I’m writing this race report almost 2 months after a really great half marathon that happened on April 14, 2018. Training for my third full Ironman leaves me with little energy and extra motivation these days. But better late than never! I felt Runvermont’s Half Marathon Unplugged was worth a blog post since it’s a really fantastic local race in Burlington, Vermont. Runvermont is the non-profit organization behind the Vermont City Marathon and several other local races including the Unplugged Half. The organization is top notch and the volunteers are amazing. I highly recommend this half marathon! Surprisingly this was my first time participating in the race. Scott ran it in 2014 as preparation for the marathon that year and had a stellar race. Due to a plantar issue with his foot, he sat this race out for 2018.
The course takes place mostly on the Burlington bike path. It starts off in some residential areas and follows the bike path 9 miles to Oakledge park before completing the last couple miles through an out-and-back residential area. It’s a fast course but not quite as easy as you might suspect. But I had perfect race weather that day! While the race day forecast was very ominous the days leading up to the race with snow, sleet and freezing rain, we ended up with a dry day. And with a strong Northwest wind and brisk temps in the 30sF, it ended up being a super fast race day. Having a tail wind for about 9 miles might have made many of us a minute or two faster including myself! Thank you mother nature!
This ended up being my best half marathon since my stress fracture disaster of 2015. My time was a 1:30:28 (6:55 min/mile overall pace) and my inner goal was about a 1:31ish (7:00 min/mile pace). So the tail wind and cool temps might have given me that extra speed. I was very happy and thrilled to have my best half marathon in a long time! Lisa did a great job with run specific training while supplementing with much cycling and swimming. Thank you Lisa once again! I am training for a half Ironman next weekend and a full Ironman in August so this supplemented my overall training. I was happy to be the top master woman and 6th overall out of 664 total females (both waves combined). I still seem to have my run legs even at age 48 which is comforting!
March training run on the Burlington Bike Path (Unplugged race course)
We got to the Airport park early where the race started and I had plenty of time to do my thing and warm up. It had been raining hard when we awoke at 5:30am and I had no interest in getting out of our nice warm bed. But by the time we got close to Burlington, the rain had stopped. It was windy and cold but I do very well in colder temps.
Lisa wanted me to run the first few miles slower than goal pace. The first mile was a nice 7:08 pace and I purposely ran conservatively slowing it down when it got too close to a 7 min mile pace. I know better to keep it slower in the beginning. Plus I like to enjoy running with all the other runners around me since I run mostly alone. It’s fun to people watch. Then after mile one we made a sharp right onto the gravel bike path back to Airport park. This wasn’t slow but there were bicycle ruts and I had to be a little careful. I was still enjoying running with other people. A couple guys were in front of me setting a good pace so I tucked in behind and kept my pace about the same as mile one.
After mile two the gravel trail continued up a small hill back into Airport park and across the road where we started the race and into the neighborhoods. Scott was there and I threw him my gloves. Running around the first little loop was fun and I was running well at around a 7:02 pace. I caught up to the 3rd place woman in my wave and then after a few minutes I lost her until she passed me around mile 10. I was running well through the next neighborhood loop and saw Scott again and also Jess. He took some photos. The last part in the neighborhood section was back down a road that to the Burlington bike path. The downhill was fun but I was conservative about not running too fast as I was already seeing some sub 7 paces.
Once on the bike path I was running gradually faster. I was feeling decent and this is where the nice tail wind started to help my pace. I felt good running over the Winooski bridge with the pretty views of the lake and river. And then miles 6 through 9 were faster at sub 7 paces ranging from 6:54 to 6:43. There were times I would see a pace close to 6:30 but knew that was too aggressive, so I let up on the gas just a little but still wanted to push. It was a fine line between giving it a lot of work, but not to the point of blowing myself up or risking a bad ending. The newly paved sections of the bike path were sweet and it was easy to get into a good zone. And these miles went quickly. I went by Leddy park and saw Aliza cheering me on. Then before I knew it, I was already passing North Beach park. I love running on the bike path along Lake Champlain so it was a neat experience to be racing this. It was still running hard but I was still careful not to blow myself up.
The race course in March!
Soon I was going by the Waterfront park and hit mile 10. I was still running well and had done a gel right before this which helped. Mile 10 was still a fast mile at a 6:53 and I didn’t really mind when the third-place woman ran by me. She looked young (20 years old) and I didn’t let her get too far. I was running my own race for time, not really placing. Mile 11 was a little harder with a slight incline by the trains on the left and the lake on the right. It was difficult but still feasible. I was pushing hard! Mile 11 finished while I was on the road section before getting back onto the bike path and heading to Oakledge park. This was still fast at a surprising pace of 6:48.
Mile 12 was hard and I was hurting a bit at this time. My quads were getting sore and fatigued and my overall body was just feeling like I was losing steam and energy. Scott was at Oakledge park and took a few photos and cheered me on. After this I had still had over a mile and a half left. And I had to continue on through the parking lot back onto the bike path briefly and then onto the Cove loop after a much needed little downhill. The Cove loop was a little harder with slight inclines but then a little downhill which was a break. But then it was back up the short hill on Austin drive. I was really tired and ran up that slowly. It was a smart move because I was able to push it hard on mile 13. Mile 12 ended up at a 6:58 pace. But mile 13 was faster at a surprising 6:51 pace. I was in beast mode really working it hard. I saw Bobby as I was running back through the parking lot and he was heading out to the Cove loop. I was also running back into the strong head wind on the last 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. Then it was a right turn to the finish line on Flynn Ave. I saw that I was going to be around 1:30 so I sprinted past one dude and crossed the line at 1:30:28! I wanted to get under the 30 second mark.
Overall I was very happy I had a strong performance that day! I needed a good run like that to give me more confidence in my half and full Ironman runs. Running is what I do best and this half marathon was a good event to sharpen my legs and prove to myself I’m still a fast old lady! Many thanks to the volunteers who braved the cold and wind! And thanks to Jess and Runvermont for a special day! Thanks to Lisa who has been keeping me injury free since 2015. Most of all, thanks to Scott who is always my best support. I couldn’t do this without him.
Next weekend we will compete in the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 and then it’s off to Copenhagen for Ironman number three in August! Thanks for stopping by!