2016 Race Schedule

I know, I know. Everyone and their mother is posting about their 2016 race schedule. You’ve probably read at least 6 of these posts already this week. But suck it up, buttercup, cause I’m going for it. If you’re not interested in yet another list of races that you’ve never heard of and will never run, feel free to come back later in the week.

So yeah, 2016 is The Year of the Marathon for me. My first marathon will be on May 29. But that’s only one race, and there’s a whole lot of year left after May. And plenty of fun opportunities between now and May that I hope can be squeezed into my training schedule. So, without further ado, my tentative 2016 race schedule. Things in bold text are definite, and things in orange I’m really excited about but haven’t committed to yet.

January
Ha! Nothing. Nothing but cold, snow, and treadmill running.

February
Hopefully Race Vermont will repeat their Valentine’s Day themed run. If not, I may do a virtual one with good swag.

March
Nada. Just marathon training and Mary Poppins-ing.

April
Nada. I’ll be too busy with Mary Poppins and marathon training

May
My birth month. Also, race-a-palooza.

  • May 1: Middlebury Sap Run Half. Cause I am mentally incapable of running more than 10 miles solo.
  • May 7: Vermont Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k. This race is VERY important to me
  • May 12: Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge 5k. Can you say “Free Registration”? 😉
  • May 21: Craft Brew Races 5k. Because beer.
  • May 29: People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon

June
Nada. Marathon recovery, baby!

July
Of course the two races in July I’d really like to do are on the same day, and a day I’ll most likely be on vacation out of state…

  • July 7: Mad Half Marathon or Stowe 8 Miler
  • July 30: GMAA Women’s Round Church 10k

August

  • August 6: Fairfax Egg Run 10k. You get an omelet at the finish!

September

  • September 4: Archie Post 5 Miler.
  • Spartan Sprint. Not sure I’ll do it again, but most likely will.
  • September 24: Color Run 5k
  • September 25: Island Vines 10k. Because wine.

October

  • October 2: Leaf Peepers Half. Possible PR attempt?

November

  • November 5: runDisney Wine and Dine Half with Team Can-Am!
  • November 24: Zack’s Place Turkey Trot 5k

December

  • Ri-Ra Santa 5k

While I would love to just run right out and register for all of these races immediately, I have learned that it’s better to pay a few dollars more for late registration than to pay an early registration fee and not be able to run the race at all. My schedule is nutty at the best of times, and this year will be no exception, with marathon training, a spring show, and hopefully some nice vacations 😉

Some of these races haven’t announced official dates yet, and may not be happening at all. I’m also poor as all get out after the holidays, so I will be VERY selective this year about who I race with. And any races between now and May 29 need to fit my marathon training schedule. My schedule might not work with any of the races I want, and I need to trust my coach and her plan to get me through this training cycle..

Do you like to sign up for #alltheraces at the beginning of the year, or do you wait?

Race Recap: GMAA Pump it Up 5 Miler

This is a recap of my personal race experience. If you’d like more nitty gritty details, you can check out my Bibrave.com review by clicking here.

What:  GMAA Pump it Up 5 Miler

Where:  Old Pump Road, Jericho, VT

When:  Saturday May 2, 2015.

I didn’t realize it when I signed up, but this race has apparently been going on for almost 40 years, which is pretty cool. It was also my first 5 mile race, and I’m glad it was.

Pre-Race (Registration, Pick-up, Facilities etc): This is a very no-frills race. Registration was $10, and you could pre-register online, or do race-day registration. There was plenty of parking at Jericho Elementary School, and 2 portable toilets were available to runners. About 5 minutes before the start, I walked over to Old Pump Rd (just across the street) to line up. There were some quick announcements, and then we were off.

During the Race: I started my Garmin when I started running, not when I crossed the finish line, because there was no chip-timing, just “gun” time. Old Pump Road is a great dirt road with rolling hills and lots of beautiful scenery. It was warm and sunny, but thankfully not hot, and the road was well-shaded in most areas. The route was out and back, which meant that we hit the water stop twice. It was around the 1.75 mile mark going out, and I walked a bit with my water. I felt good, but a little sluggish.

Right after the water stop, I caught up to a woman I’d been following for a while. We got to chatting, and her name was Dana. I stayed with her for about a half mile, and it felt really nice to make a friend out on the course. After a while, she let me know that I was going a bit too fast for her, so she dropped back and I kept going. The first half was overall uphill, and the second half was overall downhill, so I really just tried to let myself go on the downhills to make up some time. I walked the water stop again, because I had been going a bit too fast and was feeling tired. By mile 4 I was dragging quite a bit, and ready to be done. I managed to pass another couple of women right before the end, and sped up to cross the finish line.

