Monday, July 16, 2012

Our 2012 Vermont Vacation (and Mad Marathon race report)

So we made our annual trip to Vermont over the Independence Day weekend.  We arrived at Camp (Barnard, VT) by noon on July 4.  Not too much ever changes at Camp, the lake, the scenery or the company which is the way we like it.  This year was more of the same.  Some rain / thunder spoiled our fireworks but that wasn't enough to get us down.

On Thursday we headed up to Waterbury for some breakfast at the Park Row cafe. After breakfast we headed across Park Row to hang out on the town green.
The kids love to play on the slide in the Waterbury Green
Then headed up to Ben & Jerry's, Cold Hollow Cider and Cabot Cheese.  Between the incredible apple cider at Cold Hollow and all of the samples at Cabot, we certainly didn't need lunch!
First time ever, stopped at B&J, didn't do the tour or have any ice cream!
We then made one of our better sight of Ben and Jerry's was The Alchemis Cannery  I had tasted their Heady Topper before, but since it's only sold chilled and only sold in VT I hadn't had the opportunity to purchase any.  Well, we went in, had a sample and purchased two 4 packs figuring we'd stop back at the end of our trip with a cooler so we could bring the beer home.
Three happy campers!
So, back at Camp we enjoyed more of the same....
Relaxing along the lake, soaking up the sun and meals on the porch.
And there was some serious swimming going on....
And Joshua was practicing (and doing very well) in the kayak.
And Walker was wishing he could ride in the paddle boat too!
On Saturday morning we packed up to visit the Mad River area (Waitsfield / Warren).  I was running the Mad Marathon on Sunday and we rented a condo at the base of Sugarbush for Saturday night.  We headed up and over Rochester Gap and had a great lunch in Rochester.  As we traveled up Route 100 we could see all of the damage from Irene last year.  It's amazing how much work the state of VT has done since August to get the roadways and infrastructure back in order.  The damage was unimaginable.  As we headed up Route 100 we spotted a cool water fall.

So we stopped in at registration, grabbed my number and checked out the course map.  While we were trying to figure out where Lauren and the kids could see me on the course, one of the volunteers helped us out.  He then was nice enough to offer to pick me up in the morning since he lived close to our condo which would save us from getting the kids up at 6am.  Typical Vermonter, so nice of him.
The finish line was cool looking!
We headed back to check out the condo which was perfect!  The condo was slopeside and had a view of the swimming pool which was a huge hit for the kids.

This is what we saw as we turned into our condo complex!
So as I gathered my stuff it hit me that I was actually running a marathon the next day.  This was one of those "sounded like a good idea at the time" races where I wasn't specifically training for a marathon, but since I was up in VT on race day, I was in decent shape, etc, etc.  So my plan was to HAVE FUN and ENJOY the race.  Every marathon I've ever run had some form of Lauren BQ, go for a PR, pace a certain group, etc.  Most of them involved training plans, workouts, tapers, etc.  Well, this was up at the starting line, run, smile, run some more, see my family, smile, cross the finish line, smile, eat some food, smile, stop at the Sam Adams Beergarden, smile.  Simple plan, right.

So race morning came and Steve picked me up and got me to the race site, he was volunteering the med tent so I had hoped I wouldn't see him until I had finished.  It was a beautiful morning, temps in the low 50's and bright and sunny.  On the car ride over I looked down to see that my Garmin 405 which was charged to 99% the night before was now dead as a doornail.  Well, kinda reinforced the point of this race, but I had never run a marathon WITH NO WATCH AT ALL!   The gun went off (half and full marathon started together) and we were off.  Now I had looked at the elevation profile and I knew there were some hills, but I hadn't paid attention to the scale.  By the time we hit mile 2 we were climbing.....and climbing.  Up and over we went down onto some gravel roads and through a covered bridge.  We were running through beautiful farmlands with views of the mountains all around.
Through the first covered bridge.
By the time we hit 5 miles or so the race had settled in, the half marathoners had turned around and I started to talk to some of the other runners, it's always cool to meet people from different parts of the country.  My legs felt good and I focused on running by effort on the flats and the hills.
Aaahhh, gravel roads and shade (oh and that smile I mentioned)!
Once we crested a hill about 9 miles in we again joined up with the back of the half marathon field, which was nice to have some additional company out there.  I knew I was going to see Lauren and the kids at mile 16 and 19 so I was looking forward to that.  We hit mile 12 and the half marathoners headed home (mile 10 for them).  The field really thinned out and I was running just behind a guy from Florida who I had met earlier.  I asked him our split at mile 10, 71 minutes (7:10 pace).  I just focused in on the runner in front of me for pacing and took in all the sights, next thing I knew I was at mile 16, greeted by Lauren and the kids waving their cowbells.  My nutrition plan involved a swig of water at each aid station and a Powerbar gel at miles 12, 16, 20 and 23.  Lauren handed me a gel at 16, I gave her a kiss and the kids a high 5 and I was off!
This is the scenery from the spot that Lauren and the kids watched.
At mile 16 I consciously upped my effort.  My legs were feeling good enough that I knew I could hold a higher effort, possibly for the rest of the race.  The guy in front of me must have sensed that and he did the same.  He stayed 15-30 seconds ahead of me the rest of the race which was a great motivator.  As I passed the family at mile 19 Lauren said I was 7th overall.
Waiting to cheer for daddy!
The next time check that I got was when I was passing a guy with about 3 miles to go.  I knew I was moving pretty good and I did the math, surprisingly a sub 3 hour marathon was not out of the question!  Mile 24 and 25 were VERY downhill which allowed me to keep my momentum.  I could see one guy in front of me (besides the guy I had been following) so I focused in on catching him.  I also knew there was a decent incline in the last mile as we approached the finish line, which was also in the bright sun.  I managed to catch and pass the guy I spotted in the last mile, then as I approached the finish area I could hear the announcer saying that third place had just crossed the line in 2:58:xx.
The last mile, on the way home.....
As I approached the chute I grabbed Joshua and Autumn ran beside me.  SO CLOSE to sub 3.
Autumn's got some great form...and Joshua is heavy after running 26 miles!
One of my favorite all time shots, notice that Autumn beat me across the line!
Ahh, that sweet finish line.
We crossed the line, grabbed something to drink, some cider donuts and apple cider and hung out in the finish area.  Such a great setting, in the shade hearing everyone's race stories.  I had finished 5th overall in 2:59:51, nine seconds to spare!  The garmin data I found had about 2100' of vertical climbing.
Family shot.
I am so glad I broke the mold and just decided to run a marathon (and I'm very pleased with my finish as well).  It brought me back to the fun of running, what I do it and what it means to me.  I think I'll be hopping into more in the future.  As for the race itself  it was incredibly well organized.  An amazing amount of volunteers out on the course, plenty of water stops, well marked and every little detail was taken care of.  I'll be back next year! (Oh and I did hit the Sam Adams Beer Garden for my free Summer Ale, chips and salsa)

So what to do for recovery?  Why not a 4 mile hike up Mount Tom in Woodstock with Joshua and Dad the next day.
The hikers at the top of Mt. Tom


  1. That's awesome, Chris. Especially after a tough Boston, that must have been gratifying, and it certainly looks like you're enjoying it.

    I could totally live in Vermont.

  2. Such a happy life you are living. So glad for you. Hugs.

  3. What an awesome vacation, and totally amazing race! Way to go!

  4. The pictures from your vacation are really enviable. I'd love to visit a place like that. Looks like lots of fun was had by all (except maybe the dog - should have taken him on the paddle boat).

    Magnificent job on the marathon!