Race Recap: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon 2017

What | Where |When: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon | Waterbury, VT | October 1, 2017

Weather: 50’s at the start, mid 60’s at the end. Breezy and sunny.

Pre-Race
I got up around 8, chugged some water, made eggs and toast, and got myself ready. The drive to Waterbury is about 35-40 minutes from my house, so I left around 9:30. I stopped for some iced coffee on the way, and continued to sip water as I drove.

Parking was well-marked and very easy. Also relatively close to the start/finish, which ended up being beneficial, as I went back and forth several times, forgetting stuff, fussing with my gear etc.

Getting my bib was super easy, and all runners also got a jar of Bove’s pasta sauce. I passed, as I didn’t feel like going back to my car again. As I was pinning my bib, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who was running the 5k. It was nice to see her, and she introduced me to a few women who were also running the half, who I ended up running near for quite a while during the middle miles of the race.

I used the potties a couple of times and did some dynamic stretching to warm up. The race started exactly on time at 11 am.

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Miles 1-3 (10:24, 11:15, 13:58)
These were without a doubt the hardest miles of the race. I had seen the elevation profile, and knew that the first three miles had a huge elevation gain, but knowing and seeing are two VERY different things. I ended up walking most of mile three because the hill was just.so.steep and LOOOOOONG. It was super demoralizing. When mile 3 beeped and I saw 13:48 on my Garmin, I pretty much figured my PR attempt was shot, but was determined to keep trying anyway.

Miles 4-8 (9:54, 9:27, 9:41, 10:32, 10:10)
These miles were largely downhill or flat, and I was able to significantly pick up the pace. Any time there was a downhill, I just opened up and let fly. I have long legs and strong quads, so downhills don’t really bother me at all. Around this time I passed Jennifer’s three friends, and we all shared a laugh at how freaking terrible the early hills had been.

I took my first package of sport beans at mile 4, and my second just after the turnaround at mile 8. I sipped water every mile, and felt very well hydrated and fueled the whole time. I wished fervently around mile 6 that I had paid more attention to the course map, because I kept getting faked out thinking “The turnaround MUST be soon,” but it was a lot later than I expected and I got a little frustrated with not knowing where I was.

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Miles 9-13.1 (9:36, 9:25, 9:31, 10:10, 9:12, 7:49)
After the turnaround, I knew that most of the remaining miles were downhill, so I just kept reminding myself that after the first three miles, anything else was easy. I started passing people at this point, which is unusual for me, but I just wanted to be done. I was fairly certain now that a PR was within reach, and I was determined not to somehow mess it up by getting hurt or blowing up.

Just after mile 11 beeped on my Garmin, I realized that I was about to head up another giant hill. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen this pop up on my stories:

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I think that pretty accurately sums up how I felt in that moment. Mile 12 took us out on to a dirt/grass trail that had a few very narrow sections. I got stuck briefly behind a girl, but managed to pass her when the trail opened up a bit.

Mile 13 connected back with our original “out” section, and was almost all downhill, which is likely why it was my fastest mile of the entire race. One of the things I really loved about this race is that they announce your name as you come into the finish. I sprinted across as they announced my name and knew that I had a PR in the bag.

Post-Race
My official time was 2:14:43, which is over three minutes under my old PR of 2:18:06, and I was ELATED. And also exhausted, sore, and hungry. I grabbed half a banana, some cheese, and a bagel, and hobbled over to some grass to stretch out.

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They started the awards ceremony shortly after I finished. They do a “King and Queen of the Hill” contest for the first man and woman to conquer the beastly hills at the beginning, as well as the usual age group and overall winners. As I was stretching on the grass, the most glorious thing happened. A woman approached me and asked if I wanted a gift certificate for a free pair of Saucony shoes. Apparently she had won it as part of an age group, but she wasn’t from the area and knew she wouldn’t use it. Score! The certificate is to a running/outdoor store that I’ve never been to, so I’m curious to see how their fitting process differs from Fleet Feet, and hopefully get some sweet new shoes.

Overall
This course was TOUGH, but beautiful, with great support.

Pros:
– 11 am start
– Cheap registration ($35 plus fees)
– Ample parking near start/finish
– Great on-course support, well marked route, plenty of food post-race

Cons:
– HILLS
– No bling! I somehow didn’t realize this prior to signing up. Maybe that’s why registration is so cheap?
– Shirts cost extra, are cotton

Would you run a half marathon that didn’t give out medals?

A Very Race-tastic May

I know I haven’t been running much lately, but in spite of that, the month of May is chock full of races. I haven’t got many races that I’m planning on beyond May because I just don’t know right now what this year is going to bring, but let’s take a look at what I’ll be up to in the oh-so-full month of May.

Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge 5k – May 11
This is a race that you all probably recognize by now. In spite of the fact that it’s one of the oldest road races in Vermont, organization continues to be lacking. Parking and potties are a cluster, and race etiquette is non-existent. You may ask, “If it’s so bad, why bother?” I keep coming back because a) I get free registration through work, and b) it’s a team-building exercise that usually ends with dinner and drinks on the company. Who could say no to that?

