Memorial Weekend Running @ Vermont City Marathon

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May has turned into June and Spring into Summer bringing with it lots of sunshine and a lessening of the showers we’ve been getting of late. Before we run on though, I ought to pause for a worthy mention of a pretty 26.2 I recently experienced.

IMG_20190526_074203Two weekends ago, aka Memorial Day Weekend, a couple of friends and I drove up to Vermont to run the marathon in Burlington. The course was scenic and somewhat hilly with many unknowns including the weather. It was my first visit and I found the city and its people quite charming. While we didn’t get to poke around too much so as to save my legs for the race, we did venture into the city to absorb the local scene the evening before the race. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs then, which more or less ruined our outdoor dining experience at a popular local restaurant with supposedly good food. On the other hand, the Expo, which was held at the DoubleTree Hilton, made for a fine experience and really showed up the warmth and friendliness of the people of Vermont. We met some fine folks and got some tips on how to take on the course from a couple of veteran Vermont marathoners. I made sure to voice my concern as to the uncertainty of the weather, and the then current downpour, and was told my fears were unwarranted, Marathon Day was going to be great, a little wet early on but the weather would dry out and turn out a beautiful race day. One thing was certain, we were told, the race would be memorable and it was hoped we would enjoy it enough to come back next year.

As it turned out, the course was indeed pretty but it had a few hills that wrecked havoc on my back on both the ascent and the descent. Now I’ve been having back issues since soon after I started CrossFit and I’ve recently started working to adopt correct form, wearing a belt when I lift, and rolling out, and taping up. But that weekend, I was in recovery from a previous week of heavy lifting and was experiencing some pains in my lower back. I was optimistic that I would get taped up at the expo since I am terrible at taping up myself, and even walked with my tape to show the good folks at the KT Tape booth – who I hoped, more than expected, would be there. Turned out they weren’t and there went my hope of running anywhere close to a 3:30 time. I reluctantly engaged my friend to help with the tape but as expected that didn’t turn out so well, and so I adjusted my expectations and went to bed.

Race day dawned with beautiful skies, a bit of clouds here and there but nothing major, and I was pretty glad that we were scheduled to run as early as 7am. Early start translates to early finish so I was ready to run. God may have had other ideas because we were barely in Battery Park, where the start line was located, amidst the rolling out of the stars of the show – the elite guests – when amidst the blue skies, there came an announcement for all runners to exit the Park area due to inclement extreme weather condition that was expected momentarily but should only last for about 20 minutes. We all thought it was a joke, then we thought it was something else, maybe a bomb threat or some such thing, because, how could there be a storm? Well to make a long story short, it stormed alright, while many of us took shelter in a nearby church. There were others scattered about in nearby hotels and other buildings. The priest and others at the church were so gracious and welcoming it was heartening to sit and receive a blessing as he prayed for us and sang accompanied by a pianist. Out of nowhere the skies burst and lightening and thunder put on a display we were able to witness from the inside. Time passed by and 20 minutes turned into an hour and so we didn’t start until about 8:20am. By then the sky was once again blue and the sun was out. One would never have guessed a thunderstorm just happened except there were puddles everywhere and everything was wet. With little fanfare now, except for the singing of the national anthem, the race started and we were off.

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Some things I enjoyed about the course were that they kept the race in the city for the most part, which made it easy for supporters and so I was able to see my friends three different times. I also liked the bits of trails they threw in, it broke up the running on asphalt bit as well as provided shade as it got hotter and miles seemed longer. I also enjoyed that it was scenic, which allowed me to take pictures, and that we ran along Lake Champlain, it was refreshing. I loved the support from the locals who were handing out refreshments as well as providing encouragement and various forms of music like drums and flutes etc at odd points. Too, I appreciated the volunteers – so encouraging, especially the kids, who were so very cute. I thought interesting the aspect of the relay runners which made the run different and a study for me as there were quite a bit of youth runners, which was new to me as far as running with them.