Photo May 02, 11 02 58 AM

Finish line photo courtesy of Ben

Post-race: I was feeling a bit pukey, so I walked a couple of laps until I felt better. There was a truck parked right at the finish line that had big bottles of cold water in the back, so I grabbed one while we stood around chatting. Ben came to watch, and our friends Emerson and Lori also ran. They’re speed demons–Lori was the fastest woman overall and Emerson took first in his age group! I was also able to cheer my new friend Dana across the finish line, which was super cool.

Back at the elementary school, there were bagels with peanut butter and/or cream cheese and bananas, which I thought was perfect. GMAA had some very nice prizes–Snowflake Chocolates, Road Crew Crunch granola, a fresh-baked pie from the Poor House, t-shirts, gift cards and more. I was pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of the prizes for a race with a $10 registration fee.

  • Official Time: 51:34
  • 6th in AG (out of 7)
  • 70th out of 78 runners overall

My goals for this race were:

  • Don’t get injured–Check!
  • Only walk while drinking water–Check!
  • Finish strong–Check!

I was very pleased with how this race turned out. It was a beautiful day, and the course was absolutely gorgeous. And of course, I got my hard-earned maple creemee after, so who could be upset with a race that ends like that? I’m excited to hopefully do another 5 mile race soon, and I know I’ll be running this one every year.

Have you ever done a 5 mile race? What did you think?

Goals for the GMAA 5 Miler

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this will be my first 5 mile race. I’m optimistic about my performance. 5 miles just seems like a really comfortable distance for some reason. Long enough to be a challenge, but not so long that I need to commit to a ton of time for training, or feel like I want to die during the race.

As is customary, I’ve decided to set out some goals for the race. Of course, since this is my first 5 miler, I don’t have a really solid idea of what is realistic or reasonable, so I’m just going pretty basic.

  • Don’t get injured
  • Only walk while drinking water
  • Finish strong

And that’s it. Really. Nothing earth shattering. This is my first race in months and my longest run since my last 5 mile training run in mid-March (which was also my longest run since November). I’m not expecting any miracles. I’m just hoping for a fun run and hopefully some nice, springy weather. And a maple creemee after 😀

What’s your favorite post-race treat?

Four Races in May

Apparently, May is race month for me. I have a 5 miler and three 5ks this month. I’m actually pretty excited about all of them. I decided that this year I was going to focus on smaller distances and go for new race distances and PRs, and if I stay on course, I think May will be the month of the 5k PR. Here’s a look at what’s coming up for me.

May 2: GMAA 5 Miler

There are many reasons I’m excited about this race. First of all, it’s my first 5 mile race, which means I get an automatic PR. Second, it’s located just a town over from us in Jericho, so I don’t have a long commute into Burlington. Third, registration was only $10. Fourth, it starts and ends right next to a chocolate shop and the place with the best maple creemees I’ve ever had, so I already know what my post-race treats will be 🙂 I’ll be posting my goals for this race tomorrow, so stay tuned!

May 9: Vermont Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k

I’ve already written about this one, so you know I’m excited. It’s on my birthday, I’m raising money for a great cause (click here to donate!), and it’s a nice course. I’ll obviously write a more specific goals post coming up, but I’m gunning for at least a course PR, and maybe even a 5k PR too.

photo 2 (2)

May 14: Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge and State Agency Race 5k

This is another one that I ran last year. I get free registration through my office, and get to run around the streets of my state’s capital. It’s also very likely that we’ll all go out for drinks afterward, and we all know that I love a good post-race beer. I’m hoping that the weather is more cooperative this year, and I can get a course PR. I don’t think this is the race for me to get a 5k PR just because of the crowds.

Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge 5k in May

Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge 5k last year

May 30: Craft Brew Race 5k

What could be better than combining my love of running with my love of beer? I intended to run this race last year, but was unable to because of a wedding. The $50 registration fee gets me a medal, a pint glass, and entry into the Brew Fest at the finish line. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! And maybe, after all of the racing and running during the month, I’ll get a 5k PR (if I haven’t already!).

So there you have it–a big month of races, and hopefully some shiny new PRs. One of my goals this year was to run 15 races for 2015, and if I make it to the finish line of each of these races, I’ll be a third of the way done with my goal, since I ran the Cupid 5k in February.

What’s the highest number of races you’ve run in one month?

