing around I still managed to rest until a 5:30 or so. I grabbed some sub par hotel coffee and started waking up. I had zero race jitters, mainly because my future was unwritten. It felt so liberating. I didn’t give a damn. I even ate some shit bagel from the hotel restaurant that may have been made of sand. I have 2 rules… never eat pizza outside of New York and never eat Bagels outside of New York. I was living on the edge.
Claire was rocking out to that song “All I do is win, win, win no matter what.” It would be rattling around in my head all day.
We drove to the center of town and hopped on a bus.Wineglass is a point to point (much like Boston) so we had 30 minutes to chill. The weather was nice, 60 degrees with a slight on-off drizzle. I had mixed up some Gen UCANN to eat. Ever since one of my Kompetitive Edge teammates told the team about the stuff 2 years ago I have been hooked. It sent me to my marathon PR in May of 2012 so I know it works. I had to Gu’s stuffed into my tri shorts for back-up as well.
SHOE TALK! In case anyone is curious, I had my trusty Newts on. I have been running in them since 2009 and they seem to work for me. The Kinvaras I had been testing were messing up my knee based on toe-to-heel profile last week so they were out.
We linked up with Kelly and Betsy soon after we arrived at the staging grounds. The sun was rising and I knew it was going to push the rain away. I wanted happy sunshine, even if it meant heat.
While drinking my Vanilla UCANN I convinced Betsy and Kelly that I was drinking milk and that was my secret. I enjoy pranks and this was no exception. “It’s actually Half-n-Half. It gets me going.” This lasted maybe 3 minutes.
As we lined up for the start I placed myself with all the gals instead of down at the front. Remember, at this moment all I wanted to do was run 16 miles pain free. After a very strange rendition of the National Anthem the gun went of. It took us 2 minutes to hit the Start mat. SIDENOTE: New runners, always count in your head if you are in the back and don’t cross the start immediately.
I had neither a Garmin or headphones, I was running totally rogue.
We all started running together (obviously) and I just did my thing. It was a long downhill and we were all shifting and adjusting where we were. Everything felt pretty good, but I didn’t want to push it.
After a few miles I wanted to leave Abbe and Claire alone. Abbe had asked Claire to be her pacer and I know all too well what happens if there are other people around when that is happening so I pulled ahead by 5-10 feet.
At mile 4 I pulled over for a pee break. I even used a porta-pottie. Back on the road I immediately ran (ha) into Kelly. We chatted for a hot second then I took off. It was at this point I started to increase my speed ever so slightly. You see, I thought I saw the 3:15 pace group ahead so I was trying to pass them. In reality, I had just passed the 3:40 pace group so logic should have stepped in.
I was really excited to be running some crazy fast pace after being injured and then I realized that it was actually the 3:35 pace group! Baker you fool!
It was riiiiight around this point, mile 6, that things changed. My gears slowly started shifting. Everything felt great and the scenery was beautiful, so why not?! I had broken the course into four, 6 mile quadrants. Yes, I know that doesn’t add up to 26, but who cares. I had just passed quadrant 1 and was on a roll.
Just like my pre-injured days I started picking out human targets in the distance and hunting them down. My pace was increasing. The Old Baker was resurfacing.
I passed the 3:35 pacers, then the 3:30 pacers, then the 3:25 pacers… thinking, “Am I pushing it too much?”
I took half of a Gu at mile 10. Mile 10 was also fun because some guy looked at me and was like, “was that mile 10!?” “Yeah man! They are ticking off fast now!” we laughed and then I proceeded.
SIDENOTE: Aside from having no Garmin, there were no time clocks anywhere. I had no idea how fast I was going.
As I crossed the half I yelled to the gal, “What time is it?” She slowly responded that i was roughly 9:45. Was that good? Was it bad? I still didn’t care, I was having a blast just running to run. Try it sometime, I dare you.
The next couple miles were a blur of small towns and remote roads. Somewhere around mile 16 I was passing an aid station and some guy yelled “Go Lord Baker!” That is my twitter handle, and after a quick glance I had no idea who this was, but it made me happy! Thank you twitter friend for pushing me onward!
It was at this point I needed to analyze my knee situation. Situation? No pain. What to do? Well, I have come this far, why not just finish the marathon. We will, of course, need to pick up the pace a bit.
