Category Archives: Community Events

Dear Cyclists

We’ve had a bit of a rough summer here in Vermont, with three fatalities already following car versus bike. Two were alcohol related and one was speed related. All have heightened the intensity of conversations about what it really means to share the road. Some people are blaming the cyclists; from what I understand of these three accidents, this is wholly inappropriate. All three were experienced riders, wearing helmets and following traffic laws. All three drivers were incredibly irresponsible and totally out of control of their 3000 pound vehicles.

The impact of all of this is that many of us, both runners and riders, are feeling a little skittish about being on the roads. Last weekend, Will and I talked about going for a bike ride and then decided we just didn’t feel comfortable given the current climate. It was also a topic of conversation in the OR this week; one person stated that she won’t ride anywhere but the bike path now. Another said he’s been riding more, almost in homage to the three riders who passed away.

I am a fervent supporter of safe running, biking and whatever other person powered movement you want to engage in, but with that said, I am also LIVID at some of the behavior I witness as a driver and as a runner. The saying “one bad apple” comes to mind and although I think most of the cyclists in town are fantastic, I have two enormous pet peeves that I just need to get off my chest.

1. The Surpriser. He comes up behind you silently either on the road (why he’s riding against traffic is another issue) or on the bike path and without saying a word either pushes you off into traffic as he passes or scares the life out of you as he blows by. Related to this is the peloton of who come upon you at 40 miles an hour or the person who yells “On Your Right!” If you’re on the bike path, ride a reasonable speed to accommodate all the other people using the path and pass on the left. Passing on the left is such a convention that when I start to hear someone speak, I automatically move to the right. Following this convention keeps everyone safe; I don’t jump in front of oncoming bikes and you don’t hit me as you pass on the right.

2. The “I’m a Car No Now I’m a Pedestrian.” Pick one. You are either operating as a vehicle or as a pedestrian. You cannot invoke the privileges of both as it is most convenient. I see this most often at stop lights and on cross walks. If you are on the sidewalk (which, by the way, is not allowed in Burlington), stop at the Pedestrian Cross, dismount and wait for your turn to cross. If you are on the road, it is 100% not acceptable to blast through the red light that all the other cars had to stop at. I see this at stop signs all the time as well; cars dutifully stop and wait their turn while bikes blast through. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve almost been hit by a bike while running as I cross an intersection when it’s my turn as a bike blows a red light to turn across the cross walk.

We are all responsible for sharing the road and most of us use the road in different ways throughout our week. When we are drivers, we need to be aware, drive the speed limit and give as much space as we can to other users of the road. As cyclists, we need to ride single file, follow traffic signs, wear bright clothing and lights and generally use common sense. As runners, we need to do much the same. Anger over cyclists trickles down; one bad experience as a driver makes it more dangerous for the next cyclist or runner.

Sharing the road is every single person’s responsibility.

Race Report: 10th Annual Montpelier Mile

Alternate Title: Years of marathon training do NOT prepare you for a road mile.

I made the last minute decision to run the Montpelier Mile instead of Clarence DeMar earlier in the week, in some part because I wanted a new experience and in some part because there was a lot of cash on the line. Regarding the latter, I should learn that if in any other year I would have won going away, assume that if I’m there, at least four other faster women will show up. Sarah Luck. Anyway, with a $15 entry fee and the opportunity to race through my hometown in front of tons of people, I signed up to donate my lungs to the streets of Montpelier.

Since I’ve never raced a road mile and my last 1500 meter run was literally in the 90s, Will and I hit the track on Wednesday to try to calibrate me for a 5:30 mile. My job was to run 3 200s in 41 seconds. I was not successful. The first was a 36, the second a 39 and the third a 38. Eff it, we’ll do it live.

I will admit to being incredibly nervous. I spent most of yesterday worrying about how to approach the race. I realize that the plan is to run as fast you can for a mile but I worried that I’d either go out too fast and suffer for 300 meters or go out too slow and run out of real estate. The course was set up well with two turns and a round-about. The best part, however, were the crowds. I’ve never run a race with so many people out to cheer us on! Brilliant to have the race just before the parade.

