Vermont City Marathon Recap

I’m not even sure how to start this race recap. With so much emotion leading up to one day, it’s hard to find a place to begin. Sit back, grab a snack. This could be a little long.

Vermont City Marathon - happyfitmama.com

The past month leading up to the race had been rough for me. First it was the blister issue then my mysterious right foot pain. During the last two weeks of the taper, I took it easy. As of my last run on Thursday, my foot was still bothersome. If it was hurting at 2 miles, what would happen for 26.2?

We were greeted with sleet and snow about a half hour away from Burlington. Something you always want to see in late May, right? Thankfully it wasn’t snowing when we got into town. The race expo was at the Sheraton where we were staying. Packet pick up was easy and quick. We shopped for a bit but with 2 toddlers who were just in a car for 4 hours and wanted to get into the pool, it wasn’t happening.

I woke up on my own at 5:15. I did my usual long run prep. It was pouring with temps in the 40s when we left for the race. Wind chills made it feel closer to 30. As soon as we got to the race I knew a sub 4 wasn’t in the cards. I just wasn’t feeling it. The only thing I felt was miserable. Physically and mentally. I was shivering uncontrollably waiting for a port-a-potty. The only thing I could think of was, “this sucks!” I tried to snap out of my funk – I was about to run my first marathon! But it wasn’t working. When it was finally time to get into a corral, I said my good-byes to Ron and the kids. I think the last thing I said to Ron was “I’m sorry for doing this to you!”

I jumped in a corral that was in between the 3:45 and 4:00 pacers kind of by accident. There was an opening in the gate so I just popped into a spot. Prior to starting, a moment of silence was held for the Boston Marathon Bombing victims. Sixty runners who weren’t able to finish the race that day were running.

The air horn went off and it was time to run. I took it easy the first mile trying to get comfortable and warmed up. My shoes felt like lead from the beginning so it was just a matter of getting used to it. We snaked through downtown Burlington for the first four miles. The crowd support was awesome! So many people out cheering despite the horrible conditions.

We then went to an out and back on a stretch of highway. It was fun to see the elite and wheel chair leaders pass on the other side of it. There was also an awesome band hanging out under an overpass that provided a little excitement to carry us through too. As we returned to town, there was an incline that slowed me down for a bit but wasn’t too bad. I was feeling good and was just running comfortably. I took my first gel at mile 5. At the 10K mark I was at 52:46.

At mile 10 I was finally warmed up enough that I got rid of my throw away shirt and took another gel. We were back in a residential area for a few miles before heading to a bike path along the waterfront. When we got to the water, it got super windy. On top of the rain pelting me in the face, there was now lake spray that was splashing up onto the path.

At mile 14, I started to feel it in my hips. My time slowed down some but I was still feeling O.K. I knew a big challenge was coming up. I took my third gel shortly before hitting mile 15. Mile 15 was a huge ass hill that climbed for about 1/2 mile or so (it really felt like it was 10 miles). At the base were drummers to help us beat that dang hill. I wanted to walk so BAD up the hill but I didn’t. I kept going even if it felt like a snails pace. When I reached the summit, we went back into the park where we started. I saw my friend Steph who had run the first leg of the 3 person relay. Seeing a familiar face helped but I was slowly fading.

I began to feel nauseous. Then my stomach started to roll and do flips. Sorry for the TMI but thank God we were in a wooded area on the bike path at that time because there was no waiting for a bathroom. I had to go now! I felt better momentarily till it hit me again a few minutes later. Back into the woods I went! I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel better. On top of the tummy issues, I was also getting leg cramps – quads, hamstrings, calves. They were the kind of cramps that throw your gait off and make you limp. Stopping to stretch only made it worse. I resorted to running as much as I could before the next cramp came. Then I would try to walk it off.

At one point I wanted to quit. I wanted to find a way to make it all stop. I didn’t care if I finished. I felt like all my goals were unattainable (even the finishing happy goal). But I kept going. I think I was on auto pilot for all those miles. I really don’t remember much of anything other than trying to will my legs to keep moving and being angry at myself.

The last mile I tried to run as much as I could. It was slow and I was still cramping up with every other step. As I entered back into Waterfront park, the crowd support was uplifting enough to make me push a little more to make it to the muddy finish line.

