There are certain moments in life you want to break open some caviar and pop the cork for and I just had one of them. I ran my first full marathon last Sunday at the 31st Wineglass Marathon. My finishing time was 4 hours 34 minutes and change. I ran the whole way and finished with a strong kick and a bellow of ecstatic pride as I crossed the finish line on Market Street in Corning, NY.
If the reference to caviar on a vegetarian blog has you confused, that was my little teaser of a way to introduce a classy and savory product that can make any vegan celebration feel ritzy. Scroll to the bottom if you are interested in just the 411 on this treat I purchased (through Spencer’s Market of course) or read my marathon weekend recap which is seasoned with vegan foodie moments.
Since this past June, much of my extra time has been taken up with training to run a full marathon, that’s 26.2 miles. It made me have to juggle time I have for family, work and enjoying other things like writing for this blog. I did my best to take advantage of this time in my life when I can actually train and run a marathon; I did it simply because I can.
I used a terrific resource that I recommend very highly, Marathon Training Academy. Listening to their free podcasts over the past couple of years gave me hours of quality information so I knew that becoming a member would pay off in many ways. The Smart Training Plans they offer allowed me to avoid overuse injuries that many other training regimens seemed to always cause me.
After 16 weeks of putting this blog on the back burner and training hard to run my first marathon, Jim and I headed off to the Finger Lakes region of NY state for a long weekend that ended with my race. We took advantage of some of the perks that came with signing up for the race like free admission to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.
Foodie highlights included a stop at many of our longtime favorites. Market Street Brewing Company was our first lunch and we enjoyed hot crusty grilled Veggie Batards. It was chilly and drizzly outside, this warm and hearty sandwich was worth taking off my gloves for and added a few carbohydrates as my race day approached.
Watkins Glen, NY
I have loved Watkins Glen, NY since our science club to a trip to the area when I was in 7th grade. I wanted to allow some time to stop, visit, help at the Farm Sanctuary but their late September hours and my schedule didn’t allow for it. I don’t want to just pop in and have posed photos taken as if I were a tourist at a petting zoo; when I visit I want to roll up my sleeves, step into my wellingtons and give a good day’s work for the animals that have been rescued.
I had read that the local ice cream parlor, The Great Escape, had vegan ice cream. Honestly, we were stuffed from the sandwiches and had supper plans where we intended to stay but we just had to support any place with vegan ice cream. We have driven by this stand for years and were excited to pull up and see this sign verifying our dessert was waiting inside! Unfortunately, they were out of the mix which they make all of their 26 flavors vegan but pointed out some vegan ice cream sandwiches in the freezer.I hate to say it but they looked like they had been there a while and by the texture of the crystalized filling, I think they had been. What a disappointment but I will try The Great Escape at least one more time before I pass firm judgement.
We spent the night in one of the quaint cabins at the trusty Seneca Lodge. A cold rain persisted so we cranked the space heater and waited for our bellies to have room for one of the best veggie burgers ever, The Sun Burger! Any visit to this area is scheduled around a meal at Seneca Lodge. The salad bar alone is worth the visit and we have been enjoying their Sun Burger for decades!
I have yet to mention that Jim registered for the “first annual” Wineglass 5k. For weeks it was an ordeal of phone calls, emails and aggravation because he never got verification that he was registered. Our check never cleared so he finally re-registered online. He fully expected to be registered twice when we picked up our racing bibs and swag at the expo but it was not the case. They must have completely misplaced his first mail in registration.
We checked out of Seneca Lodge early in the morning but not before I decorated Jim’s calves with the icons from the Wineglass Marathon. I used a black Sharpie and they looked like big tattoos. He looked totally Wineglass Weekend geeked out!
He fit right in because a lot of the runners that were participating in the half (13.1 miles) or full (26.2 miles) marathon the next day were using this as a warm-up race. Me? No thanks, walking around a bit and drawing a chalk message to support Jim was enough of a warm-up for me.
One of the exciting things about this weekend was the chance to get to see Joan Benoit Samuelson, the very first winner of the women’s Olympic Marathon. Unwitting readers might think that Ms. Samuelson must be about 130 years old since the first Olympic Marathon was in 1896. I totally understand the confusion but Joanie is but 5 years older than myself; the women’s marathon wasn’t added to the modern Olympic games until 1984! For years women were excluded for reasons as ridiculous as it was thought that their uterus might fall out.
Joan is a pioneer and it was a thrill for me to see her run right by me. As I stood a few hundred meters from the start near an illegally parked car on the 5k course, I gently waved my hand to alert runners to cut back in a bit. One of them… THE Joan Benoit Samuelson. I like to think that I saved her from injury so that she could continue on and enjoy he 1/2 marathon the next day.
I didn’t see her finish and her time wasn’t listed but I think Joan came in just before Jim. I was so excited and screaming for him that my photo of him is terrible. Jim set a personal record of 24:10.33 (07:48 minute mile average) and sprinted across the finish line in great form. He was 9th in his age group out of 23 men that are 50 – 59 years old. Well done Jimmy the Eye!