Smiling, I increased my pace and went off into the unknown.
By now I had 1 full Gu in me. I had no energy loss what so ever but planned on eating my last Gu at mile 20 and 24 splitting it in half as I always do and washing it down with aid station water.
Mile 17 to 19 was rough as we were running along side a highway with a headwind. The weather never really bothered me as much as it did my lady friends, but I think it’s because I was just enthralled at the idea that I was running.
At mile 20 I had a fun encounter. As I came upon, and intended to pass, this shirtless guy he says, “Well hello there!” I chuckled and said hello back, asking how he was. He was good. I replied, “I have to tell you, I am really enjoying myself and the weather is perfect!” Incorrectly thinking I was going to move forward he said, “Well friend, I have to disagree with you there. It has been favorable at times, but at other moments quite hot.” Not wanting to get into a debate about the government shutdown I agreed and explained that I had to push on.
There was no ‘wall’ for me. This has happened a few times and when it does the only thing that registers is knowing that miles 20-26 are going to be hell. Ha! Aren’t they always?!
Just keep moving is all I was telling myself. Waves of pain would overcome me followed by periods of bliss, where I was flying down the road. I had no idea what my pace was, all I knew was that if I held together I would finish a marathon that was removed from my race list months ago. The only reason I didn’t cancel entry then is that I wouldn’t get a refund, so I figured I could at least get a shirt or something.
Where as before, the miles ticked off fast, now 1 mile seemed like an eternity. I kept saying to myself, “Surely I must have overlooked that mile 22 marker?” Not the case. I always like to yell in Ironman races at mile 20 that “Things are about to get REAL!” and that’s exactly what was happening.
The true test of human willpower and might can happen anywhere in a marathon. It is the individuals race, and therefore the individual has different emotional experiences. These last 3 miles miles were very hard as I thought about actually finishing this marathon. Was it possible? With only 2 weeks of training under my belt, the longest distance I had run in 6 months being 12 miles just the weekend before, was it enough? Mind over body baby.
One of my silly mantra when racing is, “There is no pain, only glory.” The meaning behind this is that the human mind creates pain in order to get you to stop dong something, like running. If you can subdue that urge and override the pain setting, then anything is possible. I just kept running. In fact, I have walked aid stations in 7 of my 10 marathons (not counting Ironman) and I did not walk at all during this race. I wanted it bad. Just keep running, no matter what the pace.
Rounding the final turn, the finish line was off on the horizon, similar to Boston. I would never get there. And yet, I did, finishing in 3:17 and change. My very first marathon was a 3:15 and so I felt like I was back where I started.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes…
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
– TS Eliot
I did know the place for the first time and I knew, as I have always known, that this is what I live for. The sense of accomplishment, camaraderie and the painful yet acceptable feeling that I AM ALIVE, will always keep me coming back for more.
I grabbed an apple, water, and a gatorade followed by a slice of pizza and chicken noodle soup. I sat down on the curb and kind of took it all in. Sitting on the curb eating my soup, watching all my people come through. If I had to form an army, I would choose marathoners.
I made friends with this guy named Mike, then Kelly came through. We watched as Betsy broke 4 hours! Nice job soldier. I hung around for awhile before time started slipping away and wondering where Abbe and Claire may have been. I decided to check our meeting spot even though I hadn’t seen them come through the chute. There were there chillin out.
We hightailed it back to the hotel for a shower then took off toward NYC.
Ironically, Abbe’s Dad was in Binghampton so we stopped there (at Sharky’s) to have lunch. Aunt Peggy and Cousin John as well as a few other local family members came by as well. It was a blast AND we were ravenous.
I have to thank Dr. Levine big time. He has only been working with me for 6-8 weeks and my progress has obviously been dramatic! Big ups to Kompetitive Edge for all my amazing gear!
I think the reason I had such a great experience was that I did not give a damn about anything aside from running injury free. With no Garmin I had no timing. Not knowing if I would finish kept me from wanting to achieve a certain time. I recommend everyone try this at least once in their running. Its quite liberating.
The human body is much more than muscle and mass, it is heart and mind. Last Sunday, I truly felt Beyond Defeat.