Four years ago I was an over-confident 16-year-old and I thought that if my dad could run a marathon I could too. I registered to run the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and promptly neglected my training until about a week before the race. My longest training run was ten miles, but I still showed up on race day and gave it my best shot. Proudly flying the American flag as a cape I finished in 5:37 and a tremendous amount of pain. This year I honestly believed that I had matured to the point where I could set a goal and work hard to achieve it, so I once again registered for the full marathon.
I purchased a high end pair of running shoes and set to training, running eight times over the course of two weeks. At this time I was working three jobs and attending Vermont Technical College for Fire Science, which as one can imagine did not leave a ton of time for training. Despite my strong start my running shoes soon started to collect dust as my busy schedule got in the way. Two weeks ago I made the decision to defer my registration until next year. However, I soon learned that I had not registered to have that option. My options at the time were to quit and be out the cost of registration, or to try and run a marathon with almost no training. Being the aforementioned mature 20-year-old that I am, I decided that I would run the marathon.
I soon found myself at the MVP Health Care Expo feeling nervous and hopeless as I picked up my bib packet. I felt that a slow painful death was sure to be mine on race day. After failing to find a wedding dress to run in, I decided to once again don the stars and stripes as I knew the crowd would help carry me to the finish. On race day, I made the hour drive north to Burlington with my father who was well prepared to complete his 14th marathon. Myself on the other hand was well prepared to lose my breakfast with the thought of running 26.2 miles.
While returning from a pre-race trip to the port-o-john, I realized that I had forgot my running shoes. I was crushed, the only shoes that I had with me were 8″ logging boots. I now believe that this was a last-ditch effort by my subconscious to get me to come to my senses. However, I was saved by SKIRACK, and I can not thank them enough. They had my exact shoe and size in stock, and with twenty minutes until the starting horn I purchased a brand new pair of Mizunos. I changed into my running clothes in the fitting room and ran to Battery Park so that I would not miss the start. I went directly to the back of the start chute as I was pretty certain that I was going to finish last.
With the sound of the horn, I started giving high-fives to everyone that I could find along the barricades lining the course. I even got to say hi to News channel 5′s, Tom Messner! If I wasn’t going to set a land speed record, I was at least going to have as much fun as possible and make sure that everyone else had a good time too. I felt surprisingly well running the first few miles and was joking with the crowd and my fellow runners. Around mile 5, I began to tire and slowed to a walk. My strategy from the get go was to run as much as possible, but keep a good pace while walking the rest. After all, I did want to beat my PR from 2010.
Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from posing for pictures with fans, cheering for the volunteers at every water stop, and generally having a great time. I walked most of the out-and-back section and by halfway I was not sure that I could go the distance. I told myself that I wanted to run Battery Hill, and I did with only one stop to give some love to a very enthusiastic group of fans, which still counts in my book. It wasn’t until mile 16 that I truly believed that I was going to make it. Around mile 20 I stopped at a barbecue and made some new friends who treated me to an ice cold beverage and a round of high-fives. After posing for a few more pictures I was back on my way.
Right around the time I reached the bike path, I felt a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot. I was no longer able to run, but I was still determined to walk to the finish. That was the hardest part of the whole race and at times I wanted to quit, but I kept going. Some awesome volunteers and fellow competitors cheered me on and soon I could hear the music from the finish line. The crowd in Waterfront Park bolstered my energy and I ran the last .2 miles, but not without some high-fives and dancing along the way. Am I foolish for not training for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon? Absolutely! Do I regret running it anyway? Not at all! The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is an awesome experience whether you are a fan, a runner, or a volunteer.
There is a true community feeling and that is what kept me going to the finish. I proved myself wrong and I had a blast doing it. You truly can do anything you set your mind to. With that said, please train for any type of physical challenge like this, for your own safety and well being!
So let me just say thank you. Thank you to my aunts for helping me get new shoes, thank you to SKIRACK for being open early, thank you to RunVermont for putting this race on, thank you to my family for supporting and encouraging me, thank you to the volunteers, fans, and runners, and thank you to the Fire, police, and EMS personnel on hand. And lastly just in-case you were wondering, I did beat my previous time by a whole ten minutes! Sure I could have finished quicker if I didn’t give so many high-fives, but where’s the fun in that?