Vermont City Marathon Relay Race Recap


May 29, 2016

As I have mentioned before, I ran this race last year with AJH. This year, they abandoned the lottery-system.  It was first come, first served. And we got in!

We named our team again: Age Groups Rock (Bib #6988) after AJH’s blog.

Half Marathon Training

I have been pretty lackadaisical about my training.  I ran a half marathon on April 24 and since then having been racing on the weekends (a few 5ks, a 10k & a 15k)

Plus spending 8 days with 9 of your closest friends and playing tennis, shopping, going to the beach, restaurants, etc. is exhausting.

So my finish line time expectations were pretty low.  I was prepared for that and just planned on enjoying the race. What I wasn’t prepared for was that weather conditions in Vermont would be similar to that of Florida!!!  Could I run 13.1 miles in that???

Pre-Race Preparations

AJH was nice enough to let me stay with her the night before so I didn’t have to do the long drive in the morning and could go to the expo.

It was about a 3 hour drive from my house. So I arrived in Vermont on Saturday around 11 am.  What a beautiful drive.  AJH really lives in the country and the scenery was gorgeous. After I arrived, we immediately headed to the expo.

Last year, it was pretty chilly. (Check out what I was wearing.) This year, it was 90 degrees!!

Most of my halfs have been small, for a big race like this one, the energy was contagious. For many runners, this is even their FIRST marathon.

img_0010-1

this year, the 13.1 relay shirts were different from the marathoner’s and so was the medal

I took advantage of ALL the free samples and bought a VCM hat, some gu and sunglasses.

After the expo, I got a brief tour of Burlington which included Church Street.


Then we went out to lunch at a restaurant called “Sweetwaters.” We needed to start carb loading for the next day.

img_9998

After lunch, we walked around the waterfront where the Marathon would finish the next day.

img_0001

img_9999

img_0004

Of course I had to have my maple creamee.

img_0002

Soon it was time to  head home and get our stuff ready for race morning and have our pizza dinner at home.

img_0011-2

my first race this year without layers and throw-aways

It was so warm that we were able to sit outside and relax until bedtime.  It felt more like August weather than May.

img_0007-1

reading & watching the hummingbirds

Race Day

We got up early the next morning (around 5 am).  I was still pooped from my Florida vacation and I never sleep well before a race or in a strange bed so I was nervous.

Would I have enough energy to run?  And my feet?  Would I get blisters like usual?  And how to do you fuel when you have to wait 4 1/2 hours to start your race?

I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal and tea and we were on the road by 6 am.

Last year, I ran the first half since I was too nervous to wait around… AJH has done the first leg before and was nice enough to agree.

starting the race last year

This year, I asked her if we could switch.  I wanted to experience the excitement of crossing the marathon finish line and also run along Lake Champlain. However, who would have known that we’d have a heat wave!?

At least, the race officials were prepared:

vcm water

water every mile and more!

They also asked all the spectators to help out with hoses, ice, sprinklers, water, etc.

Below is a map of the course or miles 13.1 to 26.2 of the marathon course.

vcm pt2

Here’s how it is described:

Starts at the 2-Person Relay Exchange Zone at Oakledge Park. Exits the park on the bike path, onto Central Ave, and towards Lakeside Ave where runners meet back up with Pine Street to head north to downtown. Entering downtown you face the biggest climb of the race on Battery St; 100′ in 6 blocks. At Battery Park you head north on North Ave and through some neighborhoods. At the end of North Ave turn left onto the bike path for the final 4.5 miles, mostly flat with some very gradual ups and downs. Leg concludes at Waterfront Park. This is miles 13.1-26.2 of the marathon course.

Apparently they have changed the course from last year. Miles 13-15 (so miles 1-3) will no longer be only on the bike path. Instead runners will travel on Lakeside Ave and back out to Pine St to Maple St.  And the finish line will now be located in the Northern end of Waterfront Park.

vcm ele

We got there early and got a great parking spot and walked to the start. It was quite warm even at the start in the 70s and the weather was predicted to be in the 80s with humidity.