I didn’t wear a watch because the course wasn’t marked, so I have no idea what my splits were. There is a “Dash for Cash” built in for the first 400 so I just tried to stay clear of all the people sprinting for that line. The top 4 women (of which I was a part) were all within steps of each other at the 400 meter mark but a high school girl (she’ll come back into play later) got there first then as we rounded the turn, dropped back quickly. I had my eyes on Christina’s back (ok, her braid, it’s swingy and easy to watch) and the woman in 2nd but was just trying to stay calm. Just before the Roundabout and 800 meter mark, I heard my godparents cheering. As I moved around the Roundabout, people were dropping back quickly and I actually felt pretty good. Somewhere in here, however, Christina and 2nd Woman got away from me. I’m not sure if I was slowing down or they were speeding up but I lost contact big time.

My original plan was to round the last corner and kick for home, which seemed like a lovely plan when I was talking it out with Will. When it came time, however, I rounded the corner and wanted to die. The finish banner was SO SO SO FAR AWAY. And by so far away, I mean 400 meters. I just tried to keep it together but my legs were done with the idea of a mile. As we closed in on the finish, suddenly the high school girl from the start was back and before I could respond, we were over the line. 5:31 for her (and $125) and 5:32 and $0 for me.

To say I spent the first few minutes (like 30 minutes) seriously effing pissed is an understatement. I actually took my singlet off and threw it. Dramatic. I don’t know why I expected to have an amazing mile in the middle of a 70 mile training week, after years as a marathoner but somehow I did. I was more frustrated that instead of staying focused and kicking it in, I just let someone by me in the last 10 feet. Yes, the prize money would have been nice but I was (and am) more frustrated that I didn’t fight all the way to the line. Definitely a race lesson that I need to learn and improve upon…

All in all, it was a great experience to race a totally different distance and I’d actually like to continue to do more short races, both because it hurts in a completely different way (I mean seriously, what’s with the lung pain?) and because it forces me to be razor-focused from the start. I’m already looking forward to the next track meet to keep honing my speed skills!

2nd Annual MMU Cougar Chase 5K

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

One of the great parts of a cross country race is that it’s unlike any other course and instead of focusing on matching your road 5K PR, you can just let go and try to run the best race you can with the conditions of the day. In hosting the Cougar Chase, the hope is that we can share a bit of the magic of cross country while doing our annual team fundraiser. We set it up as a chase with women heading out 3 minutes ahead of the men to try to set up great sprints to the finish and stoke some inter-team competitiveness.

Last year’s top woman was Kate Leugers in 19:54, holding off Derrek Schulz in 17:10 (20:10 clock time).

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

This year, the prizes are shaping up to be AMAZING, with a pair of shoes for the top three finishers (male or female, whoever gets to the line first). Huge thanks to Skechers, Fleet Feet and SkiRack for the donations so far!

If you’re local, the race is July 18th at 8:30 and 8:33 am at Mills Riverside Park in Jericho. Entry fee is $10 and all proceeds benefit MMU Cross Country. We are in desperate need of new uniforms this year and will be using our funds for that!

Online Entry or Day-Of Entry from 7:15 am to 8:00 am.

Facebook Event

Facebook Page

 

Race Report: GMAA Mini Meet 3K

GMAA started hosting these mini-meets last year and I never managed to get to one so I made a pact to try to make all of them this year both to work on my speed and to get a chance to keep working on my pre-race nerves. I went into this race hoping to run around 11 minutes for the 3K. However, 20 mile per hour winds from the Southwest and 80 degree temperatures decided that none of us were moving that fast. I even had a moment while rounding the first curve where a gust knocked me off balance and I stutter-stepped not to fall over the rail.

Having never raced a 3K and been away from any kind of track race for 15 years, I barely remembered how to do it. I ended up not wearing spikes because they hurt my feet on the warmup so found myself on the 200 line in my trainers, surrounded by men. Literally. There was one other woman in the race. Kasie yelled go and we were off. The lead pack of men shot off and I was left by myself to work through the 7 1/2 laps. I kept my eyes on the guy in red ahead of me and just tried to focus through the first half of the race.

The first 1000 passed without much drama and by the beginning of the third lap, I’d closed the gap on red shirt. When I went to go around him, he fought a bit so I jumped behind him instead since we had plenty of the race left. After sitting on him for about 600 meters, he started to fade and I passed with confidence. With two laps to go, I focused on keeping my form together and tried to pick it up. At the bell lap, things got a little crowded as Eli and Binney were finishing while I was lapping a runner. I ended up squeaking through on the rail but put my elbow out so I wouldn’t get stepped on. Sorry Pascal! The last lap was hard but I still felt like my form held together. I crossed in 11:20, a little frustrated with the time but happy with the effort.