Goals for Half Marathon #2

All along, I’ve been planning on this race being sort of a “redemption race.”  My first half marathon in June was really, really rough.  I had trained pretty well and thought I was prepared for just about anything.  I had set my sights on a goal of finishing sub 2:30.  But as you may recall, it was not great.  Race day was hot and humid, and the course was 13 miles of un-shaded highway.  I finished with a respectable time of 2:41 and change, but the entire experience of running the race was pretty miserable.

First ever race medal!

But I did get a medal, so there’s that

At the outset of training for this half, I was hopeful that cooler fall temperatures, lower humidity, and more training would net me a PR and a more positive racing experience.  Training started out strong, and I felt sure a PR was within reach.  Now, however, I’ve had a few consecutive weeks of little-to-no training.  I also haven’t done a long run of more than 9 miles.  All week, I’ve been torn between being determined to go for my goal and being afraid that if I go all-out, I’ll kill myself.

But today, I’ve decided that I’m going for it.  I don’t have plans to do any more half marathons until the spring, and I don’t plan to run any distances longer than 10k for a good long while, so I’m going to give it my all on Sunday, and try to achieve what I set out to do when I started training in August.  And if it doesn’t happen, I can just bide my time until next year, cross-train my butt off over the winter (hello, nordic skiing!), and come back in the spring ready to kick butt.

So after that long, rambling introduction, here are my goals:

  • Finish sub-2:30
  • PR (anything faster than 2:41)
  • Only walk while taking fuel/drinking water
  • Enjoy the run (at least more than the June half!)

What’s your current half marathon PR?

Catamount Half Marathon: Race Recap

Here it is, the long-awaited recap for my first half marathon!

What/Where/When:  The inaugural Catamount Half Marathon (and 5k)  in Brattleboro, VT on Sunday, June 29, 2014.

About:  A new Vermont half marathon that crosses the historic Rice Farm Bridge and the Dummerston Covered Bridge.  6 water stops, porta-potties, “top-notch make-your-own goodie bags” and pastries, fruit, water and gatorade at the finish.  Free technical t-shirt for half marathoners and medal to half marathon finishers.  Pint glasses to overall and age group winners.

Pre-Race

I got up early to have coffee and a bagel with peanut butter.  About halfway through my bagel, I came to a sudden and startling realization:  I don’t really like peanut butter.  I’ve been eating it because it’s good for me and easy, but this morning it actually made me gag and I couldn’t finish my bagel.  Time to try sunflower seed butter, I guess…  The drive to Brattleboro from my parents’ place took about 40 minutes.  Ben and I arrived at the starting line at about 8:15 (race start was 9am), which was perfect.  There were 5 porta-potties at the start, and when we arrived, no line.  I hit them up right away, and I’m glad I did because about 10 minutes later the lines were really long.  The race start was actually delayed by about 5 minutes because we had to wait for everyone to use the potties!  Speeches, announcements, etc, and we were off!

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

During the Race

Miles 1-5 I felt pretty good.  I started out at the back of the pack with a really conservative pace, and ran through the first 2 water stops (I think miles 1.5 and 3), but after that, walked them since I apparently can’t run and drink from a Dixie cup without choking.  I was enjoying my run and the scenery, but I was definitely feeling the heat, and starting to get a little concerned about the lack of shade–80% of the course was along the side of Route 30 with almost zero shade, and running on asphalt, so it was pretty rough.  I felt mostly fine though.  At mile 5, we turned off the highway, crossed the Rice Farm bridge, and got to run on some rolling dirt road hills.

LOTS of highway, no shade

LOTS of highway, no shade

Miles 5-7.  Finally some shade!  It was nice to be away from cars and asphalt and out of the sun.  I started feeling really excited, like, holy crap, I’m really doing this!  I’m actually going to finish a half marathon!  I feel great!  I’m making good time.  This is great!  Unfortunately, this was the last time I felt happy or good…

Blurry action shot.  I followed these two for a while, but passed them during mile 8 and didn't see them again.

Blurry action shot. I followed these two for a while, but passed them during mile 8 and didn’t see them again.

Miles 7-8.  Across the Dummerston Covered Bridge and back onto Route 30.  Sun beating down.  Sun reflecting off the asphalt.  Hot, hot, hot.  It was actually kind of cruel irony that we were running alongside the West River.  It looked so cool and inviting, but there was no way to get to it without risking personal injury.  At this point I was still running,  but really starting to feel the effects of the heat and sun.

