Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hamptons Marathon: This Is Living

The Hamptons Marathon on Sept. 27 was my 15th marathon, my 107th race overall, and my third marathon of 2014 after the ASICS LA Marathon in March and the Boston Marathon World Run in April. After this I have the Staten Island Half on October 12 and then the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11. Here is a recap from paradise:

Stained Glass Medal. It's the most elegant medal I own now. When you hold it up to a light, it is almost like a stained glass window, with a beautiful blue ocean hue, which you can compare to the shot below. The engraving is a lifeguard stand with surfboards on its sides. Nice style.

The Hamptons view! At the 13.1 mile mark, there is a thick sandy path that leads (above) to the Atlantic Ocean. At that point, I had to stop and take it in. You won't find a more beautiful ocean view in running. There is also a great water view for everyone, including the Half runners, with a mile and a half to go. Once you have run this one, you will appreciate the medal a lot more.

Finisher! As always, finishing is the most important part to me. And especially this time. I went through 19 PT sessions, so thanks to Shareen & Co at Professional PT in NYC!. They helped me get through a strained right hamstring and strengthen my right hip. There was a lot of burning band-walks, deep-tissue massage, balance exercises and other pain and torture along the way. It did the job for a long way. Then the severe incline test from miles 17-19 (think Heartbreak Hill) took its toll on that hamstring, as I clutched it much of the way while unfortunately walking up a good portion of the inclines. So I was unable to take advantage of the fast ride from miles 20-25 the way I had hoped, and I finished in 5:55. After hitting the half mark in 2:40, that was a little disappointing, but again all I care about is finishing a long race, especially after months of physical therapy just to get through it. And speaking of finishing...

Family First. We ran this event as a family. I did the full, Lisa did the 5K, and I am proud to say that Rachel (above) ran her first Half and she now has a PR after ripping the course! Rachel got into running earlier this year after watching the ASICS LA Marathon, and she has a real dedication to her training and nutrition that helps me as well. So it is all a great example of how running can inspire others. Now she is inspiring others to run as well. Great job, Rachmo!

ASICS City. As usual, I was all geared up in ASICS, thanks to my friends at the home of real runner gear. I'm sporting the ASICS PR Lyte top above. The temperature on this day got up into the high 70s, and from mile 6 through most of mile 16 or so it was full sun. This top breathes really well and feels silky-smooth when you run, glad I went with it. Here was the flat-me:

Two Near-Disaster Compression Equipment Malfunctions:

1. Imagine my shock when I opened my running bag the night before to lay out my flat-me, and realized I had forgotten the compression shorts. This is a HUGE issue. All I could think of was major chafing, and maybe not finishing. I had my ASICS Everyday shorts as shown, but no compressions. On race morning, I decided that instead of going commando, I would just wear my standard GAP underwear and hope for the best. They are boxer instead of briefs, and that helped. I caked on the Body Glide and am happy to say I never had one chafing issue. Thank you, Body Glide -- you are always there for me and this time it was a big save.

2. Zensah Compression Calf Sleeve Mating System. Above and to the right, you can see the new heather-grey Zensah calf sleeves I picked up at Jackrabbit on the Upper West Side during bib pickup. So a funny thing happened along the way to the start line with these. I was walking with everyone from our Jeep to the Spring School start area, when I felt a sting inside my right calf. I looked down and saw a cluster of yellow, and quickly swiped it away as fast as I could. In that ephemeral moment I think I saw multiple insects, so I'm guessing it was mating yellowjackets or wasps perhaps. EVERYONE and EVERYTHING likes Zensah. Either way, someone left a nice stinger inside my leg under that (thick) calf sleeve, and every now and then as I was running that day I would feel that little dagger. Unbelievable! Thanks, Zensah - no cramps!

The schwag bag they give is cool because of the bag itself (above). It's the kind of beach bag you would want on The Hamptons in the summer. The rope handle just rocks. I gave mine to Lismo and Rachmo got hers. I think it's more of a "her" schwag race, that's my only input I can offer. (Well, that and the fact I would rather run on the LEFT side facing oncoming traffic instead of the right, as I often felt exposed to the whim of a distracted driver...never run with traffic!) For a few bucks I also got the 26.2 car magnet, which was actually sort of a big deal because I never replaced the 26.2 car magnet after I bought my Jeep this year! DONE.

No more diet soft drinks. Going into this marathon, I did a 30-day diet soda detox. I had seen the "Today" show crew doing their own 30-day detoxes one day, so I decided to join in. I am proud to say that I went a month with no Diet Coke or other diet sodas, which encourage weight gain as they make the body crave sugar. I'm not going to campaign against diet sodas because to each their own, but I previously quit smoking in 2006 and I will say that this change is comparable. I don't plan to have any more diet sodas the rest of my life and as of this writing and am now well past 40 days. Here are some ways I get through those cravings...and I do hope that our own company puts nontraditional beverage machines in the cafeteria room.

Two race-blog shoutouts I just remembered.

1. To the Mile 23 fluid station volunteers! This race had the best fluid stations of any I have attended, from start to finish. Everything you needed, every mile. And at Mile 23, they did an impromptu "Ice Bucket Challenge," dumping a gallon of cool water over my head. I can't tell you what that meant at that point in the race. As I told Diane, they need major props. And so do all of the volunteers at those awesome fluid stations. You guys were the best!

2. To Carol STASH Stanley of Stash Sporting Goods. Earlier in the week, she reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in their Lace Lockers (pictured at left). I asked for two sets, so that Rachmo could try them if she wished. Carol made sure they got there the day before the race. I'm not one to do anything different in a marathon, but Rach was happy to try Lace Lockers and she reported that they were very effective in keeping her shoelaces stabilized, especially after a time in the race when she was having some foot discomfort. I always have to re-tie my shoes and rearrange my sock, so I'm not sure they're for me, but Rach liked them, and I really appreciated the hustle by Carol. So feel free to check them out at!

