Capital City Stampede 10K Race Report June 7th 2014

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Last Saturday was my first officially timed 10K running race! I now have 4 marathons and 7 half marathons under my belt. But with shin issues the last couple years, I was never able to jump into a 10K running race. I did run a 10K back in 2009 to raise money for battered women but I wasn’t running much back then. I’m pretty sure it took me almost an hour to complete! Smile

The Capital City Stampede takes place in Montpelier, VT and is put on by the Central Vermont Runners. This is a really great running club with such nice folks. The race was small and had a nice local hometown feel. John Valentine is the race director and did a super job. Thank you John, Megan and all the volunteers who made the day happen! And thank you Onion River Sports for providing generous gift certificates and supporting the race! Overall I highly recommend this 10K! Not only is it well run, but it is a fast course that goes right by the State Capital and could provide a personal best if the weather isn’t too warm!

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For me this was not a stellar run as I’m still adjusting to triathlon training with more biking and swimming and less running. I was hoping to run around a 6:45 overall pace starting out at my half marathon pace. However, I really couldn’t get my body to move faster than my half marathon pace on Saturday. I’m happy to say I did win the women’s race, but fell a little short of my goal for the day. I believe that in peak marathon training I could run faster, but right now I just have to accept that there are ebbs and flows to fitness levels and speed. My official time was 42:46 with an overall pace of 6:53 minutes per mile. My last half marathon overall average pace in March was a 6:52 (to put things into perspective). So I’m not feeling very speedy at the moment. But the good news is that I’m feeling more comfortable on my new tri bike and logging more and more miles. Also I have to report that it was another warm and very sunny race which made the morning feel less than ideal. So once again, it was hot!

The race started at 9am right in front of Onion River Sports and then headed right and left up a small short hill which took us right to the beautiful Vermont State Capital. It was so awesome running right in front of the building on the sidewalks! And then we went down a quick hill and across the bridge over the river. This stretch was fun and I decided that I would keep this mile just under a 7 minute pace as I didn’t want to blow up as I did in the Corporate Cup 5K last month. I wanted to play it very conservatively in the beginning. I was feeling decent at this point and looked forward to turning onto the shaded bike path.

The stretch on the bike path near the high school was fun and I was feeling good on mile 2 running at a comfortable 6:50ish pace. I wasn’t feeling too warm yet but knew we would be out in the bright sun soon enough. Mile three was back out onto the road again without any shade. I was still running at about the same pace and feeling OK but not super. I tried to be mindful of how my body was feeling and kept reminding myself that this is half marathon pace which I can handle for quite a while. Mile 4 was a bit faster with a 6:44 pace even on the smooth dirt roads. As we were heading back I was lucky enough to be running behind a guy keeping a pretty even pace consistent to my own efforts. I didn’t have the energy to run ahead and take a turn pulling. I was feeling hot and realized I wasn’t going to be running any 6:30s on the way back. My legs were actually feeling good but my heart rate was already at max race pace!

6-7-14 me finishing

Back on the bike path the shade was very welcomed and I started to feel a little better, but I somehow let my pace slow to a 6:49 for mile 5. My bad on that mile! I passed the guy and thanked him for pulling me along (He finished a few seconds behind me). One error on my part was not expecting the course to go back up the short steep hill on the final mile. This was the same little hill that devastated my Corporate Cup 5K pace on the last mile. But even though I felt slow and hot running up it once again, I still ran a 6:54 for mile 6 which is really not too terrible. The final half mile of the race went by the capital once again and was mostly downhill. The final 2/10 of a mile was my fastest pace of the day: 6:26. Overall it was a really great 10K course and I had a lot of fun even if I wasn’t very speedy that day!

One of the best aspects of race day was having a chance to hang out with my fast co-workers Amy and Andy as well as Sarah L. It was so fun to chat and catch up on running, health, and life. It was also fun to see Russ and Charlie and so many other great people that day. Scott didn’t run as he had a little bit of tendonitis in his foot earlier in the week. He is fine now, but it was smart of him not to race. As usual he was so supportive and such a great sport! Thanks again Scott!

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Awards Ceremony

Again, I have to thank the Central Vermont Runners and Onion River Sports! For the first place woman I received a $50 gift certificate and then I won another $100 gift certificate in a raffle! That was so awesome!! I’ll admit we spent that pretty quickly in Onion River Sports the same afternoon! Since we both run, swim and cycle there is always something we need! 

While we had a super time at the race that morning, another great aspect of the day was visiting the Montpelier Farmers Market also right in downtown. This is one of my favorite farmers markets in Vermont! For a great lunch we had Gracie’s tamales. She makes a super yummy vegan black bean and corn tamale. We might ride our bikes from Montpelier next Saturday just so we can have more tamales! We also had fun sampling some locally made rum and wine Smile

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Supporting local business Smile

I didn’t quite get as much running done as I had hoped on Saturday, so we jumped onto our tri bikes for a short but speedy bike ride later in the afternoon. We are loving our new bikes! And today we did a nice bike ride down to Bristol and back followed by a run on Camel’s Hump road for a good brick workout. I think triathlons are going to agree with us! Stay tuned for our first one down in Lake Dunmore on June 28th!

6-7-14 me BMC with cows

6-7-14 scott riding cervelo

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A Great Day at the Races: Vermont City Marathon 2014

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The Vermont City Marathon is a great marathon for so many reasons. It is a super, well organized race and the starting line is only about 30 minutes from our home out in the “sticks” Smile. While it is a smaller sized marathon with a hometown feel, the quality is top-notch, thanks to RunVermont. They do a fantastic job putting on one of the best events in Burlington, VT! On the Friday before the marathon, I had the privilege of volunteering in the RunVermont office.  I was so impressed with all the hard work they do to make race day a magical experience in so many regards. Thanks to everyone at RunVermont and all the volunteers that made the day possible!

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Church Street (mile 10)

The Vermont City Marathon (VCM) was my first marathon in 2011 and Scott’s second last weekend! The course is mostly flat and fast with only a couple short “hills”. I really like how the course has five different sections to make it interesting. With several miles along Lake Champlain, it makes for a beautiful run! And the crowd support in downtown Burlington is really heart warming. The VCM is an ideal Boston Qualifier and a good race for a personal best when the weather cooperates. Taking place on Memorial Day weekend, we never really know what mother nature will have in store for us here in Vermont. When I ran it 3 years ago it was in the mid to high 80s F and super humid. Last year it was cold and raining sideways. This year it was a bit too warm but nothing crazy. It was a beautiful day to be a spectator, but difficult to run during the last 6 or so miles.

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Originally I had planned to run the VCM with Scott as his pacer and moral support throughout the 26.2 miles. Racing wasn’t in the cards as I had just done the Boston Marathon back in April. But I felt that running at Scott’s marathon pace would be fun and not overly taxing. However, my running coach gave me the the red light for running the whole 26.2 miles with Scott. Coming off the Boston Marathon and winter training cycle I was tired…very tired. Boston took a lot out of me and I did not argue with my coach when she made the decision. However a week before the marathon, I ran 12 miles with Scott on the last portion of the VCM race course and felt decent. I felt confident that I could at least run the first half with him during the marathon. His planned pace of 7:45 minutes per mile would be very feasible and comfortable for me. I was feeling a lot better compared to four weeks ago.

I was fortunate enough to have found a 2 person relay team in need of someone last minute. Food 4 Farmers which is local non-profit organization had several relay teams and I got to run on one of their teams. Sadly the young man I replaced had mono and couldn’t run that day. He was supposed to run with his mom as a team. Luckily he recovered and is doing fine. I’m happy I got the chance to run and gave his mom the opportunity to run the second leg. All parties were very happy! She thanked me many times, but it was me who felt so grateful to be given the chance to run the first 13.1 miles with my husband!

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Hanging out at Ontrack with the gang before the marathon

The morning was cool, sunny and crisp. It was one of those perfect bluebird spring mornings. However we knew it would heat up later in the day so I carried a fuel belt with two water bottles filled with sports drink and one hand-held water bottle. I gladly took on the task as “water girl” for the first 13.1 miles and that worked quite well. The first 3 miles were fun and fast but I made sure we were not running too fast in the beginning. Scott’s Suunto was saying we were running around an 8:10 pace which was way off, but my Garmin was reporting a faster pace of 7:30s. So our first 3 miles were a bit faster than our planned 7:45 pace. This was OK as it did feel very comfortable even to Scott. I was completely enjoying the experience and the magic of the first few miles.

