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.
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 marathon. A 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.
42 times, I headed to the club corral! As evidence by the picture below, I donned my Central Vermont Runners singlet.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
And just like that, I was done.
Final chip time: 3:50:57. 8:49 pace.
And because a post wouldn’t be complete without you know who…