Sunday, May 29, 2016

Vermont City Marathon (Vermont)

May 29, 2016
Marathon 55, State #48 (Age 47)
Burlington, Vermont

Ok, I'm finally winding down or should I say in the home stretch of this crazy notion I had about 18 years ago that "how great would it be to travel to every state in the U.S. and run a marathon".   When I started this quest the end seemed an eternity away, but now I'm nearly there!    I do love traveling and after the past two falls heading all the way to the east coast from S. California where each of the last two years I choose to save some travel time by lumping two marathons into a single weekend.  Let's just say I'm happy to be heading east again and even more happy that this trip only has one marathon over the weekend.   Maybe for most people that wouldn't be relaxing, but I'm thrilled to death that after my run on Sunday I will not be getting up the next morning and doing it again!

So many of my marathons in the last eight have either been solo trips or more recently with a few friends.   This one would be a little different for a couple of reasons.   First, school is out May 26th for Parisa and the trip starts May 27th so my girls have decided to go.   Second, Vermont is so close to Montreal that seemed to allure them, at least that is what Homeyra says and Parisa is along for the ride!

My last marathon was last October, or seven months ago.  This means training basically started all over for this race after taking winter off.   Well if you know me I really never stop training so it's more I "ramp up" for my next marathon.   I'm still spoiled that one a week I get to ride in the canyons which is one of the ways I both always stay in shape and even substitute long runs for rides.   While still a believer of under training the fact that I only had one race to run, I probably was a little more carefree this time around.  

Looking ahead at the weather, I was a little uncertain what to expect because I had never been to the northeast in the spring/summer.    It appeared it would be cold and rainy about a week out so I packed warm clothes and rain gear.   While I only remember getting rained on for a whole race once or twice, I was ready for almost anything Mother Nature would throw at me.    (More on this in a bit!)

I'm a pretty good planner, methodically I usually have my whole marathon weekend planned with places to go and of course places to stay.   This trip was a day or two longer than many of my weekend race adventures but it looked like there would be plenty to do and see, however, of the four nights we would spend in a hotel my only reservation was for the night before the race outside of Burlington, VT.   That left three nights in a way of saying it, "winging" it.  

With this now an international flight I felt the need to allow for a little extra travel time.   While most trips I would leave my bike at LAX this time around we loaded up the Subaru.  Being a Memorial Day holiday weekend some of the parking services were full so we ended up parking for the first time at Wally Park express.   No traffic on the way and great service with quick pickup and through security in a breeze gave us ample time and some co-travelers wishing we hadn't woken up at 3:30 in the morning.  

All was going well, a nice 5 hour flight and on the ground in Montreal.   Passing customs 4x over the weekend was a bit of a hassle but we were through without any problems and we're off in search of our rental vehicle.   This was a bit of a goose chase because the rental company I chose was off site.   We first found the other car rental companies and could have been in and out in a breeze however we had to call a shuttle and it was 2-3 hours after we landed before we finally drove away in our very "dirty" car.  =(

By this time we are all hungry, no internet service for gps on phones, no map of the city, and no hotel.  First things first head downtown in search of food.   We followed the signs for downtown and a big Friday night traffic jam.   We found what seemed like the main drag through downtown and enjoyed the sights of the architecture and all of our new surroundings.   Homeyra spotted a street lined with pink balls that looked live and full of people, arts, and culture so we decided to take a closer look.  Ends up after finally finding parking we found a spot with night life and our favorite, food.  The street's name was Sainte-Catherine Street which has quite a reputation. I think we stopped at one of the first places we spotted with nice patio outside.  We weren't even bothered by the fact it was starting to sprinkle.    As a bonus the restaurant didn't serve wine so I picked out a bottle at a wine store just next door.    She said it was an excellent choice.   Over dinner I figured out how to get internet access out of country and was able to book a room and catch up on email.

Call it "user error" for our "downtown" hotel which we thought was one mile away, was more like ten miles away.   No worries, a great cozy and comfortable room.  Next plan was to get up and cross the boarder and go check out Vermont including marathon expo, the nearby Ben and Jerry's factory and just some general site seeing maybe taking in a few of the states famous covered bridges. 

