What: RaceVermont Fall Half Marathon
When: Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014
Where: Shelburne, VT
I had written a big, long-winded rant about RaceVermont’s communication issues, but I decided it came off really whiny, so I’m just going to sum up with: RaceVermont has some communication issues. Incorrectly addressed emails, emails with incorrect info, and a changed start time that wasn’t communicated until the Monday before the event. Failure to communicate aside, RaceVermont knows how to put on a race.
Packet pick up was at my local Fleet Feet store, so there wasn’t any “expo” to speak of–they just handed me my bib and that was that. The woman working packet pick-up was actually the woman who fitted me for my shoes, although I doubt she remembered me. She warned me that the course was “hilly but pretty.” Pro tip: when a woman who works in a running store tells you the course is hilly, she’s not lying.
Race start was 8 am, so I woke up at 6, had a bagel with sunflower seed butter, some coffee, and a tall glass of Nuun. I prepped my gear, Body Glided the heck out of various body parts, taped my blister-prone feet, double-checked my to-do/to bring list, and headed out. I was flying solo on this one since Ben had to prep for his first week of solo teaching. I arrived about 20 minutes before the start, hit the porta-potties, and hung out in the field house, out of the cold and wind.
There was a DJ from a local radio station playing music and making announcements, and it was really nice to have an indoor space to warm up. At the last minute, RaceVermont decided to add a 5k and 10k option as well, so the 5k and 10k people started at 8, and the half marathoners started shortly after that.
It was cold (34 degrees F, with a windchill temp of about 23), windy (20-30 mph winds) and HILLY. The first 5 or so miles, I felt awesome. We were winding through local neighborhoods, where houses and trees helped to cut the wind. There wasn’t a lot of spectator support, but the volunteers were AWESOME. At about mile 4, I saw a guy running in a banana costume and yelled “Yeah, banana!” He was not impressed. Come on, guy, you can’t show up to a half marathon dressed as a banana and not smile when someone yells “Yeah, banana!” It’s just not right.
What’s a Vermont race without cows?
At mile 7, shit got HILLY. For the next couple of miles, I was pretty much running up one hill after another, into the wind. Thankfully, all my hill repeats this summer seem to have paid off, because from mile 7 on, I just started passing people, and no one passed me 🙂
So scenic. So hilly (this is at the bottom of an ENORMOUS hill).
At mile 10, the course went onto the Shelburne Bay Path and the Ti Path, which is the path that the Ticonderoga steam boat traveled when it was removed from Shelburne Bay and set up at Shelburne Museum. I’ve never actually done any trail running before, and I’m gonna be honest, it was kind of creepy. I typically avoid trail running alone because I’ve watched too many horror movies, and I was totally expecting a knife-wielding psycho to pop out and attack me, since by this point I was all alone on the trail. I was also getting really tired. I started giving my legs little pep talks–“Come on legs, you’ve been so great, you’re doing such a good job, let’s finish strong!”
Toward mile 12, I came upon a couple of girls up ahead, which was great, because a) I was still scared of the woods, and b) needed someone to chase. Just as I was passing both of them, a photographer popped out of nowhere and took a picture of me grinning like an idiot and passing those girls 🙂
As I came back out onto the road during mile 13, I pulled my phone out of my race belt so I could see where I was at time-wise, only to stare in horror at the fact that somewhere during mile 11, my Nike+ app had just stopped. I had no idea how long I’d been running or if I was anywhere near my goal. I had no choice but to just keep running and hope I was doing ok. At this point, I didn’t have anything left to give, and it took all my effort to somewhat speed up for the last 0.1 mile to cross the timing mat.
Immediately upon exiting the finisher’s chute, I was handed my medal and a bottle of water. Plus one-zillion points to RaceVermont for understanding that the thing runners want most when finishing a race is a fricken bottle of ice cold water! I headed into the field house on shaky legs and bee-lined to the Moe’s Southwest Grill booth, where I received not the anticipated burrito, but a bowl of chili and a bag of tortilla chips and a raffle ticket. At first, I was pretty disappointed that there was no burrito, when that’s what had initially been advertised (again, RaceVermont is not great with communication), but after sitting down and inhaling said chili and chips, I was mollified. It was probably easier to eat with my compromised fine motor skills at that moment anyway.
I was disappointed that my Nike+ app had failed me so miserably, and was anxious about having to wait until results were posted online, but about 10 seconds before I finished my chili, the DJ announced that they were posting results in the field house hallway. Score! I waddled over there after finishing my food and my mouth literally fell open in shock when I saw my time: 2:18:06. Not only did I PR, not only did I finish sub 2:30, but I shaved 23 minutes off my previous half marathon PR! Woo!
I decided to hang around for the awards ceremony and raffle because they had some great prizes–pint glasses, 3 pairs of ear buds, 3 pairs of Balega socks, a really nice pair of polarized sunglasses, and 2 pairs of Saucony shoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any awards or raffle prizes, but it was cool to see all the stuff they gave away.
I spent the rest of the day in PJ pants, wearing my medal, eating apple pie and my body weight in nachos and snuggling our friends’ baby . And finally, around 7 pm, I got a delicious, mini, vegan cupcake with chocolate frosting and pink sprinkles. No picture, because I inhaled that sucker!
Aside from the aforementioned communication problems, this was a pretty great race. It’s awesome to have an indoor waiting area when it’s cold and windy, and there were actual bathrooms available too, which I didn’t realize until after I’d already used a porta-potty. The volunteers were A+ excellent–very encouraging and full of energy. I was somewhat disappointed that a race shirt was not included in the registration fee–they were selling them for $25 extra, when I already paid $55 for the entry fee. They looked nice–hunter green, long sleeved, v-neck tech shirts, but there’s no way I was going to pay extra for one. While I didn’t get a burrito afterwards like I was expecting, the choice of vegetarian or beef chili was nice, and it was tasty even though it wasn’t a burrito. Also, they definitely pulled out all the stops for raffle and age group prizes. And can we get an “Ay-men!” for getting a bottle of water immediately upon finishing? It seems like a lot of races just don’t get this.
And now that I’ve achieved my sub-2:30 goal, I’m going to take the winter off from long distances and just maintain my fitness with shorter runs and lots of cross-training (hopefully lots of Nordic skiing!).
What’s your big running/racing goal right now?