The Vermont City (half) Marathon is coming!
Just the half is crazy enough for this old man.
Signing up for the half marathon, splitting it with my friend John, seemed like a really pretty good idea at the time. He and I have been training. We got in some good long runs (for us!) on the weekends. I was training for the Syracuse Mountain Goat 10 Miler, which thankfully I just completed a week or two ago. If it’s possible a ten-mile race could be tougher than a marathon, well, let’s just say the Goat came close.
As the deadline loomed for a big price increase, John and I were texting back and forth, debating whether or not we should sign up. He said we should wait and just pay the extra money in a couple of weeks. But anyone who knows me knows I don't like to spend any extra money that I don't need to so I signed up.
It will be fun. I hope. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year. The race is always on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of runners and spectators will line the streets of Burlington for the big day. I've not missed one since I moved here back in 2004 and God willing, I'll continue to run them as long as I possibly can. I'm not sure I'll be crazy enough to sign up for the half marathon next year but I'll just concentrate on this one for now.
We’re a little over a week away now. People chat it up a bit more on social media. Signs will start popping up about street closures. The runners expo will open Friday night. I volunteer each year at the Information Booth and just love it. Many of the same volunteers show up year after year and the camaraderie is wonderful.
As we are the first table one sees as you enter the Expo, we direct people where to pick up packets and provide answers to their racecourse questions. This race draws people from outside Vermont and they need some reassurance of where to go and what to expect. We give them the answers.
As I live here, know the course well, and have run it every year, it’s fun to chat with runners from all over. Non-runners don’t want to hear about what injuries you’re suffering from or how your latest training runs were, but at the race, we get it. Tell us. We’re happy to listen, congratulate, and commiserate.
Dozens of local vendors join the Expo to sell all kinds of runner paraphernalia. It’s a runner’s paradise as we all want new and cooler running stuff. I always used to say that I loved running because all you need are good sneakers and a pair of shorts. But not so much anymore.
You need a GPS watch, hat or headband, wicking socks, ear buds, arm bands, sunglasses, iPhone belt to carry your phone, jellybeans for long runs, power bars, belt for water bottles, and of course, you need to wear the t-shirt from your last race.
Running is certainly different from when I first started some ninety years ago. When I came home from college each summer, there was a road race somewhere in Syracuse almost every other weekend. I never missed a 5K or 10K. I was young. I was running more miles in a week than I do in a month (or longer) now. But I'm still running and that's something.
As I worked my way up to longer distances, one year i decided I’d like to try a marathon. I had moved to New Hampshire for work after graduation and trained all summer long for the race at the end of September. The morning of the race came and the temperature was 30 degrees. Now back in those days you didn't have all the high tech equipment like you do now. I didn't have really cool wicking socks but what I did have was knee high cotton socks with racing stripes. If I didn't look cool, well…
I do remember being concerned about the cold and found an old pair of sweat socks to wear on my hands for the first half of the race. I came pretty close to the time I wanted but as most everyone does, I slowed down at the end. In those days, you didn't even get a T-shirt for finishing the race. And you definitely did not get a medal either. I do remember getting a certificate in the mail three weeks later officially stating that I had finished the race. It was quite the different running world back then.
Now when you run a marathon or even a half marathon, if you finish, you get a medal. Even most of the relay races that I've run recently have given medals to everyone who finishes. Okay so maybe I'm officially that ‘Get off of my lawn guy.’ Not really though. I think it's great that people receive a medal for not only challenging themselves but completing that challenge.
I think I'm seeing it even more so now as I'm older that it doesn't matter how fast you run or if you win the race, just that you train hard and finish what you set out to accomplish.
I'm probably not going to set anymore PR's in the near future but I will continue running as long as this old body holds out.