As I get closer and closer to my goal of running marathons in all 50 states, I am starting to come upon those states that only have a few races each year. Running doubles saves a bunch of money, but sometimes you just have to pony up and make a trip for only ONE race, and you don’t get to choose when it is. This was the case of my 38th state, Vermont. I actually flew into New Hampshire (avoiding Boston area) and drove ~2.5 hours NW to Burlington, Vermont. The road trip was beautiful, and it reminded me of why I love this part of the country. Late May and all the tress were in full summer glory, rolling hills (the call them mountains here) as far as you could see. Because it is not really flat there are very few farms, just green everywhere. As well as the sheer beauty of this whole area, the people are very kind and sweet. Laid back, and liberal. I felt very comfortable here all weekend. If I could pick it all up and move it south 500 miles (for less harsh winters) I would retire here.
The Vermont City marathon has been around for a long time, and so they know how to run a race. The expo was actually pretty cool, and I had to break down and buy a pair of running socks because I forgot mine (first time in 40+ marathons I forgot my socks) and checked into the hotel and went over to check out Lake Champlain before dinner. The lake is gorgeous, separating Vermont from upstate New York. It reminded me a lot of Puget Sound, it was that scenic.
Race morning went as usual, nothing exciting and due to the size of the race I arrived at the start/finish area 1.5 hours before race start to get a good parking spot. The forecast had been for crap, with 40% chance of thunderstorms and a projected high in the mid 80’s. The night before, everything changed. At race start, the sky was overcast, temp in the mid 50’s and it would only get to the high 60’s before I finished. The sun did come out at about mile 10, which slowed me down a bit, but not too much.
As usual, I did not train for this marathon per se, so I had no idea how fast I could run it. I started out fairly fast, running 6:45ish pace the first 10 miles. When I hit the half way mark in exactly 1:30, I knew I could not hold that pace to break 3 hours. With that possibility out, I just had to stay under 3:15 so I could still get my 8 points for this race in my 50sub4 marathon club quest. As such, I slowed down to a comfortable pace and decided to enjoy the run. I am a ‘trainer’, not a ‘racer’ and I know that. I am mentally weak when it comes to racing, and I have always known that. If I could get over that, I could break 2:50 again, but who knows if I can ever do that. I run as well as I do simply because I have trained my body to run in the 7-7:15 pace range comfortably for hours. Put simply, I race well in spite of my mental weakness because my body can do it without use of my brain.
The people of Burlington really love us marathoners. They were out in force cheering us on, not just because we brought of munch of tourism dollars to the area. The volunteers were numerous and enthusiastic, and it reminded me a lot of my recent race in Lincoln, NE. The only thing this race had that Lincoln did not was the views. At several points during the race we got nice views of Lake Champlain and all its beauty, it was awesome.
The finish was really cool, as we were put on a path that had snow fence on both sides, but spectators lined up on both sides. A six foot path lined for 400m by people cheering you on. The winners had come in almost an hour earlier, but the crowds were still there cheering us on as if we were winners. Lots of food, including some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (This is Vermont after all) and I headed back to shower and get ready for my drive back to New Hampshire.
Another beautiful drive south to Manchester got me there in time to catch a movie before dinner at an EMPTY sports bar in downtown and then a good night sleep at a very nice hotel (Thanx Hotwire!) and then my trip home. The distinct memories of this trip would have to be the wonderful views and the kind people. A nice happy run. Thanx Vermonters!!!