The first couple things we noticed is that it stays way lighter into the evening than Southern California and the temperature we were expecting, cool and wet, was hot and muggy.   After inadvertently arriving at the start/finish area we made our way to the expo at the Sheridan.   Again with sleeping in and a couple hour drive we were again hungry, but the expo had an assortment of food samples to hold off the hunger.   The race was bigger than I expected, perhaps about 8,500 total participants.    Parisa had her adventure of a rock wall in the parking lot with three courses which she was able to try each a number of times.   We were already cooking in the hot sun and only packed long pants which were soon manually made into shorts before heading to Waterbury to find Ben and Jerry's.   

Now more hungry and running out of time to register for a time for a tour I drop off the girls and while they make reservations I figured about our only option for food and to get back in one hour  was a quick stop at a grocery store which ended up working out nicely.    We headed back to Ben and Jerry's and had a nice picnic before the start of our tour.    The tour was quick and educational and soon we were tasting a free sample at the conclusion.    Not knowing what to do next we headed toward Stowe in hopes to see a little of the Green Mountains, a covered bridge and some more cool places.   We walked around a little bit of downtown Stowe and then drove up the "notch" and enjoyed the views along the way.

Again late and hungry (can you see the theme here) there was a lovely Italian restaurant across the street from our hotel.    Wake up calls scheduled for 6:00am and a 8:03 marathon start.   The hotel had a breakfast buffet with all the essentials and the all important late 2pm checkout.   The family was loaded up and we make it to within only a few blocks of the start line.  Already 45 minutes till race time and it was apparent that it was going to be less than a perfect day for a marathon.  That being it was very humid and already 77 degrees!   

The p.a. system was loud and clear and the theme of all the announcements were about running slow, no PR's today, and to make sure you stay hydrated.    There were also a lot of announcements more so than I ever remember about safety and "paying attention to police, fire and race officials.     They even announced the course would be open extra long for the slower than expected finish times for everyone.    I was confident in my training and abilities and has seen worse heat and humidity conditions more than a few times for my races in the past.   Parisa may have even been a little worried for me but Homeyra had been to a few of those tough races of mine and also knew I had prepared myself.  

Homeyra did ask me on the way to the race if I was nervous.   I've been to the starting line enough times that I don't easily get butterflies, however, I did get a wave of emotion this time around when the National anthem began to play and I looked over and saw my two girls looking back at me.    I somehow entered the corrals in front of all the pace groups, so I wasn't far behind the elite runners.   I'd never noticed that there appears to be a trend in the wheeled racers which have gone from chairs they push the wheels with their hands to now they pedal using their arms.   I think the course record was even broken in this category on this very hot day.  I heard one of the locals that has done this race that the same weekend it's snowed, however apparently there where two high pressure systems that were forcing all the hot and humid weather into Vermont.    Even just sixty miles south the temperatures were 30 degrees cooler.   Yikes...sucked to be us about to run 26.2 miles.   I guess none of these last few marathons were going to be a cake walk, especially today's race!

The gun was off and I quickly settled into my pace.   Usual strategy, start slow then taper!   The day before at Ben and Jerry's I ran to the car, only a couple of minutes but in the heat and humidity I was out of breath.  Ugh.   Today was earlier in the morning, yet there was still that familiar feeling that the weather would take a toll on me today and there wasn't much I could do, or was there?   