Finishing time – 4:26.

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I found Ron and the kids a few minutes later and immediately broke down crying. I was done. I had nothing left. I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t want to to anything but take a long hot shower and nap.

It’s been a few days since the race and I’m slowly becoming proud of what I achieved. I didn’t quit. I ran a solid first half of the race. After so many great races the past few months, I just assumed this one would be too. High expectations for the race that didn’t pan out made me see it all as one big failure. On Monday, my friend Christine, wrote a great blog post about always expecting great.Β  Reading that post struck a cord with me and made me change the way I was looking at the race. Not everything can be great all the time.

Vermont City Marathon 2 - happyfitmama.comOf course, the day after the race, it’s a picture perfect day.

During the race, I was thinking this would be my one and only marathon. One and done. A few hours later, I had already decided I wanted a redemption race. I know I can do better than 4:26. It’s not going to happen anytime soon but I will run another marathon. But first I need to get rid of the post marathon waddle. Yowza! :)

80 comments on “Vermont City Marathon Recap

  1. Wow! What a great recap. I’m sorry the experience was so rough…rain right off the bat would be tough, and the cold and shivering sounds tough to combat mentally. But you’re right – you DID it! And 4:26 for your first?! I know it’s disappointing when your goal was under 4 hrs, but I really do think that’s amazing. WELL DONE! Couldn’t wait to read your recap. I’m very happy for you…I think you did amazing and feel so proud of all your training and efforts. Hope the waddling is turning into walking now! πŸ˜€
    Bonnie recently posted..20 miles For Breakfast!My Profile

    1. Thanks Bonnie! There were so many factors to the race before it even started that I just went to a bad place mentally from the start. I also think I was so focused on a sub 4 that I didn’t even think about what if that didn’t happen. The waddling is much better now. I don’t cringe with every step up or down stairs either!

    1. Thanks Jill! I’m getting there. I know I did something that most people will never do so it’s something to brag about. And there will be another marathon for sure!

  2. Congrats Angela! You did it and did it in tough conditions. Be proud. First marathons are about finishing, not time. You run to learn and experience and that’s what you did. Great job.

    Now one comment on the stomach issues…I think that was a lot of gel for the number of miles…just a thought on the potential cause.

    Rest up and don’t try to do any real training any time soon. Just savor the moment.
    misszippy1 recently posted..Not the best BQ oddsMy Profile

    1. Thank you Amanda! I thought about the fuel issue too. It’s my usual routine so I’m not sure what happened. Maybe something different that I ate the day before since we were traveling?

      My plan right now is to take it easy. Get back into yoga and cycling more for the next week or two and then reassess the situation.

  3. U are a marathoner!!! With a very respectable time! I know it’s hard to see it that way but it is the truth! I am proud of you and Vermont is tough with tough conditions!! I am doing Philly! Come join me! We live in MA I see your in nH if you ever need a training partner :)

  4. But you know what? You did it!!! And that’s just amazing in my book. And I think that’s a perfectly wonderful time – um, especially with 2 potty breaks πŸ˜‰ Seriously, though, you worked so hard and you just never know what can happen race day. You had everything thrown against you and you fought and won. Now, how’s the foot, hips, etc? I hope you’re not hurt :-(
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Perdido Key Vacation Recap in PicturesMy Profile

    1. Thanks Heather! The funny thing is that my foot didn’t bother me at all during the race. Maybe it was numb from the cold? Since then it’s really been bothering me. I wouldn’t call it pain but more an ache. I also did a lot of flip flop walking the past two days so that might be a factor. I’m giving it a couple more days before I decide if it needs to be looked at.

  5. Thank you for sharing your first marathon experience! Warts and all! It’s not easy sharing that it was a rough day and holy moly! Those conditions?!? I’m super impressed you ran AT ALL! I might have gone back under the covers! Ok…probably not, but it would have been tempting!

    Congrats on running and finishing your first marathon! My hubby felt the exact same way you did at the end – never doing that again; one and done! Then a few hours later, he was like, I can do better. LOL! It must just be a marathon thing…though I felt that way after my first half marathon. :) We’re all crazy!
    Chris recently posted..Thanks to the internetMy Profile

  6. First marathons are so intense, but yours was multiplied x10!! The weather, the cramps, the stomach issues… you are one strong mama for pushing through, and still finishing with such a respectable time.

