Posts Tagged ‘Waitsfield’
It’s hard to believe that it has been a week since the inaugural Mad Marathon and Julie and my attempt to go from non-runners to marathoners in 5 months! All the preparation (or maybe lack of) was now culminating in the big run. I’ve only done a couple of organized cycling “races” before so it was still a new experience to be part of a group of people taking on the challenge together. We had been given tips to not get sucked out with the fast group and stay toward the back. I kept reminding myself to stick to the plan and Galloway run/walk method that had worked so well for us during training.
As Julie mentioned in her post, it was an extremely tough race for her and I felt helpless on what to do. We tried energy gels, Cliff Shots, gatorade, advil, a lot of walking – but none seemed to help. I tried to run at a reasonable pace to try to “pace” her but that didn’t help. I even tried doing some breathing exercises (had flashbacks to birthing classes!). The course was EXTREMELY challenging – even though we had done hill training – our training route was a series of short, steep climbs where the Mad Marathon course had more gradual but continuous climbs – check out the elevation map below:
Julie started to tell me to leave her and run on but I really wanted to finish it with her – we had started this journey together and I wanted to finish it together. Finally, at mile 15, I got the EVIL EYE and a lecture to go finish the race at my pace. I finally did run on ahead but then almost did myself in. At the point, Julie and I separated, we were at the pace limit to finish the marathon within the time limits. I wasn’t sure how stringent they would be about kicking people off the course (we have heard stories of people travelling to races and then getting pulled off during the race due to slow pace). For the next 6 – 7 miles, I tried to make up time and ran paces that I had not even done during training runs. My body supported it for a while but then gave up in the last couple of miles and I had to walk a lot.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I was elated but it was bittersweet because we were not able to do it together. But Julie gutted it out and clawed her way to the finish – I was so proud of her – she could have quit at any point but she was determined to finish the race. I’ve had a couple of people ask me where we finished or what our times were – you can find out if you are that curious – but to us, it was the fact that we had set out to accomplish a new challenge TOGETHER and that we completed it!
We have been a little slow in updating the results of our marathon last Sunday. it’s been a hectic week and a lot of windshield time driving back to Indiana. Each of us is going to share their view of the race.
Almost six months ago, a month after having my third son (and third C-section), my husband popped up with the idea of signing up for the first ever annual Mad Marathon in Vermont. He was so excited about the idea, and I was motivated to get rid of the baby weight as quick as possible, and we both loved any excuse to go to Vermont, so I hopped on the marathon bandwagon.
After months of training and preparation, the race day, July 10, finally arrived. And now that the race is completed, I’m left with two predominant thoughts about the experience:
1. The Mad Marathon was AWESOME, well done, well organzied, BEAUTIFUL, and BRUTAL.
2. My race was about the worst, painful, most anti-climactic long run I’ve had so far.
Running the marathon was a great experience for us. Through it, we met some terrific people and were able to push ourselves to limits beyond what we believed ourselves capable of. The Vermont countryside in the Mad River Valley is breathtaking, and everyone involved in pulling off the marathon, especially Dori and Ian, the organizers, were fabulous. We were impressed by the serious runners who tackled the tough course in fantastic times, as well as amused by the more social participants, who stopped occasionally to snap pictures.
All that being said, the race was personally super tough for me. I was experiencing awful headaches every day for most of the week before the race, and didn’t feel in top shape by race day. While Mike and I included hill training in our prep for the race, I was intimidated from the start when we drove the course prior to the race. Hill after hill lay before us, including a particular daunting patch called “the Dip.” that we got to run down and up twice during the race. That was a misleading name…it should be referred to as “the Yawning Chasm” or “the Grand Canyon”.
From the start of the race, I had trouble breathing properly. This was frustrating for me because I haven’t had breathing issues since February. Only a couple of miles into the race I began to already feel exhausted, and by mile 15, my legs were cramping and having muscle spasms. At one point, my calf muscles cramped up so much that my toes curled under in my shoes and I tripped, nearly falling all over myself. I was so discouraged, because I had never experienced this before, and that morning I had been careful to eat and drink what I always did before long runs. Drinking gatorade and slurping down energy gels did little to make me feel better.
Mike was awesome, sticking with me and encouraging me, but I was obviously really holding him back. He refused to run on ahead until I told him that I’d be seriously mad at him for the rest of the day if he didn’t take off and run the best he could. He finally obeyed me ( ) with a little over 10 miles to go, and I proceeded to limp in to the finish. However, through the incredible encouragement of all the aid station volunteers and friends, alot of prayer, and sheer willpower, I did finish.
I’ve heard that people never run two marathons. They either run one and determine that that will never happen again, or they catch the bug, and run more and more. Despite the frustration with my first marathon, the nausea, cramps, and ginormous blisters on my feet….I’m addicted. I could hardly do more than hobble around after the race for about three days, but the whole time was thinking how nice it would be to get out and go jogging.
Mike and I are already planning our next marathon.
