Vermont City Marathon 2015 Race Report

Well, marathon #3 is in the history books.  Filed under chapter “awesome.”  Of course, it was still a marathon, so naturally there were times when I cursed the day I was born, but all in all the 2015 Vermont City Marathon was a terrific race and yesterday was a truly great day.  I PRed by nearly 6 minutes.  I ran the entire race from start to finish – no walking whatsoever.  I finally figured out how to properly fuel for a marathon.  I successfully fought off several mental demons attempting to convince me to quit the race.  Most importantly, I crossed the finish line with my hands in the air knowing that I left it all on the course and ran my best possible race.  I could not be happier.

Someone should have told me to look up. THANKS GUYS.
Someone should have told me to look up. THANKS GUYS.  (Side note: Lady on the right with the green bib ran a 5-6 mile relay leg.  She does not deserve to have her hands in the air.)

Before I forget the details of the race and delusionally register for 8 more marathons, I want to recap it so that I remember how at mile 20 I promised myself that I never have to run another marathonA promise that will most definitely not be fulfilled.  On Saturday, I limited myself to white carbs with a little protein and very few vegetables.  My stomach felt a little wonky on Saturday night, but that was probably due to nerves.  Also due to nerves, I slept for about 2 minutes Saturday night.  Nonetheless, I popped out of bed at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning (who needs an alarm?) feeling energized and ready to go.  Breakfast consisted of a small cup of coffee, lots of water, a salt bagel with a little honey on it, and a banana.  Forty-five minutes before the race began, I ate a honey stinger waffle.  Nom nom.

After peeing 42 times, I headed to the club corral!  As evidence by the picture below, I donned my Central Vermont Runners singlet. 

This pictures also evidences that I have OCD.
Also evidenced by this picture is a raging case of pre-marathon OCD.

I started the race with a disposable bottle of Nuun in my hand.  This was a genius idea for several reasons: 1) My stomach handles Nuun better than Gatorade and I wanted to limit any solid fuel until I knew my stomach was OK; 2) I could throw away the bottle at any time; 3) I avoided the first few aid stations, which are generally pretty crowded; and 4) It was on the warm side and I tend to get pretty dehydrated early on – I am pretty sure that having my own personal water bottle to sip on completely saved me later on from hitting the wall.

As a native Burlingtonian, I know the course like the back of my hand.  I absolutely love this course.  It has just enough hills, just enough crowd support, and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.  For the first 9 miles, I felt phenomenal.  The beltway can be a little mundane, but watching the leaders come by during the out and back section is an excellent distraction.  I purposely held myself back during the first 2-3 miles, but from miles 3-10 I was cruising.  Around mile 9.5, I picked up my 2nd bottle of Nuun from my parents and flew down Church Street, which was lined with people, including drag queens because let’s face it, this is Burlington.

I could to this all day!
Marathons are fun!  I could to this all day!  Too bad I can’t telepathically register for another marathon next weekend!

However, my feeling of weightless euphoria dissipated as soon as I reached the long slightly uphill stretch that is Pine Street.  Although I felt a slight boost when I passed the part of the course where I dropped out last year (take that, you jerk), miles 11-14 were rough.  At this point, I finally felt like I was running a marathon, and the thought of running 16-12 more miles was daunting.  I tried to “stay in the mile I was in,” but it was tough.  I hadn’t even hit Battery Street yet, which is affectionately known as “the assault on Battery,” which should give you an indication of just how monstrous it is.

This picture was taking during a very dark stretch.  Obviously my eyes are blank and I am dead inside.
This picture was taken around mile 14. Obviously my eyes are blank and I am dead inside.

I knew that at mile 14.5 I would see my parents and Colin, and receive another bottle of Nuun.  Seeing them gave me a HUGE boost.  However, after taking one swig of Nuun, I promptly tossed the bottle aside because I could not bear the thought of carrying a 16 oz. bottle up Battery Street.  In hindsight, I probably should have planted the bottle at the top of the hill.  Although I was initially dreading Battery Street, I felt surprisingly good on the hill.  I focused on pumping my arms and the downhill I knew was coming.  I told myself that I eat bigger hills for breakfast.  I slowed down just enough to conserve energy and control my breath.  I passed a bunch of people.  By the time I reached the top, I had left my funk from miles 10-14 behind.  It was probably at the bottom of the hill.  Wow, that was corny.