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The bike path after Oakledge Park (miles 14-15)

We then headed down on the beltline for miles 4-9. The sun was beaming and there was a bit of fog and mist. The morning was still feeling cool with a nice breeze. I was keeping a close eye on our pace and making sure we were on target. Scott was looking good and running strong. I felt so elated to be running out there with Scott and sharing this special day. I was impressed with how well Scott did up the beltline “hill” which is the first of two notable climbs in this marathon. He kept his pace right on target! He was running very well. We then ran back through downtown Burlington and the famous Church Street. This was a total joy! I kept smiling and saw several familiar faces cheering for us including Eric.

The next section took us running out on Pine Street toward the Cove neighborhood. This was also going well and Scott was still doing great. The Cove section which is a fun loop through a residential section near the lake was also going smoothly. There were a few times it got congested with relay runners, but we were able to keep up our pace and stick together. Before I knew it we turned onto the bike path and headed into Oakledge Park where I would hand off my wrist band to my teammate Penny. My 13.1 miles were done. I said my goodbyes to Scott has he headed off onto the second half. I was happy to see Penny and wished her a great run. But I was also sad to have finished my run with Scott. It was the first time I was actually feeling strong and able to run a longer distance since Boston. And I enjoyed so much running with my best friend and husband! I received my finisher’s medal for doing the half marathon relay and thanked the volunteers.

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Almost at the finish!

The morning was still beautiful but slowly warming up. I ran back to Ontrack where we were based. It was a little over 2 miles running back on Pine Street. I was very happy to have logged almost 16 miles for the day. It was the longest I had run since Boston and I felt pretty darn good! I showered at Ontrack and then made my way to the VIP area thanks to Jess giving us some special wrist bands. I wanted to be able to get a good photo of Scott finishing. I have to admit I was very nervous waiting to see him finish.

Scott’s goal was to run just under a 3:25 and qualify for Boston. But with the warmer temps, it was going to be close. My heart sank as the clock ticked past 3:25. I was so proud of him for whatever time he achieved, but knew he had his heart set on a Boston 5-25-14 scott puking qualifying time. At around 3:28 I saw him running down the finishing chute but he stopped and bent over for almost a minute. I didn’t know he got nauseous and was throwing up at that time. He was too far away for me to see. I was worried it might be worse! But to my great relief, he started running and finished with a net time of 3:29:59 which is still a great result. Two years ago this would have qualified him for Boston but they raised the standards by 5 minutes for all age groups. The good news is that he chipped off almost 15 minutes from his first marathon back in October and was thrilled with that! Overall Scott was happy with his run even if the warm temps took their toll on the last 6 miles. He is so close to that 3:25 and I bet it would have happened if the weather was cooler. I learned later that Scott’s puking event was quite the crowd pleaser! And everyone applauded and cheered as he stood up and ran to the finish line! It’s a great story! Smile

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Thanks a million to everyone who made this most epic marathon day possible! We are so proud of our Vermont City Marathon. I feel that I will always have to be a part of this special event whether I’m volunteering, pacing my husband, or racing my heart out! And congratulations to my amazing husband who ran so well even when the temps heated up later on in the marathon! You rocked it Scott!

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Spring 2014 5K Race Reports

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Vermont Corporate Cup 5K  ~ 5-15-14

The good news is that I am getting stronger at swim clinic and feeling good on the bike. The bad news is that I’m not running fast at the moment even after coming off the Boston Marathon. In fact I’ve been a bit tired and still feel like I’m recovering from the big event and crazy cold winter of training. I did give myself a week off from running before starting my official triathlon training for the 70.3 mile Pumpkinman. I’m doing more swimming and cycling but much less running now. So my recent 5K running events weren’t as fast as I would have hoped. But my main goals are the half iron distance in September and the California International Marathon in early December. You can’t always have it all, but sometimes I do! Smile

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Our beautiful Vermont State Capital Building

Last Thursday evening I ran the Vermont Corporate Cup 5K race for the first time after work. This is a super fun event which draws out literally thousands of people who work for corporate, state and non-profit organizations (2,420 runners total).  This all takes place in downtown Montpelier, VT. There is both a running and walking race. You form teams of three people and pick a clever team name.  You may have mixed teams or all female or all male. I work for one of the largest coffee companies in the country and we had a turnout of over 100 people run and walk the event. It was amazing! My team included Jenny and Jess who both are finance folks like myself. Jenny and I have both run the Boston Marathon so I came up with the team name: Boston Bean Counters. It is goofy but I thought it was clever. Smile

Until the previous Saturday when I ran a “practice” 5k race for the Corp Cup, I hadn’t done an officially timed 5K race since 2011! And I haven’t done dedicated track workouts in about two years! So I really shouldn’t expect myself to be running a sub 20 minute 5K like I did  3 years ago when track workouts were part of my weekly diet. But of course we do put these kind of expectations and pressure on ourselves. That is the nature of us runners!

The Vermont Corporate Cup was a great race on so many levels. But it was also a difficult course with many turns, thousands of people, small quick hills, and sometimes rough road conditions (due to the winter). It was also a hot and humid evening! I noticed that everyone was drenched with sweat after the race, myself included. That certainly didn’t help my time! But that is the nature of New England weather. Extremes are the norm around here lately!

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Discussing race strategies and pacing with Amy before the mass start

I ran the course with Scott as a warm up to see what was in store for me that night. It was not going to be an easy run out there.  I got myself up close to the starting line so I could try and sprint out with the mass of runners. This race has a huge crazy mass start where it seems that EVERYONE is sprinting for their life! When I looked down at my Garmin after about a half mile I saw a pace of 5:50 minutes per mile! WOA!! That is way too fast! So I did slow it down for the first mile to a reasonable 6:20 pace. I knew that there was no way humanly possible I was going to do around 6 minutes per mile that night. The next mile was through some neighborhoods off of Elm Street which had a few small up and downhills that were fun. But it was here that I was starting to feel like a 6:20 pace was not going to be sustainable. The course on mile 2 had a lot of turns (8 turns that went around a figure 8 pattern) and it was difficult for me to squeak a 6:33 pace for mile 2. It was on mile two where I actually did take some water at the water station. I would normally not bother in a 5K, but it was hot and a quick sip felt good. I spilt the rest down my back to cool off (like I did at Boston).

Mass start with me

Mile 3 was back on Elm Street where I could regroup for a bit and get my speed back up. It was shaded but still felt hot and humid. I was loosing steam and knew the bulk of mile 3 was going to be the most difficult part of the course. We turned right up a small quick hill on Court Street where I saw Scott taking photos of us. I was hurting but I dug in and made it over and down to Taylor Street. We then made a  quick right onto a path that went left over a bridge. This definitely slowed me down. The course went along the bike path adjacent to Memorial drive. I was really feeling maxed out at this point and knew the worse was yet to come. The last part of mile 3 has a nice short hill that feels like a pain cave and that is where I saw my pace plummet to a 6:51. Wow, I run faster than that in a half marathon! But the last 2/10 of a mile were a fast downhill for which I was grateful! I even got my pace down to a 6:07 for the very end. Unfortunately the 10th place woman passed me at the very last 1/10 of a mile. At that point I just didn’t care and wanted to be done! Next time I will dig deeper and and give it a bit more fight!! I was actually very disappointed I missed out on the top 10 women, but next year I’ll be back!

me on mile 3 running lightened

Overall, my Garmin showed an average pace of 6:34 and 3.17 miles. It was hard to run the tangents so I accumulated a bit more than 5 kilometers. My official time was 20:45 with an average pace of 6:41! Yikes, I think I could do that pace for a good flat 10K race if I was rested and trained! But it’s all good! I was 11th out of 1,183 women which isn’t too shabby even if it wasn’t a competitive field. My team came in third place out 174 mixed corporate teams! That is awesome! Congrats to Jenny and Jess! I’m so proud of them! Jess hardly even trains or runs that much and was less than a minute behind me! Well, he is also in his 20s, not 40s! Smile

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While my run was not stellar, the overall experience made it an epic evening! Many of my running and swim clinic friends were there. It turned out that Angie and Alex were seconds behind me! Nice to know I had company out there. And it was also great hanging out with so many co-workers who ran and walked that night. There was a nice gathering and celebration at the Cider House where I got to socialize with with people from work who love to run. How great is that! Scott and I stayed for a while and had a couple beers and a dinner. It turns out that the Cider House has 3 vegan dinner options! I am so excited about this because we live less than 20 minutes away. The Jerk Seitan dinner was yummy and filling! They make their own seitan (wheat meat) and do a fantastic job. I can’t wait to try their grilled tofu with peanut sauce!

