…And here I said I would never do the Vermont City Marathon again. May 27, 2018 was my third time toeing the line to this race (with two finishes and one DNF).
My first attempt of the Vermont City Marathon was in 2012. It would have been my 11th marathon (so little experience with running at that point). This was six months after my Philadelphia PR (3:58 on November 20, 2011), and back when I did a fall marathon and a spring marathon–two a year, like normal people. My injury was ‘looming’ after Philly, and I took most of the winter off with hopes to run Vermont as my spring race. When attempted it the first time, I was not trying to run all 50 states at that point, I just picked a race because it sounded nice and ran it. I was hopeful to run that weekend with little training and still suffering from severe hamstring tendinitis. I had been in physical therapy for months. I remember getting to mile 11, and the pain was so unbearable, I could barely pull my leg forward. I walked off. UGH. This was the first time I quit a race. Other than the Berlin Marathon later that year in September (with Michelle Blumreich–because we already bought our airfare, etc.), I didn’t run a race again until November 16, 2014–the Bucks County Marathon (otherwise known as, ‘my come back race’), TWO years later. THAT is how bad my injury was. I was down for two years, and I never actually thought I was going to be able to run again.
Fast forward to May 24, 2015, I recovered from my two-year injury and at this point, I was a Marathon Maniac and in full-swing into starting my 50-state journey. The Vermont City Marathon was my 17th marathon and my 10th state (still seems so minuscule compared to what I have run since). We stayed at the Woodstock Inn that weekend, and I hopped a ride with the front desk manager, Kim, at the Inn to the race. I finished this race, but let me tell you something, this was the second race where I had severe (I’m talking SEVERE), GI issues. I remember hitting mile 16 and running up the big hill in town and stopping for like my 8th or 9th port-a-potty break. TMI? Perhaps. My poor belly–and everything connected to it–was in such distress, I don’t even remember the course. I finished and because this was my second time at this race without a great experience, I wanted nothing to do with it again. My time in 2015 was 5:05:13. Eh.
Fast forward to May 27, 2018, I didn’t need the state, but I wanted to give this one another try. We typically travel to Vermont on Memorial Day weekend, and this was the first year in 6+ years that we passed on staying at the Woodstock Inn (where we got married). We still wanted to do Vermont as it’s a Memorial Day tradition now, but because the rates at the Woodstock Inn were so high for the holiday weekend, we decided to stay in Burlington.
We love Vermont–that’s why we got married here. We love Burlington. I grew up coming to Burlington many summers as my great grandmother, Grandma Helen Lamelle, (my grandmother’s mother), lived here. Being in Vermont is special. It reminds me of coming as a kid. It’s clean. It’s wholesome, and it’s also the birthplace of the greatest band on earth, Phish.
We were creative with our travel to Burlington. Neither of us wanted to do the 6+ hour drive, so I tacked the travel for me on the end of a work-week. That meant that when I left for work at 5 a.m. Monday, I was packed for a work-week and the holiday weekend (+ a marathon). I flew to Burlington from Cincinnati (ironically, with a layover in PHL), and Babe and Reilly flew to Burlington from Newark. We all arrived within an hour from each other late on Thursday night and took Friday off. Babe was in beer heaven. I had Heady Toppers waiting for him at the hotel, which were easily purchased as ‘take-out’ from the hotel bar. You can’t get these at home, and if you see them at a Phish show on the lot, someone’s charging you $10 for one–that’s how high in demand they are. We stayed at the Courtyard Burlington. This was price-gouging at its finest, however, we didn’t have a car and we didn’t want to taxi and Uber everywhere. This was the most convenient location, right in town on Lake Champlain.
The great news is…I fell in love with this course all over again. They made significant changes to the race since I ran it in 2015. My biggest (snobbish) gripe is running with half marathoners. I have nothing against the distance, but more often than not, race directors put all their focus and energy on the half marathon because it’s a more popular [sane] distance. When you have a half marathon and a full marathon starting at the same time, it’s chaos. The course is crowded, the aid stations are crowded, the porta-potties are crowded. It’s too much. Two years ago, the race director announced they were eliminating the half and made it a 2-person relay, and kept the 3-5 person relay. Still sucky to be on mile 18 running next to a fresh relay runner who just started, but this evened out the ‘over-crowding’ on the course and made it a better experience for the runners.