I was in a panic on Thursday morning. I had been anal about packing all of Julie’s and my running gear for the trip – even packing it in a special bin separate from the rest of our belongings. Being paranoid (and an engineer!), I was taking inventory of the items on Thursday and realized that I did not have the tops to the bottles in my running fluid belt. I know that I had stuck them in my pocket before we left but I think I aimlessly threw them away somewhere along the journey to Vermont. The irony is that I had lectured Julie multiple times prior to leaving to make sure she had everything she needed – since we were in a small town, we wouldn’t have access to many stores.
I know this would not be a big deal to some – but being my first race, I want to use the products that I am used to from my training runs – my own gels, my own electolytes, my own fuel belt. During the months leading up to the race, I had tried multiple fuel belts but had settled on the Amphipod Run Lite belt with multiple bottles. I liked the fact that I could move and adjust the bottles and it was what I was comfortable with. However, the bottles are uniquely shaped and take a certain type of top (see picture) and it wasn’t something you can find at your local store (Amphipod products are usually only sold at specialty athletic stores).
So I put in a paniced call to Amphipod’s customer service line. The customer service rep calmly asked what type of running pack I had, where I was located, when the race was, etc. I kept trying to explain that I was in the middle of no-where (sorry Waitsfield!) and didn’t have alot of options. She asked for my phone number and said she would call me back in a few minutes. She then proceeded to call the closest dealers and convinced one of them to sell me the tops of one of their in-store fuel belts. In exchange for doing this, Amphipod would send the store a replacement set of bottle tops. She told me to go to the Ski Rack in Burlington and talk to Lucy. She was almost apologetic to me that they were going to charge me a nominal fee of $3.50 for the tops and that I was going to have to drive an hour (at that point, I was willing to do anything!). I was blown away and thanked her profusely and called her my “HERO” She just kept telling me to have a good race!
We made the trek to Burlington to go to the Ski Rack to get my bottle tops. I walked into the store and was directed to Lucy. As I walked up (with bottle in hand), she said “You must be Mike – I’ll get your tops”. She takes the tops of their belt (which makes their belt temporarily unsellable) and then refuses to let me pay for them! She wishes me well in the race and tells me to have fun! Wow!
I know many of you reading this are thinking two things – Mike is a bit OCD (I won’t deny that) and what’s the big deal? You see, I have worked in some form of “customer service” for most of my career at Cummins so I am extra sensitive to good or bad support. I know I make Julie cringe when I get frustrated by lack of customer service that you tend to see at many stores and restaurants nowadays. It just seems in general that most people don’t care anymore – don’t get me wrong – I realize that sometimes these are crappy jobs but try to make the best of it.
So yes, I forced everyone to drive for an hour to get some simple plastic bottle tops..but it was worth it to me to have one less thing stressing me for the race! We got to experience more great people (and even get Ben and Jerry’s to boot!). And if you want a great running fuel belt, check out www.amphipod.com.
Now that we have been in Vermont for a few days, it seems like we have so much to talk about and the race hasn’t even happened yet! So we thought we would break it up into multiple posts and each share our expieriences (they might be a bit random!)
The first thing I noticed quickly was the pace of life is so much slower and quieter here. I know Indianapolis isn’t a bustling major city but it’s still fast paced compared to the Waitsfield and Warren area. The pace of life is why we fell in love with the Mad River Valley last year and why I’m glad that we came back. In fact, if anything, I’ve done a terrible job of rushing the family around. It’s amazing how hard it is to ACTUALLY SLOW DOWN It’s hard for me to get out of the habit of the non-essential parts of our life – social media like email, facebook, etc. The only good thing I have done is stay off my work Blackberry! Today was a more relaxing day – walking around the Waitsfield Farmer’s market, taking an afternoon nap, and trying to decompress.
The second thing that came back quickly was the people. Everywhere you go – the people are friendly, taking a few minutes to chat, talking to the boys and just making you feel at home. First and foremost has been Dori Ingalls, the Mad Marathon race director. Ad I mentioned in earlier postings, Dori and I have developed a friendship primarily via email. One of the first places we went on Thursday was to meet Dori and her husband. She even told someone she had “important people” to talk to…us, a random couple with a blog from Indiana? She loved on the boys and made us feel special. She even went out of her way to invite us to the Marathon Sponsor party. When I told her that we had logistics issues getting to the party (Julie had to take the car to pick up her friend), Dori hands me the keys to her car. I stood there in disbelief! Are you serious – handing over your car to a stranger?
At the party and over the next few days, we met a lot of wonderful people. People wanted to know our story – the running, the blog, the boys (they are great entertainment!). Everywhere you go – the local coffee shop, the Warren Store, the Ben and Jerry’s shop in Burlington and even the random parking garage attendant in Burlington was friendly and talkative (usually you get a grunt and a ticket!)
I could keep going on and on but I think I made my point. So to all the runners out there, do you want to deal with the chaos of a race with 40,000+ people or come to a race where you can relax, rest and enjoy the time?