One of the highlights of the night was finally meeting Amy who also works in the same company. I saw Amy running in the freezing cold polar temperatures week after week all winter during lunchtime! I didn’t know who she was. She was the only woman I saw out there while I was running alone. It seemed every Wednesday we were both doing intervals and tempo work on River Road during the coldest wind chills. So it was awesome to finally connect at the Corporate Cup and realize we work for the same company!  Amy is a fast runner who specializes more in the track distances and road races. She is also a super nice person who is passionate about running! We even did our first lunch run together this past Friday! Maybe she can help me get my speed back! Smile

 

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RaceVermont Spring 5K ~ 5-10-14

Last Saturday I ran a 5K race put on by RaceVermont. They do a great job putting on local running races as well as triathlons in the Shelburne and Charlotte area of Vermont. Because I hadn’t run an officially time 5K race in about 3 years, I wanted to have one under my belt before the Corporate Cup. I didn’t really know where I was in regards to the smaller faster races. So this was a good test! And it was also a lot of fun and a great experience!

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When we woke up early on Saturday morning the rain was pelting our window and seemed to be raining and blowing sideways. It didn’t look like it was going to be a nice morning for a race. I almost wanted to go back to bed! Driving over wasn’t much better as it was still windy and raining hard. As always we got to the race early. Luckily by the time I was out on my warm up run it was only raining very lightly. But it was also rather warm and humid especially for this time of year.

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My friend Jess ran the 5K with me and her husband Chris ran the half marathon also put on the same day. Scott was taking photos since he had a 17 mile run scheduled on Sunday. The 5 & 10K runners started first right at 8:00am. It wasn’t a huge field of runners so the start wasn’t too crazy. I didn’t really know what I could do, so I played it a bit conservatively in the beginning. We started out at a reasonable pace for the first 3/4 of a mile which was slightly downhill on paved roads. We then turned right onto the Ti path which is a flat gravel path for runners and cyclists. Because of the heavy rains that night and morning there were some large puddles in the path and muddy sections especially in the beginning. My pace was a solid 6:20 minutes per mile for the first mile and I was feeling pretty good. It was overcast and the rain had stopped. I enjoyed running in the wooded Ti path. At the halfway point we turned around and ran back. My pace on mile two was a bit slower at a 6:26 and it felt hard to keep up a good speed on the gravel trail. And I was getting tired on mile 2!

About 1/3 through mile 3 I noticed my pace got slower and it felt hard running at a 6:47! Geez I could only guess that I was still tired from Boston. Luckily once we turned left back onto the pavement my pace picked back up to a 6:40 for mile 3. It was a slight gradual uphill that felt like it took forever! But at least I was moving faster on the pavement. The last 1/10 of  mile went quickly and my time ended up at a 20:33. My Garmin clocked a distance of 3.17 and an average pace of 6:29. I was the first woman and second overall. But it was a small field and I didn’t really have anyone to push me. I did win another Vermont Teddy Bear which of course made me very happy!! Smile

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In Other News……

my new bike

Here is a photo of my new time trial bike which will be ridden in the triathlons we are doing this summer. I am very excited about the is bike! I’ve already started training on it. It’s very different from any of my other bikes! But it is super fast and powerful! This kind of bike is what the “big kids” ride in the Ironman distances! Like the old saying goes: you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight! Smile

 

scott bike path

Scott will be running the Vermont City Marathon next Sunday which is very exciting! He has been training so hard all winter and is running very strong! I can’t wait for the big day! I just hope it’s not going to be too hot like it was for me three years ago! Keep your fingers crossed! This photo was taken today while I ran with Scott on his last long run before the marathon. Go Scott! I’m so proud of you!

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The Boston Marathon 2014 Race Report: An Experience of a Lifetime

 

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Having been injured for the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathons, I cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I was to finally run this year and be a part of such a special and historic day. For the past three winters I have been dealing with a chronic medial tibial stress syndrome on my left lower leg (sometimes referred to as “shin splints”). I have run successful fall marathons after training all summer, but the winters in Vermont have been unkind to my shin. This winter my shin splint nightmares came back to haunt me once again. I was shocked at how sore my shin felt especially since I didn’t have any major problems with my shin for the Baystate Marathon last October. I had to stop my training three different times this winter and then start back up. Plus running 100% in the constant polar temps and frigid wind chills began to wear down my body and spirit. Perhaps a treadmill investment will be in our near future. Smile

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The Expo!

Luckily in March and April my training went well and my shin pain subsided enough for me to make it through each run. I even ran a strong New Bedford Half Marathon in the middle of March with no shin pain at all. I logged in some good training runs and was feeling confident. I wasn’t sure if I was quite as strong as last fall, but I felt like I had enough fitness to do well. I am lucky to have a great running coach who helped me navigate all those bumps in the road this winter. She reminded me that I overcame a lot to get myself to that starting line this April. That alone was a dream come true for this 44 year old young lady. Smile

However, after training in one of the harshest Vermont winters, the Boston Marathon was my slowest and most difficult marathon due to a combination of the bright sun, very warm temps and the unforgiving terrain that makes Boston so challenging. It was  1-3-14 cold run minus 7 only about 70F+ degrees but this felt so hot after training in the freezing cold all winter. (I was not alone in having issues with the warm weather. It was a common theme for many people). It was still an amazing experience to run Boston after last year’s tragic events. It wasn’t so much about the numbers as it was about solidarity and “running as one”. This year’s marathon meant so much more than personal records and fast times. It was about joining together as a special community and taking back Boston after last year’s tragedy. There were so many people there to run and support Boston even if they were injured or hadn’t been able to train all winter. It was truly touching. I was inspired and humbled by so many people I met during the weekend. While my body felt shattered after the 26.2 miles, my soul was nourished and my spirits were soaring. I have never in my life seen such an amazing display of humanity from the runners, fans, volunteers and people of Boston.

 

We drove down to Boston on Saturday morning and went right to our condo which was located in the North End (Boston’s famous Italian section). Our condo was right next to the Freedom Trail and many historic sites. It was tiny and cute, but served us well. Parking was a crucial goal as we were told all the lots would fill up fast. So that task was done immediately and we didn’t see our4-21-14 scott in square car until Tuesday morning. Luckily we were an easy ten minute walk to the Haymarket T station. We got a seven day pass for the T  (Boston’s underground subway system) and headed right for the Expo on the Green Line. Picking up my number was surprisingly quick and hassle-free. I was amazed that there was only one person in front of me. We then headed to the Expo shopping area which was amazing. I ended up splurging for a boat load of running apparel with the Boston Marathon logos. But the first order of business was finding my Boston Marathon jacket which I have coveted for years now! I normally don’t splurge like I did on clothes of any kind, but Scott kept reminding me that it took me three years to get here! The Expo eventually got insanely crowded within a couple hours and we actually got lost a few times. I was getting nervous at one point because we had a 6 o’clock dinner reservation back in the North End. Luckily we did make it (more details in my “Food and Beverage Report”).

 

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Boston Strong in my new marathon apparel!

4-21-14 boston and boats run

 

Sunday we were up early and made our way out for a crisp morning run before 7am. I love the mornings especially in a city when it is peaceful and quiet. We ran along the Freedom Trail over the bridge for a 2.3 mile out and back to shake out the legs. I enjoyed  4-21-14 me running in north end seeing the ocean and all boats. We then found some soy lattes at Caffe Vittoria and headed back to the Expo around 9am before it got crowded again. Scott wanted to find some nice running shorts and we scored him 3 pairs. I always feel better when he finds something nice for himself too. We then took the Red Line out to Cambridge for a big carb load at Veggie Planet. Scott was running 17 miles on Monday with Marty, so we both indulged in some yummy vegan pizza. After our bellies were full, I took Scott to the Harvard Coop which is one of my favorite bookstores. We could have easily spent hours in there but we knew we needed to get back to the Condo for some much needed relaxation. I might have done too much walking around on Sunday.