One of the things I've learned over the years is temperature management.   Even reading of great Tour de France riders keeping the body core temperature down.   Heat and humidity are not a runner's friend, but there are things to do to help minimize the effects.   The obvious maybe is to slow down, but that also means being in the elements longer.   Friends are the shade, wind, water, ice, carbohydrates, and salt.    I started salt intake at mile 3 and a capsule every three miles increments.   I poured water over my head and back every water stop.  I carried my own water and was amazed I was going through nearly 12 ounces nearly between each water stop plus drinking Gatorade at each station.   I also took ice as available and filled my hat which help my head cool hopefully keeping my core just a little bit cooler.   So many spectators had turned on sprinklers or had hoses ready to spray as you ran by which while sometimes in the past I've shied away but not today. 
The course was fantastic which repeatedly came back near the start and I was able to see my girls who stayed themselves in the hot day in the sun to watch and cheer.   I was pleased to learn at mile 13.1 I had broken 2 hours by two minutes!   Not too bad for this hot day and I was right on track to come in at my usual 4 hour mark.   I even met a girl on the course with a shirt that stayed she ran all 50 states in under 4 hours.  While that was never one of my goals since I didn't seem to pick out easy races, that would have been nearly impossible for me.  I shared with her that I was on state 48 and we both agreed this might be one of those "hard" ones today.    
The earlier 77 degrees had given away to now over 90 degrees and it certainly wasn't getting any easier to keep moving forward.   The 3:30 and 3:45 pace groups both passed me early on and I had held off the 4:00 group until about mile 16.   When they marched by I had no motivation to try to keep up with them and I would be happy to finish with any time as long as I didn't have to suffer.   I'd already seen a few runners drop and I was beginning to pass about anyone than was in front of me.   It seemed everyone was slowing down, not just me.   I welcomed all the Popsicles along the way and kelp putting one foot in front of another.  

I started taking longer walk breaks at each water stop and even felt the need now and again between water stops to walk to lower my elevated heart rate.    Each water stop had a sign of the race conditions.   The stared out orange, went to red half way through and eventually black.   All meaning conditions were unfavorable for running.   Ok, that didn't take a rocket scientist!   So  I get to mile 18.5 and I think that was near the beginning of a shaded trail along the lake front.   Finally cover from the sun and a bit of a breeze, all good things!

What I didn't know now is while I was running the race director decided to cancel the race.   I didn't learn this until after I crossed the finish line tho my girls heard the announcement and knew I was still on the course and had already come a long way to complete here in Vermont.  I think they were already thinking I was going to have to come back to Vermont to give this another try.   I'm running neck and neck with a girl in front of me dressed as a hot dog.   Even though this is an individual race, I didn't want to have a hot dog cross the finish line in front of me!   I guess that was my final motivation and shortly after giving the race photographers the peace sign for me sharing that I only have 2 more marathons for my 50 states.    

I was excited to see Parisa had crawled under the gates and was in the finisher corral with me and Homeyra got a picture from the opposite side of the barrier.   I've run hard numerous times especially in the 2nd half of a course to break a time goal and have been wiped out, but today I was wiped out without even pushing hard.   I was ready to just lay down in the grass and close my eyes.   Thanks to my girls they took extra good care of me by grabbing my goodie bag of snacks and drinks and sharing them together.    This is when I was finally made aware the race had been cancelled.   Out of all 55 marathons I'd never seen one cancelled.   I do recall cut off times and if you wouldn't make it to a check point you were pulled from the course, however, it seemed as if my girls were correct and at some point all runners were halted and picked up from the course.   I didn't realize what a logistical nightmare that could have been for the race officials, but it did seem there was a bit of panic even with all the spectators at the finish line.  This did lead to an extra short line at the massage tent so of course had to take advantage of that!

We barely made it back to the hotel for our late 2pm checkout, but safely packed up and enjoyed our pasta leftovers from the night before in the hotel's dining room.   Again no plan and no hotel for the next two nights we were on to our last few adventures of our long weekend.   I suggested we check out downtown Church St of Burlington.  The guy that I talked to at the start with the weather details said the weather would "break" about 4pm race afternoon.   Sure as could be the clouds rolled in, the sun disappeared, and the rain began to fall.   The temperature dropped about 15 degrees in a few minutes boy that would have felt better a few hours earlier!  So we strolled the streets checking out a few stores and one last stop at Vermont's pride and joy for some yummy chunky ice cream.  (and by now well deserved!)
Now loaded up and ready to head back to up "Norte" for another boarder crossing and to see more of what Montreal has to offer.   This time we double check the address of our hotel recommendation and find a great place to stay right downtown central to shops, food, and "Old Montreal".   Hotel complete with a rooftop pool and great skyline view.   An hour in the hot tub while Parisa played in the pool and we soon had an appetite for once again another late dinner.  Only a few blocks away we find many restaurants with outdoor patios and have a great dinner as the sun again sets late.   Only a few more blocks further was a building associated with the Olympics which offered some great opportunities for some more Kodak moments!