I was worried that they may cancel the race and I wouldn’t get run or even finish. It turns out that I was right to worry.

AJH and I wandered around soaking up the pre-race excitement (and using the porta-potties) until the race began. (I think they said that there were 1,000 porta-potties.)

img_0014

obligatory pre-race pic

img_0016

view of Lake Champlain

img_0017

vcm0

official pre-race pic

After AJH got into her start corral, I walked to Pearl St so I could catch her rounding the first turn of the race.

img_0022

check out how tall that runner is next to AJH

I enjoyed watching the start of the race – the elites as well as the BOTPers.  It always makes me teary-eyed (and excited.)


Next I walked up to Church Street to wait for AJH and cheer on the other runners. It was disconcerting that the runners had not yet run 3 miles and they were dripping in sweat. I couldn’t imagine how they were going to run 26.2 miles in that heat.

I think the guy in the blue shorts won the race.

img_0025

img_0026

Although, I had a lot time before I was to run, I decided to walk to where the buses were to take you to the 2-person relay exchange. I eventually found it and hopped on one of the buses.

I arrived at Oakledge Park (after a 3/4 mile walk) and was happy to find real bathrooms.  I parked myself in the shade and hung out chatting with other runners who were waiting to run the second leg as well.  I even met a local runner and a Skirt Sports fan.

img_0031

the last time that we were dry

img_0034

As I waited, it was getting hotter and hotter.  I decided to get rid of my compression calf sleeves. Even though I’ve never run a half without compression, it was just too damn hot.  I also was getting hungry.  I had eaten 4 hours ago so I ate a protein bar and continued hydrate with water.

AJH had told me that it would take her around 3 hours to complete her half and at around 2:45, I left the shade to wait for her.

And she estimated perfectly. I gave her our bag, grabbed the relay bracelet and was off to run the hottest 13.1 miles ever.

Oakledge Park -runners leaving the exchange area – from Burlington Free Press (2015)

The race is a sweaty blur but this is what I remember:

Miles 1-4:

9:45, 10:06, 11:23, 10:37

img_0029

We left Oakledge Park and entered the bike path. The bike path was smooth and had open views of Lake Champlain to the left.

Normally in a race especially one that I plan to just run for fun, I am thinking about and taking in the beautiful scenery.  But the truth here is for this race, I was worried about survival.  I was determined to not let the heat affect me.  I ran slow.  I went under every hose and sprinkler and at every water stop, I drank one cup and poured another down my back.  I also put ice cubes down my bra.

So after the bike path, we turned onto Battery Street and were immediately staring up at the hill – the biggest hill of the race. It was steep but there were Taiko drummers thumping us forward. I couldn’t run up it and but I tried to walk a little, then run a little until it was over.

(photo from Burlington Free Press) 2015
(photo from Burlington Free Press) 2015

Miles 5-8:

10:46, 11:06, 12:16, 11:35

At the top of the hill, we veered into Battery Park and crossed another relay changeover point.  I mistakenly turned where it said “Relay” and then realized that was for the 3 -5 person relay so had to double back and run the correct way.

This was my first BOTP experience.  I was running with slower half marathoners and mostly with the slower marathoners. The marathoners were all walking at this point.  I almost felt guilty running when they looked so spent.  I tried to cheer them on whenever I could.

And yes, there was empty ice pop wrappers all over the ground and none left for us “slower” runners.  And yes, many of the spectator water stations were empty.  But I never felt ignored.  There was plenty of water.  The spectators were standing out in the heat, spraying the runners with hoses and had sprinklers running.  So many of them were handing out ice. I was humbled by their support.

Though it was HOT and  HUMID, I was running a smart race.  I never doubted that I would finish.

After Battery Park, we continued north over some rolling hills.  I think that I ran/walked up one.  That one was the last hill that I remember.