    I’m glad you’re starting to feel proud of yourself, you should!! And someday you’ll get a solid redemption run!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  7. Congrats!!! I’ve had great marathons and terrible ones, but in the end I was proud of them all even when they didn’t go according to plan. I love your thoughts at the end…because I thought I was “one and done” also…and now I’ve done 5, with 6 and 7 on the calendar! Welcome to the “one and down…and maybe one more” club!

  8. First of all your time rocked. Second, the real accomplishment isn’t in the actual race. It’s in every day before when you could’ve slept longer, ran less, and been like the rest of the world. Instead you dared to do something incredibly difficult. Congratulations.

  9. I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!! Congratulations Mama! I think you did amazing and you held STRONG alllll the way to the finish! What you have accomplished is amazing. It really is!

    Take good care and rest up xo

  10. The exact thing happened to me, except for the rain! 39 degrees, severe leg cramps mile 17 on, tears of dissappointment at the end….then my mom, who has several medical issues and cant run 10 feet, put my medal on the next day.”this as close as I will ever get to earning one of these”. At that moment I realized how blessed I am to have the health, ability, support and determination to run. Great job!

  11. Oh yeah that waddle is a doozy! You are a marathoner…and no one can take that from you! I know it wasn’t the race you wanted but I also know that you will be there again and you will ROCK it!! Way to push through all the obstacles in your way and finish the race! You did run a great first half…and one day you’ll do it again! Congrats!!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Boston’s Run to Remember Half RecapMy Profile

  12. Congrats Angela! You should be very proud, Mother Nature did everything to stop the races this weekend in New England and you finished. Time is just a number, the distance is the accomplishment. Well done. :)

    1. Thanks Tony! I guess I need to get on the trails more to get my mind off time so much. Once the marathon waddle is over, I’ll be ready to try trail running again.

  13. You are a marathoner!!!!
    You should be proud of how hard you worked and the fact that you didn’t quit!!! So many factors going against you and you beat all of them because you are strong, you are a runner and now you are a marathoner!!!
    Great job – and thanks for sharing the race recap!
    Kim recently posted..Driving SchoolMy Profile

  14. ohh race day is always such a toss up, you never know how your body is going to choose to react on that day. And I think we all tend to underestimate nerves on our energy and ohhh our tummy. Knock on wood I have been extremely lucky with that over the years, but have certainly had debilitating cramps…from all of it well we learn :) we grow…and we shock ourselves by signing up again :)

    CONGRATS on doing something amazing and proving to yourself that you can push through even when it’s hard
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..Electrolytes – What are they and how to get themMy Profile

  15. I am so “f”ing πŸ˜‰ proud of you! That is an amazing time and nothing to be ashamed of. The fact that you did not quit when you were clearly in pain is amazing and have you driven 26.2 miles before in a car? It is a long f’ing ass way… and you ran it!! SO proud of you! A huge congratulations !!! PS. you realize you have given me permission to use the f bomb with you, don’t you? Now the real Lisa comes out (Sailor in previous life)
    RunWiki recently posted..Blend Retreat Weekend in Park City, UtahMy Profile

  16. 4:26 with potty breaks, a monster hill and cramps? THAT IS BEAST MODE. When you just finish, emotions are a mess, and they should be. You just friggin ran 26.2 miles for crying out loud. As the days go by (as you can see) it starts to become something entirely different. The hill doesnt seem that hard and the cramps weren’t all THAT bad… you begin to itch to do it again.

    Enjoy your first a little bit. Realize all the hours you spent training and celebrate your accomplishment.

    My first marathon was over 5 hours, this is a screaming success and shows how you are already an accomplished runner. Welcome to the club HappyFitMarathonMama.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..What to Expect on Marathon DayMy Profile

  17. I don’t even know you — I ran across a share of this blog on Twitter — I am a fairly new runner still at the 5K phase setting sights on a HALF. You are AMAZING! A lot of people would have quit at the nausea — AND with that weather? You’re a straight hero my dear. You make me so sure I want to get to the Marathon point. Congratulations on a HUGE accomplishment, Mama!!!

