A week ago I finished my 5th marathon, the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT. After my last two marathon attempts and DNF’s I really needed this race to be in a word, successful.
I decided to give my legs the best chance to be relaxed prior to Sunday, so I drove up to Vermont on Friday night. The problem was that the Friday before Memorial Day’s long weekend proved to be an extremely busy travel day. I left at 2:30 and should have arrived by 6:30 however I finally rolled in at 8:30!!
Signing up for this race a little late meant that my first choice hotel was sold out. I ended up staying one town over, 4 miles from the start line, at the Hampton Inn. Sometimes things work out for the best. This hotel was comfortable and clean.
I came in before my friends so I had time to spend at the expo and hanging out on Church Street.
Church Street, Burlington is a great place to kill time. There is something for everyone with so many choices of restaurants, shopping and entertainment of street performers.
I decided to sit outside and have a quick bite at Sky Burger. I opted for the Vermonter Turkey Burger (minus the bacon) with a Mounds Shake (kid’s size) and sweet potato fries. I was ok with the extra calories as I had not eaten dinner the night before and knew I need calories for the marathon. So yummy.
In 2010 I ran this marathon and the area was covered with painted cows but 2012 was the year of the bears. They were scattered all over Church Street.
Saturday afternoon, Cheryl and Karen arrived and we met up for dinner. Typically I head off to marathons alone, so this was a pleasant change of pace for me. Having the girls there before helped keep the nerves at bay. Although this was the first time I went into a full marathon without fear. There was a confidence that I had never felt. A calmness that was a welcome difference from other races. I wanted to take it all in. The beauty of the area and the the whole beautiful marathon experience.
Having run this race 2 years ago I was somewhat familiar with the course. Some things I remember more clearly than others. For instance, one thing I remember hating was the out and back miles 4-8 on the beltway. However this year it was different. Well, I still hated the angle and condition of the road, but this year I was with the 4 hour pace group and it seemed to keep my mind more focused and positive. It also helped that there was cloud coverage at this early stage in the race to keep us more cool.
The other area that I was very aware of was the 15 mile Battery Street hill. I lost my pace group just after the half way point so I was on my own to keep motivated. Somewhere in mile 14 I made the decision that I would run the entire hill….without stopping or walking. As we turned out of the bike path and the hill loomed ahead I then decided to have fun doing it. I interacted with the crowd, by cupping my hands behind my hears in the attempt of saying, “ I can’t hear you” and then pumping my arms in the “Raise The Noise” motion before raising my right arm in “The Charge”. I loved it!
source Taiko drummers at the start of the course’s major hill
As the course took us into more residential areas, I noticed that a stomach stitch was starting to be a bother, then it actually got worse to the point it forced me to walk for the first time. I’ve had side stitches, but this was my entire upper stomach between my rib cage. I could shake it. I was at a loss of what to do. At this point somewhere near mile 18 I was forced to walk more than run. Once I thought it was settled I would start the run again only to be hit again by the same thing. My legs needed to run, but the stitch would not allow me. Around mile 20 I took a freeze pop that was kindly offered by one of the residents of the neighborhood we were in. Surprisingly it helped. I ran more than walked.
Then of course the general fatigue of running a marathon automatically kicks in during the last 6 miles. My stomach was ok while I stayed on water, but then I decided to take some Gatorade. Big mistake. Within a few minutes the stomach stitch was back. I had 3 miles to go. I just wanted to find the inner strength, but it physically stopped me. Frustration was taking over. But then, in the last mile one of the volunteers started walking with me with amazing encouraging words. He said “look up, see those buildings….that’s the end. You don’t want to wake up tomorrow knowing you walked the last mile. You can rest for the rest of the year, you can collapse at the end. You can do this. You can do it.” I asked his name and he said Danelle. He had injured his knee and was unable to run which is why he was there volunteering. I looked him in the eye with a rejuvenated spirit and said thank you and I took off running. I could hear him yelling after me, Go! Go! You got it! I ran the rest of the way without stopping, but would not have made it without the kindness of Danelle.
So I finished the marathon not in the time I was really shooting for, but I finished. I really needed to cross the finish line. Over all it am thrilled with the results, on how I felt and how I dealt with adversity.
This shirt says it all! I takes more than endurance but heart. I have a passion for running and I feel like KBVCM 2012 will be the turning point in my marathoning. Bring on #6!!!!