Just before mile 18 (or mile 5  for me), we turned left into a lively neighborhood filled with makeshift aid stations and children frolicking through sprinklers.  There was even music.  The spectators didn’t seem to be minding the heat and so I slogged on until all of a sudden, the volunteers announced that the RACE WAS CANCELLED!!

No one could believe it.  They said that it was unsafe to continue.  There was too many runners overcome by the heat. They told us to continue on ahead and there would be buses to take us to the finish line.

You can imagine how upset the marathoners were.  Many had trained for months.  Many had traveled great distances to run this race.

So we lackadaisically ran/walked until the bus area.  There were loads of runners waiting for the bus but no bus…yet.

I and many others decided to just continue running and see how far we got.

I was hot and tired but well hydrated and felt that I could finish without endangering my health.

This made the volunteers angry as well as the police.  But we didn’t care.  We just kept running.  And the spectators kept cooling us off.

The farther we got, the angrier the police got.  They told us that if we continued we would have NO SUPPORT.  They told us that we weren’t being timed and that everything was being taken down at the finish line.

Still we plodded on.

At each bus area, more and more runners stopped to get on buses.

I never considered it.

Finally around mile 20 or 7 for me, they blocked the road so we had to stop.  I said to the cop “What if I want to continue?” He said “Then I can have you arrested!”

So I reluctantly started up the hill to the bus.

Then I noticed that some of the runners were running down the hill and entering the course again on the other side of the barricade.  The police were yelling but I decided to join them anyway.

Miles 9-13:

12:13, 12:26, 13:29, 12:25, 12:32

And so we all “illegally” continued.  The spectators, thank God, never stopped spraying up with cold water.  The water stations still provided water.  There was an abundance of people with bags of water.  Some of the spectators were even handing out baggies full of ice. There were orange slices and one guy was giving out cans of beer. (I declined both but was tempted.)

Below are some pics showing how awesome the spectators and volunteers were:

I understand that the volunteers and police were being cautious but I was getting tired of being yelled out for trying to run.  They kept yelling “No Running!!! It’s too hot! Only walking is allowed”  I wasn’t running fast.  I was walking a lot but I just wanted to finish.  Walking to the finish would take forever.

Around mile 10.5, they were actually giving out ice pops.  (I had been seeing empty wrappers on the ground for miles.) That blue Fla-Vor-Ice pop was pretty much the best thing I’d ever tasted in my life.

Now we were running on the bike path again.  I tried to run on the right dirt shoulder because it was softer on my feet (The bottom of my left one had been hurting the whole race.)  Unfortunately you were only in the shade on the left side. So I alternated.

Then we turned south on the bike path and ran along the lake. I knew this would eventually lead to Waterfront Park but it seemed to take forever.

Mile 14:

9:17

Finally we approached Waterfront Park.  There were photographers. And yes, the timer was still running and there was a finish line!

And I sprinted as fast as my sweaty legs could take me.

They handed medals to the marathoners.  When I asked where my medal was, they told that it was near the buses at Echo Park.

vcm7

finisher pic with NO medal

I had just run 13.1 miles and I had to walk to the other end of the park to collect my medal.

img_0035

got my medal!!!

But I did and there were all the runners who didn’t finish the race but got medals.  I felt “badass” that I ran the whole 13.1 miles. (I’m not sure if I would have wanted a medal if I didn’t.)

I found AJH and her friend and decided to forgo the refreshments (if there were any left) and walk back to the car.

I have to admit that this was the first half marathon where my legs felt the 13.1 miles.  My left foot hurt and my right calf was cramping.  Was it the heat, the lack of compression socks or perhaps the lack of training?  My gut says “what do you expect when you only run 3 miles to train for 13.1.”

As soon as we left, it started to rain and I got a text advising all runners to seek shelter from the lightning.  (I did read on FB that runners finished anyway but there was no finish line.)

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • Decent expo.
  • Very well organized.
  • The Course. Lots of variety – city streets, lake views, local neighborhoods, bike path. I like leg 2 even better than leg 1.
  • The crowd support.
  • The efforts to provide water and cooling for all runners.
  • I shared my race experience with a friend.
  • No major injuries (just the sore foot).
  • I finished.

