What is the longest mile of KBVCM?
By: Christine Hagan, Green Mountain Rehab & Green Mountain Running Medicine Shop
Every runner will probably have a different answer to this question. The terrain, wind, crowd support, sun exposure, and mental state can all contribute to what will seem to be the longest mile of the race.
Overall, the course is a lot of fun. Fewer marathons are set up better for crowd support. Family and friends can watch you start and then cheer you on 4 more times without having to travel very far. The course is broken down into “sections” which can be helpful mentally. If you have the mental capacity to look around during those last miles on the bike path, the views are amazing. As exceptional as the course is, there are a few stretches of the race to prepare for ahead of time as they might feel long on race day…
Miles 7-8: Climbing back up the beltline involves a long, gradual hill on a banked surface and it can be especially tough if the sun is blazing. There are fewer fans out there, and the hill is the daunting climax of the ‘out and back.’. If you feel good during this stretch, be careful not to attack the hill too fast – it will make unnecessary withdrawals from your energy “bank” and cause problems for the later miles.
Mile 10: After the excitement of running down Church St., the next mile or so down Pine Street can feel kind of lonely and is often one of the first ‘gut check’ points. It starts off slightly down hill, but then flattens out quickly, halting the momentum of the last mile in an abrupt thud. The flat terrain also allows you to see a long stretch of road ahead, with it’s seemingly endless torments laid out in the bright sun before you.
Mile 15: It ends going up Battery St. hill – no need to explain much beyond that. Expect to run a slower pace for this mile. Unless you are a really strong hill runner, don’t try to push it too hard. Keep a steady, slightly slower pace and consciously attempt to bring your trunk forward to lean into the hill. Do your best to maintain a comfortable uphill pace, but know that the majority of the next ten miles will be flat. The Taiko Drummers at the base will help you establish a pace and the huge crowd support lining the hill will pull you up the to the summit.
Mile 18: When entering the Lakewood neighborhood, you can see runners exiting and heading back onto North Ave. Knowing that so many people are so far ahead of you – and that much closer to finishing can be a mental set back. This is also when most runners’ legs start to tighten up, form starts to break down and people often start to bargain with themselves and give up on time goals. The terrain is pretty flat, but involves a lot of turns – which can be challenging on tired legs. The neighborhood support is great, as last year we were treated to sprinklers and little kids handing out freeze pops.
Mile 22: There is a sharp downhill and a quick, steep uphill leading you onto the bike path for the final stretch of the race. Beware of your quads or any IT Band problems as you traverse these inclines. Even though it is the final “section” of the course, it still feels a long way from the finish and there are fewer people cheering.
It is important to know your own strengths and weaknesses and familiarize yourself with the course in order to create a realistic race plan. If you are not confident with your course knowledge or your pacing abilities, KBVCM provides excellent pace leaders. They know the course very well and will make adjustments for the varying terrain to help you finish at your goal time.
Mentally prepare for what you anticipate will be your challenge miles and then just listen to your body on race day. Try to enjoy something about every mile of this exciting course!