After Jim’s race, we took a bit of time to drive a stretch of the marathon course that I was a little vague on. Did I mention the length of the course was over 26 miles? Oh, I did, right. Well, there was a section between miles 14 and 20 that I had been having a hard time visualizing so we munched on some homemade hummus and veggies as we drove that section. I then remembered that I had horses and some neat farmland to look forward to along those roads. It made me aware that the shape of the country road was not really the best and reminded me to watch my footing for potholes as well as any other women runner’s dropped uteri that I might trip on during those miles.
Silliness helped keep the mood light and took my mind off of stressing about the race the next day. We did a goofy photo shoot in our hotel room comparing the swag Jim got for the 5k to what I got for the marathon. Jim got a winter beanie, his racing bib, a little plastic cup with the 5k logo written on in pen and a grape juice box. I got a hot pink tech fabric t-shirt (women’s cut!!), a b-chip racing bib, a commemorative wineglass with logo and year, and a split of NY state champagne!
I have to say, the one thing I was glad that my over-functioning self did was make supper reservations for one of the pasta dinner specials offered in Corning. The town had many businesses donate the proceeds of their pasta meals to a local Fund for Women. We saw that Holmes Plate offered an unlimited spaghetti meal with marinara sauce, bread and salad. I made reservations a month in advance and called about 10 days before our trip to make certain all was in order.
When we arrived a few minutes before 5:00 PM, the place was almost empty and I even remarked to the hostess that perhaps I had been foolish in making reservations. She assured me that, they were fully booked. Over the next hour I saw literally dozens of hungry runners turned away at the door, the place had filled within 15 minutes! I almost felt guilty as Jim and I sat at a cozy 2-seater enjoying a Lady & the Tramp style relaxed spaghetti meal as frustrated marathoners stomped back out the door past us.
My evening was relaxing and I got a pretty good night sleep. The lobby of the motel next morning was filled with early to rise runners. We all made our way to the starting line in Bath, NY. Jim dropped me off about .3 mile from the start so he could easily drive to the one spot we had decided he would meet me, half-way in the town of Campbell. That allowed him the vantage point of also watching the half-marathon runners start. He was able to get a nice photo of Joan Benoit Samuelson running by in her bright yellow shirt.
The weather was pretty ideal for running. I was able to toss the old ratty long sleeved shirt I was wearing at the 4 mile water station and for the rest of the race I was able to regulate my temperature by taking a $.75 pair of gloves on and off. I foolishly wore them the day before and almost lost them. That was my second lesson learned, save race gear for the race.I fueled well, the vegan Hammer Nutrition products I carried settled pretty well. I only felt a little pinch in my hamstring about mile 6 which, when I look back at my mile splits on my Nike+ records, was my fastest mile. I may have gone a bit fast for miles 4 – 8 but they felt pretty good and weren’t ridiculously so. If I have to look back on how I could have improved my entire race it would be to have been more aware of that and tell Aunt Flo that this perimenopausal gal is not up for any more visits. Maybe if my uterus had just fallen out before the mile 16 port-a-potties I would have been closer to my goal time.
Seeing Jim at the 1/2 way point was the best, he had 2 signs made to cheer the runners on, “BEST PARADE EVER” and “POWERED BY PAD THAI”. He also wrote me some cute chalk messages that lifted my spirits.
The final 6 miles were the farthest and most difficult I had ever run. I kept thinking, “This is brutal, I want to walk.” Then I would set my mind straight and think, “No walking, it will only take longer.” I slowed down during miles 22- 25 but only ever walked for a few seconds to and that was to take a drink at a water stop. If I wasn’t drinking, I told myself to be running. I had practiced this on my longer training runs and I was so glad to have stuck with it.
After mile 25, I realized the whole race was winding to a close. We crossed a final bridge into downtown Corning and saw the Brightroom photographer. I did my best to look like my feet didn’t feel like ground vegan burger as the camera snapped photos of me. I rounded the corner onto Market Street, the final stretch. From the moment I passed the 26 mile marker to the finish I incrementally stepped up my pace. The crowd was so supportive with cheering us all and encouraging my ever-increasing pace. One woman screamed at me, “That’s it! Kick it at the end, I love it!”
I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air and an exhausted sense of accomplishment. I was so grateful for the medal to be put around my neck and be handed a space blanket. Unfortunately, the bottleneck of Cub Scout volunteers offering water paid the price of my not being ready to come to a stop so quickly after my hard push at the end. I apologize to any of them who had to see me get sick.
Jim met me at the end of the block and I spent the rest of the day recovering. Things are going pretty well and I haven’t really been sore nor are my feet blistered at all. I think all of the above (sans splattering the Cub Scouts) is a big reason to celebrate.
I may never be choose to run a marathon again but I know that I can and that is pretty amazing. So was the Cavi-art, a vegan caviar that is made from sea weed. I plan to try a few recipes with it. To celebrate our weekend of successful racing, we opened my split of champagne and had both the orange and black traditional-style on toast crisps. The orange was a bit more oceanic in flavor but both were very nice. The texture wasn’t quite as soft as tapioca and held the flavor well.
I am not into reproducing all animal products exactly with plant based foods but there is something about the glamorous visual image of small glistening morsels in a small heap on a special appetizer. We have had the image hammered into our brain through many visual medias and with the knowledge that vegans can have special glorious life moments too, it was pleasing to give something like Cavi-art a try after finishing my first marathon (26 miles, 385 yards).