Miles 8-12.  It was brutally hot, and I finally had to start alternate walking with running.  My parents drove by around mile 10 and screamed my name, which kept me going for a bit, but not long.  I simply couldn’t push anymore.  I wasn’t dehydrated, and I wasn’t sick, I just felt hot and sluggish.  I could feel enormous blisters squishing around inside my shoes with every step.  I kept telling myself, “Just run to that tree, and then walk this little shady bit.  Then run to the next cone, then walk to that street sign.”  I was probably running 1/8 mile, then walking 1/4 mile–it was that bad.  And as slow as I was going, I actually passed at least 6 people during these miles.  Lots of people were struggling with the head and humidity.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought about stopping.  About having someone pick me up.  About risking life and limb to jump over the guardrail, tumble down the embankment, and sit in the river for an hour.  But somehow, I kept moving.  I started singing motivational songs to myself (oh yeah, I forgot my headphones so I didn’t have any music) and somehow, the distance between me and the finish kept decreasing.

Miles 12-end.  The final water stop about 1.5 miles from the end was so, so welcome.  The volunteers were incredible–kind, encouraging, and sympathetic.  They let me refill my bottles with water and cheered me on my way.  The final cruelty was that the finish line was up a small, but steep hill.  I walked about halfway up, and then ran the final 1/4 mile.  Ben was waiting a few hundred feet before the finish line, and I pasted a smile on my face so he could take a picture.  I yelled “Holy hell!” as I ran by, and he yelled back “You got this!”  My mom was waiting at the finish line with my Tigger and a giant sign that said “Bouncy Bouncy Rachel!” and had all kinds of encouragements all over it, and Dad was waiting to snap a photo.  They were both screaming their heads off, which helped me to smile and speed up to cross the finish line.

Best picture ever--can you spot my mama?

Best picture ever–can you spot my mama?

Post Race

  • Official Time:  2:41:13
  • 20th of 22 in my age group
  • Overall 146 out of 167 half marathoners

I felt like absolute hell.  I could hardly talk or walk.  Volunteers handed me my medal and a bottle of water, and I tried to walk a few laps, but ended up sitting down almost immediately–my legs just didn’t want to work anymore.  I dumped a bottle of water on my head and tried to stretch, but could barely focus on even doing that.  It was crazy how much my body just shut down.  I felt better after sitting for a few minutes and we snapped some pictures.  I perused the food tent, but all the gatorade was gone, and honestly, the thought of eating bagels with nutella and cupcakes just made me nauseous.  Also, the “top-notch” goodie bags were nothing but random samples of products that looked like somebody just donated because they didn’t know what to do with them–shave oil, body lotion, athlete’s foot powder, and granola.  Not exactly “top-notch” in my book, but whatever.

Me and Mama with her awesome sign 🙂

First ever race medal!

First ever race medal!

When I was able to walk again, my dad drove me down to the boat launch on the river and I just took my shoes off and sat in the water for a good 10 minutes.  It felt AMAZING.  Then we drove into town and had lunch at a place called Whetstone Station that’s right next to the river.  It was beautiful.  I had a burger and fries and a couple of beers and started to feel somewhat human again.  Unfortunately, my brain fog was still in effect, because I ended up leaving my bag of wet, dirty running clothes at the restaurant 😦  Thankfully, they held onto them, and my parents are going to send them to me.

When we got back to my parents’ house, my mom insisted I take a nap, and honestly, I’m not sure I could have done anything else at that point.  I zoned out but didn’t really sleep for about an hour, and then Ben and I drove the 2.5 hours home.  Our apartment was super hot and I was a zombie, so we ate buttered noodles for dinner and I passed out at 9:30 with the lights on while we watched Disney’s Robin Hood.  Party animal, right here.

Wrap Up

I can say without reservation that completing this race was the hardest thing I have ever done.  Ever.  Period.  Even though I was really well-hydrated, the heat was intense, and the lack of shade was punishing.  I will DEFINITELY NOT run this particular race again.  Running 10ish miles alongside a highway is no fun at the best of times, and on a day like Sunday, it straight up sucked.  It also sucked that they ran out of Gatorade.  But the volunteers were all wonderful, so there’s that.

Even though this was incredibly difficult, I’m still really glad I did it, and that I finished.  And even though I didn’t finish in the time I was hoping for, and even though I had to walk a lot, I am SO PROUD that I managed to finish.  It took everything I had to keep moving during those last 5 miles when all I wanted to do was stop.

For the rest of the summer, I’ll probably just try to maintain some of my base mileage, and maybe try another half in the fall, when temperatures are more reasonable.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready for a shiny new PR by then 🙂

So there you have it!  I’m officially able to claim the title of “Half Marathoner.”  Woohoo!

What’s the toughest race you’ve ever done?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever gotten in your “swag bag.”