Last weekend I ran my first ever half marathon! I have been feeling pretty bummed out that I wasn’t able to run the unplugged half marathon in Burlington due to a stress fracture; however this weekend I had my redemption. I was able to sign up last minute for the Vermont City Marathon as part of a two person relay team raising money for the Vermont Make a Wish foundation. I was very nervous about the race because I’ve never run this far in my entire life, and I haven’t really been training for a half so I was worried I would re-injure my foot, AND I still had to find a partner to run the other half.
Luckily for me a friend of a friend of a friend saw my post on Facebook about needing a partner and was able to help me out. My acquaintance Adam, whom I’d only met once before, was already signed up for the full 26.2 so he was able to join my relay team as long as he fund raised for Make a Wish. Now that all the details were set all I had to do was pack up, head to VT, and figure out how the hell I was gonna run 13.1 miles.
Oh let’s also just get one thing straight, Vermont is my favorite state. I often tell strangers I’m from Vermont, or call myself an honorary Vermonter. I just feel that on the inside I’m more Vermont than anywhere else. That being said I rolled up to my girlfriends lake house with my trusty co-pilot Greta, and instantly felt at home. The lake was slightly overcast, but as beautiful as ever.
I had a feeling this was going to be a great weekend no matter what happened at the race on Sunday.
Leading up to the race I was able to spend time with some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in a while, and we did the typical Burlington things like stroll church street, check out the farmer’s market, and sample some local brews. We also went to a food truck meet up at the Arts Riot, which I highly recommend if anyone is in town. It takes place every Friday evening during the summer.
My friend Meredith was also participating in the Marathon as part of a 5 person relay team for Make a Wish so the night before the race we spent the evening making pasta, watching the season 2 premiere of House of Cards, and stressing about tomorrows events. As usual I woke up before my alarm since I was nervous I’d sleep in. I had my typical pre-race meal of an English muffin with peanut butter, honey, and banana. I was well hydrated, well stretched, and had gone over my gear probably 50 times. Meredith and I headed downtown to park and made our way to our required exchange points. My exchange point was at Oak ledge Park, and let me say it was a clusterfuck. This was the only negative part of my race experience. It was very unorganized/crowded and no one could hear the numbers being announced or see their partners coming in very easily. That meant that everyone was leaning into the only chute open to try and see their partners while the race officials were yelling at us to get back. It was actually the only time I’ve felt kind upset with any race organizers. I was stressed out enough and being yelled at because they couldn’t organize the race was a little upsetting.
Anyways Adam reached me at about 1:53 into the race, which was a little later than I expected him. Turns out Adam sustained a foot injury at mile 9 (probably stress fracture from my diagnosis) and slowed way down. I was shocked that he even made it to the halfway point. I was left to soldier on alone. I took the first few miles WAY faster than I meant to, I basically ran 5k pace and only slowed slightly upon reaching battery hill. I also didn’t really know my pace because in the confusion of the exchange I forgot to start my watch. I don’t know if it was adrenalin or what, but I felt great for most of the race and my mile splits were usually in the low 7’s. I really enjoyed my leg of the course. I first ran along the lake, then up through battery park, and then into some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The neighborhoods were my favorite part because the people cheering on the front lawns were unbelievably supportive. They were handing out water, gatorade, fruit, GU’s, and even one house handed me a budweiser (I’ll admit I only drank half of it). The final stretch of the race went along the Burlington bike path. It was partly shaded, and had a slight downhill slope to it. At mile 25 I was really starting to get jelly legs, but then some November Project members wearing grassroots gear, and holding signs reading “fuck yeah!” cheered me on giving me the extra boost I needed. I ended up with a time of 1:34:46, which was about 10 minutes faster than I had hoped for!
In the end an impulsive decision to sign up for the race turned out to be one of the best running weekends I’ve had yet. I was able to spend time in my favorite place, with some of my favorite people, participating in the sport I love. I definitely feel the itch to run the whole 26.2, but I still think the half marathon distance may be my favorite. I liked that I felt like I was running fast and pushing myself, however I still needed the endurance required to finish the whole 13.1. In the past I’ve mostly run 5K’s, but I’ll definitely be on the look out for some longer races for the rest of the season.