July 23, 2008

Race Report - Stowe 8 Miler - July 20, 2008

I can't remember where I first learned about this race - maybe on Coolrunning.com - I think it was one of their featured races. Since I had never been to Vermont before I figured this was a great opportunity to run and visit at the same time.

Jerel and I left on Saturday afternoon to drive up to Stowe (about 3.5 hrs from Boston) around 11:30. We stopped for lunch in Lebanon, NH at Panera Bread (Emily, our fine Nuvi GPS told us where it was). Next door to the Panera was a Birkenstock store - so I had to go in. I bought a great pair of Birks with a unique pattern - I'll have to take a picture and post it since I can't find them online. Just a little of my Birkenstock history - I bought my first pair in Florida way-y-y back in 1992 in Clearwater, Florida. I only had enough $$ for a tattoo or a pair of Birks, so I went with the Birks (the tattoo came later). I still have them - last year the cork on the side of the straps started to crack so I need to get them repaired. Of course, as with most things in my life other than exercise, I just haven't sent them out to be fixed yet. Anyway, the new pair are awesome. My feet love them.

We continued on toward Stowe, and as we were driving we hit a huge rainstorm. I hadn't driven through anything like it probably since I lived in Ohio. It was massive. Luckily Jerel had just replaced the windshield wipers with some new fancy ones. It lasted about 10 minutes until we drove out of it.

Had no trouble getting to Stowe and finding the Town Event Field for race packet pickup. I picked up my tshirt, # and the world's biggest Champion Chip - or at least the biggest I've ever seen!

We then headed over to the Topnotch Resort, checked in, unpacked and took a little snooze. We had dinner and went to sleep around 10:00. We got up around 6:00 and got ready - since it takes me about 10 minutes to tape up my feet and toes, and had breakfast at 7:00. I usually like to finish eating 2 hours before a race but the restaurant didn't open until 7. Luckily they were able to serve me my usual pre-race english muffin and peanut butter.

It was looking pretty cloudy and dreary, so when we got to the event field and parked I decided not to bring my iPod. I haven't run a race with it before, but thought I would try it out this time. I made a good decision not to bring it!

The lines for the portolets was quite long, so even though I didn't really need to go I figured by the time I got to one I would have to. I ended up chatting with a really nice lady and telling her all about the Nike marathon and Team in Training. She said she had a friend who was training for Nike with them too.

I had Jerel take a pre-race photo of me.

We gathered for the start of the race a little bit before 9 - I headed all the way to the back. They played the Star Spangled Banner and then let the wheelchair racer (I think there was just one) have a 2 minute head start. The announcer then yelled "GO" - I just thought it was funny, as did a couple of people in the back with me.

I started off slow and steady and actually passed a racewalker and her friend. I heard her say something about being happy with who she was - I think because she was the only one walking. It didn't matter because they ended up running at the end and passing right by me!
We passed by some cows right at the beginning and I snapped a quick photo:

That will be the end of photos during the race, because right after that it started raining. And raining. And raining. It rained the entire race. Not torrential, but fairly steady. It was actually pretty refreshing. I was glad I was wearing a hat because it kept the rain off of my face.

Even though it was raining this was still a great race and the scenery was lovely. It really reminded me of Norway - so lush and green. And of course, the fog hanging in the valleys!
I kept pretty good pace with a couple of people ahead of me. There was a woman I really wanted to catch and kept her in my sights pretty much the whole time until about the last 2 miles. There were some hills - I ran up most of them, but there was one that was on a curve up to the next street and it was steep, so I walked the second half of it. Of course, since there were hills up, there were some great downhill moments. I ran mile 3 in 12:24 because of the awesome downhill! I will have to post my splits - I don't have my Garmin on me right now. I was really happy because the mile markers up until the end were right with my Garmin.

I did end up passing an older gentleman who had started walking, and I passed an older couple were were walking - they weren't as friendly as most folks. I said hi as I was passing them and the woman looked like a drowned rat (it's all about the hat). Of course, they passed me during the last mile because they started running again.

A couple of miles were dirt road with stones embedded into the dirt (if that makes sense). Not loose gravel, but the stones were fairly good-sized. Since it was also muddy from the rain I had to slow down because I have a pretty big fear of falling. Now mind you, I haven't fallen for a couple of years, but I think the fear comes from being so heavy and unbalanced in the past. I have much better balance now especially with my core being so much stronger, but still. Anyway, the uneveness of the ground also caused my left ankle to tire out and I think the downhills were rough on my right knee, because it was seriously aching toward the end of the race. In fact, I remember passing Jerel as I ran toward the fnish line saying something about - "my knee, my knee, my knee is killing me".

So, as for my thoughts during the race - I really didn't feel like I was in the groove of things until 2.5 miles in. I guess I'm going to have to run a couple of miles before a race starts like everyone else I've seen and thought were crazy. Although, I'm sure for longer distances I won't need to be doing it!

I also don't think I'm very competitive toward the end of the race. By mile 7 I was plain tuckered out, and the first half of mile 7 was all uphill. Geesh! That's when the older couple who had been walking zipped right by me. Then as I was back to running toward the final turn to the finish line the race walker and her friend passed me. They ended up finishing about a minute ahead of me.
Luckily it was a nice downhill all the way to the finish line. I saw poor Jerel standing there in the rain snapping a couple of pictures.

As I was nearing the finish line I saw the clock click over to 1:49 and I was SO psyched that I was going to finish in less than 1:50. Really, I thought it was going to take me 2 hours. My chip time was 1:48:46 which is an average of a 13:36 mile. I know the last 2 miles took me over 14 minutes each. I am happy to say I wasn't last...I was second to last. The older man who I passed finished in 1:48:53. According to the race results he's 71, so really, I truly am a penguin. I take no pride in being faster than a 71 year old.

Anyway, after crossing the finish line I talked to the race walker and her friend a little and we congratulated each other on a great race. They said they had worked on catching me the entire race. I said I was glad I could help them out!

Since it was still pouring we didn't stay for the promised ice cream (I know Laura, that's just wrong) and we headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower. Then it was back to Boston.

I would definitely do this race again and hope for better weather. It was great to cross another state off of my list of states visited (I think I only have 9 left), and add another state that I've now run in.

Speaking of 9...this was my 9th race since my very first one in April!!