Monday, September 9, 2013

Maple Leaf 1/2- Vermont - race recap

State- Vermont #46
Lifetime 1/2:  56
13 in 13 Progress- 14!
Official time 1:53:00 
Age group: 7/31

For those that are racing the states, Vermont is a pricey option to travel to, AND you have to time it right with the seasons.. lets not forget that some of them don't offer medals.  For the past year I had my heart set on the Mad 1/2 marathon in Waitsfield, VT, but due to logistics and already taking off 1 week of work in July for Alaska, I decided on a fall race. My race entry was a steal at $40, and although I registered for this back in the spring, my travel buddy fell through in July so I milled over for a few weeks if I wanted to do this one solo or find an alternate race Kim may be able to join in on since we decided last week we're married and race besties ;) 

I had the brilliant idea a month out to ask mom if she wanted to tag along. Originally it wasn't an option because a flight into Manchester, VT (where the race took place) was $1800 from Dayton, Oh, however I had already figured out that whether its Boston, or Hartford, prices were extremely reasonable ~$300 and only a 2.5 hr drive. We met in Hartford and carried on toward Machester to pick up our race bibs- mom was going to do the 5k!

Packet pickup was held at the 'recreation center' which was a barn like structure with a few rooms located in the middle of a park. It would also serve as the start / finish line the next day. 
I loved how everything was maple leafed theme to fit in with the race. (and yes I realize that Vermont is known for maple leaves and cheese) The only thing we received was bibs and bags. Shirts you had to pay for if you wanted. 

Race Day
There was plenty of warning signs in all the race communication to get to race early, so we left our motel at 7 to go a few miles down road to make the 8am start. We had PLENTY of time to spare, so either we beat the traffic, or it was unnecessary to leave that early

Although it was a balmy 43 degrees prior to race, it was somehow manageable to stand around in without feeling too miserable (although I was one of the few in just a tank and skirt.)
I'll take a cold start so I can enjoy the actual race every single time 

Me doing the half, mom the 5k :) 

Start time was the same for 5k and half marathon- 5k on the left, half marathon on the right. Was kind of neat because mom and I got to start near one another. National anthem was  performed by a man playing the trumpet, nice change of pace from traditional singing. 

I finally decided on Labor day to purchase some new shoes and inserts as to potentially solve my 3 month long calf / arch pain. Only having ran 1 3.5 mile run in them prior to race, my goal was to take it easy, enjoy the nature, and hopefully finish pain free.

Mile 1: 7:35
First mile was ABSO-FREAKIN-FABULOUS. The colder air felt amazing on my lungs, calves and feet felt fresh, pace was manageable, and there was lots of downtown scenery to gawk at. 

Mile 2: 8:27
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 9:51
Mile 5 8:29
Mile 6: 7:57

In the first time EVER in all my races, eating beforehand simply slipped my mind. I had very little energy which translated into not a lot of motivation to do well, so I started walking somewhere in between mile 2 and 3. Although Vermont is pretty, it has a LOT of rolling hills and the first part of the race seemed to be more ups than downs. Hills + not eating = one tired and unmotivated Lisa.
Despite walking a ton, I wasn't mad at myself or hating the run (however I did tell myself I think I may take a break from 1/2s for a bit once Hawaii is done) It's FINALLY sinking in that I only have a handful of races left till I'm done, so I've been trying to focus on being positive during the run as I'm sure I'll miss it when I'm done. 

 We did pass by the flagship Orvis store which sat on a beautiful campus, even a fly fishing school across the street!  

There were surprisingly a lot of spectators sprinkled throughout the course, and my personal favorite, different groups of people singing or playing music. (unfortunately wasn't able to capture the belly dancers as I saw them at the last second on opposite side of the street) I personally liked how there were bikers going back and forth throughout the course, yelling different mantras and exclaiming how it was the perfect day for a run... it really was. 

After the 10k mark, it felt like there were aide stations every 1.5 mile or so, not complaining as I love more frequent vs. not enough, but after all this time I still have not mastered the 'drink and run' move, so I continually have to do the walk through each time. 

