Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vermont City Marathon

Wow that was a blast.  Of course I'm getting more and more excited as the pain gets less and less, but still can't wait to do another one!  I'm getting ahead of myself....

Saturday Greg and I drove up to Burlington.  Nice drive and good weather.  We got the expo, checked in, got our goodie bags, and went to the invited runner room so Greg could check in with them and get directions to our accommodations.  We were staying at the dorms at Champlain College with the Fyffe's and Ferenc and Emily.  It was a nice dorm and an easy walk to city center.  Took it easy Saturday, ran a little bit after walking with Emily and Jess.  Went to the expo while Greg, Josh, and Justin went to their meeting.  Got some cheese samples, coffee, and bought the marathon poster.  We all got together again and went to dinner at the Brewery (Chicken sandwich and fries and a beer (and water)).  Early to bed of course....didn't sleep all that well.

Sunday morning we got up really early and headed to Dunkin Donuts. Car almost got towed...for real.  Got back to change and then drove into burlington to park.  Easy.  Headed to the invited athlete "staging area" with Greg, Justin, and Ferenc.  Nerves started setting in- could only eat half my bagel and drink some juice.  Weather looked like it was going to be okay.  Got a shuttle to the start...heaven forbid the invited athletes walk too much before the race. :)  Got to the start and used the portopotty a couple times without much wait and warmed up a little.  Beautiful morning!  I saw the pace teams assemble so I went to line up with my 3:45 group.  Legs felt pretty good.  Waited for the start.  Damn had to pee again.  No way I could do that.  Chatted a bit with a couple people around me, almost started to cry as it got closer to the start, and decided I could pee my pants if I had too because I wasn't going to stop for a potty break.

Start.  Glad I resolved to stay near the pace leaders.  I didn't stay behind them because they were planning 8:35 pace and I really wanted to stick to 8:30 pace.  It worked out well because there was a big group with them and I didn't like that.  So I stayed a little ahead but in control.  Stomach started to rumble like I was going to have GI issues but it must have been nerves. Kept my core engaged more than usual to try to stop the urge to pee!  It worked, eventually I forgot I had to go.  Missed the first mile marker- asked someone if we past it yet at 9:30 on my watch.. She thought we had.  whew.  Got to the second and was at 17:00.  perfect.  Felt good.

Got through the city and then out to the beltway.  Luckily there was cloud cover because this is completely exposed.  It's an out and back so it's fun to see the leaders (Matty P) and all the boys.   This is the only time I could see them.  Then when I went around the turn around I could see all those behind me.  Lots of people in this race!  Miles 3 and 4 were a little fast 8:07 pace, but I got it back to 8:30 pace quick.  The 3:45 pace leaders were about a quarter mile behind me so I wasn't going too fast.

Coming off the beltway back into the city is a blast! About this time we are at 10 miles.  Still on pace, but notice that my quads are mixing cement.  Hmm never experienced that before.  We start going out the second "loop" through some neighborhoods, foot is a little sore, but mostly I'm worried about my quads.  I was good about water and taking a couple gels up to this point.  Knew the half was coming...only half?  I got to the half marathon right on pace at 1:51 and some change.  But I wasn't liking the way I was feeling anymore.  I noticed the sun was out in full force now.  We went through a little park and the breeze felt good to me and the view was spectacular.  I tried to focus on those good things because I was suddenly not feeling so good.  Surprisingly someone started to yell for me...MacNight and Goupil!  That was pretty fun and encouraged me for a couple hundred yards. haha.  I knew we were coming back into the city and had to go up Battery St hill....long.  I could hear the famous drums, but by now I was flat out hot.  I tried to muster some strength for this hill during which you hit mile 16 I think.  Welp I was hurting I couldn't deny it any longer.  Right about then 3:45 pace leaders seemingly fly past me...bye bye 3:45.  I had nothing to respond with.  Bad timing.  As I was going uphill, it began to all go downhill for me.  Pretty even 8:30 pace until mile 15: 9:02....Mile 16: 9:44...crap.  And that was all she wrote.

I didn't know what to do and this is where inexperience probably played a big role (not to mention lack of proper training).  I knew I was going to hurt but I thought I'd get to at least 20 or even 22 before I had to think of mantra's and motivate myself.  But all I could think was I had 10 more miles and the cement that had been mixing in my quads was quickly hardening.  I got to the top of the hill and tried to put the pace leaders in my sight, but just couldn't.  I wanted water...cold water.  At this point people started reading the bibs and a couple people seemed to enjoy yelling "fiesty" for me.  That was cool.  I don't get called that much these days and it was fun to hear.

