Syracuse Empire State Marathon

by Joanne on October 20, 2013

There were so many titles I could have named this post:

1. Three marathons back to back

2. Completion of Marathon Number 11

3.  My failed attempt at being super woman

4.  Deciding to run a marathon… in pain.

5.  One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.

Empire shirt medal

My thoughts long ago when I signed up for 3 marathons, back to back was that one would be my key run for the fall, one (Chicago) would be slow, enjoyable, and celebratory because I was running for the first time with my husband, and finally the third was going to be a run for the finish to A. Get into Marathon Maniacs (qualify by running 3 marathons in 90 days) and B. To see if I could actually run faster than my first fall marathon (Rochester). 

Well, I’m not super woman and my body doesn’t do miraculous things so by the time I got to marathon number three, I was spent, mentally and physically.  You see, I knew Chicago would be slow and easy so I thought a third marathon wouldn’t be difficult.  What I DID’NT count on that being on the road for 26.2 miles, 2 hours long than I’m used to would take tremendous toll on my body.

I went into Syracuse Empire State Marathon with a painful hip and hamstring but with an even more painful foot.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the foot pain is plantar fasciitis.  Because of this pain, I was seriously considering not running, avoiding any additional injury which might take me off the road for an extended period of time.

When we picked up my race packet and saw the shirt, I said “I’m running”.  I LOVE this shirt and wouldn’t wear it if I didn’t try to run.


It’s so red, colorful and, well, happy Laughing out loud

I was still questioning my decision on Saturday since walking around the house was painful without soft soled shoes. *I’m big on bare feet around the house and hate wearing slippers or shoes. Guess I think it makes my feet stronger. Sunday morning, I got up at 4:30 to eat before the 7:30 am start, and wondered about my decision.  It would have been easy to go back to bed. I knew if we were out of town there wouldn’t be any question about running: came this far, just do it,  attitude.   But I was at home, no additional expense so backing out would be easy.

We parked at NBT Stadium at the starting line.  This is a small marathon, in it’s 3rd year, so parking and starting were one in the same.  It was windy and cold. VERY windy. The cold went away after we got moving, at least for me.

EMpire start

The race started and I couldn’t hit my goal pace.  I reminded myself there was not supposed to be a goal pace and this was simply a run to the finish, no worry about time since I needed to manage my pain over trying to run to achieve something most likely impossible. I was on and off with this thought through the race and it eventually came down to just wanting to cross the finish line under 4 hours.

It was tough and not due to a painful body but rather an unwilling mind.  The mental desire just wasn’t there today.  I struggled through every mile.

The foot pain went away once I began to run. The hamstring and hip pain were with me but didn’t get any worse, just nagged.  I had a knee issue for about a mile between 13 1/2 and 14.  Once I got off the road camber, it went away. 

The wind was an issue.  It seemed to blow right at us for the majority of the race.  The hills were tiring from miles 10 1/2 through 18.  By the time we entered Onondaga Lake Park for the final 6 miles, I was spent and walked through the water stations. The other issue was the lack of crowd support.  The only people cheering us on were the few that tended the water stations. Two points along the course I thought this was no better than running my 20 milers ALONE.

The course wasn’t very pretty, only going out along the lake and coming back along the lake. There wasn’t much food at the finish and no one was handing out Mylar sheets, you had to grab your own if you wanted one.  There is one more issue with this marathon that I didn’t like:  they didn’t post correspondence or updates on their site and even Facebook was a bit lacking in updates.

Ted got a little worried when I didn’t come in at my usual time.  While I was on the course, he had gone to see his brother and the cats.


The last mile was a struggle.  Once again I didn’t attribute it to pain but I was tired, physically, mentally.  I decided that instead of giving into walking, I would do sprints then walk a little.  This was after watching my pace go from an 8:55 to 8:57 to 8:58.  When I saw the finish line around the corner, I kept running for a stronger finish. 

Empire Finish

No cramping. No pain manifested itself.  I felt ok. I finished under 4 hours which, while not my best, not my worst is very acceptable to me. Third in my age group at 3:57:59 GUN TIME, AND 3:57:40 NET TIME…eking by Thumbs up(14 in age group.  522 marathon finishers. )

Yes, I will request membership in to the Maniacs


and NO, I will NEVER do three consecutive marathons again…no matter how much I like the medal and the shirt.

Empire stuff

This was my version of an “ultra”.  I really don’t know how those folks do it!  50 miles, 100 miles in one day…I can’t imagine.