Monday morning we had no problem sleeping in and the drapes pulled completely helped to get a great nights rest.  That's a good thing because we had a long day exploring the town on foot.   About seven blocks away was the original settled area of Montreal including Notre Dame Cathedral and the St. Lawrence river.   This was probably Parisa's most fun day because we let her play for two hours on a zipline obstacle course followed by fast zipline across a long run across the water.

Our last day, Tuesday was mostly a travel day, but we did get to hike up to Mont Royal with a beautiful view of the city skyline.

I kept following the news and the marathon website to find out the "official" rulings for the race cancellation.    The race director's comments on the website were that the decision to terminate the race was based on providing a safe experience for all runners.   There was a new system put in place a couple years ago that measures the Wet Bulb Globe Index and when the index reaches 82 WBGT it is considered Extreme Risk.   While the race was discontinued at 3:58 minutes an effective cutoff of 4:27:04 seconds was used (actually rounded up to 4:30) so what's important for me is that my results were within these limits and is recognized as an official finish which I can count towards my 50 states!   Yeah!

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace Avg HR Max HR
1 8:38.7 8:38.7 8:30 1.00 59 3 8:39 8:30 8:07 145 156
2 8:25.6 17:04 8:20 1.00 26 75 8:26 8:20 8:06 150 157
3 8:43.8 25:48 8:24 1.00 30 43 8:44 8:24 8:03 153 160
4 8:25.9 34:14 8:23 1.00 7 49 8:26 8:23 8:09 156 161
5 9:15.0 43:29 8:48 1.00 0 39 9:15 8:48 8:09 152 161
6 9:16.9 52:46 8:54 1.00 33 16 9:17 8:54 8:04 157 165
7 8:47.1 1:01:33 8:46 1.00 26 33 8:47 8:46 8:04 160 164
8 9:17.6 1:10:51 9:05 1.00 13 0 9:18 9:05 8:29 160 165
9 9:25.9 1:20:16 9:21 1.00 75 3 9:26 9:21 8:41 163 168
10 9:03.2 1:29:20 8:55 1.00 13 102 9:03 8:55 8:27 158 167
11 9:14.4 1:38:34 9:13 1.00 23 0 9:14 9:13 8:13 159 163
12 9:54.1 1:48:28 9:50 1.00 49 16 9:54 9:50 8:44 159 164
13 9:19.2 1:57:47 9:15 1.00 59 72 9:19 9:15 8:24 160 168
14 9:13.6 2:07:01 9:13 1.00 16 52 9:14 9:13 7:44 160 165
15 9:50.3 2:16:51 9:49 1.00 23 3 9:50 9:49 8:38 162 166
16 10:17 2:27:09 10:04 1.00 105 30 10:17 10:04 8:27 164 169
17 10:01 2:37:10 9:55 1.00 36 26 10:01 9:55 9:01 164 169
18 9:45.2 2:46:55 9:40 1.00 7 66 9:45 9:40 8:35 163 168
19 10:45 2:57:39 10:26 1.00 13 3 10:45 10:26 7:51 161 167
20 10:37 3:08:16 10:26 1.00 3 26 10:37 10:26 7:39 160 167
21 10:21 3:18:38 10:16 1.00 13 0 10:21 10:16 7:40 161 167
22 10:19 3:28:56 10:16 1.00 0 46 10:19 10:16 8:13 160 167
23 10:18 3:39:14 10:13 1.00 16 0 10:18 10:13 9:08 163 166
24 10:22 3:49:36 10:19 1.00 0 3 10:22 10:19 8:35 160 166
25 10:18 3:59:55 10:11 1.00 3 7 10:18 10:11 8:46 161 164
26 10:21 4:10:16 10:15 1.00 3 20 10:21 10:15 8:23 161 168
27 3:02.5 4:13:18 2:58 0.34 0 3 9:03 8:50 8:46 170 174