Mile 7: 7:59
Mile 8: 9:39
Mile 9: 10:17- massive hill I walked a good part of 
Mile 10: 7:45

Lately my pattern has been good first mile, feel like crap until 6 or 7, find random mojo for a few miles, then gut out the last few to finish--- today continued to repeat this routine. As you can see by mile 10, randomly I got a bug and had a few fast miles. As much as the uphills sucked in the course, the downhills helped to counteract, and it did make it more engaging. It was a mix of paved road and gravel, so my pace slowed and picked up according to what the terrain was at the time. 

neverending uphills

It's amazing how different shoes can change so much. I'm grateful I didn't have my standard calf / arch pain, however what DID happen is around mile 11 my feet started to burn then go numb, as well as blisters on the inside of my big toe starting to form. It's been well over a year since I've had any blisters, so it was quite uncomfortable. What also caught me off guard is how tight my hips became... I'm talking like I'm running my first half marathon tight. I guess I was significantly changing my gait without realizing it, and now 11 miles in it was starting to induce pain. Needless to say my bad ass few miles started to dwindle and my pace slowed down again with the increase in walk breaks. 

Last 2 miles were flat, woo woo, and run throughout town leading back in the park we originally started in. You may or may not be able to tell, but the color of my shirt was a unique turquoise / green, and it just so happens that in the last 2 miles a tall girl happened to pass me wearing the same exact shirt (random). My goal was to try to not let her get too far ahead of me because I didn't want mom to think that was me finishing and then I get no finish line photos... ya I know, its the weirdest things I think of while running. 

Mile 11: 7:59
Mile 12: 8:59
Mile 13: 8:35
I had zero left to give in the end. I wasn't tired, but my legs felt like bricks and my hips were incredibly tight so I couldn't lengthen my stride even if I were being chased by a rapid dog or a zombie... I need to be better about working on turnover. 
.17: 7:19

Finally I get my own photographer to capture my finish.. and this awesome running form. So many things to dissect in this photo.  My bad form caught up to me because my legs haven't felt this "new to running" in a few years...  

half marathon medal blue glass with a maple leaf imprint, 5k red glass with maple leaf impint 

The refreshments afterward were excellent. Chocolate milk, adult organic capri suns, gold fish, popcorn, sandwiches, bagels with spinach dip, cookies, and freshly scooped ice cream cones! (I had the maple walnut flavor) 
Maple cookie, maple medal, maple sticker

While waiting for me, mom shelled out the big bucks and bought us both race shirts since it was chilly and they were pretty snazzy. Only larger sizes available ;( 

Final thoughts:
Despite "not feeling it" for a large part of the run, I actually enjoyed the race. It had a small town feel, with a big town turnout. Fall is just starting now in Vermont, so all the foilage was pretty green; had this race been a week or two later, the leaves would be breathtaking. Everything was well run from the packet pickup, race start on time, EVERY mile marked, and plenty of aide stations throughout the course. I also loved how they posted results pretty rapidly after the course, and they even sent a complimentary email with your results 2 hours after the event finished. The city of Manchester is the EPITOME of a picturesque Vermont town would be in my mind, so everything FULLY lived up to my expectations (will post more about before and after tomorrow) 
All in all, glad I chose the race and that I was able to share this awesome experience with my mom!


  1. That's what I'm talking about! Fall weather and a great finish time!
    I'm so glad MJ could "run" this one with you.
    You guys make Vermont sound very appealing. Looking forward to it one of these days.

  2. That looks like a really neat medal! Glad you didn't have to travel alone, and yeah, logistically, getting to Vermont is NOT cheap.

  3. New England towns can be so nice, and I agree, looks like a great medal!

  4. Congrats on 46! The cool weather sounds absolutely delicious!! Sorry it was a rough run for you though... :( Gonna try my hardest to make those NE states into doubles.

  5. I think it's so neat you got to do this race with your mom! I am always impressed with your running and not to mention determination. Way to go!

  6. ooh, this makes me want to do this and not the mad one. looks like it's really well done. glad you had fun with mom. so odd about the shoes and blisters?!?