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A few things I was a bit “meh” about were the hills of course, seeing spectators 2-3 times meant that there were a few loops in there – not a few of my favorite things. Then there was the puddle jumping and muddy areas of the trails brought on by the rain and the omniscient sun. All in all though, I lean in favor of the positives as we ended on a grassy, softer finish with a finish line that was right there and medals soon thereafter. Pizza and snacks wrapped up the Vermont City Marathon experience and a photo op with one of my running inspirations, Bart Yasso, was the cherry on top.

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Let’s go Running

The barren trees vs the green leaves, the chorus of Springtime vs the death knell of Winter. Who amongst us doesn’t appreciate the spark of hope – the added vigor to life that descends on us all. So long to the cold, chilly, freezing, and not-much-snow temps of Winter. Hello to Spring – rain, warmer sunshine, and cooler temps! With great anticipation and a huge sigh of relief, we welcome the season of new birth, as only runners can, with big smiles and longer miles. Bring on the races!

Adventure runs await as the promise of better weather arrives..no longer relegated to what we can get, we now get to choose where and what to run. While there are the staple marathons like Boston and London coming up in just about a month and six weeks respectively, they remain an option only for those who have pre-qualified or chosen the charity route and hopefully submitted to rigorous months of winter training. The lucky ones, I call them, those runners who are under no such obligation or aspiration, are free to jump into the many spring races happening around the country, though the shorter ones for sure for our newbie runners, to jumpstart their running goals, or for others, simply for the heck of good running weather and destination runs. How’s that for fun running!

Check out these 10 popular, fun, and perhaps challenging, runs happening this Spring:

(1) April 7, Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run – Washington, D.C.
(2) April 6, Cooper River Bridge 10k Run – Mount Pleasant, SC
(3) April 7, Carlsbad 5000, the world’s fastest 5k, Carlsbad, CA
(4) April 28, Big Sur International Marathon/21 Miler/Marathon Relay/11 Miler/ 12K/5K- Monterey, CA
(5) April 13, Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA
(6) May 5, Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon – Cincinnati, OH
(7) June 2, Steamboat Marathon /Half/10K -Steamboat Springs, CO
(8) May 26, Keybank Vermont City Marathon & Relay – Burlington, VT
(9) The Color Run, a free-spirited 5K, great for beginners – April to June, Nationwide
(10) April 20, Barkin’ Dog Duathlon – Run, Bike, Run, one of the largest Duathlons in the western US, Denver CO.

While going through the too many lists to count put forward by the likes of Runners World, Shape Magazine, and Daily Burn, I will admit to some bias and ended up choosing the ones I reviewed and either have done or would like to do. Total disclaimer in that this is based soley on my preference for destination, fun and challenging races. Run at your own risk! Lol. But really, at your own level, which keeps getting better all the time. Hope you totally enjoy my picks. And oh, be a love and let me know if you give any on the list a try. Happy Spring Running!
🏃

Summer’s Running, So Should You!

Wow..Summer huh! Who can explain this crazy weather! There have been few really hot days so far but a lot of others; everything from a drizzle and overcast skies to torrential downpours and thunderstorms, all under a thin veil of humidity. Overall though, it’s been a runner’s paradise so yours truly is not complaining. Wait a minute! I’m actually raving about the weather! Now that hasn’t happened in recent times, so it must be making me crazy as well! Whatever though, if I get to run to the tune of its randomness and have fun while doing it then that’s quite a feat these days.

For instance, last Saturday amidst the annual summer streets event held here in the Big A, we had the fortune, or misfortune, depends on which side you’re on, of running some 15 miles in an epic thunderstorm. I was so hopping glad it wasn’t in 90° sunshine that even with the prevailing humidity, when the rains eventually let up some, I couldn’t complain. Additionally, the Saturday prior we also got caught in a torrential downpour out in Brooklyn. Before and since then, I’ve had many rain-run encounters leaving me sodden (as the Brits would say) but quite the happy runner. In case you haven’t already guessed, I love running in the rain – thunderstorms are a favorite of mine.

So whilst there has been that enjoyable element added to the summer of 2018, the standard marathon training is in full swing. For many of us racing in the Fall or those with early September runs, now is the time to hop back on the training wagon. And if ever there was a time for an impromptu run, now is the time. Quick, before summer, and free time, and nice weather, and get-out-of-your-box adventure runs are gone. Living in New York is pretty amazing on its own but it’s doubly so because of the amazing opportunities for getting out of one’s comfort zone. A gazillion chances exists to push oneself to try new things. I’d wager that wherever you are there are similar opportunities for those with the urge to make something meaningful of what’s left of these summer days.

