Wow, what to say about this one? It was a hot time, in the old town tonight! Clichéd but true.
To re-cap, last fall I ran the Philadelphia marathon in 4:09:03. When deciding on a spring marathon, I picked Vermont City mostly because Fast Friend had been after me to do this race for about two years. We almost ran it in 2014, but did Providence instead. She told me I wasn’t allowed to run it without her when she was newly-postpartum in 2015. This year, we thought we could run it together at last. However, as things started to shake out in January, she just wasn’t ready to train for 26.2 with a toddler. Very good choice, I might add.
So I was left looking for a training partner for Vermont. Teacher Runner wasn’t ready to commit. She is eyeing a longer triathlon and thought she might do that instead. But North Shore Strider, a new friend from Sub 30, said she was interested and we could be virtual training partners. North Shore Strider ran Philly but I didn’t end up meeting her there because she was in and out of the city so quickly. We had hit it off through texting and this sounded like the best option so I said yes. She also signed on to work with Coach Cowboy. Not long after, Teacher Runner also committed to Vermont. Yeah!
I had initially been nervous about staking out sub 4:00 hour as a goal for Vermont, but things went well. Very well. Teacher Runner and I had a near perfect training cycle. We ran track. We did hill repeats in unbelievably crappy weather. Why did the rain and the wind and the snow always arrive on Wednesday afternoon? We did long runs, tempo runs, basically whatever Coach Cowboy threw at us. North Shore Strider, meanwhile, got injured early on. When she got better, she managed to roll her ankle while warming up! She was never able to get her mileage up and missed a lot of races this spring, including the Middletown half, which we were supposed to do together. She did do Broad Street, where we finally met in person.
By late April, Teacher Runner and I were zeroing in on not just a sub 4:00 hour marathon, but maybe pretty close to 3:55 on a good day. It still wouldn’t be good enough to run Boston even if I ended up qualifying, but 3:55 would have been spectacular. Teacher Runner got faster than me this cycle – I’d like to point out that she is ten years younger!! But she said she wanted to run Vermont together anyway. I tried to get her to run her own race, but also, I was thrilled we would do another marathon together.
Then, a week out from the race, things started to shake out differently than expected. Teacher Runner pulled something when she stood up after sitting with her daughter in her lap. She had to decide to pull out of the race, which was awful. And the forecast for Vermont became clear and it was pretty awful too. The predicted temperature on race day just kept climbing until it was in the mid-80s. Ugh. That is not PR weather, no matter how you slice it. At least not for me.
I did some serious expectation management in the week before the race. I do a lot of visualization and I didn’t know whether to visualize Teacher Runner next to me or not. I wasn’t quite sure what to visualize about the heat except being miserable. I’ve run a couple of half marathons in that kind of weather and it was awful. I just kept imagining that clock, though I had been seeing it read 3:54:20 and now it often read 3:58. Sometimes much slower numbers crept into my imagination. I listened to an MTA podcast on hot weather and what to do. Mostly, they recommended slowing down and not being afraid to drop out if necessary.
I talked to Coach Cowboy a few times in the week leading up to the race. I thought he would be his usual badass tough-talking self: Go get it, don’t let a little heat slow you down, you’re trained, you’re ready, etc. But he wasn’t at all. Instead he said I’d have to manage it and be careful. I needed to slow down, if necessary, possibly a lot. He never said 3:55 is not happening, but he helped me see that being careful was more important than being fast on a day like that. We also decided I would carry my hand held water bottle. I carry it a lot during training, but I’d never raced with it before. Fly Girl had had hers at RWF though and I’d seen the advantages of having your own water with you.
We drove up to Burlington on Saturday and went straight to the expo because I was getting antsy and needed to have the bib in my hands. We ran into North Shore Strider and her family, killing time waiting for their room to be ready. This is the first expo I’ve ever been to that had both beer and spirits sampling. What a good idea!
After the expo, we checked in to the hotel. No time for a swim, much to Rose’s disappointment. But we met everyone at Pulcinella’s for a great dinner. In addition to North Shore Strider and her family, we also met up with Munchkin Runner, a fellow political scientist, who also works on German politics. Munchkin Runner and I have had some great adventures in the past and I was excited to do a race with her.
After dinner, the Incredible Mervus took the kids to the pool, giving me time for final preparations and laying out my stuff. Early to bed to be ready for the big day.