Thursday, October 22, 2015

Race Recapping: Maple Leaf (VT) Half-Marathon

When I was looking for my Vermont race, my main criteria were as follows:
1) Flat (or at least not a lot of hills)
2) Close by--you can go 6 hours away from Boston, but I knew I would be going alone the day before, so that was out of the question
3) Big, but not too big.  I was looking for a race where the time limit was higher, but also did not want to race with 35,000 other people.
Look at all those people! (Photo credit: Maple Leaf HM Facebook page)

So I came upon the Maple Leaf Half Marathon in Manchester, Vermont.  It was several hours away (I think it took me at least three hours to get there from Boston), but still doable for little ol' me.  The website made the race sound and look appealing, and the registration was only $60 which is pretty reasonable for a long distance race. SIGN ME UP!!!

The day before the race, I picked the kiddos up from school and quickly drove them to Grandpa's house and dropped them off until their Daddy got home (which was only 20 minutes later).  I punched in the address for the packet pick up, and got on the road by 3:30.  Since the expo is three hours away, and it was only open until 7pm, I felt so rushed!! Once I finally made it out of Boston traffic, I thought "Oh, this drive will be a breeze". How wrong I was horrible!! I'm a Southern girl, who is used to getting to places on interstates with speeds of 70 miles per hour.  The GPS put me on state roads that were slower (around 50 mph) as well as twisty and curvy.  Driving westward, I was also driving into the setting sun, so couple that with not knowing where I was going, I was certainly taking my time to get there!The direction the GPS took me was northward through New Hampshire and then westward into Vermont.  Since there is also a Manchester, New Hampshire I had a moment of panic thinking I had input the wrong state!!!

I made it to the "expo", which is in quotes because it was three tables. Seriously, there was a table for the VT Health Insurance Exchange, another one handing out Eddie Bower bags, and one for the Lions Club, which was the primary beneficiary of the race. So I picked up my race bib, safety pins, verified that I did not order the extra shirt, and away I was....back to Massachusetts.  All of the hotels near the race where too expensive for me, which blew my mind once looking at them.  This was a very rural state, so I did not see how they could be over $100. Oh well.

I found my way to Williamsburg, MA and my motel. And that is certainly an experience.  I got there after dark, and the front office was closed.  There was a sign saying to go to another door, which looked like the owner lived.  I knocked, no answer.  Knocked again, and again no answer.  There were some guy hanging out in the truck and drinking beer, they knew what my problem was and told me to check the door of the front office.  I would find my key in an envelope taped to the front door. Ummm, ok.  Sure enough there it was! Wow, this place is country.  I knew I needed to eat, but the thought of getting on these winding roads in the dark was not appealing, so I brought everything I had in the car into the hotel, and ate what I had originally packed for breakfast.   I was going to make coffee with their in-room coffee maker, but the water that came out of the pipes was cloudy.  Thanks, but no thanks.

I slept fitfully that night, being in a strange place, in a strange bed, with a dying cell phone, and having to get up for another 1 hour drive in the morning.  The morning came and I was able to get dressed quickly, and got in the car to get out of Dodge! When I munched on the store-brand English muffins that I had brought (never getting that brand again! YUCK!), and made my way on those twisty roads up to Manchester. I got there about 85 minutes before the race, so I bought a large cup of coffee at the McDonald's, and then made my way to the starting line.  When I got there, the temperature was in the lower 40s, the coldest it had been so far since moving here. But it was perfect for the race--mid 50's with only a light wind.

I started the race, and ran solidly for 8 minutes.  I MADE myself walk a minute at that point, because I knew that I did not want to go out too fast.  I was able to slow down the second mile, a little too slow, and tried to pick up the pace for mile 3. I had some success, until I got to mile 4 where the first big hill was located. It had an elevation gain of 137 feet, and kept going for another mile. So those two miles slowed down, but I was able to pick up speed with a couple of downhill miles.

Of the entire course I ran, miles 8 and 9 are probably the only parts that I will remember.  Why?? Because of what I was labeling as "Cry Hill".  Those two miles combined had an elevation gain of 340 feet, and my pace slowed. I felt like I was crawling. And I had to walk myself through this part---This is not a training run.  You cannot stop your watch and you CANNOT STOP. You HAVE to keep going.  My pace for each mile was around 14:50, and once I made it through that part, my speed picked up....a bit.

How was it?? Well, it's over. Finished. State #4 marked off the list.  I'm not sure I would recommend it, because there are so many races you can choose from.  I would probably advocate for someone to run something flatter, and maybe a month later so you can enjoy the fall foliage of the area. 


Another state filled in

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