Category Archives: RunVermont

Race Report: Vermont City Marathon 2012

After a week of panic as the weather toggled between cloudy and cool and humid and hot (and eventually landed somewhere right in between), race day was upon us. The promise of clouds never came to fruition and even by 8 am, it was pretty warm on course. Race morning was not particularly exciting; besides a porto-potty line that never moved (I peed in the woods) and being in the preferred corral made all the difference in the world as I never had to struggle to get a good starting position.

We started out in a reasonable manner and I was lucky to have Katie along for the half to remind me to be patient. It felt like we were jogging for the first miles but the heat was already noticeable and I started dumping water over my head early. We caught up with Christine on the Beltline and chatted away through the first third of the race. My legs felt a little leadlike going out on the Beltline, but subsided once we made the turn and headed back to town. As I took my first shot block, it turned my stomach leaving me without a fuel plan for the rest of the race. Luckily the yellow Gatorade stayed down so I didn’t suffer any real ill effects.

We had an extremely fast Church Street mile (6:30) but peeled it back for Pine Street and South Cove neighborhoods. We were sad to see Katie go at the half, but happy to be half done. As we crossed through Oakledge, I felt the best I’d felt all day, while Christine felt the worst. We separated for the next few miles, which was sad for both of us.

I tried to stay calm up Battery and kept pulling back on the pace so as to not wreck my legs and felt good enough at the top to fist pump for being done with the harder part of the course (so I thought.) Rolling on into the North End, I felt great and strong through miles 16 and 17. And then everything fell apart.

The second half of VCM has very little shade and also coincides with the hottest part of the day, so the sun really started to bother me in the neighborhoods. I was trying everything to stay cool; running through sprinklers, dumping water, eating Flavo-Ice. Despite that, I felt like I was carrying legs made of concrete and had my first real encounter with the Wall. I rallied a bit going into Leddy but by mile 20 was hurt and tired. My lungs felt fresh, but my legs were crampy and heavy. At mile 21, Christine caught up and muttered, “I’m never fucking doing this again.” I think I grunted back, “Me neither.”

Miles 21 through the finish are sort of blurry. I felt horrible, but was lucky enough to run into a friend who was suffering from cramping. Despite feeling awful himself, he dragged me through the last few miles with a constant barrage of encouragement. Because I felt like I was one step from a cramp that would freeze me up entirely, there was no kick to speak of, but I finished and didn’t collapse, although I’d been promising myself that I was allowed to since about mile 22.

After the race, I was in a world of hurt, but because of the ridiculous “one-way” traffic rule near the finish area, couldn’t get to the nearest access to the lake to cool my legs. Instead, I had to limp all the way through the finish area to the other side to access the Coast Guard ramp. This limp consisted of me walking ten yards, bending over, then hobbling another ten yards. One of the guys with whom I coach finished near me and remarked that I was moving at “.2 miles per hour.” I think he might have been giving me too much credit. After icing down, I felt much better, although the Frankenstein walk had already set in.

Recovery was painful (and my first steps on Monday are on video if you really want them), but shortlived. I limped for a few days but am happily back to running, albeit slowly. I don’t seem to have suffered any permanent injury, but am looking forward to a few weeks of unstructured “run if you feel like it” training.

Splits are below. Error analysis to follow…

1 6:49
2 6:40
3 6:45
4 6:45
5 6:50
6 6:56
7 6:42
8 6:51
9 6:51
10 6:32
11 6:52
12 6:56
13 6:51
14 6:50
15 6:59
16 7:08
17 7:00
18 6:55
19 7:11
20 7:17
21 7:23
22 7:30
23 7:41
24 7:45
25 7:32
26 7:22
Total Gun 3:05:36 (7:05)
Total Chip 3:05:33

 

Short and Sweet Recap

The good? A 6 minute PR. The bad? A grim last 4 miles.

I haven’t even downloaded my splits from my garmin yet and a race report will come later in the week, but I’m happy, sore and ready to recover so I can get back on the roads.

10th Woman

97th Overall

3:05:36 Gun, 3:05:33 Chip. (Old PR was 3:11:18 in Boston 2011).

#twiddlesthumb

On one hand, having this week completely off save for the occasional coffee date has been wonderful. I can eat exactly on my schedule, lay on the couch and generally rest my legs. On the other hand, having nothing to fill my time leads to moments of complete and utter taper panic. Somehow it’s already Thursday and since the weather seems set on changing every few hours, I’ve even stopped checking my weather websites. It’ll be what it’ll be…

Today, my pre-race rituals begin. I’ll run an easy 4 with Christine and her sister this afternoon. Tonight, I’ll eat a pasta dinner (tortellini and red sauce with copious garlic bread) and watch Spirit of the Marathon. 