I felt great until about mile 17.  Miles 17-20 were hard.  (Are you sensing a theme here?)  I no longer had Nuun at my disposal, and I was beginning to feel a bit overheated.  I ran through a few sprinklers, which felt amazing.  I should probably mention that I munched on Honey Stinger chews sporadically throughout the race.  At this point, I had absolutely no desire to eat anything, but I forced a few chews down my throat now and then knowing that “the wall” was coming.  I truly considered dropping out at this point, but nothing was seriously hurting except for my soul.  I mentally ran through all of the “hard” things I had done over the past 16 weeks.  I thought about Basil.  I reminded myself that there are good miles, and there are bad miles, and just because I am in a “bad” mile does not mean that a “good” mile will never come.  (Spoiler alert: There are generally not a whole lot of “good” miles after mile 20.)

Nonetheless, when I ran over the 20 mile timing mat, any thoughts of quitting went out the window.  I also still felt “good” (relatively speaking) and I began to sense that I would avoid hitting the wall, something I have never done before.  Around mile 21.5 there was a steep downhill that made my quads scream.  But then I was on the bike path – the home stretch.  (Side note: Do not yell to marathoners at mile 21.5, “You are almost there!  On the home stretch!”  Not helpful.  No one is allowed to yell this until mile 26.19 of a marathon.)  Having run on the bike path more times than I can count, I focused on landmarks rather than mile marks.  “Just make it to Leddy, North Beach, the Dog Park…” I told myself.  I sucked down a Honey Stinger gel at mile 22.  I turned the screen of my Garmin to the time of day and just focused on running as hard as I could.  I ran through water stops, which resulted in lots of water being splashed on my face, because I worried that if I stopped to walk my legs would not be able to resume running.

FINALLY, I could hear the roar of the crowd in the Waterfront finishers area and I knew I was almost there.  I tried to pick up the pace and wipe the grimace off my face.

Oh hey there, just out for a casual stroll.  What's wrong with this guy?
Oh hey there, just out for a casual jog. What’s wrong with that guy?
Psyke!  This is how I really feel.
Psyke! This is how I really feel.  Also note that the man in the green shirt and I ran together for practically the entire race.  We are best friends now.  (Just kidding we never actually spoke to each other but obviously WE JUST GET EACH OTHER.)

There is truly nothing like running to the finish line at the Vermont City Marathon.  The crowds make you feel like you’ve won the damn race!  All of the pain and anguish goes away for a split second as you push yourself down the finisher’s chute.

The expression on my face might lead you to believe otherwise, but I SPEAK THE TRUTH.
The expression on my face might lead you to believe otherwise, but I SPEAK THE TRUTH.

And just like that, I was done.

Did I come in first place?  Because it sure feels like I did!
Did I come in first place? Because it sure feels like I did!

Final chip time: 3:50:57. 8:49 pace.

I beat lots of boys.
I beat a lot of boys.

And because a post wouldn’t be complete without you know who…

The real winner.
The real winner.

Throwback to When I Used to Post Regularly!

Last time we chatted, I had just finished Week 9.  Currently, I am about to finish up Week 15.  Whoopsies, can we still be fwiends?  I have a newfound respect for people who blog regularly and people who have babies, super demanding jobs, commute 10 miles to work by foot uphill both ways etc.  In my defense, training for a marathon, lawyering full time, and snuggling with Mrs. Yellow Snuggles Maniac McGoo is hard work!  Rather than recapping the last zillion 6 weeks, I will stick to the highs and lows.

Let’s start with a low – the Unplugged 1/2 Marathon!  Also, home to the. most. unflattering. pictures. of. me. ever!  There is a special place in Hell for whoever decided that taking professional pictures of people during a race is a good idea.  Let’s start with the beginning, shall we?