All in all, a fun way to get a hard effort in. I can’t wait for the next meet in July! Thanks to GMAA for a great idea.

When was the last time you raced on the track?

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!

 

Week in Review 5.25.15 to 5.31.15

First adaptation week done! This week was a pretty amazing week of running, helped in part by the night shift schedule that meant that I could do my runs first thing in the morning, rather than after a day of work. It was quite hot and humid (until today), so I also had the opportunity to do some summer adaptation!

Monday: 5.4 mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 6.7 mile run with Joe and Carl early morning with ridiculous humidity.

Wednesday: 7.4 mile hill workout. 86 degrees when I started! 7 by 45 seconds hard. Definitely felt much smoother this week although the heat was hard to deal with. Legs afterward.

Thursday: 5 mile recovery run.

Friday: 6.7 mile run with Prerace Shakeout. Arms afterward.

Saturday: Maybe the warmest (and slowest?) 5K of my life; 20:30 at the Craft Beer 5K. Such a fun day and great way to get my workout in. Winning a giant stein and Fastest Team was fun too!

Sunday: 12 mile long run in 48 degrees and rainy…Mother Nature is a little confused.

Total Miles: 50

Total May Miles: 234

Back up to normal mileage (low 60s) for this coming week. One of my biggest goals is to get my right hip to feel better; it’s been extremely tight and sometimes sore for a while now and I need to get a handle on it before harder workouts pick up. I think it takes a lot more of the workload than it should because of double surgeries on my left leg. To get things back to comfortable, the plan is:

a) Balance. Straight leg and bent leg balance on both sides to strengthen my hips and hopefully redistribute the load of running more evenly.

b) Stretch. Partner (aka Will) stretch the hamstrings, internal rotators and hip flexors. We spent 20 minutes on this this morning and it already felt better so I’ll be doing this routine twice a day until things loosen up.

c) Postural Restoration. I’ve been insanely lucky to have informal PT support from a team parent trained in Postural Restoration and over the years, he’s given me great exercises to do when I start to feel tight so I’ll be doing this routine again pre-run.

The other thing I’ll be experimenting with is trying to get my knees lifting a little higher. I am and likely will always be primarily a shuffler but if I’m going to get faster, I knee better knee lift. Before and after my runs, I’ll be starting to quick march for 30 seconds. I’ve had some success with this for other runners so I’m hoping it will help me too!

Finally, since I was on nights this week, I had a chance to do a little more internet reading between admissions. Here are the three things I found most interesting:

When track athlete Madison Holleran took her life last year, people felt that it was out of the blue in part because of a rosy image portrayed on social media. This article and its followup piece are a critical reminder for all of us that what we see online (and often what we choose to project) is not completely accurate. This is an issue that I continue to worry about as a coach and one that I’m still working on ways to address with my own athletes.

Speaking of young athletes, Mary Cain appears to have taken a break from NOP. I truly hope she’s okay and not injured or burnt out, but there is a large part of me that things that if she had only followed a more conservative trajectory, she wouldn’t be underperforming (for her) and now missing the outdoor track season.

Finally, it seems that strength training can give you 5K gains that just running cannot. I definitely agree that lifting is an enormously overlooked part of distance running, so I’m looking forward to trying to incorporate these findings into my coaching for the fall (since a huge number of my team are around 21:00 and 20:15 would be a whole different kettle of fish!)

Race Report: Falmouth 4 Miler 2015

Long story short, this was not one of my favorite race experiences. From a very stressful pre-race experience to a course that was anything but flat, I didn’t leave yesterday with a lot of good feelings about racing or my progress.

I left Lewiston at 7:00 am, plenty of time to make the trip to Falmouth, collect my bib and warm up. When I arrived in Falmouth, however, there was no signage for the race near the address provided and I spent 25 minutes driving around deserted neighborhoods and Falmouth High School trying to find the start. Finally, I saw runners warming up and followed them back to the well-hidden community park. Granted, this was more of a community event, but any signage would have been much appreciated. I finally parked and got my bib at 8:15 for an 8:30 start. Suffice to say, I was not calm, cool and collected as planned.

I jogged a mile in some serious wind to warm up, then stripped off my layers just before the start. The air temperature was great but the gusts of 30+ mph made standing at the start uncomfortable. Thankfully we started only a little bit late so I didn’t have time to fully freeze.