The race started at 7 a.m., and because our hotel was so close to the starting line, I cut it close. I left our hotel at 6:40, ha ha. I walked up the hill just in time for the gun. I was representing for this race (flat Carrie picture). This is probably the only place on the planet I could wear this tutu and 75% of the population knows what it means (other than at a Phish show). The start was very crowded. There were about 4,000 runners, so with the 2-person and 3-5 person relay runners disbursed, there were still probably about 2,000 runners at the start. The weather was perfect. It was 58 degrees and cloudy. The winds were about 5-10 miles per hour. The elevation ended up being 869 foot gain and a 981 foot loss. Not flat, but I knew that. This race is a top-notch organized race. The shirts are great, the medals are great, and the volunteers are amazing. Volunteers really do make or break your experience. I was amazed that there were spectators almost the entire course. For ‘tiny Burlington,’ they really are proud of their marathon. Running through some of the neighborhoods was like running through a party. The course is full of hairpin turns. I am not a huge fan of a course with a bunch of turns and tiny ‘out-and-backs,’ but this course was stunning. You could see Lake Champlain almost the entire time running.
I say this every single race, every single finish. It never gets easier, I just am more experienced at gritting my teeth and getting it done…no matter what. I have been running marathons for 13 years. I realize I am a high-volume running, but they do get harder and harder. Would it be any easier if I ran one or two a year? No, my training would fall off–I know me. With my aging old-lady body and my busy life, my finish time goals have changed. My “4:15” goal-time turned into a “4:30” goal-time, and the “4:30” goal time, is now a “4:45.” If I can get it done in 4:45 or less, I’m content. I’m older, and I have such a hard time fitting it all in (working, traveling for work, being a mom, owning a house and being a running junkie). For this race, unfortunately, I did have GI issues. Maybe it was all the Vermont cheese the day before, who knows? I ended up with three porta-potty breaks (TMI, sorry). Good thing I had some Imodium pills with me (TMI, sorry). I carry five salt pills (mile 0, 6, 12, 18, 24), two bananas (mile 10, 20), and two Imodium pills every race (see how much I have learned). I took the first Imodium pill at 6 a.m. when I woke up and realized I was in for it, and another around 10 a.m. (TMI, sorry). Did the trick, but I had already stopped three times (TMI, sorry). Do you know how hard it is to get running shorts up and down when they are soaking we with sweat?! UGH. Despite the GI stress, I really did love this race. I loved the course and the beauty of everything around me. I was in great spirits, and I ran the entire time, except for walking through water stations. I passed so many walkers in the 20-26 range (2-person and 3-5 person relay runners), it felt good. I knew with my pace and my GI stress, I still wasn’t hitting 4:45. I finished in 5:01. Still better than my last two races, but a finish time that I’m not ready to move into yet. I realize I am not 33 anymore, but I need to get back into the 4:30-4:45 zone. I just love being out there.
The day before the race, I got to spend a few hours with Crash (aka, Erich Rehbein). Erich and my brother were very close in Hawaii. They worked at Pipeline Cafe together. Toward the end of his time in Hawaii, they were also roommates. We try and see Erich every time we visit Vermont. He warms my heart.
We found a great babysitter on Care.com and she sat with Reilly post-race, Sunday night. Babe and I were able to get out and see the town of Burlington a little. We have never done that in Burlington, so it was fun. We had dinner at American Flatbread (yummy), and listened to reggae at Nectar’s (the bar where the greatest band in the world started: Phish). It was really cool. We also decided to try something different in getting home. There are two roads I will never drive on: (1) the Schuylkill during rush hour traffic; and (2) the NY State Thruway on a holiday weekend. I have so many Amtrak points, we decided to take Amtrak from Essex Junction to Trenton. God help us–8 hours on a train.
It has afforded me the time to write this post… until next time! Next stop: state #48, West Virginia!