 

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Enjoying soy lattes after a nice morning run at Caffe Vittoria

 

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What should have been a peaceful afternoon and evening at the condo turned out to be a nightmare. Massachusetts celebrates Patriots day weekend the same weekend as the Boston Marathon so there was a noisy celebration right outside our window. Imagine listening to a very loud fife and drum band for hours. This was on top of the very loud church bells chiming away incessantly right next to our condo. I was hoping to be in bed a little after 8pm but this racket didn’t stop until 9:20pm. I was not a happy camper to put it gently. This was the Sunday night before the marathon! I almost felt like I was in some crazy, surreal dream. Luckily it did end before 9:30pm but still, it was not the ideal evening for someone who highly values her peace and quiet.

Sleep alluded me once again before the marathon. The noisy celebration wound me up and stressed me out . It was difficult to calm  myself down for sleep mode. And then around midnight the neighbor on top of us started snoring loudly as I was finally winding down. Yes, this was really happening! I don’t make this stuff up! I could not believe it! I did manage to get a few hours of sleep which is better than none! We were up early at 5am as the goal was to leave the condo around 6am. I was in the first wave of runners to go off, so I had to board the bus between 6 and 6:50am. We took the T to the Boston Commons where over 500 school buses would be transporting runners out to Hopkington. I was pleasantly surprised out how smoothly it was to arrive at the Boston Commons and then board the bus. It was a nice cool morning and I was really getting excited to run! The starting line was so close! Just hours away! I said good bye to Scott and he left to meet up with Marty for a run. I boarded a school bus and sat in the first row to avoid any problems with motion sickness which has plagued me in the past. I was so lucky to have a nice young ER doctor named Amy sit next to me in case things went south. Smile But luckily I did just fine on the bus. We chatted the entire hour it took to arrive in Hopkington which really calmed my nerves. Amy was fantastic and I hope to meet up with her again at a marathon or future Ironman!

4-21-14 me before bus

The Athlete’s Village was just as expected. It was calm when we first arrived but very chilly. We were given these sheets of tin foil type material to use as blankets on the grass where we sat for a couple of hours. We arrived a little before 8:am and our wave went off at 10:00am. Because it was so chilly, I opted to sit in the sun to stay warm. I was wearing the warm “throw away clothes” I purchased from the local food shelf, but New England mornings are still cold! And the sun felt good! I would later pay the price for sitting in the sun all morning before the race. But I was having a great time taking in the experience and all the other runners around me. Everyone was so friendly which made it such a memorable time. I met up with Tommy who I ran with at the Baystate Marathon back in October. I was hoping to run again with him as he was great about pacing. But we got separated before we got into the corrals as I had to relieve myself behind the bushes. It was a half mile walk from Athlete’s Village to our starting corral. But before I made my way to the corral, Amy and I ran a few laps on some pavement to get us about a 1/2 mile warm up. I never did catch up to Tommy during the run like I had hoped. I was having a tough day and my pace plummeted after mile 16. I later learned he had a personal record and a great run that day. I am so happy for him! He is actually one of the very few people I know of who had a great race out there. It was a battle for many of us that day!

Race Recap:

As I said above, this was my slowest marathon out of the four I have run so far! I was actually five minutes slower than my first marathon which was run in 85F temps at the Vermont City Marathon 2011! I know I am much stronger than I was three years ago. My previous marathon last October was over 13 minutes faster and it wasn’t that much cooler (3:07:56). I spent the week painfully analyzing my run and Garmin stats. I needed to understand why I didn’t stay on pace like I had done in my last marathons even when the going got tough. But the simple truth is that it was hot and my quads weren’t ready for the challenging terrain. I had a bad day. It happens! I keep joking about getting a PW at Boston (personal worst). But in reality having a bad race is going to eventually happen to everyone who dedicates their life to marathons and other endurance sports. Achieving a personal worst isn’t always the worst thing either. Having a bad race once in a while builds character and makes us stronger. Life is about experiences! And these types of experiences fuel the fire to do better at the next marathon or athletic challenge. I’m all fired up for my return to Boston next year. The Boston Marathon in 2015 will be about personal redemption. I can’t wait!

Being a financial analyst during the day, I do love studying and analyzing running statistics. So here it is! My Personal Worst Smile

 

4-21-14 STATS

I was in the eigth corral out of nine so it took a while to cross the starting line once the gun went off. As we got close to the starting line, I could feel the emotional energy all around me. There were signs that thanked us for running which was very heart warming. There was so much love and support from the fans. I was in tears crossing the starting line and I am sure I wasn’t alone. It was truly a spectacular feeling and a very amazing start to the race. I’ll never forget Hopkington 2014!

My goals were a bit ambiguous and never really set in stone due to my shin problems and the crazy cold winter. I kept saying that I wasn’t there for a Personal Record, but I did have high hopes of running a similar time to Baystate which was a 3:07:56. My plan was to run the first 11 or so miles conservatively. The course is a rolling downhill for a good 16 miles which truly beats up the quads. The second half of the course is SOOO much harder than the first 13 miles. The first few miles felt good even though it was a little warm and the sun was super bright. The downhills were fast during the first 4 miles and I had to check myself several times and apply the brakes. My paces ranged from 7:16 to 7:05 minutes per mile which seemed right on to me.

The next 6 miles were still going well for me but I could tell it was going to feel warmer and warmer. I was slowly heating up but wasn’t too worried yet during those miles. I have run well in past hot races. I enjoyed the passionate fans so much and loved the huge wave of runners all around me. It was fascinating to look ahead and see a long line of runners filling up the entire road for as far as the eye could see. I wanted to be in the present moment and soak everything up and appreciate this special experience. I was also doing a good job of keeping track of my pace and not running too fast. From miles 5 to 10 my pace ranged from a 7:05 to a 7:09. Miles 11 and 12 started to feel a little harder and hotter for me and I thought I better slow the pace down and try to regroup. So I ran a 7:13 and a 7:09 for the next couple miles which still didn’t help me recover. At one point we ran through a town with lots of BBQs going and fans cheering away. Perhaps the smoke and aromas made it feel even hotter. This was before Wellesley College.

For years I’ve only heard and read about the screaming Wellesely women fans at mile 12. And believe me they were awesome! I have never experienced such enthusiasm and spirit along a race course until that moment! Thank you Wellsely girls! You rock! Next year I’ll be back and running faster!

4-21-14 welsley girls signs

The halfway point was next up and it was around that time that I knew my goals were not going to be realistic. I was hot and not feeling well at all. But I still clung to hope of having a respectable second half. In order to achieve that I decided to slow my pace down to around 7:19s for miles 13 through 16 and see how the hills would treat me. The last steep downhill on mile 16 felt like a welcome relief but in reality it was probably the worst medicine for my aching quads.

4-21-14 me running midway

The Newton hills including the famous Heartbreak Hill would all happen between miles 17 and 21. There were four of them and none of them felt good or remotely easy. These “hills” are nothing like the hills we have here in Vermont. But after beating up your quads for 16 miles on rolling downhills, they are no picnic in the hot sun. And the temps felt the warmest plodding over the Newton hills. It was along the hills like I have read in so many blogs, articles and books where my race goals got shattered. I couldn’t move very fast and my splits went downhill . I sadly watched my garmin average pace take a nose dive during the hills. From miles 17 to 21 my pace ranged from a 7:49 to an 8:33. I run faster during my long training runs! This was the slowest I have ever run in a marathon! And there was nothing I could do about it. I was giving it my all. So I accepted that this was not going to be my day and still try and appreciate the roaring and screaming fans on the hills. Heartbreak Hill was full of heart felt support for us tired and battered runners. I was actually amazed at how many people I saw walking on the hills. It was hot and many people had shattered goals that day.

