Wednesday, June 1, 2016

VCM 2016 & Half Marathon #8 Recap

Here's the thing about Vermont, it is like the worst boyfriend/girlfriend you ever had. It's unreliable and completely untrustworthy. At least that is how the weather is. Just a few weeks ago it was reaching freezing at night and suddenly we are blasted with a heat spell. This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of spring: The Vermont City Marathon. I have loved this event for years. I have been a spectator, a participant in the 3-5 person relay and for the past three years I have run a Half Marathon in it, teaming up with my father. To say I look forward to this is an understatement. I feel like a little kid at Christmas when this race approaches and running in it is like unwrapping my gifts.

This was my second Half Marathon of this year along with it being the 8th one I have run to date. My training this year has been better than the past few years. It doesn't always feel it in the moment yet on a long run I can feel the difference in my endurance and the way my legs carry me. In April I did the Half Marathon Unplugged and was so close to beating my personal PR (by 45 seconds!). I had not made a commitment to break any PR's in this run. I had been watching the weather for days and saw that the heat and humidity were going to be a factor. I ran a couple runs when it was in the 80's in the weeks leading up to this race yet nothing more than five miles with my trusty Camelbak with Nuun to help me through the beating sun. Race morning the weather predicted cloudy skies, in the 80's with humidity. All week there were updates from Race Vermont regarding the conditions and how they would prepare for this day. The thing is, can you really prepare for Mother Nature? This race proved you could not.

Dad & I. Team: Pounding Pavement
By the start at 8am the sun had made it's appearance and was already blazing the pavement. I had hydrated well and properly fueled throughout the week and that morning. The race started and I was among the thousand of runners that filled the streets of Burlington. The roar and cheers of the spectators guiding us through the first few miles until we found ourselves on the Burlington Beltline. For those of you who are not from Vermont, this is a stretch of pavement that has no shade. It is also the only time of the year that it is ever closed down as it is a major connector within Burlington. Race morning the announcers for the race titled it "The Frying Pan". Suddenly there were thousands of runners in that pan that were literally being cooked. With no shade and inclines to challenge you, this part of the coarse became the hardest.

I have run the Beltline several times over the years. Most people grumble about it. Others speak profanities about this part of the race. I have always enjoyed it. That was until Sunday.
Heading out to the "Frying Pan"

I was happy with my pace up until around mile six. Around this time I realized that in order to finish this race I would have to slow down and be sure I listened to my body. Part of me wanted to push myself a little harder than I was but I knew that I couldn't. I resorted to a comfortable pace and by mile 8 was just happy to see the end of the Belt Line. I knew after that the last five miles would be kinder to me. This proved to be to be partly true. The sun was not the only evil factor, the humidity had started to come play too. Cheers from the crowds were being competed with by the sirens from rescue attending to other runners. Mile 11 I saw a marathoner just stop and stagger.

The people in the neighborhoods were amazing, as always. Out there along with the volunteers handing out water and snacks from there house and standing there hosing down runners as they passed by. I made sure to run in every hose I went by as I prayed for clouds and rain. It was evident I was going to finish this part of the race without either one of those.

As I hit mile twelve I felt a wave of relief. Instead of the usual push in that last mile I simply was just happy it was almost done. I finally came into Oakledge Park and handed off to my father to finish the last half. I finished in 1:41:39. Despite the conditions I was happy with my time and that I was able to finish safely.

I was worried about my father and the other runners. The heat and humidity were increasing. I waited with my brother for my sister in law to come in (it was her FIRST Half!!! Congrats to her!) and when she did we all headed to the finish to wait for my father. I was reunited with my kids who at this point were happy to see me but also ready to go home.The heat turns even the sweetest children into grumbling little monsters. I managed to get my youngest to sleep on me as we watched waves of runners come in. I got to see a couple of people I know finish and the guy that I was pacing with up until my last mile. As we waited Run Vermont asked for every one's attention and announced that the race was officially closed due to the heat and humidity and needing to keep everyone safe. The crowd fell silent, cheers suddenly stopped, and people were crying. I felt a sinking in my stomach and my heart suddenly felt heavy for the runners out there. I also wondered if my father would get to finish his Half or would he be pulled off the coarse.

