Monday, May 26, 2014

My 5th Marathon in 8 weeks- Buffalo 2014

As I was leaving for Buffalo, NY after work Friday night, Amber gave me a race-day goodie bag. Here's how the conversation went:

Danny: Thanks Amber for the goodie bag. That was really nice. Those calf sleeves are really awesome.
Amber: You're welcome. I know that you've been using some in the last few marathons and these are white so better for keeping you cool.
Danny: Yeah and the socks you got me are great.
Amber: Those can be your post-race socks.
Danny: Post-race socks?
Amber: Yeah, you don't wear socks when running, do you?
Danny: Errrr. I usually do, why?
Amber: Ooooooohhhh. Well usually people running fast don't wear socks[Editor's note: this last part of the conversation may not have transpired as such. It may have gone like: oh, I thought you don't wear socks... but I interpreted like fast people don't wear socks]. 

Neither on my drive up to Buffalo, nor during my time in Niagara Falls the next day did I think about the conversation. However, Sunday morning, I definitely did. 

Saturday though, I spent finishing my drive up to Buffalo(I had stayed in a smoky motel room just outside of Albany Friday night), picked up my race number and then headed up to Niagara Falls.
Paul and Lisa

A fairly fast current

 My friends Lisa Ransom and Paul Martin just happened to be up there for the weekend visiting and we met up and had a nice little picnic before I headed back for the pasta feed in Buffalo. I sat across from the two runners who would eventually finish first and second in the marathon but our conversation was pretty sparse as their English was about as good as my foreign language skills(in ANY foreign language). However, I did elicit several giggles every time I went back up for another beer or helping of the pasta. 

After gorging myself on beer and pasta, I explored Buffalo a bit. I had been by the University before but not downtown and it's an interesting city. What struck me first was it's potential. After seeing how well Pittsburgh revitalized itself, I think Buffalo may be able to do the same. It's got some really good bones. A lot of great architecture from Sullivan(who you may remember from Eric Larsen's Devil in the White City) as well as a few residential properties from Frank Lloyd Wright sprinkled throughout the city. Church street is amazing. Unfortunately, everything is a bit run-down and at 8pm was started to fell slightly unsafe for a delicate flower like yours truly. 

This ornate decoration covers the above building and is made out of terra cotta and was designed by Sullivan

Church St

That building with the two spiky tops is called the Liberty building and has two small Statues of Liberty facing opposite directions

Downtown Buffalo

This is a close-up of that building above-with the constitution written on it's walls

After exploring for a while longer, I headed back to my hotel where I intended to promptly fall asleep. Unfortunately, the Pacers weren't going to win without my watching so I had to help them out. To no avail. I am only one man anyhow. I quickly fell asleep and my alarm came as early as it usually does when you set it to a god-awful hour. I drank some coffee and had some apple sauce(a breakfast delicacy I poached from the QT2 people) and then went back to sleep for another hour. I've been doing that for the last few races and it seems to be working well-allowing me to digest while getting a little more sleep. 

I finally arrived to the race start at 6:45 for the 7am start(perfect!) and we were shortly sent off. The race started less than optimally with a multiple goons running the relay race tripping me up in the first several miles. And the first water stop produced an empty cup of water! Yes an empty cup. Like they had forgotten to fill it up and couldn't differentiate between the weight of one full and one empty. Maybe they were just VERY optimistic. Because of all of this, I was expecting an awful marathon. 

Luckily, my expectations were wrong. The rest of the course had excellent volunteers and I was able to separate myself from the relay runners. If you are looking for a marathon PR, Buffalo is the course to do. It's tree-lined roads provide good sun-cover and it is remarkably flat. Unbelievably flat. It was a bit windy but that forced me to do some surges in the first 10 miles which kept my pace up. After very hilly courses like Raleigh and Knoxville and a fairly hilly one in Boston and Pittsburgh, running a flat marathon was sooooooooo nice. I went through the half marathon in slightly slower than 6's. I was feeling strong and comfortable and although I had a slow mile 19 I still came through mile 20 in 6:10 pace. And then it happened. My slightly uncomfortable feet began to hurt a bit more and more every step I took. A combination of the laces slightly loosening up, water in the shoes and NO SOCKS made a perfect  blister producing storm. 
Sleeves but no socks?!

At mile 22, I stopped and re-laced my shoes and tried adjusting the pressure they were causing on my feet but it didn't help. I stopped again two miles later and really considered just walking it in. Instead I just ran on the outside aspect of my foot trying as best I could to not pronate at all. Those last 5 miles, I averaged 7:20's and prevented me from getting a PR coming within 39 seconds of it. 
My left foot- I'm glad that I only have one left foot for everything except dancing;)
At the finish of the race, I quickly took off my shoes and hobbled to some free green space where I feel asleep in the sun for an hour. I then started my trip back to NH. My friend Kellan, recommended a lake right off 90 so I was able to go for a little dip part of the way home and I stopped again right outside of Bennington, VT to swim in the river and soak up some of the beautiful day. 

All in all, it was a fun trip and I would certainly recommend Buffalo for anyone looking for a small, fun marathon where you will certainly PR. That is if you remember to wear socks!

I'm looking forward to my month off running before I jump into my next Marathon Challenge up in Anchorage Alaska at the end of June. 

Up Next: Eagleman 70.3(Amber- June 8) 

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