Vermont Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k – May 13
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I run this race every year. It’s a fundraiser for the Vermont Respite House, which provides end-of-life care for terminally ill Vermonters. My grandmother passed away there, so it’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s also super well organized, with great post-race food and prizes. I’ve also gotten a birthday-week PR the last two years running, so it’s safe to say that I love this race and am excited for it.

Craft Brew Race 5k – May 20
My friend Hannah really wants to do her first 5k this year, and she asked if I would run the Craft Brew Race with her. Of course I said yes! I did this one a couple of years ago, and while the noon start time made for a stupid hot race, I enjoyed both the race and the brew fest immensely. Plus, Hannah is one of my favorites, so it will be fun to hang out with her for the day.

Vermont City Marathon Relay – May 28
This one is a little iffy because I know my friends Jaska and Penelope are getting married that day. I think depending on the start time of the race and the start time and location of the wedding, I can make it work. I want to make it work. My office got a relay team spot, so I’d only be running one leg of the marathon, and I think it would be really nice to have a positive experience on the course after my disastrous marathon attempt last year.

I’m glad that these are all short races, because it means I can train for them relatively easily, without having to commit to a full-on training schedule or lots of long runs. I’m also optimistic that all of the CrossFit will have helped make me stronger by then, so who knows what I might be capable of?

Do you have any races planned for May? Do any of your months look like my May as far as number of races?

Race Recap: VT Corporate Cup 2016

This is a recap of my personal experience at the VT Corporate Cup Challenge 5k. If you want just the nitty gritty details, check out my review on BibRave.com. Don’t forget to help your fellow runners by reviewing all your races on BibRave!

What/Where/When: VT Corporate Cup Challenge 5k | Montpelier, VT | 5/12/16 @ 6pm
Conditions: Very hot (80’s) and humid

Pre-Race:
I received a free registration through work, and everything was very simple to get registered online. Since this is an evening race, and it was supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far, I really focused on hydrating well at work all day. I left the office at 4 intending to park at the Richmond Park and Ride and have my coworkers pick me up to carpool, but the Park and Ride was a freaking ZOO. Cars everywhere, people everywhere, lots of people obviously trying to carpool for the race. It was horrible. I got frustrated immediately and just left to drive to Montpelier by myself.

As usual, getting into Montpelier was a cluster. Traffic was backed up way onto the ramp off I-89, and I sat in it for about 10 minutes, intending to get at least to the National Life parking lot. Once again though, my frustration got the better of me and I bailed out and parked in the Montpelier Park and Ride, which is about a mile away from the start. I just took it as a nice little warm up jog, and got to the Statehouse lawn at about 5:20.

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So. Many. People.

Bib pick up is super organized, with lines alphabetized by last name, and I waited in line for all of 1 minute to get my bib. You had to go to another tent for your cotton t-shirt, but I just decided to forego it, because the last thing I need is another crappy cotton t-shirt I’m never gonna wear. I met my coworkers on the Statehouse steps for some pre-race pictures, used a porta-potty, and we lined up in the start area at about 5:50. Once again, it’s a mass start, but thankfully, the race is chip-timed, so I didn’t worry about getting too close to the front.

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Nice picture

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Silly picture

On the Course:
As usual, the start is extremely congested, and I spent about the first half mile speeding up, slowing down, and weaving all over the place to avoid groups of people running together, or those who had started at the front and then began walking right away. This is still my biggest complaint about this race; it would REALLY benefit everyone if they had a corral system or wave start or something. Ah well.

In keeping with my goals post, I focused on just taking it easy and enjoying the run. It was super hot, and I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch, so I knew I didn’t have a lot of gas in the tank anyway. I was HYPER aware of my foot the whole time, listening for any pain or discomfort signals, but they never came. Yay!

The spectator support for this race is incredible. It feels like the entire town of Montpelier is out cheering you on. People are sitting on their porches and lawns playing music, cheering, waving, and one guy even had his hose out and was spraying it on the street for people to run through. There was one water stop at about the halfway point, and a 5 piece folk string band right at mile three to help push us to the finish. The last .1 mile starts with a lovely downhill, so I picked up my pace a bit and cruised to the finish in 32:41.

Post-Race:
I got a full-sized bottle of warm water right in the finisher’s chute. I knew from scoping out beforehand that they had their usual bagels and cider for post-race fare, but we had a reservation at Positive Pie down the street, so I wandered over there. I ate poutine (with real duck gravy and VT cheese curds!) and had a beer, then drove home.

Overall:
I was really pleased with my time, and proud of myself for following through on my promise to take it easy and enjoy the race. I still feel like there’s got to be a better way to manage traffic, parking, and the congested start, but since I’m not paying for this race, it’s hard to complain too much. It’s definitely a fun event, just a few logistical issues.

Would you run a race again if it consistently had logistical issues like parking/traffic?

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?