Oh just walking a half marathon, no biggie.
Oh, just walking a half marathon, no biggie. (Contrary to what it looks like, I think I was still running under 8 minute miles here.)

Before the race even started, my stomach was on the fritz, but I attributed it to nerves – hoping that once the gun horn? whistle? I don’t remember went off, my stomach would settle down.  Unfortunately, the opposite happened.  From the very beginning to the very end of this race, I felt like a million little drummers were having band practice in my gastrointestinal tract.  I could not get my breath under control and I never got into the groove.  By the end, I was just trying to finish without walking.  This race was the epitome of a sufferfest.  I finished in 1:47:13, which I was not happy about AT ALL until I realized that I finished the same race last year in 1:57:13.  Kinda funny/awesome that last year I was thrilled to simply break 2 hours, and this year I am bummed about finishing 10 minutes faster!  I also felt happy about simply finishing the race, because doing so definitely build mental strength that I will be able to draw upon during the marathon.

I should probably start using wrinkle cream.
Finally finishing!  I should probably start using wrinkle cream.

Let’s contrast the above negative experience with a positive experience, shall we?  On Thursday, as in 2 days ago, I PRed in the 5k!  The 5k is my arch nemesis.  I hate 5ks for many reasons, including that 1) They hurt, 2) I cannot breath, and 3) I want to die the entire time.  Obviously, I do not train specifically for 5ks so I never know what I’m capable of.  My M.O. is that I generally go out way too fast and then crash and burn.  To date, my 5k “PR” occurred during the Sodom Pond 4 miler last summer (7:14 pace the entire way YO).  For stupid reasons like the fact that a 4 mile race is not a 5k, the aforementioned 5k “PR” does not count.  Until Thursday, my 5k PR was 22:56 and it was strangely set at the Leaf Peepers 5k, aka the hilliest 5k ever.  My new PR is 22:33 and it was set at the Corporate Cup, aka the most crowded and turny-est course ever!  Perhaps I run best in the face of adversity?

Other highs included:

  • My highest mileage week ever!  60 miles!  Running an average of 10 miles per day (I took one rest day) is super time consuming.  Also, the following week my body was like: “Hi, let’s never run again, ok thanks.”
  • The most 20 milers of any training cycle – 3!
  • Getting to the taper completely injury and niggle free.  This is a first.
  • Finding the last pair of Brooks Purecadence 3s in Women’s size 9 on Planet Earth.  I plan to put 20-30 miles on these babies before the marathon, so they will be still be fresh and so, so, so beautiful.
  • Some really awesome Spring/early Summer runs!  It is soooo much better running in shorts than snowsuits.
  • I purchased a Spibelt to hold my phone, fuel etc.  It is basically a fanny pack (nerd alert), but it is amazing!  Goodbye forever, arm band.  I will miss you a whole NOT AT ALL!  (Sorry, that was mean.  Just kidding arm band.  We had a good run, but now you must die.)
  • Track practice is back in my life!  I am incapable of running fast on my own, so it is so, so nice to have an organized track practice once a week with speedy friends!  I always feel amazing after pushing myself around the track.

Other lows included:

Running 20 miles in 80 degree heat and humidity.
Running 20 miles in 80 degree heat and humidity. 

…but that’s pretty much it for lows!  All in all, this has been a GREAT training cycle.  It started off rough and there were a few low points along the way, but I also had some TERRIFIC runs.  I started this blog to track my progress as I attempt to qualify for Boston.  Do I think I will BQ at VCM this year?  No way.  A lot happened over the course of the last 15 weeks that was outside of my control.  It would be imprudent to shoot for a BQ at this point.  While I am certain that I could run 8 minute miles for the majority of the race,  it’s not like at mile 16 I could say “well this doesn’t feel good, let’s drop it down to 9 minute miles.”  That’s not how marathons work.  However, do I think I can capitalize on the positive aspects of this training cycle and PR the *&$# out this race?  YES.  And I am NOT giving up on qualifying for Boston.  Assuming I can stay injury free, I will shoot for the BQ this Fall.  Boston, I am coming for you…

Except first, I am coming for you, Vermont City Marathon!  You better watch your back.