In the week and a half leading up to Buffalo we started watching the weather. Every day it was changing- thunderstorms, rain, perfect temps…you name it. Going into this event we should have known that we wouldn’t get perfect running weather after what we experienced in Syracuse earlier this year and sure enough, it was hot – very hot. It was so hot that the apparel company for this event – DG Apparel and Gifts – decided to create a custom weather related commemorative t-shirt “Heatwave”. So far this year — two races, two weather related commemorative shirts. What happened to 50 and cloudy? It apparently doesn’t exist in Upstate NY.
The morning was still beautiful despite the temperature and the sun was up around 4:30 a.m. Parking is so convenient here and we were less than a block away from the convention center. We took our time when we arrived as Jen had to exchange her event shirt and we needed to do our bag drop. After completing all our tasks, a quick bathroom and water stop we were on our way to the start line. We said our goodbyes and good lucks when we arrived, each going to our respective posted pace areas. New this year were wonderful fireworks that were launched during the national anthem and continued for a few minutes until just before the start. Before we knew it the race was underway.
So to begin our recaps, ladies first:
Jen: I honestly don’t have a ton to say about Buffalo, but I’ll do my best. I went into this race still chasing big time goals, knowing that my training had gone well enough to produce said times. I have to stop and say thanks to Denny for pushing me outside of my comfort zone during training and helping to make me a better runner! Taking the heat into consideration, I decided that I was still going to go for it and just do what I could.
On race morning I made an on the fly decision to try out running with a pacer. I started out with the 2:25 group, knowing that if I needed to drop back at any point that the 2:30 group was still available a few steps behind. I really enjoyed talking with the lady that was doing the pacing. She was from NYC and had a lot of good advice. Shortly before the race began she went over her pacing strategy with the group so everyone knew what to expect from her and then we were off.
Things were uneventful for the first few miles. I somehow lost the pacer after the water stop at mile 3. I didn’t see her waiting off to the side for the group and just kept pushing forward. This is where the struggle started for me. I can usually deal with being hot relatively well, but for whatever reason, today I was really over heating. I had started the day with a hat and decided to ditch it somewhere around mile 4 thinking that it might help cool me down a bit by taking it off. Nope. I just couldn’t cool my body down. Thankfully, Buffalo had asked residents to turn on their sprinklers for runners and many had done just that. I was running through every sprinkler I could find and it was helping a lot. I was also dumping cups of water down my back as well. At this point it already looked like I had been swimming rather than running.
I felt alright through mile 7 but heading towards the water there was no coverage from the sun and I was starting to feel extremely dehydrated. Somewhere around mile 8 I finally found a table that had iced towels and cups of ice and took advantage of those. I knew my goal time wasn’t happening so I shifted my focus and my new goal was making it to the finish as quickly as possible. I managed to pick up a 3 minute PR and ran 10 minutes faster than Syracuse, so I can be happy with that.
After the race I was glad to see that they had free massage tables set up and happily took advantage while I waited for Travis.
I don’t have any other half marathons on my schedule for this year, so now I’m shifting gears and getting ready for the 18.12 Challenge, Ragnar Adirondacks and Chicago in the fall.
Travis: Originally going into this event, I was pushing for a PR. Now everyone may say that before a race, but I trained for a PR for 5 months. The course for Buffalo is perfect to accomplish lofty goals. I rested up the night before the race and got good sleep. On race morning my legs felt great despite having run the 5k the day before and I felt like I hydrated adequately the week and night before. I lined up for the start feeling good. I will break my race down by halfs.
In summary, the front half went right as planned. I was aiming for a 1:35:00 first half and clocked in at 1:34:17. When I compare this race to my other top-3 marathons this was my second fastest front half. I ran the following splits: 7:14, 7:08, 7:14, 7:20, 7:20, 7:10, 7:08, 7:10, 7:12, 7:17, 7:12, 7:20, 7:17, & 7:25. Because of the warm temperatures, I was taking fluids every chance I could get including ice chips, iced down rags, and cooling down by dumping cups of water over me. I still felt good when I hit the halfway point and continued onto the back half. It is however slightly defeating to watch the Half-Marathon runners finish at the same spot you turn to keep going. I definitely like a full 26.2 mile course, like Chicago or NYC better.
The first four miles of the back half saw me still on pace, although my times began to fluctuate more. I began to slip at mile 18 and by mile 19 I was off pace and it would only get worse. I needed to walk for the first time during mile 19 and that trend would continue for every last mile. The heat was catching up to me and by that point, all the fluids in Buffalo couldn’t stop my downward spiral. Fortunately, I made it to mile 24 before cramping, but when I did finally cramp, I couldn’t move. In previous races, I would at least be able to do a slow walk with cramps but not for this race. I was frozen while my hamstrings cramped violently. After what seemed like forever, I was finally able to walk, then jog for the remaining few miles. I finished the back half with the following splits: 7:28, 7:13, 7:16, 7:26, 7:48, 8:05, 9:27, 9:47, 9:47, 9:37, 12:47, 9:32, 10:17. I finished the back half with my second slowest time compared to my other top-3 races.
So as you can tell it was a race with two different story lines. I finished in 3:33:38, 165th overall averaging an 8:10 pace. I was defeated by the heat, my body and also my mind. It took longer for me to recover from this race than other marathons previously and the next day I could not walk. I was so dehydrated that for two days after I was still cramping in my legs sporadically throughout the day. I then proceeded to get sick on Wednesday which made the hydration situation even worse. I’m starting to feel better now but I haven’t even thought about running since the race which is good because, mentally, I was defeated after that grueling run. With Chicago Marathon training officially underway for most, I need a break for both my body and mind. I will begin training for Chicago on Sunday, June 12th and will work my tail off trying to accomplish a new PR in Chicago this fall.
The Buffalo Marathon did an amazing job at taking extra measures to deal with the heat. Water stations were increased and they brought in trucks full of ice along with frozen towels, had hydrants opened and cooling stations were placed along the course. We were really impressed with how smoothly everything ran right from packet pick up. The only complaint that I can think of is the sizing of the women’s shirts, but the exchange was painless so it wasn’t a big deal.