Here are some slightly off-beat suggestions to help you to that point:

  • Tag a friend for an extreme racing event – for example; a mud run, an obstacle race, or a slightly tougher warrior race and get your fun-o-meter up there.
  • Run a 5K – it requires minimal training.
  • Do a charity run or walk and make an impact – there are various good cause events hosted throughout the summer, like the Susan Komen Walk to Fight Breast Cancer.
  • Sign up for a sporting or exercise event that incorporates a form of exercise and something fun or relaxing, like a yoga retreat or a surfing workshop. Make sure running is part of the deal..kidding. Or not.
  • Run a half-marathon, a marathon, or an ultra. You knew it was coming! Just be sure training is part of the plan. The goal is to have fun while pushing those perceived limits, not getting injured.
  • Make any of the above a destination race/ experience by traveling somewhere new to add a slightly different -maybe cultural- twist.

I’m just saying. Why should summer just roll on out of here without you putting your stamp on it. All to often, we are so caught up in the day-to-day drudge, barely getting by, and not fully living and engaging with life and those around us. Wouldn’t it be something if this summer was the summer we decided to live out loud.

Summer Fun Runs Allowed

source: healthista.com

source: healthista.com


One of the best things about Summer and nicer weather for us running folks is the mix of wild and crazy runs out there. Time enough for the serious long races; summer is about getting out; adventure, travelling, and discovering the free spirit within. All the better if you can do it while running and in a group; just add some color, mud, friends and obstacles and what you are promised a summer you’ll remember for some time.

Based on my experience and a bit of digging around, I’ve put together a list of eight of my favorite races for some of the best fun running around these United States. Here are my “easy” (wink) running picks. Hmm decisions, decisions…

(1) Rugged Maniac 5k & Obstacle Race, Brooklyn New York, June 25. A combination of about 26 obstacles including Piromaniac, Leap of Faith and the Warped Wall.

(2) Wicked Wine Run, Houston, El Paso, Fresno CA, Louisiana just to name a few this Summer with many other locations in Texas and a few other cities all the way through Fall.

(3) Tough Mudder, Long Island NY, July 23, 24. Option for 10-12 miles, 20+ obstacles or 5 miles, 14+ obstacles. Obstacles include the block mess monster, swing arm, electroshock or cold shock top and a lot more.

(4) Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon, July 16-17. Fun Option: run the 5k on Sat & the half-marathon or 10k on Sun and you earn the spinning guitar remix challenge medal.

(5) Reebok Spartan Tri-State New York Sprint, June 18-19, 3-5 miles, 20-23 Obstacles. Vie for the fastest finish time.

(6) ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge), June -NYC, June – SoCal, July – NoCal  and August – Washington DC & New England. A fun, untimed race with 12 larger than life obstacles.

(7) Warrior Dash, from May 14, till early September from Maryland then New York to Colorado and everywhere in-between. 3-4 fierce miles featuring 12 extreme obstacles including leaping through flames and over the vertical vicious valley. You could earn a spot to compete in the world championships for the grand prize of $100,000.

(8) The Color Run; June, July & August at various locations in Pennsylvania. It’s the original paint run dubbed the happiest 5k on the planet. Of course they’re all over the country throughout the year but it’s happening in PA.

There’re a lot more summer races: for fun, bragging rights, competitiveness, challenge and yes, prize money too. For almost every one of them, you can pitch in for a good cause, which is super worth it. The way I see it, running can at times be not about the marathon, summer is the reason, plus more often than not it’s way too hot for that sort of distance anyhow. The rest of the year is all about training and racing so if I can get a couple runs in, for variety sake, heck yeah!

A quick disclaimer: races appear easier than they actually are and though fun can be grueling and extremely challenging; a slighty above-average level of fitness is required. Be prepared in most cases to get down, dirty and bruised. And finally, race at your own risk but always with company as that’s a big part of the fun.

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