4-21-14 me at mile 25

 

Once I had 5 miles left to go I decided that I would try and stay around a pace of 8 to 8:30s. I didn’t give up. I was still giving Boston everything I had. But I just couldn’t get my battered quads to move any faster. This was the first time I could not maintain4-21-14 me pro pix up close finish my pace or fully control my legs. My body was shutting down on me. So I took it one mile at a time. Miles 22 to 25 were a pace between 8:08 and 8:33. There were some smaller hills and rollers which felt like hell on those miles. My goodness the course felt like a beast! When I saw that big Citgo sign at mile 24, I felt joy return to my pour shattered body. The last mile was tough and I was running close to a sub nine minute mile pace. I never run this slowly in a marathon! But I was so excited to be in Boston. The screaming fans were amazing and I wanted to take it all in. There were a few times I felt tears of joy knowing I was about to finally finish the Boston Marathon. It was a bitter sweet feeling. When I crossed the finish line I was moving a bit faster and it felt exciting. I never did experience the fear of a copy cat bomber at the finish line. But I was very emotional when I received my finishers medal and kevlar blanket. I was crying tears of joy and it was one of the best feelings! I had finally run Boston! It wasn’t a stellar performance but it was the best I had in me that day.

 

 

4-21-14 me finish with medal

I had to wait a while before Scott met me in the family meeting area. With so many people around the finish line he had to walk almost 3 miles to get to the place where we agreed upon. And I knew he was going to be tired after a long run that morning with Marty. Getting back to the condo was a small trek but luckily we found a close by T station in the Back Bay. We got on the Orange line and then took the Green Line back to Haymarket. Walking around a little probably helped my legs. The good news is that they were no worse than my previous marathons. I had read that it takes longer to recover from Boston due to all the downhill pounding. But since my run was slower than expected that might have saved my legs a bit.

4-21-14 me post race with painting 

Purchasing some street art after my marathon

Overall the Boston Marathon 2014 was my personal worst in regards to running performance. I have always been able to execute my race plans and grind it out in the end even when the exhaustion becomes nearly unbearable. I have always stuck to my planned paces in a marathon or half marathon. But on Monday, my goals fell apart after mile 16. It is difficult to swallow but at the same time I know I gave it my all. And that is all we can ask of ourselves. While I had a disappointing run, the Boston Marathon was still my personal best in regards to overall experience and being a part of a historical marathon. I still had an amazing day out there! And a 3:21:40 is not too shabby for a very warm day after a brutally cold winter of training. And after all I’m 44, not 24! Smile

4-21-14 medal bib

 

I am grateful to have had so much support from my husband. He was amazing all weekend. He took care of me in so many ways. I don’t think I could have run Boston without him. Thank you Scott!  I am also so lucky to have a super awesome coach. Thank you Kelly for all your help and believing in me. I also had support from the people I work with in the corporate world. My boss’s boss was tracking me on a big screen in his office all morning. They were all excited for me. I have to say I was cringing a few times along the course knowing people were tracking my performance. I still can’t believe I tanked! Smile But it’s all good! Next year I’ll do much better! I promise Smile

4-21-14 scott paul revere

The world’s Best Husband! Smile

While I’m all ready to go back for the Boston Marathon 2015, we both have a lot of exciting plans for this summer and fall. We both purchased triathlon specific bikes and will be training for our first 70.3 mile (half Iron) triathlon in the beginning of September. We cannot wait for the Pumpkinman Triathlon as we will be sharing the experience with several of our run/bike/swim buddies! And we are also planning on doing a couple sprint triathlons in preparation down at Lake Dunmore. For a fall marathon, we are now thinking about doing the California International Marathon in early December. And we may sprinkle in a few smaller running races throughout the summer and fall. It’s going to be a great season!

 

Food and Beverage report:

Finding vegan food in the North End (famous Italian section) of Boston is difficult because almost all the restaurants put eggs in the noodles and dairy in the sauces. Luckily we found a couple places online that had a few vegan options. So I made reservations at Gennaro’s which was a 5 minute walk from our Condo. They had a couple appetizers and dinner entrees marked as vegan which was great. The food was good. It did the job and I was grateful to have vegan Italian food in the North End. Here are the main entrees:

4-21-14 food gennaro's

I had read in a previous blog about Caffe Vittoria having soy lattes. Now this was a special find in the North End! And Caffe Vittoria is a place I have been to in the past during my younger years when I had the opportunity to visit and party in Boston. It’s a super fun cafe and I only wish they had some vegan pastries. Maybe someday!

4-21-14 food scott vittoria's

For lunch on Sunday we made our way out to Harvard Square in Cambridge to visit Veggie Planet which is a great vegetarian and vegan restaurant. It was an easy ride on the Red Line from the Park Street station.

4-21-14 me veggie planet 

4-21-14 food veggie planet pizza 

We ordered the vegan pizzas for a good carb loading event. They were out of Daiya non-dairy cheese which was disappointing as it’s the best vegan alternative. So we had their homemade tofu soy cheese which was good but I had to scrap a lot of it off the pizza as it was too much. The service was great and it was fun to see other runners sporting their Boston Marathon jackets as well.

Sunday night we cooked a big quinoa pasta dinner in our condo so I could relax. Scott was so wonderful to do all the cooking and cleaning up. So for dinner after the marathon I wanted to go somewhere fun that he would really enjoy as well. Luckily Chris and Jess were up for meeting us at Harvard Square and having beer and good pub food at the John Harvard Brewery and Ale House.  We had a very good vegan veggie burger which we both enjoyed so much. The beer was great too! Myself and Jess had a couple Pale Ales which hit the spot! Chris enjoyed the IPA and Scott was a fan of the darker beers.

4-21-14 john harvard veg burger

After we said our good byes to Chris and Jess we walked around the North End in search of some Grappa which is one of my favorite Italian liquors. This was the start to a super fun night! We had a blast and met a super fun couple from Minnesota who both ran the marathon. We also met other really nice and friendly locals who bought us drinks. They were genuinely happy we came to Boston for the marathon. I have to say we did drink a lot, but it was a night for celebration on so many levels!

4-21-14 food grappa

4-21-14 boston city lights

 

And for our recovery meal on Tuesday we drove to Cambridge on our way home to visit Life Alive. This is an awesome vegetarian and vegan cafe that we have been to in the past. We even ate at their Lowell location before the Baystate marathon last October.

4-21-14 life alive sign

I can’t say enough good things about this cafe as the food is so delicious and nourishing. We both had these fantastic juices and the Green Goddess dish for lunch. SOOOO good! And it was helpful after running a marathon and partying a bit the previous day!

4-21-14 life alive food

 

4-21-14 meb winning 

Meb my running hero winning the Boston Marathon! I cried when I learned this wonderful news! We love you Meb!

“Every runner has a specific motivation and inspiration for running a marathon. This year all 36,000 of us will ‘Run Together’ to demonstrate the spirit of the marathon. We will still have our individual motivations, but we will be unified under the Boston Strong umbrella.” – Meb Keflezighi

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New Bedford Half Marathon March 16, 2014 Race Report

3-16-14 GMAA group photo by bus

GMAA (Green Mountain Athletic Association) group photo post-race

I have had my eye on the New Bedford Half Marathon in Massachusetts for a few years now. This race is part of the 2014 USA Track and Field New England Grand Prix Series which means it draws some very serious competition and a stacked field. It is also 5 weeks before the Boston Marathon so it is a key training race for many runners including myself. I am so thrilled to have finally experienced this fantastic half marathon and write about it!

After being injured with a medial tibial stress syndrome (commonly referred to as shin splints) for the past two winters I had to cancel my plans for this race along with the 3-16-14 medalBoston Marathon in 2012 and 2013. (Thank goodness I could run my fall marathons!) But not this year! I have promised myself I’m running New Bedford and Boston no matter what happens this year! It’s been an off and on battle for a while now but I’m slowly and surely overcoming this shin condition. I did have a few set backs with my shin this training cycle where I had to stop 3 different times this winter and take several days off each break. Luckily with a great coach, I have been able to jump back into my program each time.  I wasn’t overly confident about my fitness levels going into the half marathon on Sunday, but I surprised myself and ran very well. It was such a great feeling when I crossed the finish line and received my finisher’s medal. Smile And it’s quite a novelty to begin my racing season in March!

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About to cross the finish line!

The New Bedford Half Marathon might be my new favorite 13.1 distance! I love this race for so many reasons. While I enjoyed running this fast course, it is still challenging with the “hills” and windy sections along the ocean. However, many people have achieved personal records at this race including my husband last Sunday! For me I was off 56 seconds from my PR which was OK. My goal was to hopefully break an hour and 30 minutes which I did by 4 seconds! And I have to say I was thrilled to run that well this March! I have had  a tough time training this winter with the cold temps, road conditions and my shin. Being a numbers person who loves analyzing running stats, I posted the official results which can also be found here.