The Bad:

  • Waiting almost 3 hours to start. Hard to fuel right.
  • The hill at mile 2.
  • The Heat.
  • They cancelled the race.
  • Lying about no support, no timing, no finish line
  • No medal at the finish line for half marathoners.

After reading some FB posts, I feel really bad for those who believed that the race staff and quit the race when told to do so.  They were led to believe that there would be no water, no timing, etc.  They felt that they could not run the rest of the race without water so they got on the bus.  All their training was for naught.  They probably could have accepted the cancellation because it was HOT and many runners were suffering. But to find out after they quit that others (like me) did continue and that there were volunteers and water would have made me very upset.  I am so glad that I did finish (and took the risk.)

And I really love this race!!!! If I ever trained for a full, I think this would be the one.  Will I run the relay again?  I don’t repeat my halfs but I haven’t ruled out a re-do.

Final Stats:

This was my 20th half marathon –  almost all have been faster but I am happy considering my training and the weather.

img_0038

earned this one!

When I first checked online, there were results for everyone.

10K – 10 m – 13.1 – 20 m – 26.2 (net) – 26.2 (gun)

1st leg = 2:51:35
2nd leg = 2:33:55 (2:32:23 – Garmin time) with a few detours

Apparently, they left the timers running so that friends and relatives tracking runners using the RaceJoy app would not get worried.

Now, they have removed the results. They cancelled the race after 4 hours and no results are listed for those who finished after 4:30:00.

vcm

My finish time may not be official and it may list me as a DNF, but I did complete the  13.1 miles. So I am considering it as my 20th half marathon!!!

Next Up:

This Saturday is the 5k that I have supposedly been training for for the past 10 weeks. However, it won’t be a fast one due to the fact that I am recovering from a half marathon.  That’s okay. It is a race that I always enjoy and I am looking forward to it.

Happy Running! Anyone run the VCM or another race this past weekend? Have you ever had a race cancelled?

runner-sig

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Vermont City Marathon Relay Race Recap

  1. Wow. Just wow. I can’t believe the way you were treated by the police and volunteers. I guess I understand that they cancelled the race but seriously, to lie like that? And to remove the results. It sounds like a real mess.

    Good for you for pushing through. You’re a smart runner and you know how to listen to your body. I’m sure all that running in Florida helped you with the heat!

    Like

    • I think it did. And all the water I dumped on myself and drank. i am so sad for those who didn’t finish but could have.

      Like

  2. What an incredible experience…I can’t believe they were yelling at the runners like that! And I get it, I do – heat is no joke and those who aren’t acclimated to it (I can’t imagine a lot of Vermonters are) will suffer and can get heat-related illnesses, but to treat the runners so poorly (and to REMOVE THE RESULTS) shows bad form. I’m happy for you that you powered through it, smartly – I usually am both sweat and water soaked at the end of our hot races because I too pour water down the back of my neck, on top of my head…anywhere it feels good, really. And what’s with the relay medals being so far from the finish? Sounds like a good race that could use a few improvements.

    Like

  3. Thankfully my last half wasn’t that hot, but Heartbreak Hill was close and was actually just a tad faster than my last.

    My guess is the cramping was from the heat — I’ve had that happen (after the race, though, thankfully).

    I’m glad that you still had all that support. I’ve run a couple of races that could have been much better experiences if I’d just had the support I needed.

    My friend Lisa D & her husband were there, doing the marathon, but they dropped out.

    I guess you just have to go back and try again next year. 🙂

    Like

  4. Pingback: Empowerment & Global Running Day – My First 5K and More…

  5. Excellent! I would have done the same thing! (Take THAT race directors!) Thank goodness for the nice spectators who continued to support the runners! Cramping is definitely the heat. It’s one of my common problems. Ugh. “If I ever train for a full” — I do believe there is a little seed growing in there…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s