  18. I’m so proud of you, you pushed through and finished and that matters more than any time ever will! The thing about races is, we learn a lot from them and as time passes we see things differently and can appreciate the hard work we put into training. You train for months for something that takes place ONE day. Anything can happen, and will…but you pushed through those “anythings” and that’s something you need to make sure that you are proud of! I have no doubt you will do another one day and get “redemption”, but for now, relax and enjoy the words “you are a marathoner!”
    Laura recently posted..Tri-ing & Mixing Things UpMy Profile

  19. I think 4:26 is a great time for your first! It’s definitely above the average first marathon time I see on my FB newsfeed all the time – most people are 4:40 and higher. You finished, despite the discomfort! That’s hardcore, lady!!!

    This also helps me make some decisions about my marathon coming up in less than a month. It’s also my first and I’ve been trying to decide about pacing. There’s a voice in my head that says “aim for sub 4! you can so do it!” and then there’s another voice that says “no, pace more slowly – you never know what can happen and you’re injury-prone.” Hearing your experience is helping me lean toward the decision to put my ego in a box, as hard as that is!
    Rachel B @ Busy Mama Fitness recently posted..Tough Mudder Boot Camp Day 3My Profile

  20. Congratulations on your finish! I know that this wasn’t the best experience, but you really do have something to be proud of. I enjoyed reading your recap. And I’m inspired :)
    Dana recently posted..Monthly GoodiesMy Profile

  21. My roommate ran the half in burlington this weekend! Small world. And honestly, I love reading recaps like this. The truth is, a lot of races are hard. Running is hard. It’s not all PRs and sunshine and surpassing your expectations. I love the honesty in the post, and you should be extremely proud that you didn’t give up!

  22. I feel like I’m having a deja-vu reading you race recap…the same thing happened to me on my first marathon last November. I was supposed to to NYC, but had to change, I had a horrible week prior (no power/heat/water), and it was really cold. I was angry for a long time. It took me a few weeks to get over it. I couldn’t related to myself being a “marathoner.” I too, thought I was “one and done,” but lo and behold I found myself with an itch and needed to be scratched. I’ll find out if I’m in NYC this year, and if not, I’ll probably do Philly. Officially addicted. Best of luck to you! http://wp.me/p27gAQ-dT

  23. Congratulations! Even after reading everything I was still surprised that you were disappointed for yourself but am glad that you are getting to the point where you are proud of your achievement. It’s hard for me to relate to since I can barely get to five miles. I find your journey, your entire run, the whole thing inspirational!
    Carli recently posted..Carb is Not a Four Letter WordMy Profile

  24. I know that its so hard to feel proud when you feel disappointing. I had a similar experience at VT two years ago. Had trained for a 3:40’s finish and ran 4:11. Like you I cried at the end out of disappointment and exhaustion. Everything that could go wrong did: dehydration, cramping, chaffing etc. etc. But looking back that race was something to be proud of, I finished on a day that so many other people dropped out (it was super hot, so opposite, but equally awful). I ended up running the Maine marathon as my redemption race and was able to run 3:48. Maybe Portland will be your redemption race too? :) Bottom line: be proud and consider it a learning experience for the marathons you’ll do in the future! Marathoner:)
    Sarah @runfargirl recently posted..A 5K PR and DoubtMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Sarah. It’s nice to know that it happens to everyone and that you can come back from it. Hmmmm…Portland. Something to think about for sure.

  25. Oh girl, I totally feel you!! I had soooo many issues for my first (and only) marathon, and I ended up feeling a lot of unexpected disappointment. From the outside looking in on your recap, I see someone who is strong, determined, never gave up, and still finished in a time that many people (myself included) would be THRILLED with. I feel like you might need a different measure of your success that isn’t tied to those original goals–like never giving up when the going gets tough. Lots of people can run a great race on a great day, but not many people will push through the harder times and not give up. CONGRATS!!!! YOU ARE A MARATHONER!!!!!!
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  26. You do have every reason to be proud. Not only did you finish a marathon, but you did it in really crappy and challenging conditions, with stomach issues and cramps, with potty breaks and with a monster hill!! That is a lot! While it might not be what you were expecting, I think that your perseverance is incredibly inspiring. I don’t think I would have made it to the start line.