3-16-14 results

 

3-16-14 scott close up

On Saturday afternoon we boarded a very nice privately charted bus with the GMAA for our 5 hour journey to New Bedford, MA. From the moment we walked over to the bus, we were welcomed so warmly and made to feel at home by Russ, Bob and many other GMAA members. Even our bus driver was super cool! I don’t think you could find a nicer bunch of people! Everyone was so friendly. It was so much fun meeting some new runners that weekend as well as hanging out with Sarah, Kristen and Marty who we see all the time at swim clinic and other events.

We all stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriot which was a couple blocks from the race start. This was one of our better hotel experiences before a half or full marathon. The hotel was good and the service was friendly. We even got a bit of sleep. There was a nice area for us all to have dinner and then breakfast. And they didn’t mind us using their kitchen/pantry area to heat up our veggie lasagna.

This has been one of the coldest and harshest winters we’ve seen in a long time here in 3-16-14 me pre race outfitNew England and Sunday was no exception. Luckily while Vermont was having a cold day in the single digits, New Bedford was around 30F at the 11am start time. While I thought this might feel balmy compared to what I have been running in, the wind was blowing hard and made the wind chill feel colder. Yet with the bright sunshine and bluebird day, it looked deceiving. The big dilemma at breakfast was what to wear?! I like to race in a singlet and shorts even in 40F temps but the wind along the ocean had me worried. So I opted for covering all body parts! Looking back I could have gotten away with wearing shorts and ditching the arm warmers and gloves.

 

Race Recap:

3-16-14 map

 

3-16-14 elevation chart

After a quick warm up run and last visit on the bus, Scott, Marty, Kristen and myself lined up close to the start. The team scoring was based on gun time and not chip time so it was important to get as close to the start as we could. I was surprised at how easily it was to make our way to an ideal spot so close to line. He huddled together to keep warm while “God Bless America” and the National Anthem was sung beautifully. It was a great feeling to be ready to race in the coming minutes! I had finally made it to New Bedford! I was excited!

3-16-14 mass field 3

Around 2,800+ people raced the New Bedford Half Marathon this year!

As the gun went off a large wave of humanity stormed off into the streets for the next 13.1 miles. I had studied a few blogs and race reports about this half marathon so I knew what to expect in the next coming miles. I knew the first couple miles would be very fast. I could have ran faster than I did for those two miles, but found myself purposely slowing down the pace slightly to conserve energy for the notorious “hills” in miles 3 and 4. I was hoping to run with Marty but he took off a bit faster than I had planned. I did see him in the distance on the hills but knew I had to run my own race.

3-16-14 mass start

While these “hills” that I speak of are not exactly what we call hills in Vermont, they were substantial enough to slow down my pace to around a 7 minute mile for both the 3rd and 4th mile. I did run them conservatively since I hadn’t gotten to see the course before the race and I was concerned about the windy sections and the final hill. Once I got over the final hill I was looking forward to the next few miles and feeling pretty good. Here are my paces for the first 4 miles:

paces 1-4

 

I knew the next 3-4 miles would be very fast with a gradual downhill on most of that long stretch. I enjoyed these miles very much especially with a generous tailwind which improved my speeds. I noted that I was feeling strong and healthy during this section. However, I have learned not to become too overconfident when racing. I was also feeling very warm with the bright sunshine and wind at my back. I knew I should have worn shorts! But I wasn’t uncomfortable. I just prefer to wear less when racing. The 10K mark passed quickly and I was still cruising along at a good pace. Mile 8 brought us down to the ocean where we would run around a peninsula with pretty ocean views and wind for the next few miles. Here are the paces for miles 5-8:

paces 5-8

 

FSNB14NA01174_3245

Me and my baggy pants! Winking smile

Once I was running along the ocean I saw that I was slowly creeping up on Marty. At this point I made sure I took a few moments to admire the scenic ocean views. With the blue skies, it was quite gorgeous. And at this point, the wind was still at my back and I was still running at a good pace. Once we rounded the peninsula and started running in the opposite direction, the wind was there to greet us as was anticipated. While it was not as bad as many of my training runs this winter, it was still strong enough to slow down the pace. It was around mile 10 where I caught up to Marty and ran behind him for a few minutes. I was deciding if I should keep going or stay with Marty since he knew the course and what was in store for us. I had already been conservative (maybe too much) the first 4 miles so I decided to keep trucking along. I said hi to Marty as I ran by and asked how he was doing. I then proceeded to draft other runners for a little wind protection. This works better when riding a bike but it did help a little bit.

3-16-14 scott running

My bad-ass husband is getting fast! Winking smile

Miles 10 and 11 were a little slower mostly due to the wind. I hoped that I might be able to pick it up a little once we were back in the city area protected by the wind. I did catch up to Sydney around mile 11 and asked how she was doing. She looked good and was running very strong (she also had a PR that day!). I continued on without Sydney but knew she would be close behind. Mile 12 was faster without the wind, but it seemed like it was a slight gradual uphill on the city streets. I was still feeling decent. I was definitely putting in a good hard effort but I wasn’t suffering like I have in the past. Even my heart rate turned out to be a little lower than usual. I was pleasantly surprised at how the miles were ticking off pretty quickly during this race. But I knew that I had one last hurdle in the race which is why I didn’t want to run mile 12 too fast.

3-16-14 me up close

As promised, the “big hill” came at the very end of mile 12 and a good half of mile 13. This was not a killer hill but it felt long and hard after running 12 miles. I was told to look out for a notorious fast food chain which would indicate the end of the uphill battle. Never before have I been so happy to see a  fast food establishment! I wasn’t dying but I wasn’t running up it as fast as I would have liked. I did pass people which helped my momentum. And then we finally turned right for the fast downhill finish. This was super fun! I was ready for the quad-crushing downhill and ran at a pretty good clip. My last 2/10 of a mile showed a pace of 5:36 which is a rare speed for me! I smiled for the camera and crossed the finish line in a gun time of 1:30:06. (net time of 1:26:56). Here are my paces for the last few miles:

paces 9-14

 

I was on top of the world when I received my finisher’s medal. This is one that I have coveted for a while now. That moment made all those hideous training runs in ice, snow and polar temps feel worth it! I was stoked about my run and the great experience that day! I was going to be ready for Boston! I may have run a bit too conservatively but I was happy with how I felt and the resulting time. And I was thrilled when Scott was only a few minutes behind me. He had a great run that day and exceeded his own expectations. Go Scott! Our friends ran very well too which made me very happy. I love it when we all do so well on race day! Congrats to Sarah, Kristen, Marty, Sue, Sydney and all other GMAA racers that day! You all rocked it!

3-16-14 PR beer scott

Scott’s PR beer Smile Thanks Marty!

It was a very successful race day for the GMAA overall. Eight people in the club had personal records. Many people did well in their age groups. I was third in my age group. The team results were high too. I was proud to be a part of the GMAA women masters team which came in third out of 19 teams. Myself, Sue and Sarah made that happen. I’m honored to race with these super ladies!

After a nice short recovery run, shower and some leftovers, we were back on the road to Vermont. The GMAA had coolers full of a variety of good beers and I took advantage of this3-16-14 charlie shamrock sticker situation which is no surprise to those who know me. I love to celebrate and party after a race and the ride back was no exception. The 5 beers probably weren’t the best recovery fluids. Smile  But they did make the 5 hour bus ride more fun! And while my legs had the usual soreness the next morning, it wasn’t anything worse than I’ve experienced from other races. With a good swim clinic and a sports massage this week, my legs are recovering nicely. I’ve already logged in a few days of running and just finished a good hard tempo run. I can’t wait to run this half marathon again next year! It was a fantastic weekend!

3-16-14  me and scott post race

 

Food and Beverage report:

With a full time job and busy training schedule, I didn’t have time to make a dinner to bring down to New Bedford even though I love to cook. The GMAA had a pasta and meatball dinner catered at the hotel but I didn’t know if the sauce or noodles would be vegan. Thank goodness Sweat Pea Natural Foods in Waitsfield, VT came to my rescue! Carin made this amazing vegan veggie lasagna that fed us before the race and after the race. It was delicious and nourishing! Thanks Carin! This was an awesome carb loading experience. Smile Luckily we were able to heat it up in the hotel’s convection oven.

