Throwback: Earning Titanium at 2013 Self-Transcendence Marathon

A year ago I recapped some of the many marathons that led to my achievement of Titanium status in the Marathon Maniacs. This is the top level of the club and can be earned one of three different ways. I earned Titanium by running marathons in 30 different states in a 12 month period. My Titanium qualifier was the Self-Transcendence Marathon in Congers, New York in August 2013. I didn't blog about it at the time, so here's a throwback race report, which may have a few fuzzy details.

Finished Self-Transcendence, earning Titanium and New York!

Self-Transcendence was not originally supposed to be my Titanium race; it was my back-up race. I planned to earn Titanium at ET Full Moon Midnight Marathon in Nevada. But the week before ET, I had to drop to a shorter distance at the Wildcat Ridge Romp 50K in New Jersey. That meant that now I would finish this quest at Self-Transcendence. At first I wasn't sure about this race. It was put on by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, a person and an organization I'd not heard of, and seemed a little "hippy-dippy" for lack of a better description. Also, I was leery of its old-school website (it's a little better now than in 2013) with very little content, and its mail-in registration (no option to register online in 2013 or even now). I looked up previous years' race results and saw names of people I knew and trusted, so I figured the race must be legit. It was definitely legit; it just wasn't anything like what I was used to.

Our interesting weekend started with a Thursday evening drive to Suffern, New York to our hotel. Scot and I would be up early on Friday morning, an odd day for a race, for the Self-Transcendence marathon in nearby Congers at Rockland Lake State Park. The course would be 9 loops around the lake, which was a pretty setting. We knew some fellow Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon Club members who would be there. After parking the car, we walked a long way to the race-day packet pick-up and got our bibs. Then we re-parked the car much closer to the starting line. Just walking up to the lake, we got a taste of this different experience. There was pre-race yoga, and definitely some "hippy-dippy" types playing music on the sitar and similar instruments. Everyone was pretty mellow. At the same time, there was a huge international presence of endurance athletes, and I could tell that many people had done these Sri Chinmoy events before. A marathon was actually a short distance for them; they mostly put on ultras and multi-day stage races. Several of the international participants wore team shirts so you could tell where they came from. Lots of Europeans, and some Australians, among others. I knew this was going to be an interesting race.

Getting ready to start Self-Transcendence

We took a Maniac pre-race photo, and then we were off. We ran clockwise around the lake, with parts of the asphalt trail shaded, and some parts in direct sun. We always had a nice view of the lake, and there were a few minor rolling hills, but nothing difficult. We passed three (I think) aid stations around the lake, so we'd see these stations and these volunteers every lap. These were not ordinary aid stations; they had lots of good solid food and drinks that you find more at trail races and ultras. My favorites were orange juice and M&Ms. There was also dried seaweed, which provides some sodium; I was game to try it once or twice, but stopped taking the seaweed when it got stuck in my teeth. There were several musicians or bands along the lake loop, playing a variety of music, but not at all like what you'd find at a Rock 'n' Roll race, for example. It was a pretty serene experience.

On the course with Scot

Just because this was a mellow, laid-back marathon doesn't mean that it was easy. Having run for a couple months on my plantar fasciitis, I was in pain for this whole race. And I mostly ran alone, but at times I was with a fellow runner or two. I got a little bored with the multiple loops, which is not my favorite type of course. And I recall that Scot sustained an injury of some sort at this race, maybe to his calf. He was also in pain, But we finished, and I earned the status of Titanium in the Marathon Maniacs. There were a few Maniacs there to congratulate me and take some photos. Scot and I didn't have much to eat, even though there was supposedly a big vegetarian spread. We just wanted to get on to the next leg of our journey. The bling for this race was pretty basic: a small, simple medal, and a white cotton t-shirt. If you're looking for bling, this is not your race. If you're looking for a well-organized marathon with a unique vibe, give it a try.

And - finished!

After finishing Self-Transcendence, which was the first (and so far only) New York Marathon for both Scot and me, we drove to Stamford, Connecticut and checked into our hotel there. Our friend Ed had organized a marathon there for the following day, and we would be volunteering. It was the one-time only Cove Island Marathon and 8-Hour Run. We organized an informal dinner at a local pizzeria for the night before the race. Afterward Scot and I made a run to Target and to the liquor store to load up on snacks and beer for race day.

This low-key race was created solely for the purpose of providing an opportunity for some Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters to complete a full marathon in Connecticut. There aren't a lot of marathons in Connecticut; the most popular one is the Hartford Marathon in October. This was a chance to run in Connecticut in the summertime. Cove Island Park was a nice setting along Long Island Sound, and would be another multi-loop course. I was glad to be volunteering at this one instead of running it. There were a few glitches with the race logistics, but in the end, the crew pulled off a fun race and celebrated the following: several people got to check Connecticut off their states list, a young teenager got to finish his first marathon, we celebrated the birthdays of Maggie and George, and some folks got to run farther than they'd ever run, given that the marathon was also an 8-hour event. Above all, we had fun with friends on a beautiful day.

One of the start groups at Cove Island

Cove Island race crew: Scot, me, Ed, Diane, Mike

Yes, we had medals for Cove Island; Trent models his in this pic with Scot and me
I sat in the chair on the right to count laps and do other race things...not sure what everyone else is doing in this pic

The final leg of our weekend was on Sunday. Scot and I drove home via Hershey, Pennsylvania to visit his sister Angela. We went boating and picnicking with Angela and son Dustin, thus enjoying another day of leisure on a body of water, this time with family.

Dustin and Angela taking the boat to the lake

Fun in the shallow part with Scot, Dustin, Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo and Angela
Dustin was a very good rower


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