    Marathons are kind of like childbirth. You swear you will never do it again during the race but afterwards? Everything is all rosy. I totally thought I was one and done but managed to run a couple more :-) Congrats marathoner!!
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  27. Wow, you did amazing! I know everyone else has said it, but it is so true. Horrible conditions, freezing temperatures, tummy problems, and yet you finished! I’ve done one race in similar conditions (my husband was smart and turned around at mile 5), and it is one of my proudest moments, just because I finished.

    I also had tummy problems, as I mentioned in a previous comment, but mine were more nausea and vomiting, than, well, the other. It took me a while to figure out (I ended up carrying my own water bottle instead of drinking at water stations), but once I did, I took my time from 4:10 (my first), up a couple times to about 4:25, then way down, 3:40, 3:30, then eventually my PR of 3:16. So I know you will figure this out.

    I laughed because like you, at first I said never again, then within a day I was trying to figure out how to run it faster.

    Good job!
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..BBQ Kidney Bean and Quinoa Burgers. #Vegan RecipeMy Profile

  28. Sorry about the tummy issues :( But you are a marathoner and that time is still great! So glad you are going to try again, each race (and run) is a learning experience so look back and try to figure things out and make the needed changes. :)

  29. First time reader here. Great recap. I felt so many similar feeling during my first (and currently only) marathon. I also feel like there will be redemption!! Congrats on becoming a marathoner!!
    Michelle recently posted..In Survival Mode *Yawn*My Profile

  30. You did it! You hung in there and toughed it out and that’s awesome. I admire you :) I am having a lot of bumps in the road just trying to train for a half. I don’t think a half will happen for me…yet. I do understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go as planned. Some days I go out to run and I think I feel great and things fall apart! That alone can almost reduce a girl to tears lol You went, your conquered! Awesome :)

  31. Oh wow, sounds like such a tough day. I know it’s not what you wanted but you still ran a strong race, especially in cold, driving rain. My first marathon was the very hot and cancelled Chicago 2007. In a way it was good because I had nothing to compare it to so I just soldiered on. Congrats marathoner!
    Marcia recently posted..Espirit de She GiveawayMy Profile

  32. Angela…congrats on your first marathon finish! I can’t remember if I commented on your blog post, so if I did already, I apologize! Just wanted to say that I know you will totally crush a sub-4….those conditions were AWFUL!!! Congrats on pushing through!
    Kristin recently posted..A Week of No Running?My Profile

  33. Dear Angela,
    I just found your blog through “another mother runner”. I loved this post! I also ran my first marathon last May, hoping and training for a sub-4:00 and I had major stomach issues and ended up with a 4:24… Totally disappointed! I feel your pain! I’m so happy you want to try again! After licking my wounds for a few hours, I also realized I want to try again. Keep up the great work… You have a sub-4:00 coming!

    1. Thanks for finding me and welcome! Wow! How weird that we both had similar experiences. It definitely was a disappointment to me. You live and learn. Fingers crossed we’ll get to our goals the next time around. Good luck and keep me posted!

  34. I just ran across this recap. Sounds familiar! I had a marathon this year in April that ended up being a high of 50 degrees and raining. What beautiful Ohio weather! I have never trained in the rain, so doing the whole thing in the rain really sucked. I was hoping for a BQ time of 3:55 and I finished in 4:00. ugggghhh Not under 4?? I had stopped looking at my watch after mile 18, I was just spent and didn’t care. I was disappointed and bummed for weeks :( I still think the race was terrible, but I guess it takes races like these appreciate the good ones. Good luck in your future races! I’m sure you have it in you!

    1. Oh man! I was very disappointed in myself for weeks. That and then being sidelined by an injury made for one crabby mama. I’m doing better and am ready for another. You live, learn and hope to do better on the next. I can’t let that be my one and only marathon time! Good luck to you!

      1. For me, I ran a “redemption” marathon 3 weeks after that race… and of course it took even longer. And then I found out I had a stress fracture in my heel. 12 weeks of no running for me. Yep, we got that kind of luck :) I am back to running again, and glad to be.

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