The Run Down - The RunVermont Blog

This Rookie’s Ramblings, #20: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

by justin on May 25, 2012 · 1 comment

in This Rookie's Ramblings (2012)

Congratulations to Jason C. who was selected to receive Justin’s play list.  (Actually, we had to draw twice. Brad, you won the first time around, but since you said “no, thanks” in your post we went for round 2.)

Simply put, it’s all over but the ___________ (fill in your own blank, I’m going with celebrating).

Eighteen weeks of roller coaster training is in the books – hundreds of miles have been run,

On Your Mark ...

thousands of minutes logged; all leading up to Sunday, Sunday, Sunday (said in Monster Truck commercial voice-over guy voice). At this point all that’s left is to get proper rest, hydrate and eat the right foods. And be full of anxiety and nerves.

I’ve been in full KeyBank Vermont City Marathon mode for a few days now. Words are spoken in my general vicinity, tasks are assigned to me at both home and work. Regrettably for them, anyone not engaging me in marathon talk may as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher; sorry, but it’s the truth. I know that sounds selfish, but my mind and body are in full marathon mode. This must be the Taper Madness others have been talking about.

In fact I’m so stir crazy I would have no problem writing this entire post as a 1,000 word run-on sentence. Instead of that, I will share my past 18 weeks of experience and my thoughts as I look ahead to Sunday.

In retrospect, this all happened so innocently back on November 11, 2011. I decided to run VCM, and agreed to share my experience through the RunVermont Rookie blog. As I review my previous 19 posts, I vividly recall the emotions I felt each week along the way. This space has been a great outlet to express myself, as well as a wonderful space to learn through the comments what others were going through. Thank you for reading and sharing.

Picking a plan proved to be the easiest part of this process, since anyone can write something down on paper.  Adhering to the plan wasn’t impossible, but it did present a variety of logistical and physical issues. I recall looking at Week 1 of the plan thinking, “What, I have to run eight miles in my first week! I’m never going to survive this.”

I am proud to announce that not only did I survive, but I feel like I have gained a new perspective on the challenges we all face in life. By believing in my plan and putting one foot in front of the other on approximately 80 training runs, I am ready for Sunday. At least my legs, lungs and mind are ready; I hope everything else falls into place.

I have the mental approach that Sunday represents a celebration of our training and the sacrifices made by us and those close to us who have had to endure our (at times, very selfish) pursuit.

To all, have a great Sunday and I look forward to seeing thousands of smiling faces.

Onto another topic. This space has allowed me to meet other Rookies, and allowed us to commiserate. To that end, I have asked three Rookies to share their thoughts with us. Their written contributions are below.

Guest Rookie Writer #1:

Holly Hutchins


Twitter: @tothemeantime

On January 23rd, I began my official marathon training with a Rest Day – thanks, Hal.  Eighteen weeks, 3 pairs of sneakers, 500+ miles, umpteen gallons of water, box loads of chocolate Gu, and countless hours of pounding pavement later, race weekend has finally arrived. It was no secret that my rookie marathon (and the training that went along with it) would require resiliency, mental toughness, physical determination, and a leap of faith, but I never imagined gaining the inner strength, confidence, and honest belief that I could do anything I set out to do.

This marathon has absolutely changed my life, and I haven’t even reached the Start line yet. I truly went into this process thinking that crossing the Finish line on May 27th would be the end of the race, but really, it’s just the beginning. Something crazy happened over the past several months; I actually fell in love with running. There are few other things in life I am willing to: 1. Set a 5am alarm clock for on a daily basis, 2. Run on snow and ice covered sidewalks in 30mph winds for (especially while the Plow Guy is looking at you like you’re a crazy person), 3. Give up a good chunk of my mid-20’s social life for, 4. Openly eat thousands of calories for in public (while the waiter wonders how the skinny girl just put everyone else at the table to shame), 5. And reinstate my 6th grade bedtime for (8pm – Thanks Mom & Dad).  Not to mention the really cute reflective vest, stylish headlamp, and fuel belt (AKA fanny pack).

