Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Vermont City Marathon Relay Half

The Dynamic Shoe-O (our teamname) made a second appearance this year at the Vermont City Marathon (May 24th) after taking last year off to attend a wedding.

When we were told we were accepted into the relay I was super excited because I was nearing the end of training for Boston and was hitting some FAST training times. My goal was to get my half down to 1:26 and I was confident that it could be done. A week before Boston we found out I was pregnant and all race goals for 2015 were thrown out the window. At best, I wanted to get sub 1:40, but I knew I would have to be happy to just finish. That was quite a mental change for someone who has been used to setting sub-PR goals for every race for the last few years.

Now that this race is over I'm here to announce to the world that I am done racing for this year. I know plenty of women who have run races throughout pregnancy but I can't. It killed me at the VCM. I hated looking ahead at the racers in front of me seeing where I should be instead of where I was. Every time I race my mind is programmed to work for a PR. I can't accept racing for pleasure. I'd rather save the money, the time, the stress, and the planning, and just run 13.1 on my own.

Race Morning
The two-person team is fun because one person starts the race and hands off to the second runner after the half. Neither of us knew who would go first until we woke up on race morning and it was decided that I would start. I had been having a lot of issues when I got hungry - feeling incredible hunger pains that left me nauseous and kind of shaky - so we didn't want to risk me waiting around for another 1+ hours after the start to have that settle in. We figured that this way I could run then get food and feel good for the rest of the morning.

My body fully cooperated with me race morning which was quite a miracle. However, I was on day four of a horrible head and chest cold and on my warm up all of my airways felt like they were burning. My nose was totally clogged up and I knew it was a horrible idea to run. If I wasn't part of a relay team with Tom then I would have said "No-way-Jose!" and stayed in bed or on the sideline, but I knew I could finish (feeling horribly) and didn't want to waste our entry and make Tom run for nothing. I sucked it up, hoping that I'd feel better once the race started.

Tom and I got to Battery St. Park with enough time for a full warm up and the required pre-run bathroom stops. After getting in some Honey Stinger chews and catching up with friends, I headed to the start. We were in the 'elite corral' which, as far as I could tell, did not exist. People are supposed to line up by the honesty system but it doesn't work, and if it did work, I would have been more honest and started further back this year. But hey - it was my last chance to be up with the "pros" of running for the rest of the year.

The Race:
My first two miles were pretty good and I was really surprised to hit a 7:03 for the first one: I had done ZERO speed work since Boston. In fact, most of the time I truly struggled to hit sub 8:00 miles without feeling like I was dying. On top of that, my longest run since Boston was 10 miles, so I considered myself officially out of shape. I went in with zero goals but knew I'd be happy with a 1:40 half.

Sadly, around the second mile I was done with the race. It was pretty much a repeat of when I ran the entire VCM in 2010 and wanted to sit down the whole time. This early in the race I had decided that pregnant racing was not for me. I couldn't get past the fact that I was being passed by everyone for the first few miles. I wanted so badly to have one of those tacky shirts that say something like, "baby on board" or better yet - "I would normally speedy but I'm growing a human that's also consuming my oxygen". I was definitely too hard on myself and for some reason could not let go of racing. I knew I needed to focus on the fact that I was able to run and that running should be about the experience, but I just could not embrace that concept in that moment.

Mile Splits:
7:03, 7:06, 7:21, 7:15, 14:49 for next two miles, 7:36, 7:49, 8:01 (ouch - this was the hill on the Beltline), 7:36, 7:53, 7:55, 7:48, 0:55

My Final Time: 1:39:03
Tom's Final Time: 1:18:09 **A new PR!
Team Final Time: 2:57:12

Race Highlights
  • Seeing my high school cross country coach at his normal spot cheering us on, and then being able to tell him the news of our pregnancy on our way back from the Beltline. The funny part was that our track coach beat me to the news and shared it as she ran by since we had just made it Facebook official the night before. Vermont is so small that it's easy for news to travel fast. I also feel fortunate to still be so close with my high school coaches to be able to share that news and also get excited to see them at races.
  • Seeing friends out there cheering, even though I was trying so hard not to look at the sidelines because it was taking every ounce of mental strength not to stop and join them in the cheering. 
  • The end. I didn't realize the last mile would go by as quick as it did but it was SUCH A RELIEF to find Tom at the hand-off and give him our "baton". I was so done with the race.
  • Catching up with running friends on the walk back to the buses. It's fun to be able to run into everyone at the VCM because we come back to do it every year.  You don't really realize how small Vermont is until you leave for a big city and then come back. EVERYONE is EVERYWHERE!
  • Watching Tom blaze through the last 100 meters of the course. That kid was on fire! 
What I would give to have his form.......

Some not-so-highlights that stand out as highlights.....
  • Realizing at mile 2 that I was totally done with the race. 
  • Running by KKD and smelling the horrible smell of chicken wings or something along those sorts. I actually made a noise outloud and a grimmace. My pregnancy nostrils did NOT like that in the middle of the race.
  • Running right by Lake Champlain chocolates and realizing that a chocolate ice cream would have been perfect at that moment. If I had packed a few extra dollars in my running shoes like I normally do before races I probably would have been tempted to make a pit stop. 

Final thoughts about the Race
This is Vermont's biggest race with great reason. Everyone comes out to cheer, and a ton of people get to be part of the event between the marathon and the relay teams. Sadly, I know I could never do a full marathon in Burlington anymore, no matter how gorgeous and well designed the course is. Every year I become more and more frustrated with all of the relay runners. I L.O.V.E Boston because you get to run run with YOUR pace and you may even get to go through the race with the same people by you the whole time. The VCM is full of relay participants who jump in with more energy so feel that you're being passed all the time. I was semi-OK during this half, but it becomes more frustrating the more miles you run and the more tired you become.

Otherwise, the crowd support was great and the post-race food was satisfying enough to give me energy when I was done. And as with every Vermont event, it was simply wonderful to be able to catch up with friends who came down to run or cheer. 

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