Over the past few days, the reality that we are running a marathon in less than a week has been settling in. I know it may sound stupid – we’ve known for months that we are going to do this race in July but it always seemed out there in the future. Well, the future has arrived.
We arrived in Waitsfield, Vermont today to give us a few days before the race. As we drove on some of the roads that we will be running on during the Sunday race, there were doubts in each of our minds…Are we ready? How steep was that hill? Will my knee hold out? Are we CRAZY?
As we were driving here, Julie and I were laughing about the things that have happened since the beginning of the year. At the time, there was one thing on our mind – the birth of Landon but then how things have changed. I decided to lose weight, thought I could accelerate that by running, decided to run a 5K, scratch that a 1/2 marathon, scratch that a full marathon….then decide to travel to Vermont for the first annual Mad Marathon, decide to write a blog about our journey, where does it end?
When we left Waitsfield last summer, we were all a little sad to leave the idyllic SLOW life of Central Vermont – how we longed for a little bit of that slowness in our chaotic lives. We hoped that we could come back some time in a few years – how things have changed! But that has added to the excitement for us – the nervous thoughts of the race mixed with the joy of being back in a place we love.
So we hope to relax over the next few days (before and after the race) and get in a couple of last slow short runs. Take time to rest – time to play with the boys, Julie to catch up on her knitting, me on my guitar. We are looking forward to eating at two of our favorites restaurants – Warren General Store and American Flatbread Pizza. And last but not least meeting the other Mad Marathoner’s – Dori, the organizer (Julie calls her my BFF!) and the others that we have met through the blog, Facebook, etc…
And most importantly, savor where we have come in the past 6 months and remember why we picked this place to run our first marathon…
You may be wondering why a couple from Indiana would pick a new marathon over 900 miles away in a small town as their first marathon? When I was reading John Bingham’s “Marathoning for Mortals”, he spoke of the importance of making your first race special. When I was looking for half-marathons (my original goal), the obvious choice is the Indianapolis “Mini” Marathon in May – but it has been sold out for a while and also has 20,000+ people. I was also surprised to find that there are two full marathons in Indianapolis in Oct and Nov – nothing against these races - but driving across town still didn’t have that special feel to me….Thus I turned to the state of Vermont…
Vermont?? What’s in Vermont? Not a whole lot besides trees, maples syrup, cheese and a handful of really nice people A little trivia - there are more people in metropolitan Indianapolis than in the whole state of Vermont! Last year, Julie issued the edict that we were going on vacation and we better find a spot to rest and relax. Instead of heading to the normal family tourist traps (aka theme parks), we looked at New England and I then suggested we focus on Vermont.
I had been through the state as a kid and remembered the beautiful Green Mountains, quaint towns and great pancakes. Next, we decided to be even more unique and do a series of “farm stays” – where you stay on full size or hobby farm and interact with the animals…Think of it as a bed and breakfast down on the farm (sorry Bob Evans!).
The kids had a blast, mom and dad got to relax – my Blackberry didn’t work most of the time – and it was one of the most memorable vacations I can recall.One of the areas that we liked was the little town of Waitsfield which is settled in the Mad River Valley and is one of the main ski areas for the state. We spent a couple of days there and fell in love with the area and the people so much that we re-did some of our travel plans and came back to stay with the same family again. (I am still trying to figure out how we could permanently move to Waitsfield and make a living – but that is a story in itself.)
So I’m searching for marathons and was pleasantly surprised to see that Waitsfield was sponsoring the first annual Mad Marathon in July 2011. I started reading more and I was excited – a small marathon – limited to 1200 people (compared to Chicago Marathon which has 45,000), running through areas familiar to us, part of a multi-day festival …it sounded too good to be true…But July? That was insane – I had only been running a short time…but I kept coming back and looking at the site. On a whim, I sent an inquiry email to Dori Ingalls, the head of the Marathon…that one email has now spawned an almost daily conversation between Dori and I around the marathon, running and family…and I was hooked on the Mad Marathon as my target. Julie probably thought I was a bit nuts but she was supportive of travelling out to take care of kids and watch me run….I didn’t have to twist her arm too hard to go back to Vermont!
But that isn’t the end….a couple of days later while on a training run, the light bulb went off inside my brain (it happens once in a while) – why don’t we get Julie’s friend in Boston to come over to help with the kids and then Julie can do the run with me! Then the goal of a half marathon turned into a full marathon…and then this idea about blogging about running and marriage…
And my new friend Dori – did I mention she is amazing? She has been a source of encouragement to us as we start this endevour, forwarded our blog to people (including Bart Yasso of Runners World!) and even offered to find us childcare if Julie’s friend can’t make it out to help us. I’m guessing that the organizers of the big city marathons wouldn’t do that for it’s runners! It just reinforces our decision to focus on Waitsfield in July.
Check out the links on the “Our Goal” tab to find out more about the Mad Marathon and some of our vacation pics from last year.