On Friday, I won’t run at all and even my usual hike with the dog will be on flat ground. I’ll pack my race bag which includes everything from a singlet to warm up in to my post-race skirt. In the afternoon, the Rookie (Justin) and I are going to be (local) TV stars on WCAX’s the :30. KC arrives late in the evening and suddenly, it’s marathon weekend.

On Saturday, I’ll watch Yam Scram and a few track races at the Essex Invitational, then head to the Expo to pick up my bib. I’m coercing KC into a 3 mile shakeout run in the afternoon, followed by a lazy evening of pasta with friends. Scott lands at 10:30, but KC and I are pretty sure we’re insisting he takes a cab…

Sunday morning starts early. I’ll wake up around 5, walk the dog and eat my first breakfast. My biggest goal for the morning is to have 20 ounces of fluid down by 7 am so that I can be hydrated AND done visiting the bathroom well before loading in the corral at 7:50. When I get down to the start, I’ll jog for a few minutes, stretch my always tight calf muscles, check in with my training partners and lay down on the grass. And then it all starts…

 

Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

I was walking through Centennial Field with Ava on Saturday after my long run, when I walked past one of the gates to the field where a Yogi Berra quote was painted on the wall: “It ain’t over til it’s over.” The phrase struck me as particularly apt after a long run that went well just a few short days after considering scratching from VCM.

As I mentioned earlier this week, things did not feel good after last weekend. I was in pain, my stride was a mess and running 8 miles seemed difficult, let alone race 26. But after an amazing massage that moved out a ton of swelling and a great test run on Thursday, I found myself back and feeling good by our Saturday run. I was landing normally, driving my knees and generally feeling like my old self, which was a welcome relief after being in tears last Monday.

Yogi’s wisdom can also be applied to the marathon itself. As I said to the Rookie the other day when he asked about what to expect from race day, there are good miles and bad miles in a marathon. There will be moments when you actually think you can’t go on and then twenty minutes later, you think you could run forever.* A competitor may blow past you at 13 but fall apart at 21. The hardest part of the marathon for me is accepting this uncertainty. I have an impressive track record of unraveling myself if I have a bad mile. One of my goals for VCM is to try to stay mentally tough even when a mile (or 3) feels awful. Perhaps recalling Yogi’s words will help…

Happy Taper, everyone.

*For a hysterical interpretation of the marathon, watch this improv video.

Spring 2012 Race Schedule

Despite the fact that we’re just emerging from our first true cold snap of the winter, I’m thinking ahead to my spring race calendar. While not all of these races will end up being full efforts, this is where you’ll find me running pretty darn hard in the coming months.

March 18th: New Bedford Half Marathon, New Bedford, Mass.

April 14th: Unplugged Half (very likely a simulation run)

May 19th: Bedford Rotary 12K (last hard workout pre-Vermont City!)

May 27th: Vermont City Marathon

Following VCM, I’ll transition to some shorter distances for the hotter summer months. I’m also planning on taking the month of June off from work, school, coaching, running etc, as my AMCAS application will be submitted and I’ll have the first real break I’ve had in almost two years. I don’t know where I’ll go, but I know there won’t be any scheduled running beyond extending my fitness to a few required races.

Gear Geek: Holiday Edition

Justin (RunVermont’s Rookie) and I were talking last week about pulling together a holiday gift guide and he wrote a great post on his holiday running wish list. Joe from SkiRack and I also got together to brainstorm and added a few items to the list. This season is all about the best bang for your buck and outfitting for a comfortable, warm marathon training season. My favorites are highlighted below, but the staff at your local running store will also be able to help you with what’s best for the runner on your list.

Headlamp: It’s dark out there and uneven sidewalks, potholes and cars threaten your healthy training season. The new headlamps are light and bright and often feature both solid and flashing beams, depending on your needs.

Compression Gear: I love my 2XU calf compression sleeves and regularly don them after workouts. Compression can help recovery by improving the rate at which blood “recycles.” Some people are comfortable working out in compression gear as well. Expect some adjustment time; compression is significantly tighter than even spandex and can take some getting used to.

Hydration Belts: I have the Nathan Trail Mix and the Fuel Belt Helium 2. I use the Nathan on longer training runs because it has more storage space and the Fuel Belt on runs where I only need hydration. I also own a handheld, which I use in the summer. If I just had to buy one? The Nathan Trail Mix wins for best fit, least bounce and most storage. Does your runner already have a belt? Consider replacing their bottles and caps because they get nasty fast. Want to make the gift even sweeter? Stuff the pocket with Gu, ClifBloks or another food product.

