Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Vermont City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Just over a week ago I took on my fourth marathon, the People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon. It took me a little while to get my thoughts together enough to put together a decent recap!
I’d been dreaming of doing this race for years – I almost signed up in high school but I got hurt running my first half marathon. Thank goodness I waited! I was going into this race with a big goal: a time beginning with a 4. This would be my 4th marathon, my 4th race in Burlington (I previously set an old half PR on a section of this course), 4 years after I started running again after 4 years off. It wasn’t just all the number 4’s lining up – I had trained hard and well. My training showed that I was very capable of a 4:59:59, if not closer to a 4:50. So what happened?
Friday – Travel Day 1: Being from Maryland, my trip to Vermont took a little while. I multitasked and also went home to visit family. I flew to Manchester, NH on Friday morning and went to my hometown in northern NH for the night.
Saturday – Travel + Expo Day: After a short (and soaking wet) shakeout run, I headed to Burlington with my mom and nephew, CJ, whom my mom was babysitting for the weekend. It’s just under a 3 hour ride, and was mostly relaxing. We got to the Expo at the Doubletree Hilton just before 2. The expo was small, but mighty. I can’t say I checked out everything, but I was still pleased. Bib and shirt pick-up was quick and easy, then came the fun – meeting Meb!! I waited in line for almost an hour (CJ slept the whole time!) but it was so worth it. I got my bib signed for good luck and he gave me some confidence in my experience. I finished off the expo by checking out the Untapped energy booth and visiting my old bosses at the Fleet Feet Sports Burlington/Plattsburgh booth.
After the expo we checked into our hotel – we stayed at Trader Duke’s in South Burlington. It was nothing fancy, but it was clean and had race day shuttles. We went to Olive Garden for a post-race dinner, as I knew that their pasta and meat sauce would agree with my stomach. CJ’s cuteness helped distract me from what I had to do the next day! After my pre-marathon routine, I was asleep just after 10!
Sunday – pre-run: I woke up just before 5 and successfully got ready without waking anyone up. I forced down a leftover breadstick (I never got a bagel the day before) to make sure I wouldn’t be too hungry, forced down some water and was out the door to make the 5:30 shuttle. The shuttle was quick and easy – I was to the start in Battery Park just before 6. It was a breezy and cool morning, but it was definitely humid. The humidity made me nervous so I drank another 8ish ounces of water along with my Generation UCan and a banana. In-between porta-john stops (there were so many – thank you RunVermont!) I met up with the other BibRave Pro’s Jessica and Vanessa and also met some wonderful other runners. The vibe was so electric and it definitely helped keep my confidence high! Before I knew it, it was time to go!
Miles 1-5 brought us up through some neighborhoods, down Church Street (a Burlington staple) and out on the Beltline. Our first pass down Church Street was one of my favorite moments of the day. There were so many people who were out having brunch and cheering everyone on. Going out onto the Beltline, I was aware that I was already running at/above my “perfect day” goal pace. I tried to slow down, but I had a hard time doing so. The Beltline was very slanted which made me nervous. However, you can only adjust for that so much during a race so I just kept moving. Around mile 3.5ish I got a high five from the one and only MEB while he passed me the other way. DAY. MADE. I also got so see my cousin Dani killing it while running the first half of the 2-person relay! Splits: 11:24, 10:52, 10:45, 10:52, 10:47
Miles 6-10 had us coming back on the Beltline, down Church Street for the second time, and down towards South Burlington. I made a quick porta-john stop (lost about 1 minute?) and kept on trucking. Mile 8-9 was a moderate uphill, but it didn’t bother me too much. Church Street was great the second time but not quite as energetic. I was familiar with miles 9-15 of the race, so I was feeling cool, calm, and collected. Around mile 10 Dani’s husband passed me going the other way, but he was going way too fast for me to get a word out! I refilled my water bottle for the first time somewhere in here – but I can’t remember when (this will be important later). Splits: 11:25, 10:50, 11:43, 11:22, 10:32