The Bridge Inn. On Friday, we drove out to The Hamptons and found our hotel, once a plantation. Previously owned by Martha Stewart, the Bridges Inn was a cool little row of connected units, each with a front porch, adjacent to a long double row of pines that once served as an entrance for horse carriages. They would pull right up to the plantation, which is no longer there. I can't say it was anywhere close to worth the price we had to pay -- it was Rosh Hashanah weekend as well as the marathon -- as this wound up being astoundingly in the $300s for a fairly small (but clean) room. We bought an air mattress at a nearby K-Mart, so two slept on the bed and two on the floor. (Rachel brought along her boyfriend John, who somehow put up with a roomful of runners and gear everywhere.) We had the option of taking the Hampton Jitney bus from NYC in the middle of the night and not staying in a hotel, but there is no way I would ever do that for a marathon. At least we got a full night's sleep. But they really need to make more affordable room rates available to runners. It's not like it's in-season at The Hamptons, sorry.

Pasta Dinner: Serafina East Hampton. This was one of the highlights of our outing. After picking up Lismo's 5K bib at the Spring School gymnasium on Friday, we drove around and looked for a spot to eat. Winner, above. I got the Rigatoni Bolognese, kept it straightforward, one beer as usual.

Race Morning: Great Except For The Mating Wasp Calf Sting. We had a perfect Starbucks just a block away from the Bridge Inn, and it was a great 6 am stop-in for us. Typical for The Hamptons, as you can see, it shares a building with a Wealth Advisor. I got coffee and a croissant, my usual race-morning fare. Then it was off to the Spring School start.

The portapotty lines were a little on the long side, but not that much worse than other marathons. I put my experience to good use here and looked for the line that had the most PP access. The one on the far right had twice as many doors as the others...gotta do some scouting, people!

Things You Think About While Running The Hamptons Marathon. I was alone for much of this race, at least the back half, with an occasional straggler around me. I needed a lot of self-inspiration, like a solo long run. I always have a mantra, and for some reason all I could think of on this day was the old Jorge Posada car commercial for the Jack Daniels Tri-State dealership that would air during Yankee games while he played. I would say to myself while running: "Jack Daniels?" in that kind of Scooby-Doo voice that Jorge used. Then I'd "answer" like the car driver who was picking up Posada, making a big toothy grin on my face as I said the words: "Come on, Jorge, we've got a ballgame to get to!" Whatever works! It made me laugh and kept me going.

Weird stuff happening to my body. And doing whatever it takes.

1. I faced an almost laughable hurdle just days before the race: I lost a back molar crown. Thinking the dentist would just reaffix it, I learned that most of the original tooth had broken away, and that I would need an implant. That meant a long haul over coming months. They wanted to remove what was left of the tooth and root, and I stalled, figuring it should wait until after the marathon. So I was in some dental distress on Hamptons weekend, and I bought some oral gel that I actually packed in my ASICS waistpack during the race in case it ached...because no Advil. (You never want to run a marathon on Advil or other painkiller, and I hope you know that. Never mask pain or you could be in a dangerous situation. Let your body talk to you.)
     Update on Wednesday: Yesterday the tooth was extracted, bone graft done, sutured up. Not a fun last 24 hours but it sets the stage for eventual implant over the next 6 months.

2. I had a weird sock rub on the ball of my left foot. I had to pull over and rearrange and retie a few times. Once I was sitting in the middle of the road, probably mile 16 or so, rubbing out the spot on the foot and then retying. As I'm sitting there, a police officer pulls up, gets out of his car and asks me if I'm OK. That's another example of the good attention in this race, folks. And mind you that I was at the tail end. They don't leave you stranded if you are a straggler.

3. Beastmode finish. Thanks to Rachmo for taking the most #beastmode picture anyone ever has taken of me. I saw her and Lismo near the finish line area, and Rach ran alongside me to help get me to the finish line. It complete what was, for me, a sprint of the last mile-plus, which I wasn't expecting to be a little bit of an incline. I ran balls-out. After the finish line, maybe because of that sprint, maybe because of the hamstring, maybe because of the iso, I just kind of broke down emotionally, and I was having trouble catching my breath. I have a little asthma, not bad. Rach got me into the med tent, where they took care of me with a breathing treatment. It's happened before, whenever I sprint a long finish, whether Half or full. So here's what I looked like.

That's the story of the 2014 Hamptons Marathon. Really slow time, further proof that slow and steady does NOT win the race but DOES get you across a marathon finish line. Thanks again for everyone who made it possible, Diane and Amanda, my own crew, ASICS, Penny & Liam for watching King Bingley, PT workers, and friends.

I could have run the TCS New York City Marathon again next month, having qualified with the 9+1 guaranteed entry (running at least 9 scored NY Road Runner races plus one volunteer assignment in the year before), but I want to keep that marathon "special" and not be a streaker. So I looked for another fall race and The Hamptons looked like fun. I'm glad I ran it, and I'm glad we did this as a family. It was a great experience, great views, great fluid stations, great weather, great organizers, and the most elegant medal ever! Hello, it's The Hamptons.

...and here's a pic my wife took of a sign right before the finish. Hope they weren't talking about me...


Bamagirlruns said...

In your Gap undies?!? That IS Beastmode!

CTBamaFan said...

Way to go friend. Love your reports and enthusiasm for everything you do. Never made it out to the Hamptons, but views are everything I would expect.

One word of caution, most heart attacks in marathons happen to those that significantly pick up their pace at the end. The body just isn't equipped to handle the increased stress. We want you around for many more marathons and race reports, and you still owe me a marathon so please be safe.