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 Vermont City Marathon (5/29/05)

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Vermont City Marathon (5/29/05) Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:39 pm 

I ran the Vermont City Marathon (VCM) this past weekend, in Burlington, VT ( Did anyone else out there run this race and care to comment.

This was my first time running this marathon (my 7th marathon). For those of you who haven't seen my numerous post elsewhere, I've been recovering from Plantar Fasciitis (PF) since the NYC Marathon in November. My goal was to train easy and use the VCM as motivation and run it as a loooong training run in my build up to the NYC marathon next fall. I decided to train easy by doing mostly aerobic conditioning (easy) and endurance (long) runs. My goal starting out was to run the marathon easy and complete it anywhere between 4:00 and 4:30 (my PR is 3:32, NYC Ď02).

My training went well and though my PF hasnít completely healed itís improved slowly and steadily while still allowing me to train; which I attribute mostly to a change in my running style (I'm no longer a heal striker). Going into the marathon I felt prepared to be able to maintain a 9:15 pace (4 hours) and so I felt confident that if by chance I had trouble I should still be able hit my initial goal of finishing under 4:30.

I was convinced to run this race for several reasons; it allows me to notch another state in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states, itís within reasonable distance to travel by car from NJ, posts at indicated that it is a very scenic and fun race with a great small marathon appeal, it occurs over a holiday weekend allowing an extended weekend for travel, and finally because there was a limit of 7000 runners (including relay runners) and thus wouldn't be very crowded.

Iíve taken a few days to reflect back on this race before posting my comments and though there were a few minor details that frustrated me Iíd say I was very pleased overall.

The weekend events were very well organized and I would recommend this marathon it to anyone interested in a spring marathon in the New England area. The town of Burlington is extremely easy to get around (I think I heard that the population is around 50K or so). The town sits on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain and has a beautiful view of the Adirondack Mountains on the other side of the lake. There are plenty of things to keep you (or your family) busy in the way of shopping and site seeing. Iíve run two other small marathons (Philadelphia 5000 in í99, and New Jersey 3000 in í03) and I think this was much better by far; everything from the Registration, the Sports Expo, the design of the course, and the spectators to the after race food.

About the Race:
The weather for the entire weekend was predicted to be rainy and cold. The day before was absolutely beautiful with a brief shower in the late afternoon. I was surprised and figured that would mean race day would definitely be bad. To everyone's surprise, race day turned out to be gorgeous and nearly perfect as well. The sky was partly sunny with cool temperatures at the start. The temperature increased a little as the race progressed. I'm not sure what the final temperature was but it wasn't a problem.

The race started at 8:05 a.m. SHARP as scheduled (wheelchair athletes started at 8:00 a.m.). About 200 yards from the start the course took a 90 degree turn to the left. It seems odd to have so many runners crowding into a turn this close to the start....but I guess the turn came well before most of us were able to get up to speed anyway, so I guess I shouldn't complain about that.

My twin daughters (15 years old) accompanied me on this trip while my wife and oldest daughter stayed back home for a mother-daughter weekend together. My daughters were able to navigate the course with ease and cheer me on in four spots along the race. So I have to say the course is VERY spectator friendly. The race has basically four out and back loops with three of the loops coming back through the start area. So, obviously, the start area is where the majority of the crowd support was. The crowd support was very sparse the farther out on each loop. The fourth (last) loop that returned on the bike path along the lake had considerably more supporters than the other loops. I guess people prefer to see runners when they're suffering in the later stages of the marathon more so than when they're still a bit giddy in the early miles.

The course covered much of city of Burlington and traveled through several different neighborhoods. The crowds in town, near the start where the course overlapped, were very enthusiastic and loud. Unfortunately I can't say that for the people along the rest of the course. This would have to be my only major complaint about this race. The neighborhood folks who gathered in front of their homes (and there weren't as many as I would expect) were for the most part rather quiet. Even where the crowds were thicker I sensed they were waiting to cheer for a particular runner rather than for all of the runners. Of course, there were exceptions, but I expected a bit more noise. But I'm willing to admit that I'm a bit spoiled by the NYC crowds.

The scenery was very diverse which is a huge plus for this race. Unlike NYC where you are basically running between buildings for the first 22 miles or so, this course took you from the center of town to the southern end of the city, back through town, out to the northern end of the city, through various different neighborhoods, and along the bike path next to the lake. With the exception of the course passing through the start area three times, only one of the loops had you returning along a long segment of the same route you went out on (about 5 miles of the course). This area allowed you to see the lead runners, and everyone else for that matter.

Parts of mile 2 and 9 the area near the start go along Church Street in the center of Burlington. This area offers something different for both the runners and the spectators that you donít find at too many marathons. This is a four or five block long outdoor pedestrian mall lined on both sides with shops and restaurants. On marathon day, many spectators come to this area to shop and have breakfast during the race and are then able cheer on the runners as they run down the middle of the mall (twice). I was a little tempted to reach out and grab someoneís bacon off their plate as I passed their table. There is also a short section of the bike path from mile 13 to 14.5 where you get a wonderful view of Lake Champlain and can see the Adirondack Mountains on the other side.

