Race Reflections: Vermont City Marathon

It’s a little bit funny to keep a blog on the days when you’re not sure what to say, or where to start.

It’s especially strange having spent more than three months anticipating and just over four hours running with the thoughts in my head each step of the way.

The marathon was fantastic. What’s most important is this: I accomplished my goal. No, not 4:00:00, but to be tough and to run with grit, to overcome my mental obstacles.

Race morning was very, very wet and colder than I could have imagined would be possible during training. I worried a lot about heat and humidity, but absolutely had not considered rain or cold. Memorial Day weekend and 37 degrees at the start? Crazy.

The whole experience was a bit surreal. None (none!) of my usual race day nerves. No anxious anticipation, jut matter-of-fact inevitability. I remember smiling — and smiling a lot. At the start, through downtown, at the sight of expansive green mountain vistas, of costumed runners (a horse, specifically), and of TNT teammates. I grinned — laughed even — around mile 14 when we ran side by side with Lake Champlain, feet sloshing in puddles and waves crashing alongside, spraying us. At the very top of the mile 15 hill, I very nearly turned to look back down, arms overhead to celebrate. The last ten miles were a real grind — out and back, with the first five into a headwind, but running along the bike path from 22 to the finish knowing I was going to check marathon #6 off my list was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

I had been warned about finishing on the grass, which would have been lovely on a normal day, I’m sure. Instead it was a bit like finishing in a mud pit. I almost held onto the finish line fencing (you know, that flimsy, orange, plastic-y stuff?) to make sure I didn’t face-plant over the finish line. But, I made it.

It’s a little hard to write this — to SAY it — but I am proud of what I accomplished on Sunday. 4:07:56. A solid effort, and one that upon finishing, I knew I had given it everything I had. No slacking.

Best moment: Can I have two? Either the early stretch of the first out-and-back, running under a gorgeous bridge where a big drum group played incredible beats, surrounded by foggy, grey-green wilderness.

Also, the AMAZING crowd support from the bottom to the top of Battery Hill, especially the jolt I got from seeing Nik, Cait, and Chris in the middle. Best pit crew ever. Sure, Vermont is not the Boston Marathon and Battery Street is not Comm Ave, but I promise, this crowd rocked.

Worst ever? I’ll keep it short: realizing my right achilles was raw and bleeding at mile 4 (the left joined in later, but I didn’t notice until after the finish). It stung, it sucked, and then my feet got so cold and wet enough that I stopped noticing.

Ready for a doozy? I missed my personal best by ten seconds. Ten. Right?! I really, really don’t mind. Could I have banked ten seconds on the course? Uh, yes! How about five when I tried to adjust my sock and shoe on my gravely, mud-spattered, bleeding ankle? Or five more when I borrowed a lawn rake to “roll” out the cramp in my quad? I’m joking — this race hardly compared to my PR in New Jersey two years ago — rolling versus flat, deluge versus sunshine, 70 versus 40. This race was, and is, an accomplishment and I loved it.