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  • At 2013.10.20 18:44, misszippy1 said:

    Joanne–I was expecting to see a 5-hr. marathon from the way you led into this. I think you’re pretty incredible! There’s no way my body could handle all that. And I KNOW I couldn’t do it mentally. So hats off to you for your hat trick! Now rest, rest, and rest!

    • At 2013.10.21 09:46, Joanne said:

      Thanks. I’m trying to look forward to some time off but something inside wants to keep going. Lucky for me, Ted is beating me down with a stick and saying “RELAX!”.
      I’m really looking forward to your marathon recap next month. I think you’re going to break some records 🙂

    • At 2013.10.20 19:58, Bonnie said:

      Mental toughness doesn’t even begin to describe this accomplishment. How you managed with the exhaustion and pain and still ended up under 4 hours is remarkable. I love that the beautiful shirt became an incentive!

      • At 2013.10.21 09:47, Joanne said:

        It’s amazing how a new shirt or a new pair of sneaks can motivate me. 🙂 I’m too easy. Thanks for your comment.

      • At 2013.10.20 21:10, Ryan Orilio said:

        I ran today too, and I was also disappointed with the crowd support and the finish line…. I might do this race again, but only if the weather cooperates a little better…

        • At 2013.10.21 09:49, Joanne said:

          Congratulations! If it wasn’t for the wind, the day would have been 100% perfect. Running against the wind for so long is like running up a hill the entire way. It takes it’s toll but WE DID IT! YAY!

        • At 2013.10.21 08:57, Ali @ Peaches and Football said:

          I have no idea how you did three marathons but I agree – that red race shirt is probably the prettiest shirt I’ve EVER seen. I LOVE it!!!!!

          I always feel bad about the people cheering for the runners. Everyone is super-enthusiastic in the beginning (when it’s the elite runners who probably don’t need as much cheering anyway) and by the time the normal people cruise by, everyone is tired of cheering. I know when we cheer on Alex I try and keep cheering but the constant clapping makes your hand hurt. I’m such a wimp!

          MAJOR MAJOR congrats on finishing all three! You are a marathon rockstar!

          • At 2013.10.21 09:51, Joanne said:

            You are so right Alison. I thought the very same thing when I was in Chicago, on the course for so long. The crowd gets a little quieter, except for the folks waiting for family/friends, the aide stations begin to clean up…it’s too bad. I didn’t realize how fortunate I have been with my completion times and how much LESS stress it takes on the body to do those runs faster. 🙂

          • At 2013.10.21 09:15, Donna said:

            you are surely a Marathon Maniac in every sense of the term….congratulations!
            ps-I had Plantar Fascitis 20+ years ago from too much jumping while teaching high impact aerobics, I used to put my foot on an ice pack when I got home. very painful. First thing in the morning, getting out of bed was the worst. Of course R.I.C.E. doesn’t work when you are a fitness instructor or a marathon maniac like yourself. I still have slight pain when I overdo the jumping jacks in classes. just take it easy…maybe power walking for awhile.
            I am proud of you!

            • At 2013.10.21 09:53, Joanne said:

              Thanks Donna. This is the first time I’ve had any kind of serious pain in my feet and what makes it even worse is that it goes away when I run but is there when I walk. Odd 🙁 It doesn’t “zing” me when I get out of bed which is why I really didn’t think it was plantar fasciitis. But now I have knee pain for the first time ever… if I want to keep running, I guess I had better back off a bit.

            • At 2013.10.21 12:05, Heather said:

              I saw the title of this post and thought “there’s no way she did another full marathon!?”. lol.
              The mental races are the absolute toughest of all. Good for you for powering through. Hope you celebrated!!

              • At 2013.10.22 14:27, Tina@GottaRunNow said:

                Congrats on so much: 11th marathon, third place, the great finish time of this one! Next, you’ll probably actually run a 50 miler!

                • At 2013.10.23 03:04, CCU said:

                  Congratulations my friend so much, this is a massive achievement 😀
                  Running like this is amazing!


                  • At 2013.10.24 23:02, Mary said:

                    From the way you started this post I didn’t think I was going to read that you finished the race, but you did, and third in your age group! You really earned that beautiful shirt, and more important, that Marathon Maniac membership. I’m glad your husband is getting you to rest, I’m sure you do the same for him when he needs it. If you stretch that foot every morning before you get up and every night at bedtime it will help keep plantar fasciitis at bay. I just took a week off of skating (except for one day) while traveling and it’s been very good for me, my right TFL was getting inflamed and my leg needed the rest.

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