SURPRISE! You get to run longer!
It was supposed to be a 3 person relay. Then it became two, and my friend has to run 15 miles instead of 9. Big jump. She’s up to it. I’m not. Or at least I’m not sure that I’m not. The 2016 Vermont City Marathon & Relay was last weekend, and I was slated to run the last leg of 10.5 miles. The weather was to be in the mid to upper 80s with +/-40% humidity. I perfect day for a race. I was and was not looking forward to the race, seeing as how (a) I hadn’t run more than 6.5 miles without leg issues, and (b) I don’t like running roads. Both of these fears were somehow assuaged, and despite the oppressive heat (which I didn’t really feel) we finished in a respectable total time of 3:40:31. We were 67/413 relay teams which, again, was pretty respectable given that we weren’t really “racing.”
My legs felt fine. Strangely great even. I continually hydrated. Ran through most misting station (basically ladders with hoses). Grabbed ice and popsicles from little kids. And methodically took S!Caps to maintain my electrolytes. Due to the heat the race organizers went out of their way to ensure safety, adding “9 additional misting stations, 5 additional ice stations, 4 roving ice patrols, more than double the ice order for the entire event, [and] increas[ing]…water and cup supplies for all aid stations”. Whatever the formula it worked. I probably ran a slower closer to 9 minute pace for much of the race and then at mile 23 or so upped my speed. It felt like a closer to high 7 minute pace, but that could just be the fatigue from the heat.
While my heart will forever be on the trails I will say this about the race: I have never be surrounded by so much enthusiasm, encouragement, and generosity from total strangers. From the handoff at mile 15.7 till I entered the bike path around mile 22 there were non-stop people cheering, handing out their own refreshments, playing music, snapping photos, and generally being amazing. The level of involvement from the community was incredible. The race went through most of the Southern, Central and Northern sections of Burlington, and the local excitement was palpable and so very necessary to getting through the race (especially with the high heat).
Speaking of which…for the first time ever the race was canceled around the 4 hour 30 minutes mark because the temps and the humidity. We thankfully finished in time. However I did pass a number of downed runners with medical staff plus numerous others suffering from cramps. It was a miserable day for many. I hope that no one was seriously hurt.
This was a fun experience. Not sure if I will ever do it again, but I’m glad I did it at least once. Thanks Buddy for busting out those first 15 miles! The Great Team That Ever Was or Will Be lives on.