Saturday was packet pickup. I took my time making my way out there. I checked the race site as my son and I moseyed into the car around 2:30ish pm. The expo closed at 3pm! And it was 45 minutes away! 3:00 - 2:30 = 30 minutes + 45 minutes = drive fast. We raced to St. Joseph's College in Patchogue and arrived at the expo at 3:09. Vendors were packing their cars and trucks. I asked if they were still handing out packets, and luckily they were. I took this as a good omen for the next day's race. The Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC), the race organizers, have always been runner friendly so I didn't expect to be sent away, anyway. I got my bib and noticed there must have been hundreds of others still in the boxes. I figured it was going to be a small race field.
That night I ate Southwestern salmon from Trader Joe's (yum!) and Japanese rice with soy sauce. I figured the rice would bind me up and not cause any bathroom emergencies mid-run. I went to bed relatively early (10:30am) and set my alarm for 5:30am. When I woke up, I felt surprisingly refreshed. Surprisingly because I hardly ever wake up feeling like that. I'm always the one hitting the snooze button while cursing the sun and whoever else invented morning. I put on bicycle shorts to prevent any chafing (which has been a common occurrence lately) and a bright orange singlet. I made sure to pop a couple of generic Imodiums and headed out the door. Once I got on the Southern State Parkway, I realized I had forgotten my earbuds. I had enough time to go back home and grab them, as long as I didn't get caught up in any traffic. Well, traffic caught up with me about a mile from the Heckscher State Park entrance. The cars were crawling while state troopers sped alongside in the emergency lanes. After seeing all the bibs that hadn't been picked up at the expo, I was shocked to see the volume of cars on the road. I thought for sure there was a major accident ahead. Thankfully, there was not. I was directed to park in Field #2, used the non-porta potty, and then jogged 3/10s of a mile to the starting line.
There were hundreds of people milling about as the official GLIRC emcee made the usual announcements in his usual friendly, upbeat manner. The half marathoners lined up on one side of the road, while the full marathoners were on the other. We listened to a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then were off on time. The skies were clear and the temperature was in the 70s. I quickly felt the humidity, however.
The first couple of miles were in the park and along Sunrise Highway. We then went through some local neighborhoods where there was plenty of crowd support, to my surprise. I skipped the first couple of water stations, but hit almost every one afterwards because of the 83% humidity. At 83% a little rain shower would have been nice. Hello!? I was running between 8:00 minute miles, with a couple of 7:45s thrown in for variety. Around Mile 5 I saw a glorious misting tent which I ran through disappointingly, as it turned out to be more of a warm spitting tent. We ran through the Suffolk campus of my alma mater, St. John's University. I cheered the lead runner as he blew past us on the out and back. He looked very casual and nonchalant, as though he were "jogging" an easy 3. Before the turn around, a group of Dowling College students were high-5ing the runners reminding me of the Boston College kids on Patriot's Day. On the way back, I ran "with"a couple of women. I would pass one of them, then stop for water. They would then pass me, but not for long. I would get ahead again until the next water stop. The course led us through a botanical garden before getting back on Sunrise Highway for the home stretch into Heckscher Park. At this point, I passed the two ladies for the last time. They didn't pass me again.
I crossed the finish line at 1:47:03, 5 minutes slower than my PR, but decent for a tempo run. I grabbed two ice cold water bottles and ran back to the car. My socks were soaked. I did a few boring laps around the parking lot so I ended up with 16 miles to round out my last "long" run. I finished 4th out of 162 (top 2%) in my age group and 182nd out of 2033 (top 8%) overall. By the looks of most of the finishing times, it was a slow day.