Though I heard there would be lots of music on the course I donít recall hearing very much. I saw the usual people banging on drums, pots, pans, and blowing horns but saw only a few groups of musicians. And as usually, there were a fair number of people with boom boxes but none of them seemed to be playing loud enough for me. As promised, there were the Taiko Drummers at the start of the ľ mile hill just before mile 15. Their rhythm and volume definitely help to get you up the hill. The event director really down played the hill and seemed embarrassed that theyíd gone through the trouble to name it "Assault on Battery Hill." They made it sound like they were over hyping the hill. It didnít seem too bad when I walked up it on my way to the starting line, but when I hit it after having run 14 milesÖit wasnít so easy. They are well within their rights to have named it like they did. I believe that it was only 1/3 as bad as Heartbreak Hill at Boston. Where as "Heartbreak" is actually a series of three hills that have a short plateau between each hill, this one was just as steep and long as the first of the three at Boston. Fortunately, this was the only big hill and the course was mostly down hill from that point. The short down hill at mile 18 was a bit steep and I felt it in my legs by the time I got to the 19 mile mark. Otherwise, there isnít much need for hill training for this course (in my opinion).

So, how did I do? Well, despite losing about 7 Ĺ minutes to three stops at the port-o-john I finished in 4:00:33. I hit the half-way mark at 1:57 and kept a pretty even pace of about 8:50 for most of the race with a few miles around 9:20 due to the slow start, the hill around mile 15, and having to stop to retie my shoelace twice at mile 23. I managed to finish strong (8:15 pace over the last mile) and without too much discomfort. This wasnít a stellar performance, but my intention wasnít to race this marathon, but rather to incorporate it into my training and enjoy the experience a bit more than usual.

I certainly enjoyed the entire weekend in Burlington. It's a very nice city and if I didn't have this quest to run a marathon in every state I would definitely do this one again. So, though I may not be back there next year...I'll certainly be back again...and probably more than once again.

I took two days off to recover and ran an easy 4 mile easy run at an 8:30 pace. I was actually surprised that I was able to run even 4 miles at this pace so soon. I took another rest day today and will run easy tomorrow and Saturday. Iím running in a 3 mile race in Central Park on Sunday with my family. So, Iím hopeful that I should be ready to get back into my training routine by next week.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Vermont City Marathon (5/29/05) Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:56 pm 

Way to go mfox! Great race report! I'm impressed that you were able to keep such an even pace, and stick to your plan to use this as a training race. I don't think I have the discipline to ever do a marathon without really trying to race it. You kept a good pace the whole way, and finished strong. Nice work!

I used to live in Burlington, and I fondly remember Church Street. It is definitely a beautiful part of the country. Unfortunately it all seemed a little dull for a 22 year old guy fresh out of college. I suspect that if I moved back there now, I'd appreciate Vermont's charm more.

It sounds like you had some great scenery through most of the race, and you were in good enough shape to be able to enjoy it too. I can imagine that the crowd support wasn't as strong as you're used to, but when the NYC crowds have set your expectation level, then everything else will probably seem pretty tame in comparison.

So do you think your plantar fascitis is definitely on its way out now? I hope so!


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Vermont City Marathon (5/29/05) Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 5:39 pm 

Thanks. I wish I could have provided a much more exciting race result but's not always about going fast.

The PF is better but I still have a ways to go. I'm finding that week by week, and month by month that I'm having less trouble walking first thing in the morning or a even a hour or so after a run. It never bothers me much for shorter runs (6-8 miles), but does become a little bit of an anoyance as I hit 10+ mile. I'm going to try to be better about donig some stregth trraining for my ankle and foot, not to mention the rest of my body, during the summer. It's interesting that has my training volume has increased my PF has actually improved.

I think the fact that I've switch from landing on my heel to landing more on my mid-foot has helped tremendously. I read Danny Dreyer's book "Chi Running" and it has helped a lot in changing the way I run so that I don't stress my body so much. During the later stages of the marathon when I was feeling tired I had to remind myself to focus on relaxing my feet, legs, and hips, keeping my stride short but with a quick turn over, keep a good posture and lean forward a bit. When I remembered to focus on this I found my pace picking up and I suddenly started passing people. I'm not trying to push this book but if you get injured easily when you train then you owe it to yourself to at least check out his web site and read what he has to say and determine for yourself if it makes sense for your needs. Frankly, I was desperate for some help and among all the aid's I've purchased and tried (shoes, special insoles, cushions, supports, socks, etc.) this one has had the best payback.

One of the things that Chi Running is supposed to do for you is make your recovery quicker because you're legs don't have to work quite so hard has before. Well, I just did a 6 mile run today (second run since my marathon last Sunday) and ran the fastest tempo run I've run all year and most of it felt pretty easy. So I'm pretty pleased with how the entire marathon and post-marathon has turned out.

Anyone planning on running the New Hampshire or Hartford Marathons next fall?


Joined: 22 May 2005
Posts: 22

Re: Vermont City Marathon (5/29/05) Posted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:27 pm 

mfox wrote:
Anyone planning on running the New Hampshire or Hartford Marathons next fall?

Phht! I wish I was physically capable of running any kind of marathon! The race calculator clock's me at 3:15:22, but, I don't trust that...
I do plan on running the Atlanta Marathon when I turn 18, or, maybe before that if I become more serious about even longer distance running than the average 3.2 cross-country trail that I enjoy so much...

Otherwise, great performance at the marathon, and thanks for the description!

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