Reflective Vest: With the plethora of items on the market, there’s no reason not to be seen. Although a reflective jacket is also a great purchase, the reflective vest is more versatile and can be adjusted to fit over whatever the day’s weather calls for in terms of warmth. I have the Amphipod Vest and wear it daily in the winter.

Socks: As Justin will corroborate, there’s nothing like realizing that your old cotton socks just don’t cut it for marathon training. The polyester and wool blends do a better job of cushioning your feet and preventing blisters and feel just like cotton. Darn Tough is my favorite brand, but SmartWool and Balega also have great offerings. Help your runner build their collection by buying a couple new pairs this holiday season. The rule is, though, that for every new pair of socks an old pair has to go!

The Stick and Foam Rollers: Join the rest of us who have discovered just how good it hurts to foam roll or use The Stick. Marathoning comes with sore muscles and these tools can help relieve the pain. I use the Stick every night before bed on my problem calf and a foam roller twice a day to keep my IT band loose and happy.

A Peek Ahead

I’m still cleaning up from VTResponse and trying to wrap up this crazy semester, but I have a long list of blog entries to come that I’m really excited about, both here on and on the RunDown, where I guest blog. Look for a post on what not to wear in the dark, on music that gets me pumped up and a shopping list for all the runners in your life this holiday season here on Under Pressure. On the RunDown, look for video about choosing a running shoe, tips for picking your marathon plan, product testing and a series of “essentials” posts covering everything from long runs to food to questions you were too embarrassed to ask, but wanted to know.

What questions do you want to see me answer here or on the RunDown? What products are you curious about? What about submitting your own guest post here reviewing a product or sharing a favorite workout?

 

Anyone for Streaking?

When I saw this idea last week, I thought it was an excellent one. It’s so basic: commit to run at least a mile a day from now until New Years Day. I meant to get this post out before the start date but…what can you do? We can all run til January 2nd instead.

What I love about the Holiday Running Streak is that it challenges us to prioritize our running enough to get at least ten minutes in a day. Set the alarm ten minutes earlier. Pack a lunch so you have time during your lunch hour. Bring running clothes to work and run around the parking lot before you head home. Run with the dog instead of walking.

I also love that it will get me out the door. Oftentimes, I have trouble getting myself going for a run, but once I’m out there, I’m good. By making the promise that I will do at least a mile every day from now til the New Year, I’m looking at another 6 weeks or so of solid base building. It also sets me up well for First Run, my favorite way to kick off the year.

I’m going streaking. So who’s with me?

I Signed Up for What?

While it may seem that everyone from Oprah to Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers has done a marathon, it’s still a formidable check on bucket list. It takes a huge amount of courage to sign up for the marathon, but after you shell out the money and take the plunge, there’s a moment of “oh shit, what did I just commit to?!”

Well never fear: If you are running a spring marathon, be it Vermont City Marathon or another spring classic, start tuning into the Run Down, where I’ll be guest blogging through the fall, winter and spring about all sorts of issues related to the marathon from picking a training plan and a running shoe, to surviving the winter doldrums. I’ll still be blogging here as well, including lots of entries on my own path from here to VCM 2012.

As John “the Penguin” Bingham says, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Signing up is the start of an incredible experience. Like most things worth doing, the marathon has its ups and downs, but I don’t know many people who have completed one who wished they hadn’t. So be courageous. Sign up to run a spring marathon, then tune in here and on the RunDown for everything you’ll need from start to finish.

The Decision 2011

While I’m no King James, I’ve been wrestling with what my next target race should be. I have a little less than 2 years before medical school, during which time I would really like to get my Trials standard. I’m operating under the assumption that for at least the first two years of medical school, the only running I’ll be doing is between the library and my bed. 

I want a course that is tough enough to benefit my tough-it-out style. I want a course with great crowd support. I want a race morning that is easy and predictable. I want to know every uphill, downhill and flat between mile 1 and 26. In short, I want to control every variable except for the weather. I loved City of Oaks with its quad busting hills, but hated running alone for 8 miles. I hated pretty much everything about Vegas. Boston was a brutal course with unbelievable support. So what’s a girl to do when she wants to make big strides (well, little ones if you’ve ever seen me run) towards a Trials standard?

Man, this is very tough. My heart will always be around Vermont. This Spring, I’ll be taking my talents to the Vermont City Marathon on May 27th, 2012.

Want to join me on an epic weekend in Burlington? Registration opens tomorrow.