Fear and loathing in Buffalo

I like to research potential marathons on MarathonGuide.com. It’s hard to know what to make of a race when the reviews fall on the extremes of the spectrum. But, in the case of the Buffalo Marathon at least, it can make for some pretty entertaining reading.

Ann Onymous from Rochester, NY writes:
“I signed up for a large shirt; to me, this is an implied contract – I sign up ahead AND PAY MONEY and I get a race and a large shirt (unless I show up last-minute). A t-shirt is not that big a deal (well, on second thought it is – I trained long and hard all winter for this race; it would be nice to have something to show for it, like the women in my group who got shirts). How this has been handled is an issue reflective of the race management – poor. And while I’m on my soap box…. Maybe have a few more than the dozen or so porta-johns for the 2,300 racers at the start area – I’ve not seen as much public urination in my life (well maybe except for the Boilermaker in Utica – but that doesn’t start in a downtown city area).”

I don’t get why people get so outraged about race tee shirts, either when there are only large ones left or none left. I don’t even take shirts anymore since I have so many of them clogging my drawers. If you finish a marathon, you’ve got something to show for it: your finishing time, your bragging rights and your memories. You’ll usually get a cheesey little medal too. As for public urination, she ain’t seen nothin’ until she’s come to New York, Boston or Chicago.

S.N. from West Yorks, England whines:
“The course itself is flat and fast, but crowd support is spread out – there are long periods with very little support, although there are pockets of strong support to lift you.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Do your research. You’re running in Buffalo. Buffalo! If you want big crowds, run in West Yorks. Or better yet, Shitterton.

L.W. from Washington, DC reports:
“The course was 0.3 miles too long according to my GPS system (and my husband’s) – even in the first five miles. A third of a mile wreaks havoc on your pace when you’re shooting to complete the race before being asked to move to the sidewalk.”

A GPS reporting .3 miles extra for a marathon is actually very good, considering that it’s nearly impossible to run every single tangent perfectly. More important, how can a course be “too long” in the first five miles? I think my head is going to explode.

J.C. from Pittsburgh exhorts:
“The women runner’s were phenomenal. I was with a group running 8:05′s to 8:15′s that strung me along. Another important rating for this course, all the women runners were 5 stars and some are even good runners!!!”

Oink.

And, finally, there’s this screed that sounds like something out of The Daily Worker. The inscrutably named “m. g. from Parkside with my wage freeze! On ice..” writes, somewhat bafflingly:
“My running partner got hit up for change at mile 25 from some panhandler dude!REALLY! Last bummer: all that was left were loaves of bread and some off-brand diet pop for my post-race party… BREAD AND WATER! HMMM, like I said, the Control Board MUST now have taken over our local road races as well as the economic freedom of the working class! When you see them at the Corporate Challenge in their HUGE tents with catered food and limo service, wave and say hello!”

Will I run Buffalo? I have no fucking idea.

Of hamstrings and advanced planning

Just an update as I try to unwind for a few minutes from the latest work-related debacle.

My hamstring is better after several days of self restraint. I’ve done almost as much walking as I have running in the few days since it went “Oh, snap! You dih’in’t!” on Sunday. This morning had me running a slightly zippier 9:30 pace, including an experimental zoom at 7:15 pace for about 45 seconds at the end of the run. All systems seem go.

Tomorrow I’ll further test Hammy’s tolerance with a tempo run on the track. I’ll do a two mile warmup to get there, then another good mile or so of speeding up to see if it starts to rattle. If it’s okay, I’ll try two at tempo pace and see if there are any complaints. Then I’ll try another two, then do some recovery miles afterward to head home for a bath, a bagel and some gratitude for my body’s ability to heal itself. And if it doesn’t go well, I’ll cut things short and continue to rest.

In other news, I appreciated all the feedback on where to go for spring 2010. I’m traveled out after this year and upon reviewing the various options realized that any race I would travel (meaning “fly”) to would present the same relative chances of good or bad weather than anything I’d find closer to home. Since I need to fix about 3,000 issues with my house next year, I’ve decided I’m going local for 2010 at least for the spring, to save money and cut down on time off from work, for which I do not get paid, lucky freelancer that I am.

I’ll target the 2010 NJ Marathon (May 2) for my goal race in terms of training and taper timing. I’ve run the half marathon there twice and it was the site of my two fastest half marathons (and many PRs at shorter distances in the process) to date. What amazes me (and I should have absorbed this lesson by now) is how fast the hotels there fill up for a race that’s half a year off.

The host hotel, right on the start/finish line, is full up, as is the fancy schmancy boutique hotel ($400+ a night) two blocks from the start. Everything else is miles away. Fortunately, there are still rooms available at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in West Long Branch on Rt. 36. This place is not on the hotels listed on the marathon’s web site, by the way. But it’s less than a mile from Monmouth Racetrack (where the parking and shuttles are) and the rooms have a fridge and microwave. Perfect!

Since Jonathan wants more training time after the Sacramento race in December, he won’t run New Jersey with me. Instead, it looks likely that he’ll do the Buffalo Marathon a month later. That’s a mere 6.5 hours away by car, no airplanes required. We know someone who’s run it three times and liked it (and his times were remarkably consistent with performances elsewhere from year to year, so the course and conditions don’t appear to be a killer). Plus, I can register too and keep it as a backup if something goes awry in New Jersey. Even if it doesn’t, I can always run it as a fun run. Or, if I’m feeling like a fully recovered bad ass, do my best Mary Akor impersonation and race that one too.

So that’s the plan so far. I’m keeping your suggestions in a list for future reference, and I see others researching spring races have hit this site in web searches. So it’s all valuable stuff.

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