When mile one is complete, I look at my watch to see how fast I am running. This allows me to dictate the tempo throughout the race. If the time is between, 7:30 and 8 minutes, that is a pretty comfortable pace for me over a long distance. The first mile was 7:52 on South Willard Street coming back towards Church Street.
Miles 2-7 were surprisingly fast (7:18, 7:19, 7:09, 7:14, 7:23, and 7:20) thinking I could keep that up for at least most of the race. Old North End (Route 127) which was a simple down and back segment of the course was where I had great endurance and strong level of confidence. Running through downtown Burlington was a surreal experience. Spectators cheering and holding up signs was very encouraging. Going down Church Street twice (mile 2 and 9) was awesome getting a high five from a drag queen. All the spectators throughout the course were awesome.
Miles 9-14 were pretty solid, not above an eight minute pace (7:51, 7:22, 7:42, 8:00, 7:46, and 7:59). The scenery was very nice passing through Oakledge Park and Redwood Park. Running on residential streets is always very nice and peaceful. Oakledge Park has a nice view of Lake Champlain and downtown Burlington. To my right was the Earth Clock designed by the Circles for Peace organization. Mile 14 and 15 brought the runners back through downtown again approaching Battery Street. I was thinking about that hill coming up and my pace began to slow.
One of the amazing sights I passed on my run, The Earth Clock
Once I hit the gradual Battery Street hill (miles 15-16), I hit the wall but still kept pushing. I knew if I walked on that hill, the rest of the race would be very difficult for me. For the remainder of the race, my pace started to increase close to nine minutes. Some of my paces were around 9:30. I was constantly stopping at all the water, Gatorade, and fruit stops to stay hydrated because it was getting humid out. Looking at my times, they were slightly better than anticipated.
It was crushing watching the 3:30 pace group leaders pass me at mile 18. As I approached the final stretch, I realized that running is not just about achieving a personal best. It is about enjoying the moment and realizing the accomplishment you are about to achieve. Running through the residential streets off of North Avenue was very fun as spectators lined their driveways with lawn chairs, sprinklers, and rock music. With all that music I heard on the course, I was not sure if I had a headache or more encouraged in my run.
Mile 22 could not come soon enough, the final stretch towards the finish and running along Lake Champlain under shaded trees. Even though my paces were very slow, the spectators helped me get through the race. I was filled with all different kinds of emotions. Did my mental focus suffer? possibly. I started to realize what I have accomplished in one year. My mind was telling me: Matt, you are about to finish your third marathon in three different states. You should be very proud of your achievements. Keep going and do your best. All I can do was keep running, enjoy the scenery, and learn from this race to help me prepare for my next one.
Approaching mile twenty-six, the finish line in sight, the crowds lined the barricades cheering all the runners on. It was quite a sight to experience hearing your name being called and giving you positive encouragement. Finishing in Waterfront Park in the grass was a nice relief after taking a beating from the asphalt. Monday afternoon, writing this post, my right foot is still really sore.
10:40 AM, the rewarding feeling of a medal being placed around your neck after 26.2 miles. This is what I look forward to after several months of training and preparation. Wow, Vermont was an amazing experience. Burlington was a heart-warming city.
Thank you very much to all the sponsors who helped make the event possible. Also, I'm grateful for all the medical staff and law enforcement who provided all the participants with a fun and safe race. All the volunteers were amazing being a part of the running community, even cheering us on throughout the course. All the bands and musicians lined along the course provided a pretty nice running soundtrack. All the photographers lined up throughout the course, how do I look? The aid, food and beverage, and the misting stations were very beneficial throughout the event. All the spectators that came out to cheer us on throughout the course, you were awesome and amazing. You might think you are not doing much for runners when actually you make a tremendous difference. One reason why I enjoy running long distance races. Burlington, you gave me an experience that I will never forget. Thank you for the memories.
With all my love and gratitude,