Thursday, August 27, 2009

Self Transcendence Marathon at Rockland Lake 2009

There are only three winners:
The one who Competes with himself,
The one who Crosses the finish line first
And the one who Finishes the race
--Šri Činmoj
Here is a picture that my dad took as I finished this race. So far this year my dad has been with me at two events (Rock and Roll Marathon in Arizona) and the Self Transcendence Marathon. He has seen me finish only one of the two because I predicted my time would be between 5-6 hours. Clearly I need to alter my prediction to 4:50 to 5:50 because that time range would have incorporated my finish time in both events. This event my dad showed up early to pace me a lap. By the end he was winded and tired. And yesterday and today during phone calls he has mentioned how sore he is (after running just 3 miles--he needs to toughen up!!!).

The self-transcendence marathon is a very cute, well-run, low key marathon. And it doesn't hurt that it is only a 10 minute ride from my Dad's house.

This past Monday I hopped a train ride from DC to Newark Liberty Airport where my dad picked me up. After one errand on our way to his house, we arrived at the house I grew up. A few observations about this:

1) My dad does not use air conditioning (not in the house or in the car) and it was moderately warm. Luckily I am heat trained.

2) My dad has roped off half his backyard so his lawn service doesn't mow it. Why didn't he do this years ago when my sister and I were responsible for mowing the lawn?

3) My dad owns about 20 fitted sheets and only 2 flat sheets for twin beds. In Tristan and my household the elastic fails after several years giving us the opposite problem. Since I was only staying one night, I was relegated to sleeping on top of the bed with a flat sheet above me and a flat sheet over me. It was very similar to a hostel-in fact the lack of air and weird bedding made the accomodations very hostel-like.

Upon getting to my dad's house sent me to the garage. I was hoping for a new car, a treadmill he would ship to me, a new bike. But alas it was a rabbit, which was pretty cool. But the rabbit, Bugsy is a neighbor's which my dad was petsitting. Apparently my dad wants the rabbit to come out of it's cage and wander around the garage (and the door is always open) but the rabbit sits contently on it's litter box most of the time.

After straightening out the flat sheet fiasco and a quick shower (which another comment is that my dad does not use fabric softener and he hangs his cloths out to dry...this means towels are very rough. I feel I exfoliated for the year when I dried off!) and confirming with my ride that I was in New City, I headed to bed.

At 5:15 a.m. I got up and started getting ready for my marathon. I inadvertantly forgot contact solution but it was my lucky day and I got my contacts in in one try, go me! Getting dressed was easy as this was "only a marathon" and now that I use drymax socks I do not need to spend 30 minutes on my feet. In fact after the marathon, my dad and I went to ice cream and my dad commented on how nice my feet and toenails looked. I mentioned my drymax socks are the best investment ever!

At about 6:15, my friend Steve from kickrunners picked me up.

I knew at the race I would many friends including some kickrunners and blog-friends: Steve, Frank, Staci, Linda etc. During the race I was pleased to run into many of my running friends from kickrunners, marathon maniacs and the 50 states club: Mama Jean, Elliot, Henry, Larry M., Ed C. among others. It was great to catch up with so many friends and meet so many new friends.

After packet/bib pickup and a brief visit to the restrooms, I walked to the starting line. While waiting for the start (which was a bit late) I had the chance to chat briefly with Mama Jean. After a moment of silence/meditation, we were informed the race was about to start. One of the really neat things about this race was that the "starting gun" was a gentleman blowing a conch shell. It was a really interesting way to start the race.

The race was 8.75 laps around the ~3 mile loop around Rockland lake. When I was a kid, my family would walk or bike around this lake fairly regularly and I thought it was so far. But alas I now have longer legs and better endurance. Along the asphalt recreation path we ran there were a variety of Sri Chinmoy disciples playing a variety of instruments. There were sitar players, drummers, accordian players, drigible players, young ladies singing/chanting, a gentlemen reading from a scripture. For most of each lap you would not go much more than 400 or 600 meters without having someone singing, reading or playing an instrument. And by the start/finish line there were musicians every 200-300 feet. It was very relaxing and peaceful.

And in retrospect I think some of these musicians also served dual roles as massage artists during the race. Later in the race one of the sitar players was massaging a runners legs. Next year I might try to figure out how to get a massage mid-race, because that would be alot of fun.

I started the race with some of my kickrunner friends including Steve (my ride) and Stacey (Divaleh). We ran several miles together and chatted about a variety of subjects. At some point I decided to move a little faster because I wanted to minimize my running in the heat of the day and I wanted to ensure I could spend a bit of time hanging out with my dad.