3-16-14 lasagna

 

For sweet treats we loaded up with goodies from Pingala Café, which is one of our new favorite places! It’s a vegan café that recently opened up in Winooski, VT. I can’t say enough good things about this café, the food, coffee and service. Please go check it out! Everything is delicious! So far we’ve been there every weekend! Thanks Trevor! These helped us run faster! Smile

3-16-14 pingala treats

Vegan heaven Winking smile

 

3-16-14 medals race bibs

 

3-16-14 mass field

Overall I highly recommend this half marathon for your racing “bucket list”. It’s a classic 3-16-14 costumeevent and the type of race that people return to every year. It’s a great race on so many levels. It’s is very well organized with a super festive St Patty’s day theme! I loved all the green running clothes and costumes worn by so many runners. I found this photo to the side which made me smile! If you have the opportunity to race with the GMAA and take the bus down next year, please do so! You won’t regret it! We had so much fun! Thank you Russ and Bob for all your efforts and attention to detail. You made us feel so welcome and we appreciate that so much! I hope to do more races with you all soon!

 

3-16-14 irish quote

 

“May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.”

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Turkey Trots for the Camaraderie 2013

11-28-13 turkey trot group photo

The gang after running the Never Give Up Ever 5K Turkey Trot 11-28-13

Up until this year we had never done a “Turkey Trot” fun run which traditionally falls on Thanksgiving morning or the holiday weekend. Last year I was recovering from the Philadelphia Marathon and the year before that I was injured. So being healthy and running this time of year has been quite the novelty!

After having recently run the Baystate Marathon back in October we have been running lower weekly mileages without any speedwork or intensity. This has been our time to rejuvenate and decompress after all the hard training for the Baystate Marathon. So it’s safe to say we haven’t been anywhere near our peak fitness levels. And that is OK. The body does need this time of year to rest and recover before the next training cycle.

Our running friends, Jess and Chris informed us they were planning on doing 5 different Turkey Trots around northern Vermont and asked if we were interested in running a few. Because I still have to be careful and mindful of my shin, we ended up doing one Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and one the following Sunday. We didn’t race hard and that was not the point for us. Our only “goals” were to hang out with our running friends, meet other runners and enjoy the camaraderie that is inherent in small local running events. Previous to these Turkey Trots I have only signed up for races that I had planned on racing seriously. “If I’m not going to run fast then why bother” has always been my mentality regarding racing. Normally I only run a race to gain a personal record or achieve a goal after months of hard training and to push beyond my limits. I’ll admit I take racing very seriously Smile. But this Thanksgiving holiday I discovered the joy of showing up at a local race completely relaxed and enjoying the whole experience of running with my friends and other like-minded people who also share our passion of running.

Never Give Up, Ever Turkey Trot, Richmond, Vermont 11-28-13

11-28-13 turkey trot round church

On Thanksgiving morning we awoke to about 5-6 inches of snow at our house and cold temps of around 15F. We drove about 12 minutes down to the Round Church in Richmond where the Turkey Trot 5K would begin at 8:30am. At 8:00am it was only about 17F and the roads were icy and snowy. I brought my Asics with screws, Icebugs with carbide studs and some rubbers that fit over my running shoes and have spikes. After warming up and testing the roads with our friends, I decided on the rubbers with the spikes which did the job but did make me feel slower. Trail shoes would have worked well but I didn’t bring mine.

My running coach instructed me to run hard but not all out. It was easy to obey her words of wisdom that morning. With the road conditions, cold temps, rubber with the spikes, and not feeling super fit, I really couldn’t get myself to move that fast. I was running with Jess, Jen and Sarah for the first mile and Jess reminded me that we met here a few years ago running a summer 5K on that very same road (Cochran Road). The road then became more snow packed on a small gradual hill and we ended up splitting up. I ran ahead and tried to see if I could move any faster.

11-28-13 scott and me

I did manage to run the next couple miles faster, but I wasn’t in any mood to suffer. After a hard ending at Baystate, I just didn’t want to feel like that again for a long time. I did end up winning the women’s race but I wasn’t really racing. My overall pace was slower than the pace of the last half marathon I ran back in September. I was actually quite amused by that! This was my slowest 5K but it was also a lot of fun and I enjoyed the cold, snowy experience of being out there with Scott and our friends. Scott did well too but wasn’t really racing. He was just out there having fun. I won a $25 gift certificate to Fleet Feet Sports in Essex, VT which is cool! The best part was the social aspect and warm feeling of hanging out with all the brave souls who ventured out on quite a cold morning to run for a great cause! Runners rock!! Winking smile

 

Turkey Lane Turkey Trot, Hinesburg, Vermont 12-1-13

12-1-13 turkey trot group photo

On Sunday morning we had the pleasure of sleeping in because this Turkey Trot didn’t begin until 1:00pm. This 4.25 mile race benefited the Hinesburg Land Trust so it was another great reason to get out there and run. The weather that day was much more pleasant with temps almost reaching 40F. While the skies were overcast, it did feel like it might rain but we were lucky with dry conditions. The race is a loop of mostly hilly dirt roads and some paved roads as well. What made it tricky was the snow-packed dirt roads. While they were sanded I was still tentative about my running speeds, especially down the hills. We live on snowy dirt roads and are accustomed to this type of running, but I have never raced or run too fast on these road conditions. Again my coach told me to run hard but not too hard which was a blessing in disguise due to the roads.

The race started up a steep hill that topped out after 2/10 of a mile and then leveled out a bit. I ran this race much slower due to the hills and conditions. But I did manage to stay close behind Liz for most of the race. I had 9 miles to run that day and after a 3 mile warm up I was feeling great running at a nice tempo pace a little back from Liz. After about 12-1-13 turkey trot campfirea mile and a half we turned onto Tyler Bridge Road which is paved. That took us down a long steep and fast descent. This was so much fun and I was enjoying the scenery and staying close enough behind Liz. The downhills continued to about 3.5 miles or so. We soon got back onto the snow-packed dirt roads and started to climb a bit . It was mostly gradual and nothing too steep. I was still feeling strong on the final 1.25 miles but reminded myself that I wasn’t racing and just enjoying my Sunday run. Liz kicked it in the last mile which is her style. I let her go and finished about 30 seconds or so behind her. I felt great the whole run and really enjoyed the experience. The course was beautiful and I got a productive tempo run done. I then did a nice 2 mile cool down run. Scott and Jess ran together and chatted the whole time and just enjoyed the run. They were not racing. And that is something we are going to do more often in the future! Sometimes a “race” is really just an excuse to get out and run with friends! Smile

Kassie Enman who ran the Olympic Trials a couple years ago won the women’s race. Liz and I were a distant second and third. Kassie is a very inspiring elite athlete who happens to live in Huntington, VT. I was the fastest woman in my age group and won a $25 gift certificate to Lantman’s Market right in Hinesburg. We stopped in right after the race to get ourselves some vegan frozen pizza, wine and beer for a get-together with our friends that evening.

Overall it was a great experience to enjoy some local races with our running friends over the Thanksgiving Holiday. It was the best Thanksgiving we have had in a long time. And in-between our races we were able to enjoy some “mountain time” on our snowshoes in Bolton Valley’s beautiful Backcountry:

11-30-13 Me snowshoe Bolton BC

 

11-30-13 scott on bridge sunshine

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Going back to the Farm Sanctuary for the Annual Celebration For the Turkeys, November 16, 2013

Me and Scott with Merlin

Hanging out with sweet and gentle Merlin

My blog is normally centered around our athletic pursuits, race reports, and other fun outdoor adventures as vegans living in Vermont. However, I wanted to write about a visit to a special place that inspires me to not only be a strong athlete, but to be a better person. Last weekend we made the 7 hour journey to The Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York which is centered in the Finger Lakes region. 

me and goat

Several years ago I discovered discovered one of the most amazing non-profit, rescue organizations called The Farm Sanctuary co-founded by Gene Baur, a modern-day super goat in wheel chairhero for animals. The Farm Sanctuary is dedicated to ending exploitation of animals raised for food production and educating the public about the realities of factory farming. The Farm Sanctuary has shelters in California and New York where they provide life-long care for hundreds of animals rescued from factory farms, abusive environments, stockyards and slaughterhouses. Their endless compassion and kindness towards farm animals has been an inspiration to me. It brings tears to my eyes to think about all the stories and animals that have been saved and loved by these incredible people.

