Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vermont City Marathon Race Report--Going for Sub-4

So this was my 5th marathon. Marathon #1, I was trying to finish, and I did slow. #2, I went out too fast and hit the wall big time and walked the final 10 miles for a 20 minute PR. #3 & 4, I finally ran the whole race and averaged just under 10 minute miles. At Vermont, I wasn't just trying to run the whole time, I had a goal of running under 4 hours, there was no other option.

Because of the economy, we were trying not to spend as much on our trip, so I agreed to something my husband has begging to do for 5 years and that was camping. Talk about nerves before the race....I was going to sleep in a tent the night before this race that I worked so hard for.

My training was Pfitz 18/55 in which I added some miles some weeks so peaked at 61 miles. I also cut out most soda and non-processed food in order to clean up my diet. I lost 6 pounds during the taper as I was so afraid to gain weight, between cutting out the sodium in soda and getting all the junk out of my system.

The expo was nothing exciting. Very small townish, which was great as I loved the atmosphere. They were making homemade kettle corn out front which was my highlight as I love popcorn and that was one of the only new thing I would allow in my system, as I have a bad history of foods affecting my GI during long runs. We set up at the campground and my nerves got even worse as I couldn't believe we were going to sleep in that tiny tent, there was no way I would get enough sleep. Luckily, I did get plenty of sleep all week as my thoughts were everywhere that night and I managed to only get about 5 hours of sleep, which is not enough for me.....But it wasn't because of the tent, I slept fine the next night.

It was chilly when we woke, which made me happy, as I didn't want a hot marathon. I ate my oatmeal and we drove early to the starting line. There weren't many people there when we got there, but I wanted to start the Porta-potty shuffle to get it all out. While we waited, it started sprinkling. This is when I was thankful I wore my arm warmers, as I wasn't wearing a long sleeve shirt. My plan was to throw the arm warmers, but I ended up needing them for the entire race. This was the smallest marathon I have ran so the line up was easy to find a spot. I got in line behind in the 4 hour pace guy. The race started, and my goal to warm up at 9:15 pace was not going to happen, I went out at about 9:05 pace, my goal pace, but the legs felt great. The spectator support was amazing. You run through the center of Burlington multiple times for the race and people were everywhere.

Mile 3, enjoying everything.

Miles 1-10 were so easy. There was a big downhill on the out and big uphill on the back. My average pace was 8:53, including a stop to pee on the side of the road. The porta-potties were very scarce on the course, so I hid behind a car and peed right next to a man. It also started to rain about 2 miles in. I knew my pace was too fast during this part, and I kept slowing down, but I just kept going, the pace felt way too easy, I was just hoping I wouldn't pay for this stupid thing later on.

Mile 9, in pain.

Mile 10 was just after the terrible uphill and my side cramp started. I had just seen my husband and the picture he took of me showed the pain I was in. In every long run or race, I hit a mental wall about mile 10-12 and hit that wall I did. With 16 miles to go, I had too many miles to go to keep up this pace, so I slowed down. The slowing down helped to get rid of my cramp, but mentally I was beating myself up. I hit the half marathon point in 1:57:14. Doubling that would put me just over 4 minutes under my goal of 4 hours, so I of course was relieved that I could slow down a little, as I mentally was done.

At this point I met another runner and he started talking to me, convincing me that I looked great and sounded great and could make my goal. That small talk boosted me back into the race. I followed him until I hit Battery Hill. "The Assault on Battery Hill" was a steep quarter of a mile hill. It looked terrible, but the spectator support was awesome. They had drummers, drumming your way up and everyone cheered like crazy. I love hills as my town is covered in hills. I passed a ton of people on the hill which made me feel great. Once up that hill, I knew I only had 10 miles to go and there were no more huge obstacles I just needed to keep up my pace and I would make my goal. At this point I was Garmin watching, making sure I didn't slow down too much and ticking off the miles.

Going up Battery Hill

I hit mile 20 at 2:59:46....This was perfect, I could run 10 minute miles and still make my goal. This would be fine, if I wouldn't have cramped up again. This time, I knew I was well hydrated and full of electrolytes, so I pulled out my inhaler and took a few puffs and continued on with the same pace, not slowing down and the cramp went away fairly quickly. The 4 hour pacer passed me at this point, which surprised me as I knew I was slower, but still on pace to finish in front of him. At around mile 21 we turned onto the bike path which was the final stretch to the finish line. I train on a bike path all the time, so I was excited for this. I love knowing how flat rail trails are and very peaceful. This was along Lake Champlain, which was beautiful when I walked it the day before, but I noticed no scenery during the run. I just noticed falling runners. So many people started walking on the path. I started talking to Molly who I had been following most of the race. I find talking to people at the end gets your mind off of any doubts you have and mentally keeps you going. Once I started running with her we started running sub-9 minute miles. I couldn't believe I was running that fast with only a few miles to go. We passed the 4 hour pacer, who no longer had any of his people with him, so he either sent them ahead or they dropped back. He kind of smiled at me and I continued my pace. We started hearing the finish line just past mile 25 and I was in shock, I knew I could pull at 3:57 at this point, so I took off, making sure I could make that goal. Once out of the trees, people were lining the course. I could see mile 26 just in front of me and I took off. I rounded the last corner and saw a mat and was like, I am done. Nope, that mat was to give the announcers the names of the people coming. Not a cool idea as my husband said many runners stopped running at the mat thinking they were done, some collapsing and needed assistance getting to the finish line. There was a sign that said "Almost done" but who has a mat before the finish line? Not cool. When I crossed the finish line I threw my hands in there. I made it.

On my way to the finish.

The clock said 3:56:56, my chip time was 3:55:45. A 21 minute PR from Disney!!!! My husband had predicted 3:55:42, so he was only off by 3 seconds. The finish area was great. Tons of food for the marathoners, though everything was in a small space. What an amazing marathon and a great town. I highly recommend the Vermont City Marathon and visiting Burlington, VT. I can't wait to go back next year.

My medal and Lake Champlain in the background.


Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

SWEET!! AMAZING!! Great job.. I totally thought I added you to my reader, but spaced and didn't. 4th Marathon. I am in burnout mode just getting ready for my 1st. CONGRATS!!

Caroline said...

Wow, love the race report!! Can't believe they had that pre-finish line mat, that would've made me Crazy!!!

The pic of Battery Hill is really cool, and the fact that your husband predicted your time to a t.

So interesting how you flushed out all junk food from your diet leading up to the race. I too am now following the 18/55 plan, and really like it

Congrats on breaking 4 hours - that is such an amazing PR and milestone!!!!!!