After my first lap, I called both my dad (to tell him my progress 10-11 minute mile pace and a few minute delay in the start) and Tristan. My dad suggested he would come over around 11 in the morning after he finished some chores since he had picked me up from the airport coming off a 5 day trip to the Jersey Shore.

The next several laps I continued my 10-11 minute mile pace and chatted with many different runners. There were so many different accents. Many folks were on holiday from Europe, Australia and Asia thus the race had a very international flavor. And all the runners were very nice and polite.

The aid stations included regular marathon food (cytomax, watermelon, bagels, M&M's, banana's, etc.) every mile or so. And the main aid station near the start/finish had Seaweed. I had heard of this food based on others blogs and race reviews so it was not unexpected. I will suggest Seaweed is an acquired taste. It was a bit chewy and salty. The volunteers were very nice and really encouraged the munching on Seaweed suggesting it would make you stronger or run faster. I am not sure this is true but each lap until I developed sour stomach about 20 miles into the race I would take my little cup of Seaweed.

My middle laps were fairly uneventful. While we were running the same course over and over and over and over again, I never felt bored. The musicians, other runners (both those I was running with and those who lapped me) kept me entertained and occupied. Early in the race we had extensive shade and the 1/4th of each lap that was sunny was not too bad. As the race progressed I think I was not the only runner who dreaded the exposed sections of the course. I think by the time I finished the temperature was in the mid/upper 80's, so it was quite toasty. But there were plenty of aid stations and many real restroom facilities to get water to cool down.

As I ran the course I started lapping people. I knew to look out for several friends but some friends I stumbled on were a complete suprise. I saw Larry M. (who I probably have run 15 marathons with and have the VT50 km coming up in Sept), Henry and Elliott (from the DE marathon), Mama Jean (from the 24 hour race around the lake in 2006 and several MD marathons), Ed C (from Rocky Raccoon). I was lapped by Frank C about 4 laps in and we chatted briefly. He was looking really strong and having a great race. As I caught up with folks I recognized I would tend to slow down a bit to chat and catch up. It was so nice to talk with Jean, who is planning to run her 69th marathon on her 69th birthday later this year. Ed C asked for some advice about ultra-running and I suggested it was a brutal day (which it was) at this marathon, so he shouldn't get discouraged. Larry and I chatted about upcoming races and he suggested I could successfully run the VT50 miler, but I just don't want the pressure of the very stringent cutoffs for the 50 miler. Both Henry and I and Elliot and I spent a bit of time trying to figure out which races we knew each other from. Considering we all have well over 50 marathons, this became difficult and in fact I suspect we did not completely determine which marathons we had seen each other. Overall it was a great day for seeing and catching up with my friends.

Perhaps because of too much seaweed or perhaps because of the heat, I ended up getting a sour stomach about 6 laps into the race. I was a bit concerned I would have a bojangles experience (read my report RE: Umstead in 2009 for this code) or else I would be puking. I was not looking forward to either experience if they occurred. I called Tristan during this time for some sympathy and to tell him of my plight. I also called him because I wanted to have some encouraging words if I did puke. During the IronGirl a few days prior, Tristan, his mom and step dad were waiting for me to finish. As a runner came along several hundred meters from the finish she apparently stopped, threw up then continued jogging. A spectator was heard to say:

"Way to puke and rally"

That's the kind of encouragement I was thinking I might need. Luckily my stomach seemed to settle down when I stopped munching on Seaweed, although I did stop munching on nearly everything so perhaps it was just too hot and my stomach did not want food.

As I finished my 5th lap, I called my dad to tell him of my progress and to arrange where we would meet up. I ended up suggesting the boat ramp parking lot where we always parked when I was a kid. He suggested he would arrive at 11 a.m. and oddly enough I was finishing my 7th lap about that time, so just had to go a few hundred meters to meet up with him.

When I finished lap 7 and started my 8th lap, I called my dad to inform him of my progress. As I rounded the bend for that section of the loop I was pleasantly suprised to run into Ed C. who I had caught up to earlier in the race. We chatted and caught up. It was great to see Ed. Finally we made it to the boat launch area and my dad was there taking pictures. After he finished, he put the camera in the car and caught up to Ed and I. We jogged together and chatted about Rocky Raccoon 50, Umstead and running in general. At some point Ed decided he needed to resume his pace so my dad and I continued on alone. We chatted about the race and how it was progressing.

