This weekend was the Half Marathon Unplugged, a race that starts in Colchester, VT and ends in Burlington, VT. My coach Denise Goode from The Sustainable Athlete and I decided that this would be a perfect race for me to add to my training calendar for the Vermont City Marathon as a warm-up race for the big day.

The weather on race day was incredible. Beautiful, clear blue skies, temps in the 50’s-60’s. My friend Bridget and I were signed up to run in the second wave of racers with race time being 11 o’clock. It was a bit difficult knowing we had a lot of time in the morning before the race to allow the nerves to take over. However on the plus side I had extra time to get enough fuel for my body.

Fueling my body to have enough energy stores during the race has been a big focus for me during my training. I made sure to get enough calories in the days leading up to the race. The night before the race I ate a hearty breakfast of banana pancakes with hemp protein powder, two fried eggs and some fresh fruit and then before bed a giant bowl of granola. On race day I started off with an enormous bowl of oatmeal with whole milk and strawberries, sipped on water with NUUN U Natural Tangerine Ginger. 

NUUN U Natural Tangerine Ginger-Yum!

We arrived at the start early enough to grab bagels and for Bridget an English muffin (a craving for nooks and crannies???). We had plenty of time to warm-up and stretch and also time for some rocket fuel . . .I mean GU ROCTANE to add in the extra energy punch at the starting line.  It is amazing how much thought goes into pre-race fueling!

Fast Pete & Gerry's Organic Chicks (Thanks EARTHTEC and Skirt Sports for the awesome gear!)

At the starting line I was feeling nervous. This race was going to be a good test of my speed for the actual marathon. I have definitely been feeling strong but surprised myself at this race.  During the fall I ran quite a few half-marathons but took a different approach to the race-I wanted to enjoy the race, run hard, feel good, and trust my training.  Before this half I was very focused on hitting my split times. When the race started I was able to let myself go and just race rather than to over-think. I knew that my training has been intense, lots of hills, mountain races, tempo runs, and running with some super fast training partners. I reminded myself that this race was “short” in comparison to the longer training runs. Also, starting this fall I decided to not even focus on the first half of the race but to only really think about the actual race with 6 miles to go because I know I am a strong 10K runner. I have been working hard to keep my thoughts positive. Instead of thinking 3 miles to go, I would think to myself, “3 miles is easy, just a 5k, time to kick up the pace.”  I also thought of people who inspire me, who I know are strong. I have also learned from running relay events to use the energy of the runners in front of me and imagine their energy pulling you closer.  How do you inspire yourself in the middle of a hard race?

Quiet your mind

I went out fast. Perhaps a bit too fast but I was feeling supercharged. My pace the first 2 miles averaged 7:11 minutes per mile. I have definitely never run that fast at this distance before! I knew I had to slow it down and eased into a 7:23 min/mile pace. I felt strong as I ran the course (which by the way runs right along scenic Lake Champlain and also along much of the VT City Marathon course). There were many strong women runners on the course including my friend Bridget who finished first in our age group (30-39) running a super fast 1:32.23. Seeing strong women on the course reminded me that I could run like that too and knowing that Bridget was up ahead made me want to run faster. The toughest half mile was the second to last where my first 2 miles definitely caught up with me. With a half mile to go however I decided I needed to pick up the pace and finish the race strong.

Racing to the finish.

During the race I never looked to see how long I had been running. I only checked my pace and to see how many miles I had run. When I approached the finish line I knew I was coming in faster than I had before but was surprised to see that I had crushed my previous PR by almost 8 minutes! I ran a time of 1:37.48 which put me 5/52 in my age group (30-39) and 35 overall out of 317 runners.

Post-race happy!

I am totally psyched and can’t wait for marathon day! I can start to see the possibility of qualifying for Boston coming within reach. I am going to train my a$$ off for the last month and a half of training.

I am going to reach for my dream!


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I had made a promise that I was not going to run another marathon and haven’t since my last VT Cit Marathon in 2007.  Instead I have completed other “marathons” in the past few years . . .major surgery while 12 weeks pregnant with my first child, followed by an early c-section due to pregnancy complications in 2008 , then the marathon of first-time motherhood where I also experienced my first bout of postpartum depression (undiagnosed until 8 months-took a long time to find myself again), then pregnancy again, this time with a toddler (EXHAUSTING!), another c-section due to pregnancy complications along the way, and again postpartum depression (even trickier the second time around).  In between the marathon of motherhood I have been trying to get myself back to where I want to be with running and am finally feeling AMAZING and headed towards a peak performance (at least I hope).

The last 26.2 miles that I attempted ended with a stay in the medical tent at the end of the race with an IV drip in my arm. Not exactly the finish that I had hoped for. I had been running very well that spring up until the week of the race when I came down with a horrible sickness that required taking lots of Sudafed to attempt to dry out my sinuses. Basically when race weekend rolled around I felt like crud and was completely dehydrated from all of the Sudafed coursing through my veins. I should have taken this as my cue to bail out and to skip the race altogether until I felt better and then to sign up for another race. For those of us though who have a running “addiction,” choosing not to run when sick or injured is generally not an option.  So I ran, all 26.2 miles and it was grueling. I hit the wall. It was hot and then as soon as my body felt as though I had slammed into the pavement with my head pounding it began to pour buckets of rain. I dragged my body across the finish line just missing my p.r. and well off Boston Marathon Qualifier time. My muscles were seizing and vertigo began to set in. I got myself to the med. tent and then basically collapsed onto the cot. This was a stupid day to run a race!

Now, you are probably asking yourself, “and why would anyone ever want to do this race?” My husband put his foot down and said no more marathons and I agreed. We agreed that I could still run a marathon distance only if it was broken up in relay format so as to have adequate rest periods in order to re-hydrate and refuel (I often have a problem with bonking anyways as my metabolism runs like it is a race car rapidly burning through fuel.) This seemed like a great compromise until now.

This past summer and fall I began amping up my mileage in order to train for running the Vermont 100 on 100 Relay as an ultra team with two of my best friends and then later in the fall the Reach the Beach Relay. I chose several 10K’s and Half marathons to run along the way and started to find a real groove with running. My whole mindset concerning racing and competing these days has totally changed. Perhaps I have found my “inner-chi.”

inner Qi

Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum was by no means easy for me and I have had to find ways to learn how to cope with this, how to alleviate stress, and how to focus in on positive energy.  I also have a great friend Ken, who has the ability to hypnotize in order to help people overcome difficulties.I actually believe he used conversational hypnosis to help me (this will require a whole other post to tell more about this) find a different perspective and inner quiet when running to be more successful. As of late I have felt fantastic on long runs and even having too much energy if I don’t get in my higher mileage workouts. Racing this summer and fall was awesome with lots of personal records along the wat.

I want to try the marathon again because I just can’t seem to let go of my goal.  It is something that I want to do for me. I am hoping for a Boston qualifying time (although they keep lowering the qualifying times!) but even more than that I am hoping to have a consistent race where I feel strong, race smart, and feel proud of my accomplishment at the end.

I can’t wait! VT City Marathon 2012, Burlington, Vermont