Monday, May 30, 2011

Rain, Rain, Please Stay for the Vermont City Marathon!

I hope everyone celebrated Memorial Day in memory of our troops and in good company in near a Weber Grill or a Smoker. Irene and I took the weekend to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary with about 7,000 runners (about 3,600 full marathoners and the rest being part of a relay team) in the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, which started and ended in the city of Burlington.

The weekend was the first time we did not have one of the kids limbs such as a foot or arm smack us across the face and wake us up. While it was a strange feeling not having a small hand hold our hands, we enjoyed getting away from the kids. More like the kids really enjoyed their break from Mom and Dad!

JetBlue landed us in the Burlington International Airport early on Saturday. I think it has to be the smallest airport I have ever flown into, even smaller than our local Islip McArthur Airport. It was a quick transition from baggage claim to the road in our rental driving towards the Marathon Expo at the Sheraton Burlington.

After receiving my Bib, Shirt and Goody Bag, we walked the expo floor looking for some special deals that did not reveal themselves. Usually we skip the seminars, but this time I wanted to listen to a World Record Holder, Laura Skladzinski. She happens to be the youngest female to run a marathon in all 50 States. Her journey started at this Marathon 3 years ago! The most important thing she said was “Enjoy the race, it’s not about the PR, have fun.” Or something like that. Basically keep things in perspective.

Burlington is a really nice city with Church Street being its trendy pedestrian only Main Street. It is only 4 blocks long packed with quaint shops and eateries. Later that night we carbed up at the Famous Bove’s of Vermont, which is on its 3rd Generation. They are known for their sauce, and a few years back, Mark Bove’s Lasagna went head to head with Bobby Flay Lasagna Dish on Food Networks’s Throw Down. He actually lost, but we really enjoyed it, especially the prices for the amount of food we received!

The next morning, Irene left before I did and walked over to the Food Tent to volunteer handing out recovery food for the racers, which consisted of Pretzels, Raisins, Beef Jerky, Oranges, Cabot Cheddar, and Yogurt. I waited as long as I could to avoid the raindrops on my shoes.

The Hilton of Burlington was steps away from the start and finish, which was super convenient and allowed us a few minutes of extra ZZZ’s, if we so chose to take. However, it’s Marathon Morning and I was excited to run a new Personal Record!

I met up with Laura again, who was pacing the 4:30 group. I soaked up the energy and my shoes soaked up the rain. As long as it keeped raining, I would be fine. Around 7:55am, we all faced toward the starting gate, put our hands on our hearts and sang our National Anthem. We then shuffled forward, walked, jogged then trotted passed the start.

The consistent rain and drizzle keep the temperatures cooler, and my pace just ahead of the 4:30 pace. The rain kept a shroud on one of the “10 Most Scenic Marathons” by Runner's World magazine. As the Weather Channel forcasted, the Sun came out! I chanted, “Rain, Rain, Please Stay!” as I felt myself slowing down with the annoyance of a growing blister on my right arch and my pinky toe.

Then John Paul popped to my left, yes he has the same name as the Pope…Anyway, he said that Laura was a few steps behind. I encouraged him to keep going. At around the 13 mile mark, Laura with the 4:30 sign in her hand came up on my right, and the group proceeded with out looking backL By that time, my left groin and both calves were cramping up. Several minutes later, the 4:45 pace group, passed me by.

By this time, I slowed to a walk to minimize my cramping, and I looked at my watch to figure out how much time I had to get my time at least under 5:00. Suffice it to say, it did not look good. I started alternating running and walking method, but I was too far gone to make up the time.

The changing scenes during the race that included hills, city streets, suburban neighborhood streets, highways, trails and a park made the race unique. One outstanding feature included tiny puddles, large puddles, mud, plywood on top of mud, and more mud! Now about the hills, if you go up a hill, usually there is some kind of downhill. With this race, it seemed that I climbed up more uphills than I decended down?!?

One my coaches at Team for Kids suggested to dedicate the last few miles to some loved ones, and of course my 3 kids pop up into my mind, because that’s how all this running started. My thoughts of Elijah and Zachary pulling me and Emily pushing me through the last part of the course really helped me.

With the last mile ahead of me, I gave it my all, putting aside any cramping for what seemed to me a sprint (probably a Kenyan would call it a walk). The trailed opened up to Waterfront Park, and I stepped on the gas on the short Broadwalk along Lake Champlain. Irene yelled my name, as I focused on the finish gate ahead of me, passing a few runners along the way on the very soggy grass.

As I crossed the finish line, I was totally disenchanted with my time of 05:19:00, and swore that I will only sign up for races between November through April! Well it really was my fault for being unprepared to high than normal temps and humidity. In fact, all of my training runs for the year were in cool temps, at night and a few times in the rain. So my time relected my training went. You learn something different everytime you step out with a pair of running shoes. Preparation for my next race will be different!

I was so happy to see Irene with her smile and proud look, as she lead me to the tent where she handed out food to all the runners that finished before me. After refueling on cheese and oranges, the folks over at Ben and Jerry’s were nice enough to give out small cups of Vanilla and Chocolate Brownie Fudge. Surprising after months of no ice cream, I did not want any more than the sampling they provided. That’s a big difference from 3 years ago, when a pint of Hagen Daz Vanilla Swiss Almond would have been devoured as I sat in front of the television.

A couple days later as I recalled my story with my friend, Scott. He then emailed me, “You’re a winner just by showing up.” Getting off your butt and doing something to improve yourself is what it’s all about. It’s about the journey and congratulations for all the runners and thank you for all the volunteers for making the marathon work as smooth as possible. I wonder if they can recruit Mother Nature to volunteer to make the perfect running weather.

Come to think of it, everyday is a gift, regardless of how it goes. You always have a choice on how you are going to be at that moment.

Make Everyday count and Enjoy the Journey!


1 comment:

  1. I love this race-day recap. And, you ARE a winner just for showing up. Thanks for coming and we hope to have you back (even in May!).

    Leandre @ RunVermont