I wouldn't necessarily call this flat and fast...

I wouldn’t necessarily call this flat and fast…

Mile 1: Not warmed up, at all. This was also a visibly hilly mile and I struggled to get comfortable. Because of my lack of warmup and the hill, I was prepared for a slow first mile but was still frustrated to run a 6:21.

Mile 2: Finally up the first incline and into some rollers. Starting to feel a little smoother here and passed a few people as I found a sort of groove. 6:14.

Mile 3: The mile began with a 360 on a side street to turn around and headed back up the hill I had just cruised down. We also started to face the tailwind we’d enjoyed on the way out. I was in no man’s land but started working my way up through the few guys ahead of me to get some protection from the wind. Started to feel much smoother in this mile. 6:19.

Mile 4: Downhill! Legs were feeling great here but unfortunately, we were headfirst into seriously strong wind. Despite my best efforts, my hands and arms were flailing just trying to go forward. When we turned into the home stretch, the wind faded some and I started to kick. I was surprised to find a ton of acceleration and disappointed that we didn’t have much race left. The chute wasn’t marked, like at all, so I had a bit of an odd finish as I hooked left after crossing what I thought was the finish line. 6:05.

Finish Time: 25:04

7th Overall, 2nd Woman.

wpid-20150411_094255.jpg

What I’m Happy About: Despite a bad pre-race routine, I managed to keep my wits about me and not just flip out during the race. I am working on not getting frustrated in the wind and give myself a B+ for not fighting it today. I was really happy to feel like I had a lot of gears left at the end (just wish I’d had them earlier) and to find that I’m not tired or sore at all today. Incidentally, yesterday was also a 4 mile PR of over two minutes. That being said, my only prior 4 miler was a 27:11 in 2008.

What I’m Frustrated About: I’ve had some really good workouts recently even with my legs being exhausted from third year and I don’t feel like yesterday was reflective of where I’m at. Even on Wednesday when I was post-call, I cranked out 1200s faster than I did when I ran my half marathon PR (which is faster than I ran yesterday…) I feel like I’m slowing down despite more speed work but Will assures me that he’s not worried so I’m trying to believe him.

Where I Go From Here: We’re working on finding another fitness test soon, which will probably be the weekend I head back to Vermont (May 2nd/3rd). I’m going to keep focusing on short stuff and speed into the summer, both because my schedule just doesn’t accommodate longer training right now and because I need to figure out how to move faster. In the interim, I need to facilitate recovery to the best of my ability and take opportunities to get off my feet and get as much sleep as possible. I also need to keep working on strength training and remember to drink even during the busiest clinic days.

Another race experience done!

Another race experience done!

Great New Gear: Night Runner 270 Shoe Lights

This article showed up in Runner’s World last week and was sent to me yesterday. I am not really a gear head but got so excited to see this product, both because it helps me get closer to my goal of being a human Christmas tree but also because it fills a need that anyone who runs outdoors year round absolutely encounters. I can’t count how many stutter steps, trips and staggers I take during night time runs but the ability to see where my feet are landing is a welcome improvement. Especially as I head into the clinical years when 3 am (eewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) runs are going to be a reality, I’m excited to try out these attachments!

I’m making the Marathoner pledge ($50) for one pair of Night Runners and highly encourage you to do the same! Supports a running couple and gets you a product that can really improve safety for you and drivers.

(Not at all sponsored, just an awesome product I found out about and wanted to share with my little blogging world.)

I’m Going Streaking!

No worries, I’ll be wearing tights (unless we get another bizarre 65 degree day, then it’ll be shorts). This year, I’m going to take part in the #RWRunStreak. The rules are easy: you run at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Years. Why am I in?

1. Transition to Winter. Despite the temps today, winter is coming and fast. Committing to a mile a day as we get into the depths of winter will help me get over the cold and get into a routine.

2. Something to do between seasons. I haven’t planned 2015 and don’t plan to finalize it for another week or two and won’t start training heavily until after New Years. A running streak gives me a little something to cling onto for a goal.

3. A reminder to be grateful for every mile. Last year at this time, I was getting ready for surgery and not able to run comfortably at all. This year, I feel pretty good! I need to remember that when I’m grumpy about getting out the door.

4. Cookie Math. Enough said. Also makes me enormously sad that old post references the good old days where peanuts didn’t try to kill me.

Who’s with me? Anyone done a running streak before?