Miles 11-15 finally brought us to the halfway point! We climbed the hill I dreaded during my two Burlington half marathons just before the halfway point and it didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore! I crossed halfway at 2:25:26 – right on pace for a 4:50! I was feeling really good at this point and was running really steady (the splits don’t totally show it due to my intervals). Splits: 10:56, 11:10, 10:55, 11:09, 11:30
Miles 16-20 – I knew right after mile 15 was the “Assault on Battery.” I always avoided this hill when I used to run in town, and when we drove it the night before I almost freaked. Man – this hill is HUGE. I was thrilled to see my mom and nephew at the bottom, screamed a few expletives, and climbed. When I made it to the top I filled my bottle again, and kept going on just like before! But, I didn’t feel so good for very long…Around mile 18 I started to get a headache and my right hip started to tighten up. I had slightly altered from my typical fueling strategy so I played around with things – took a freezer pop or two, drank some extra water, ate some chews. But nothing helped. By mile 20, I started to feel super nauseaus. In all honesty I think I would have felt better if I puked, but I was too afraid to be seen and get pulled from the course. I felt so bad that I didn’t think I’d finish going at the same speed, so I shortened my intervals and kept moving, albeit, very slowly. Splits: 12:14 (hill + water stop), 11:22, 11:21, 12:21, 12:16
Miles 21-26.2 were terrible, just so terrible. Once I slowed down, my feet cramped up, as well as my left hip. I was barely keeping at a shuffle. There’s not really much else to say. I stopped drinking so much water which helped my stomach, but I couldn’t get myself moving any faster. Every time I started running again after a walk segment, I would grown in pain from my right hip. It literally felt like I had an impinged nerve and if I could have moved it, it would have been better. I also had terrible arch pain, which I’ve never felt in a marathon! It was really hard watching everyone I’d passed pass me. It was even harder when I saw 4:48 pass. Then 4:50. Then 4:55 and lastly 4:59:59 pass on my watch and I was just past mile 25. That sucked. But it wasn’t stopping me. I originally wanted to finish the race with the word “victor” flashing above my head, but instead if was “fighter.” I spent much of the last mile running/walking backwards and slogging with my head down.
But goodness gracious. Coming through that finish line – seeing my mom and (sleeping) nephew and THEN the crowd. The crowd was 5-6 deep on both sides and was just screaming. With my name being on my bib, I heard so many random people screaming my name. I very well could have been choking up from disappointment. However, I got choked up because of how loud these people were screaming for me (and other finishers), no matter how slow I was or how beat up I looked. I’ve experienced some really amazing moments, but that race finish is among the top 3. (Splits: 12:40, 14:22, 14:07, 13:46, 14:01, 13:34, 5:01 for .41 nubbin).
Final time: 5:13:15. Not my sub-5. Not even a PR. 10 minutes above my PR.
I went to Burlington to get that sub-5. Naturally, I thought I would be crushed with how I did. While I’m not pleased with my performance, I’m not totally crushed. I ran an awesome first half, first 18-20 miles really. I made the mistake of drinking too much water, which was, I think, the main reason why I felt the way I did the last 10K. I also don’t think the slant of the road on the Beltway did any favor for my hips. But, it is what it is.
Each marathon is a unique experience. While May 27, 2018 was not my day, it will come. It could have come on this course – aside from the major hill at mile 15, the course was nice and flat-rolling in terrain. The crowd support was incredible, the volunteers were amazing, and the race organization and communication was impeccable. There were many unique, Vermont-like touches to the race like the Untapped maple syrup as fuel and Ben & Jerry’s at the finish line.
Post race was a nightmare (and not due to RunVermont). My mom freaking forgot where she parked her car and I ended up walking 2 miles with her to find it because I was familiar with the area and she was clueless. We ended up cancelling dinner with my cousins because I felt so crappy and we didn’t get to somewhere for lunch until 2:00. Ugh. (BTW, the car was parked only 5 BLOCKS away. Near a major landmark. Oh Momma – you’re lucky I love you). I was really hurting that night (obviously), the next day wasn’t horrible, and my Tuesday I was feeling about 85%.
The verdict: The Vermont City Marathon was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone! I think I even enjoyed it more than Marine Corps Marathon, and that is an amazing race too! Check out more of my thoughts on the race itself on my Bibrave review.