Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vermont City Marathon Recap

As I had previously mentioned, I decided rather last minute to sign up for the Vermont City Marathon to try to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon. I wasn't sure where my fitness was and hadn't logged many long runs so it was totally up in the air. I knew that to be Boston Strong though you first have to be Boston Marathon Qualifier strong and my goal was to muscle through this marathon regardless of my fitness to get into Boston.

I had mentioned that I was shooting for a sub 3 hour marathon in my last post, which Michael Wade, of the Gate City Striders, took issue with. He wrote on my Facebook wall:
"Dear Danny -

   If you pull off a sub-3 on this (lack of) training I will (be amazed, but) no longer be able to be your friend. I hope you understand. 



Michael is a funny character and I didn't want to lose him as a friend so I was now in a quandry. Should I shoot for a 3:00:01? Probably my best bet to avoid loss of a friend.

My parents decided to join me up in Vermont on Saturday and we spent the day trying, unsuccessfully, to run in between the raindrops and stay dry up in Burlington. We had a fun day and were able to stay dry in the Magic Hat brewery but then had a chance to take a dip in our hotel's hot tub. Because we had waited so long to register, hotels in the Burlington area were all sold out so we stayed in Barre, VT which was almost an hour from the race. Besides the hot tub, Barre ended up being a great base with a good restaraunt where we had my pre-race dinner(anchovy pizza, nachos and a margarita-not the typical pre-race meal but delicious and since I had stomach issues during the race, maybe my new go-to).
I awoke early Sunday morning, ate half a powerbar, half a banana and drank two cups of coffee on my drive up to Burlington. This is definitely the least I have ever eaten before a marathon but I was probably still full from the 6 slices of pizza that I had eaten the night before. On my way up, the moutains surrounding the highway were all covered with snow. Snow? This is Memorial Day weekend! Luckily, for me(unluckily for anyone who has to ride in my car), I keep a few running items for every season so I was able to scrounge an acidotic RACING hat and gloves. And while I was planning on wearing shorts, I decided last minute to wear a pair of manpris and a long-sleeved Red Hook brewery cotton shirt. My thoughts were that I'd wear the shirt pre-race and maybe the first few miles and then toss it and go shirtless with arm warmers once I warmed up. I never warmed up. I finally ditched the shirt around mile 22 but only due to the chaffing I was experiencing not because I was warm.

Another part of signing up late was that I was unable to get into the "preferred corral" so I had to start a ways back in the pack so when the gun went off I spent the first few miles ducking and dodging runners. I was finally able to settle into a comfortable pace around mile 2 1/2 and hunkered down for the long haul.

That's the thing about marathons for me. They are loooooong. At no point was I breathing all that heavy and my legs weren't moving fast enough to be all that sore but this oozy, insidious, creeping discomfort just starts overcoming you. It's like a shadow that slowly envelops your entire body and mind and starts sprinkling in self-doubt and encouragements to start walking as well as little aches and pains in muscles you weren't sure(even as a physical therapist) you had. Usually this will start occurring around mile 18-20, but this race it started occurring a little earlier. Like around mile 6. Time traveling didn't help. A surprising combatant to this dark shadow? Running faster. Every time I felt like I needed to walk, I would do a 30 second pick up which usually got me out of its path, or at least tricked my body into thinking that the pace I had been running was sufficiently slow.

I was originally shooting for a 2:55 marathon but as I reached the half marathon mark in 1:27 I realized that wouldn't be happening. I thought of poor Michael Wade and how terribly upset he would be if he lost me as a friend, and then thought of the Boston Marathon and this wasn't about him or me but about coming together for a good cause that merited a little more effort on my part. I had 1:32:xx to get through the second half of this marathon and that became my goal. And then the chaffing began.

A wet cotton T-shirt is NOT good marathon attire. However, the wind and the horizontal rain won out for several more miles as I didn't want to take it off and become colder. I finally did around mile 22 just as Jim Pawlicki cruised by me like I was standing still. The only reason I was ahead of him in the first place was that he switched running sneakers part way through the run! I felt like I was running through molasses with cinder blocks on my feet but finally came in sight of the finish. This course though is cruel and the last .2 miles were on a muddy field so now I was running in a molasses filled muddy field with cinder blocks on my feet. I briefly thought about sliding across the finish line but thought better of it as I realized I most likely wouldn't be able to get back up.

I finished the race in 2:58:50(2:59:13 gun time) and scurried back to my car to make my way home to a warm shower and a long nap. I ran into a  friend from college along the way to my car but unfortunately I was shivering so badly that I must have come across as a bigger goon than normally. It would have been nice to catch up more but getting in my heated car was higher on my list of priorities.

After warming up, I shot out a Facebook message to Michael:

Dear Michael,
While perusing the vermont marathon results yoy may have been dismayed to see at 2:58:50 beside my name. Fear not, a minor error,it should have read 3:58. So our friendship is still intact.

Danny Ferreira

It wasn't what you would call honest but I think he's an infrequent reader of our blog so I think we got away with it:)

I am a bit sore still today so I think I would recommend to others that they probably should consider getting in closer to 30 miles a week to be successful at the marathon. I plan on doing another one in late summer to improve my chances of getting in.

Up Next: Eagleman 70.3

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