I continued to cheer on the finishers with my family, repeatedly checking my phone to be sure dad hadn't sent a text. Then suddenly we saw him and it was such a great moment. We eagerly went to greet him and he had no idea that the coarse had been shut down. That last wave of runners were just getting in and would be the last to celebrate their victories.

I understand why the coarse was shut down. It still does not change the fact of how many runners were crushed by this. All those that trained so hard to run these miles only to be told that they couldn't. They stopped running and they didn't have a choice. Months, miles, and sweat all came down to Mother Nature taking control of this day and devastating thousands who had worked so damn hard. It was someones goal, someones dream, and someones journey that was taken away. I hope all those runners dig deep and realize they did not fail. I hope that they know there will be another marathon and they will be even stronger for it! Anyone who ran this race Sunday, whether three miles, twenty miles or 26.2 deserves a medal. 
189 is mine!

I want to end this on a happy note. My son and my nephew ran their first race this weekend, The Yam Scram!!! They ran their own "Half"... a half mile. This mama couldn't have been more happy and proud of these kids. To see their faces and eagerness was awesome.  I love that Run Vermont puts this on for the kids. This was truly a highlight of my weekend! Chase was thrilled he got a medal and once in the car asked when he could do it again. That's my boy!!!

In closing, I think it is important to remember that even though our bodies are amazing vessels and capable of some crazy things, we also have to be sure to listen to our bodies. We need to know when to slow down, when to walk, how to breathe and when we need to stop to stay safe. Remember, running is a gift!

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  1. I"m so glad your dad got to finish. When I saw the course was shut down, it made me sad. All that training, gone to waste for so many people. I know it's all about the journey but I'd sure be upset if I couldn't finish a big race that I trained for!

    1. It was really sad, I cried for them. People around us were crying and hugging. It was very emotional as a runner when you know how hard those runners worked to run this marathon.

  2. That is crazy that they shut the course down after the race had started but I guess it's understandable if it really was that hot and humid out. Sad for all the runners that trained so hard though! Glad your father was able to finish and CONGRATS on an amazing finish time - you are seriously inspirational!

    1. Thank you my dear!!! It was a pretty crazy event to be at. It was really sad in that moment they announced it but def needed to be done. Damn Mother Nature! xo

  3. Well if that's not the best (and most truthful) opening line, I don't know what is! :-)
    Thank you for the shout out!
    So very proud of our runner boys!

  4. Oh man, that must have been a crazy hot race for them to shut it down. I am so glad your dad made it in. That would be a huge drag to be 1/2 way through a full marathon or almost done with the half and not make it BUT better than heat exhaustion. I remember seeing a few people being carried off the track in L.A. while waiting for my husband and one girl was so delirious they had to guide her to cross the finish because she didn't know which way to go- scary. That is wonderful that your son wants to race again! I love when they have kids races. My grandson loves racing as well.

  5. Wow, This sounds like such a tough race with the heat & humidity! I feel so bad for the runners who weren't able to finish the race. That would be so disappointing! Glad your dad got to finish. I run lots of races with my dad too - Cool that you have matching shirts! My dad and I call ourselves "Team Daisy" <-- Not very intimidating!
    Your time for the half is almost exactly what mine was for a 10-mile this weekend, I dream of being as fast as you!

  6. Wow a family affair! Congrats to you on your endurance, I can't even imagine running that far.

  7. Congrats to you and your family...especially your sis in law for training for her first half. I plan to have my son run more races with me, too.

  8. Nice race! everyone looks happy with a great result. Congratulation! A little boy looks cute. It is amazing when the petite body, it can get a good achievement. ^^

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