As we know, I didn't train much for this race. blah blah blah, i just didn't. i should have. i didn't.
In the few days leading up to the race, I didn't taper my 'other' activities. I just kept on working in the back yard, trying to get as much done before the real work started as I could. blah blah blah. I shoveled, relocated the sandbox.......wait. this is s'posed to be a RACE review, not a MAY-JUNE review. sorry.
ffwd to race day. When i woke up at 0600, i was bummin'. why? POURING rain outside. but then i thought that this might not be a bad thing. Running in the rain helps keep me cool. Anyone else feel that way?
Race instructions said that shuttles would take us from the finish area to the start, beginning at 0800 and ending at 0845 sharp. Growing up in a household where if you were 'on time' for something you were actually 'late' for said thing, I was at the parking area at 745. I think I was literally the 7th car there. This meant i was corralled waaaaaaaay faaaaar away from the entrance/exit to the field. well organized parking, i must say, but seemingly only one way out. seemingly (foreshadowing....). my friend Suzan showed up around 8, and we decided to go ahead and get on the shuttle (school bus) and head over. why not, right? probably 20 minute ride, race starts at 1015, who knows how big the lines at registration were going to be....
WELL......we get on the bus, and BAM! who is the first person I see????? The flipping Chief of Medicine at the hospital that employs me (VA Medical Center). He's a retired Bird Colonel from the Army. Yea. NO PRESSURE to finish ahead of him. None. Suddenly, all of the lack of preparation came pounding down on me. All of the missed miles, the multiple taps of the snooze button. All of it. Crap crap Crap. Conversation went like this:
me: Hey, Good Morning, Sir!
him: Hi Gene! I didn't know you were running this.
me: Yes, Sir, I am. Thank God you aren't in my age group.
him: No, and I am probably a bit slower, too.
me: I'm not so sure, Sir. (now being pushed along by the crowd) Have a great race!
him: You, too.
so.....not so bad. feeble attempts at flattery and humor over with, we rode the bus. Suzan sat behind me and talked non-stop. I had to turn around to hear her, which meant that around 5 minutes into the ride i was nauseated........
we get to the start venue (Suicide Six ski area), and the rain is still relentless. Luckily there were large tents set up for registration/bib retrieval, so we didn't get wet getting our bibs. BUT.......the tables were a bit too close to the front of the tent...lotsa dead, dry space behind the folks....lotsa wet runners waiting in line outside....
Off to the side, across the mudding parking lot, were some tents set up for charity runners. And a long table with water. Good volunteers hunkered under umberalls, wearing parkas, etc. TONs of portajohns. No lines, no waiting. Remember, it is now only about 830 or so. Race doesn't start for almost TWO HOURS.
Not shown in the picture is another line of blue houses as long as this one, perpendicular to the last one seen. The road we started on is behind that blue line.
So here we are, trying to find a spot to stay dry. AHA! Ski lodge.....bzzzt. The lodge was closed up tight, but there is a deck with a roof....up the ramp we walked, only to find that most of the good spaces had been taken. What? Taken by WHO? we were on the first maybe second shuttle.....dunno how they teleported to the deck, but there they were. we managed to find a spot along the left side, and hunkered down on the deck, backs to the building. (Suzan is still talking, by the way).
People continued to pour in, just like the rain. My butt went numb, but at least my back wasn't sore. I got up to stretch and get warm, but lost my spot to some (nice) folks from Canada. At any rate, blah blah blah, it was now time to get rid of warm ups and hit the blue houses. Two buses were being used to shuttle gear back to the finish. the rain let up a bit, but not much, and i loaded my stuff to go.
Taking a cue from Steve, I took this final pre race photo.... I didn't run in the jacket or the gray shirt underneath. for gear i was wearing my Adidas something or other kicks, Darn Tough socks (LOVE THESE!), random Nike shorts, body glide (x like 3 layers), a skin tight Under Armour shirt I picked up in Camp Shelby, MS, my Stink at Nothing shirt (which i should prolly review sometime soon), my Performance arm sleeves from the late 90's, when i was cycling a bit more, and my Brooks hat, seen in the picture. Oh, and of course my Garmin and RoadID. OH! and since i don't use Hammer, I carried 2 smallish bottles of NUUN in my bottle carrier. Yes, i KNOW it is only a half marathon, but in my first one, i cramped up wicked around mile 9 and didn't want to take that chance again.
As far as gear went, I think i was spot on. the bottle carrier (seen in the picture below...pic cred to Katie!) was a bit much. I have a different one that I will try out in the weeks to come.
The course is great. Mostly downhill, actually. This photo was taken just after the first covered bridge, in downtown Woodstock, VT. Katie and another friend, Christina (whose hubs finished FOURTH overall) were there with cowbells and signs. very cool, esp given the torrential downpour. at around mile 6, the course runs on a dirt road. this is typically fine. i have no problem with dirt roads. grew up on one, actually, about 2.5 miles off the blacktop. race day, however, had turned that section into grey grease with scattered puddles. the backs of our legs were covered in splatter, which i typically don't mind, and don't even pay attention to. BUT....when we got back on blacktop (pavement), the dirt all washed down into myshoes.....which changed my nice socks into sandpaper......luckily there were plenty of deep puddles to hit and the shoes drained well.
Next year, if it rains, i might just use my trail shoes, or taller socks (DORK!)
The finish area was seemingly well organized (there's that word again!). Through the funnel, pick up your t-shirt (cotton, nice, simple design (no sponsors on the back??), but NOT AT ALL true to size. I got a medium, but should have either picked a Large or an X-S so my 4 year old could wear it. Saucony was there, handing out free socks, so i grabbed a pair. quite comfy, actually, even though they are white....
HUGE food and goodie tent. snagged the typical banana, cookies, water, pretzles, and some freebie Hammer Gels. Raspberry flavor only. WHAT?????? yea, kinda tastes like that "jelly" in the packets on the counter at IHOP or Waffle House. bleck.
I called my wife to let her know that I was done (which is always emotional for me. don't judge), and saw that i had a text message from my parents saying that they were trying to meet me at the finish. quick calls back and forth, and i was able to direct them to the finish area, which was at a polo field. (i know. VT doesn't seem like a POLO mecca, but apparently it is.)
Here is where my big criticism of the race comes in. Parking was TERRIBLE. from the finish are, we had to walk about half a mile back to our cars. mostly up hill. dodging traffic on a narrow, windy road. not fun. my folks only managed to get about half way to me, so i met up with them there, and suggested that they go run errands and meet me at the house. glad they did, because it took some creativity on my part to get out of my parking area. walking to it, there is a small road (goat path?) that brings you right to the BACK of the parking area. which was about 4 cars away from my truck......I did the right thing and sat there, not moving, for about half an hour before i decided to drive down the goat path. i got some strange looks, but i am sure that they forgave me once they saw the debacle above. There has GOT to be a better way. The race is in it's 19th year.........
Well, thanks for sticking around through this looong review. it was almost as long as the race. OH SNAP!
how did i do? glad you asked!
I PR'd. yep. by about 12 seconds. totally surprised. I could tell around mile 8 that i had a chance to beat my old time, IF i could maintain my pace. fall off by too much, and no way. so....glad i pushed it and made the PR. Here i am at the finish (credit to Katie again!), trying desperately not to be chicked.
just barely made it.....
chip time was 1:54:03.