You see, running a marathon isn’t just about race day; it’s about the process. It’s the commitment of mental capacity, physical stamina, and inner spirit. I can only imagine the different shades of emotion I will feel on Sunday, but I will embrace each of them as part of my incredible first journey to 26.2. The Vermont City Marathon has already changed my life in a profound way, and I am confident that it’s the first of many races to come that will. See you out there on Sunday!

Guest Rookie Writer #2:

Chris Villani

Host, Chris & Rich Show, Weekdays 4p-6p on 101.3 ESPN in Burlington, VT,

Twitter: @ChrisVillani44

For me, deciding to run in the Vermont City Marathon was a simple case of putting my money where my mouth is.  My co-worker and radio co-host, Rich Haskell, has run more than a dozen marathons, many of them to raise money for cancer research and other great causes.  After his time in the Minneapolis marathon was published and he was, shall we say, not among the race leaders, I poked a little fun and then said…well, let’s see if I can do better.

I’ve been into fitness for the past several years, and I didn’t go in with a specific training plan in mind.  I started by seeing whether I could run five miles, then built it up to 10, then a half marathon, and slowly up to several runs of 16-20 miles.  It wasn’t an easy process.  There were a lot of bumps along the way.  Figuring out how to hydrate as I ran was an obstacle, though I eventually learned to map out a couple of stores at which to stop along the way to buy water or Gatorade.  I learned that not all shirts are the same, and wearing the wrong kind can result in an irritating problem … pun intended.  I also learned about the challenge of running long distances in strange areas, having gotten lost in Connecticut and Long Island while running on business trips.

But I’ve come to enjoy it.  I tend to lose myself in long runs and think about anything and everything aside from the running itself.  As with any race, there are some nerves leading up to the day itself, maybe a few more uncertainties for a first-timer such as myself.  I’m hoping to run a strong race and finish the last 10 miles at a good pace.  Although I do have a time in mind, finishing strong is the goal.  Oh, and beating Rich!

Guest Rookie Writer #3:

Valeri Pappas

Twitter: @valeripappas

Going into race day, I feel what I assume are the normal first-time marathoner feelings: nervous, excited, impatient, ready.

On top of all that, I also feel incredibly lucky and grateful. The past few months have been some of the toughest I have faced due to a difficult set of circumstances in my personal life, and I wondered at first if taking on a rigorous training schedule was a mistake — if my plate was already full enough without adding one more obligation. Instead of a mistake, it has been the best decision I have made since transferring to UVM many moons ago. It gave me hours set aside without my phone (which is like an extension of my hand, I am ashamed to admit), away from work and family obligations to think, and sometimes more importantly for my high-strung personality, to not think. Training  gave me hours spent deep in conversation with running with my insightful and humorous training partner, Lauren, about everything and anything. Hitting the pavement during training gave me restful nights of sleep for a tired body (which I am realizing very acutely during this awful tapering period!). I feel better about how I look; my “skinny” clothes all fit.  Most of all, I feel confident and happy. I am so proud of the fact that I have been able to run 15, 17, 18, 19 and finally 20 miles.  Me, the non-athlete. I can’t believe my legs have carried me all those miles. After feeling lost and overwhelmed, and just, well, sad, my training gave me back me.

What surprised me the most about the process, is how much I looked forward to my long runs each week — they went better than my short runs typically and gave me the much-needed therapy I just described.  I experienced the runner’s high sometimes, and other times just felt really good during or the hours after my long runs (the chocolate milk was also a highlight).

So, back to nervous, excited, impatient, ready.  I’m looking forward to Sunday’s run, like I have my other “long” runs, but obviously with a lot more trepidation (I have to run a whole HOUR past my longest training run?!?!). My biggest goal this weekend, beyond crossing the finish, is to try to relax (realizing “try” and “relax” maybe don’t go together so well) and enjoy the experience.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ilona May 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

Wah wa Wah wa Wah GO JUSTIN GO!!! Wa Wah wa wa wah… Very nice article : )

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