Monday, May 27, 2013

Vermont City Marathon

Pulling out, removing gloves, seeking new shoes at 3 miles.
Photo by Krissy

The Vermont City Marathon has been on my list of races to run and had an open window this year. In addition, I knew several people from the North Shore (Wicked Running Club) that were running it. I made the decision about a week after the Boston Marathon to sign up. This was good timing as I really did not want to vest a quarter of the year into the rigid marathon training. I put in a six week dose of weekly long runs and a half marathon to prep for this marathon. Brett Rickenbach (2:48 personal best), Mike Paulin (2:54 personal best), and Brad Gates are regulars at the Danvers 5K races and we talked about running a sub three hour race in Burlington, VT. So we had a plan as well as getting Brad through his first marathon.

The forecast was mid 50's and rain all weekend in Burlington. When we got into Burlington on Saturday, it was in the low 40's. There was a fair amount of wind. I went to the marathon expo to not only get my number but to purchase some gloves for the race. I had a nice dinner with Krissy and the Wicked Running Club members later in the evening. I got plenty of sleep and woke up ten minutes before the 5:30 alarm for a quick shower. I looked out the hotel window hoping to see clear skies but it was not meant to be. Rain. I had some oat meal, 4oz of Cranberry juice, 20oz of water, a coffee, and a banana before taking a 20 minute shuttle from the hotel to the start. I borrowed a trash bag from the hotel kitchen (wink, wink) to stay dry before the race. I found the gang and we dropped off our bags at the bag drop and walked over and into the start coral about ten rows from the front line. We stood for 15 minutes with zero warm up in the cold windy rain. I removed the bag about a minute before our start. We were off. There were several turns and we were navigating around puddles. Brett would let us know if we were too fast or too slow.

Shoe changeout in pit row. Krissy at the ready.
Photo by Scott Mason
Around 2.5 miles, I felt a sharp pain in my calf. I freaked out. I was ready to blame the thin Inov8 flats I had on. I looked for Krissy around 3 miles for which I knew she would be at taking photos. I also packed my Nike Lunaracer 2 flats in her bag along with GU and Sport Beans just in case I needed them at mile 3, 9, and 15. I only had the shoes in there with anticipation of getting a blister in the Inov8 flats in the wet weather. I found her on the left hand side of the road in her yellow Boston Marathon Volunteer jacket. She was easy to find in the surprisingly large crowd of spectators. I yelled over to her and pointed down at the ground - my sign langauge for "I need to change out these f@!?$& shoes" while removing my gloves. She let her camera go and took the Nike flats out of her bag. My hands were cold and I could barely untie my shoes. I got one off and fumbled to get one Nike on and get it tied. I took my time to get it right and not have to deal with having them come untied later in the race. I recall whining about my calf to her and Scott Mason who
was on camera too. I had a Vermont Sta
Smiling up the hill at 15 miles.
Photo by Krissy
te Police Officer holding me up to get the other shoe on. It must have been comical to all spectators. Check out the photos that Scott got on page three. Before I left the scene in my new footwear, I gave Scott that worried look and said "I won't be finishing this race today." I was certain that calf was going to cramp up later or cause other issues. I took off and got back into the race losing at least 90 seconds. The calf felt the same but did not get worse. My mind was heavy on defeat already. However, I imediately felt more cushion from the Lunaracer and was able to run on my heels more than I could in the Inov8. The race had an out and back so I could see the front of the race come at me and allowed me to judge how far behind I was from the gang. They were not too far but it took me to about mile 9 to catch them without any surging as I was not sure how the calf was going to react. It was stable and so was I when I got back to them. Finally. I kept the drama to myself as they were happy to see me back in the fold.

The miles went by as we got into a nasty head wind at the 1/2 way mark of the marathon. The split was around 1:29:17 so we were on pace for a 2:58 marathon. Good so far but we had many miles to go. Our group started to dodge puddles and the Lake Champlain waves on the bike path. Soon we charged up the big hill at mile 15. Krissy was there smiling. It was nice to see her and nice to still be running this race. I was right next to Mike. Brett looked like he was pulling away by a few seconds and Brad was behind us. We all got together a few miles later when Brett brought up that he got some pain in behind his knee. He fell back a bit and Mike pulled ahead. I stayed in between them while still taking inventory of how I was feeling. At this point, I did not want to do anything to distrupt a good swing and introduce any muscle cramps. I was starting to pass people while keeping my sub 6:50 pace through 20 miles. By 22 miles I reeled in Mike who got at least 10 seconds ahead at one point. We shared the bike path for the last four miles of the race with the wind now at our backs. We pulled into Waterfront park which had healthy crowd all the way into the finish line. Our last 100 yards were on the muddy grass. A look at the clock on approach showed we were well under 2:58, pretty much our goal. We crossed the line side by side with a 2:57:26 (net time), 2:57:33 (gun time). I earned my 2014 Boston Qualifying time (needed a sub 3:10). I am pretty sure I will register this September for Boston. Brett pulled in just over 3 hours and Brad toughed out a 3:04 for a solid marathon debut. I shuffled through after getting the heaviest finishers medal ever (I need to hit the weights), got some warm clothes on, food in the belly, got into a few photos, found Krissy and took the first shuttle back for a hot shower at the hotel. Despite the drama early in the race, I am happy with how the execution went. Although I was super cautious, it was really spot on through out the race.
Mike Paulin and I approaching the finish line.
Photo by Krissy
KeyBank Vermont City Marathon text updates:
10 miles course time 1:08:12, pace 6:50 min/mi
Half marathon course time 1:29:17, pace 6:49 min/mi
20 miles course time 2:16:01, pace 6:49 min/mi
Finish 2:57:26, pace 6:47 min/mi
72nd second place out of 2608 runners
Full Results


  1. Nice race Jim! You ran a smart and well executed race. You flew by me like I was standing still:)

  2. Good to see you out there. Hope the recovery is well.