It was pretty hot but initially my dad had more spring in his step then I did (fresh legs!). So I scurried along. I told him to expect to see musicians along the course, which I think he found to be interesting. One of the Sitar players was not playing her instrument but was massaging a runner. I pointed out to my dad this (both the musicians and mid-race massages) were unusual. As we continued on we passed by the numerous aid station. I offered my dad some water from my bottle and some cytomax. He seemed content to just take a sip of water now and again. I am glad he did not ask to inspect my bottle because I am not convinced it does not have some mold! As we approached the start/finish line I told him about the seaweed but did not take any

Later while waiting for me to complete my final lap apparently he did ask the volunteers if it was okay that he have some raisins...the volunteer handed the little cup of seaweed to him and said, "Sure you can have some seaweed" apparently my dad felt bad about rejecting it so ate the little bit of seaweed but was disappointed it was not raisins.

My dad continued running with me until we got to his car. At that point I dropped him as a pacer. We split up and I continued my lap and he got a magazine and his camera. The final lap was pretty uneventful for me. It was getting quite hot and my stomach continued to be a bit unhappy. Each time I came alongside a friend, if we were in the shade, I would slow down to their pace, which was nice.

I passed the young ladies playing the keyboard and singing, then the young ladies playing the xylophone. Finally I passed by the gentleman playing the sitar and the gentleman drummers and I knew there were less than 400 meters to the finish. I continued jogging and approaching the finish line I see my dad. Unlike the Rock and Roll Marathon in Arizona he does get to see me finish. Sadly I have very little pep in my step as it is hot and I am tired. But I finish.

I still do not know my time but suspect it is around 5 hours.

After I finish and grab a drink and bite to eat, my dad and I walk the course backwards. We cheer on the runners and I introduce him to my friends Larry, Jean, Henry, Steve, Stacey, Elliot and Ed. Overall I had a great time and really enjoyed the race. I definitely will be back in the future.

After walking backwards on the course for nearly a lap, my dad and I drive a mile or so to the firehouse on the hill. We then walk about a mile on a state park recreation trail to the Hudson River. We sit by the river for a bit, then all to soon it is time to head home. After a quick shower, a trip to Wally's for ice cream and a brief visit to the local library we head to the train station. My trip home is a bit interesting in that we are sent from the Newark airport station to Newark Penn Station to catch the Amtrak train only to have the train I did catch stop at the Newark Airport station. It is an odd experience. But finally I get to Washington Union Station and then I am able to get on the Red line metro to Shady Grove. Tristan kindly picks me up from the metro station and about midnight (~16 hours after I got up), I get home and fall into bed exhausted.


rundangerously said...

great report tammy!

it was such much fun to see you out there on tuesday - one more person playing hooky from work!

personally, i like my seaweed wrapped around sliced fish, as in sushi :D

the sri chinmoy team put on another great event. it had an overwhelmingly international turnout for a low key event!


Runner Tammy said...


It was great to see you before, during and as you were finishing the race on Tuesday. It was alot of fun to play hooky.

I will definitely add this race to my list of races for the future. I really liked all the encouraging spectators and of course all the restrooms with running water.


Carolina John said...

great report tammy! sounds like a fun race.

joyRuN said...

Congrats on another marathon, Tammy.

"Just" another marathon - whew! So awesome you ran into so many friends while there.

Runner Tammy said...


Thanks! The marathon was great fun and I think good for both superfast runners and more leisurely runners like myself.


Marathoning is alot of fun. I find it a great way to meet people and catch up with friends. I am definitely looking forward to meeting you at Richmond. Just over 3 months to go....


Mike C-NJ said...

Hi Tammy, Congrats to you too. You are a brave woman partaking in the lake seaweed. Great report.

Larry L said...

Great report, Tammy! Oh, to have sitar music and a massage during every marathon... Very nice that your dad was able to join-in as well as see your finish. Sorry he didn't get his raisins!

Still planning on running MCM in October? We met at Death Valley in December and it would be fun to say "hi" during another race.

Take care!


Runner Tammy said...


Either I am brave or foolish. I figured to get thne full self transcendence experience I had to try out all of the stuff they offered. Although I ended up not taking the potassium (I think that is what one of the volunteers called it) because I am pretty sure it is not regulated by the FDA and might be a bit harmful.


Death Valley was alot of fun. I am signed up for it again this year. What about you???

The whole experience at the marathon was a lot of fun. It is so different then MCM, Disney or the large marathons, but it had such a positive vibe and everyone really was so friendly...both runners and volunteers.

CTmarathoner said...

Tammy --belated congrats on your sri chimnoy marathon!! I have always wanted to do this seaweed marathon.
Frank said you took some good pix also...sounds like you are busy but will check back to see if you posted the photos.

thannhausen said...

inspiration article.

Richard / Germany

Anonymous said...

I found your site while googling this marathon -- I really want to sign up for it in 2010!! Glad to hear that you had a great experience :-)