We headed out on our last loop and I had no idea how I was going to finish.  I got to 18 and couldn't figure out how many miles I had left.  I also didn't know what to focus on.  I remember reading an article about what to do when you hit the wall, but couldn't remember what it said.  I couldn't think of a single tune to put in my head.  Couldn't remember the mantra a friend had emailed me.  Nothing.  My mind was scattered and my body tattered! Every time I wanted to chat with someone- or ask someone to stop and hold me- they would have headphones on...bummer.  The spectators and volunteers were awesome and encouraging...and lying through their teeth while still saying "you look strong"!

I got to 20 and at least I could figure out I had 6 more miles.  More neighborhoods with lots of turns.  The thought of another gel made me nauseous, so I decided the ice pops that the people in the neighborhood had would be great!  And they were!  I drank lots of water, started going through sprinklers, and eating oranges and ice pops.  Every time I got cool I got on pace for a couple minutes (ok seconds) but it didn't last.   It wasn't even that bad- probably 75 degrees and not too humid, but I either just don't do well in any amount of heat or I need to be more fit to battle through it...probably a combination of the two.

Somewhere there's a steep downhill into the park area during which my hamstring cramped a tad, but I was healthy...just tired.  Real tired. To put it into perspective....  My fastest mile during the second half was mile 21 at 9:26. ouch.  I had 3 miles (20, 22, 24) just over 10 minute pace. The last 6 miles were a battle to just get to the next water station.  I started drinking gatorade as my stomach was growling.  Mile 23.  Really?  3 more?  At least this is the bike path, so there was shade, but this relief was too little too late.  I didn't think I could do it and realized Greg was going to have to wait way longer than expected.  Finally the crowds started to build again and I could see the city.  I missed the mile 26 mark so had no idea how far my torture would continue.

Finally a couple turns and I could see grass...I knew we ended on grass!  YAY!  At this point I could hear Macnight yelling for me that I'd be under 4 hours and I saw Greg up on my right.  Somehow I got to the finish mat. Under 4 hours, gotta be happy as that's a benchmark a lot of people use.  Can't wait to see that picture because I'm quite sure my plan of smiling more didn't pan out!  I was hurting, but as soon as I was done I felt great.  Greg asked what I needed and I think I said I just needed to cry!  He told me I never had to do another marathon, but that thought didn't even occur to me, I knew I was going to do another.  Probably many.  He had access to COLD water, that felt and tasted great.  I was told it was about 80 when I finished.  That's quite hot for me.  I grabbed a chocolate milk and we made our way out of the crowds and back to the elite staging area.  Whew.  That was tough.

IT helped to move around and it was fun to hear that Matty P won, Ferenc did awesome (4th place, 1st Vermonter).  Greg was about 15 minutes slower than his plan too (2:44).  But we all gathered up in our group and headed back to the rooms for awhile, out to dinner, and had a great night in an awesome city! Fun times.

I didn't meet my goal but I still don't think it was unrealistic.  I never struggled aerobically, I got hot.  Maybe if I had been in better shape I would have battled through that aspect better, but had it been 50 degrees I would've faired much better.  I will do it at some point.  I want to do this race again for sure, but am not sure I can wait an entire year to do another marathon.  I would like to plan one for the fall, but makes me nervous that'll I'll end up as under trained as I was this time because of work and teaching more.  I'll play it by ear...yah right, I'm already researching and planning my options!  :)  My slight disappointment has given way to complete satisfaction the more people are encouraging and the more the realization sets in that I ran a marathon.  Kinda crept up on me!  Here's the unofficial breakdown...

bib 1692   JEN HAMMETT   Marathon » finished 03:57:47

Overall: 884th of 2418
Female: 25nd2 of 1085
F40-44 38th of 152

10K  52:42  8:29 pace
10 mile 1:24 8:29 pace
Half marathon 1:51 8:32 pace
20 mile 2:57  8:52 pace (ouch)
Finish  3:57:47  9:05 pace

We got back to NH after a nice breakfast by the water.  Good to see Griffin and Zoe.  Soreness is mostly in my quads and some chaffing on my thighs, but no blisters and in general came out unscathed.  I'm psyched to recover, work on getting fit, doing a couple races here and there this summer, hit the trails, and figure out when I can tackle this beast called the marathon again.  It's a process, and I love it!


  1. Awesome!! Congratulations. Sub 4 is no joke. You obviously have guts to run that long (10 miles) while rigging up and suffering from heat and fatigue. Most people can't handle 4-6 miles at the end/the wall but you handled it just fine for 10! Amazing!

  2. Great run Jen!!! It was sweet to get to watch all of you guys. Hopefully the next one i will be running with everyone