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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10 Reasons to Run a Marathon this Fall


Source: smileswithmoms.com

Source: smileswithmoms.com

You never know what life is gonna throw at you. One day you could be trading stocks on Wall Street, the next serving a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. While that may be an extreme there exists many others; from health to sickness and every and anything in between, a person’s goals and life could change in an instant. And so we plan, our God-given right we believe, in the hopes of a million dreams coming through while ironically we have no control whatsoever over any of it.

So what does that mean for you the runner? For my part it says that while planning is necessary to maintain an illusion of order and control in our lives, it is far more important to live in the moment – making use of the days and seasons as they come and fulfilling our dreams as far as we can now. Dreams of running, loving, living, adventure, missions, service..whatever they may be, more often than not, we only get one shot at.

With that in mind, I propose a running dream come true this Fall. How about a marathon? The ultimate running experience for every person who considers him/herself a runner awaits you. ┬áThere will never be a better time, a more perfect season or better reasons to challenge yourself. Here’s why:

  1. Fall weather rocks a marathon with near perfect running conditions and is the most scenic and awe-inspiring to runners who are closet nature lovers. Think trails, mountains, foliage etc.
  2. It’s great for destination marathoners. That would be me! I love to pick a beautiful city right off the map just because it promises a beauty of a course.
  3. This is the best time to run (for first time marathoners), complete and even record a PR as it follows Summer where you would have had ample opportunity for executing a great training plan.
  4. Generally, travel rates are lower since it’s post summer so deals are on to make it a few days vacation with a marathon added for good measure.
  5. It presents the perfect opportunity to cross off that bucket list event or new year resolution. I’m guessing a marathon was high up on there.
  6. If you’re anything like me, you love a challenge. Well maybe I’m a bit much, but hey.. how about a Fall challenge to take it to the next level. For steadfast half-marathon folks or those who enjoy still shorter runs, how about pushing those limits while increasing your mileage and building endurance and ability. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.
  7. Lots of charity runs happening this Fall as we head to October and Cancer Awareness month. Your marathon miles can do a lot of good to so many.
  8. Training for a marathon could just be what you need to put you in tip-top shape for the upcoming holiday season and all the irresistible food and treats that will surely tempt you then. The hard work you would have put into training to get you looking so svelte will help temper your palette as you will want to stay fit and healthy.
  9. A marathon is an inspiration to so many people, those who can’t run, those who do, and others who want so much to. Why not earn bragging rights as a marathoner while inspiring others to do the same.
  10. Lastly, if you didn’t know it, Fall is unofficially marathon season with two really big marathons taking center stage, the New York City Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. You could have a place in either one of these and run the opportunity of a lifetime. Now which runner out there can say no to that?

I guess if after all that you’re not thinking in terms of 26.2 then there’s really no hope for you. Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock’s a’ticking – to marathon or not to marathon.

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