 

Turpintine

The famous Turpentine Turkey!

The rescue efforts of the Farm Sanctuary have truly touched my heart over the last several years. Scott and I sponsor the care of a big grey goose named Yvette on a monthly basis. We made a trip out to the Farm Sanctuary three years ago where we had the privilege of spending quality time with the amazing animals residing there. I was deeply moved and fell in love with the animals and the Farm Sanctuary.

scott and sheep

Scott thought we should make the trip this year for their annual Celebration for the Turkeys which is an amazing event. I have wanted to do this for several years now and I’m so grateful we got to have the experience. The celebration is a Thanksgiving dinner made specially for all the rescued Turkeys on the Farm Sanctuary. This is one of the most heart warming gestures I have ever witnessed in person. About 300 animal lovers (many vegan if not most) came to the Farm Sanctuary to celebrate with the turkeys. Many drove hundreds of miles like Scott and myself to be there for the special day.

celebration for turkeys - audience2

Before the turkeys enjoyed their feast, everyone got to spend quality time with the other animals on the Farm Sanctuary. I love walking around on the grounds and visiting the animals. This was my favorite part of the trip. These beautiful animals are all so special with unique personalities and amazing stories. Even while many have an incredibly difficult past full of suffering and horror, they have learned to forgive and trust people. I only wish I could be around these animals on a regular basis. That would be a dream come true for me……

celebration for turkeys - feeding by a child2celebration for turkeys - audience

 

After the Celebration for the Turkeys, we then headed back to the Watkins Glen Harbor scott and samualHotel right on Lake Seneca where we stayed three nights. This is where the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner awaited all of us in a very large ballroom. Anyone who still wonders what vegans eat should check out my Food and Beverage Report below for photos of this decadent vegan feast. We had a really enjoyable evening and met some wonderful fellow vegans who were sitting at our table. It was the first time we’ve been to an event with so many like-minded people where we could speak freely and eat everything offered.

me and pigsScott with Ari

Susie throwing pumpkin with pigs

Susie Coston feeding pumpkins to the pigs Smile

We both enjoyed listening to all the inspiring speakers including Gene Baur, Susie Coston, and Zoe Weil. One of the most important messages of the evening for me came from Zoe Weil, a humane educator and author. As vegans we are sometimes overwhelmed with so much information about the horrors, suffering, and unspeakable abuse that goes into exploiting and raising animals for food, other human use and profit.  Every day there is aGene-speaking at celebration new undercover investigation coming out in the news and social media exposing abuse, violence and neglect in the animal food industry.  Every day I learn of a new nightmarish way that animals are suffering needlessly at the hands of humans. This can effect a person deeply and eventually it can be the fuel for the fire that burns inside us. But how we manage this anger and fire within us is extremely important. Zoe talked about how as vegans we can either be a “forest fire” or a “camp fire” when living among non-vegans. It is easy to become a forest fire where people run from us when possessing so much anger and knowledge about animal agriculture. I truly understand this because I was absolutely furious when I first learned about the atrocities and suffering on factory farms 7+ years ago. But we can also be the camp fire where people are drawn to us and want to be around our warmth. Honestly I have been both the forest fire and the camp fire throughout my years as a vegan. After hearing Zoe speak, I truly want to do a better job of being the campfire and showing more kindness and compassion to all humans. When we become the camp fire that Zoe illustrated, we do more good for the animals.

One of the best aspects of the day was meeting my personal hero, Gene Baur, author of the book Farm Sanctuary and co-founder of The Farm Sanctuary. I highly recommend his best seller! Gene recently completed the Lake Placid me and gene at dinner 2Ironman and is an accomplished marathon runner. He will also be running in the Boston Marathon with me in April 2014. While Gene is an amazing vegan endurance athlete, I am also inspired by his compassion for both animals and people alike. Knowing that Gene is out in the world saving animals and inspiring so many people gives me comfort and hope. He is a true role model for all of us no matter what path we choose in life.

 

Running in the Watkins Glen Area

me running by lake seneca 2

We were able to enjoy a nice 6 mile run on Saturday before the event and then a 10 mile run on Sunday morning. Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day with bluebird skies and temperatures in the high 50s F. We did a little running on a road along Lake Seneca for 3 miles and then ran another 3 miles around the town of Watkins Glen which was fun. It was nice to run right from our hotel.

montour falls

Montour Falls

Sunday morning the weather was warmer for our run but we had showers off an on the first 5 miles and then a bit more steady on the 5 miles back. We weren’t soaked and the rain was actually pleasant. I found a bike path on Mapmyride.com earlier that week and it turned out to be a really great place to run. This was the Catherine Valley Trail that CV trail scenestarted in Watkins Glen and went for almost 12 miles. We ran 1 mile from our hotel down Franklin Street to 12th Avenue and then followed the signs for the trail head. This was a lovely packed gravel and dirt trail that went along the canal for a few miles. Then it took us through the quaint little town of Montour Falls with an amazing waterfall. We then found ourselves back on a really nice wooded trail where we continued on until we hit 5 miles. We were only going to run 9 miles that morning but the trail was so nice we decided to make it 10 miles (5 miles out and then back). Because of the rain I didn’t bring my camera. So before we headed back to Vermont on Monday, we drove to Montour Falls to snap a few photos for my blog Smile. I really look forward to running on this trail next year! Hopefully we’ll run a few more miles on it.

CV trail sign

 

Food and Beverage Report:

Eating delicious vegan food, pastries and soy lattes was also a highlight of our long weekend. This is all easy to find in Watkins Glen thanks to the presence of the Farm Sanctuary and the many vegans that make the pilgrimage to the Farm Sanctuary every year in the summer and fall. Even the fancy hotel where we stayed is very vegan friendly. On Friday night I had a delicious white bean cake dinner with a relish, soft kale and asparagus. Scott enjoyed a vegan veggie burger which was also very tasty.

food hotel dinner friday nite

For breakfast after both of our runs, we made our way to the best place in town called the Glen Mountain Bakery and Deli Market a stone throw from the hotel. They have several vegan pastries and cookies and the best soy lattes! The deli also has many vegan offerings. Food glen mtn market insideThey have about 7 lunch choices that are vegan. They use a very tasty seitan for their vegan sandwiches. Their tofu vegan veggie burger was also a yummy option I had for lunch. We even went in there at 7am before our ride home (when it was quiet) and had them make us lunch for the road which was most welcomed during our drive through the Adirondack wilderness! This café was very cozy and friendly even when it was so busy with the Farm Sanctuary visitors and many locals. The staff was really nice and I enjoyed the atmosphere and service. I only wish we had a place like this here in Vermont!

Saturday night’s celebration at the hotel was a delicious buffet vegan Thanksgiving meal that was truly amazing. A picture says a thousand words so here is what we ate:

food - celebration dinner

food pumpkin pie

 

On Sunday evening after a few wine tastings, we had a terrific dinner at the Crooked Rooster Brewpub also within walking distance from our hotel. We had been here 3 years ago so we were looking forward to our return. We love brewpubs and fresh beer so it was a treat to have their beer once again. For dinner we both had the vegan blackbean burgers which were excellent and went well with the cocoa porter!

food veggie burger at Rosterfish

 

The Finger Lakes region is also a famous wine country where there are hundreds of vineyards and wineries along the different lakes. It is no secret that we both love wine and lamoureaux vineyardtasting the many different offerings. The Farm Sanctuary gave us a list of vegan friendly wineries (where no animal products such as egg whites are used in the fining process). So we returned to one of our favorites, Lakewood Vineyards on Friday evening which has some of the best port we have ever had. We also tried three wineries on the other side of the lake on Sunday afternoon. Catherine Valley Winery, Silver Thread Vineyard, and Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars all showed us a lovely wine tasting experience. We left with wine from all three wineries to stock up for the winter months here in Vermont.

scott with case of wine

 

hotel view of lake in morning

Lake view from our hotel window

Me Lake Seneca

Overall it was such a great weekend trip with so many precious memories. I can’t wait to return next year and maybe we’ll get to run with Gene on the Catherine Valley Trail. Smile

Me and Merlin

Scott and black goatme and Turpintine

orange cow

This favorite quote of mine reminds me of everyone at the Farm Sanctuary:

“To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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