Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2016 Vermont City Marathon

What a difference a year makes. A completely different race and outcome, but I still walked out of there feeling the same way I did last year. Pretty fucking good! And I wasn't expecting that at all. A year later, my training was less focused. I'm 5 pounds heavier. I'm still not back to where I was speed-wise, and I'm not pain-free most of the time. My time was 12 minutes slower than last year. I was 9th woman instead of 4th. You'd think I was walking out of there feeling bummed out, but like I said before, I'm done with disappointment as long as I've given 100%. With the predicted temperatures in the 80s, I was able to prepare myself mentally by forgetting about my time and gave myself ONE major goal: finish in the top 3 masters. And that was going to be no easy task with the stacked masters field. But I did it. 2nd Masters Woman. Fuck yeah. I wasn't even expecting to finish top 10 overall, but going out and running a smart race was the key. I'll take that 3:07:33 happily on a day like that. Plus, I walked away with $400. Not too shabby either. I know my training after Boston leading up to VCM looked like shit, but it wasn't. All of those races I run that people call me crazy for doing are really what prepare me for the next race. Not those mid-week lackluster runs I did in between Boston and VCM. It was the racing that kept me on my toes.

Boston somewhat prepared me for the heat at VCM and reminded me that if I didn't change my goal BEFORE I started, then I was in for a deep hurt and possible DNF. That doesn't mean I wasn't nervous as hell going into it. Would running smart from the start get me to the finish line? I hoped so, but I struggle in the heat. Big time. In the end, it would affect me greatly and to the point where I questioned that I would finish with 2 miles to go. My nervousness was warranted. But I pulled it off, and I couldn't have asked for more from myself on that day. I had nothing left in the tank when I came through the finish line. With that all said, I guess I should start the recap. Haha. Following is the run down on the weekend, starting with Saturday, the race, post-race and Monday.

I woke up really early on Saturday since I wanted to be on the road by 9:30am. First thing, I got up, made coffee, put it in a travel mug then walked the dogs up and down Heavenly Hill. I would be leaving them behind with Bryan's dad taking them out, but he had to work two 16-hour shifts Saturday and Sunday, so they weren't going to be getting much in the way of exercise. I wanted them to at least get something in on Saturday before we left. I came back, showered and loaded up the car. I had to make sure John had everything he needed, too. I was at least relieved to have Melissa Garfield message me about taking John with her during the marathon. After my parents had to bail on coming up to be with John (my mom had to have emergency surgery to remove a rare form of cancer on her scalp), I was in a state of panic and stress. I threw out a Facebook request in hopes that someone out there in Facebook land would be going to VCM and willing to have John tag along with them during the race. I was actually shocked when I got a message from Melissa since I didn't know Matt, her husband, was running. It turned out that Matt was keeping his entry into VCM on the down-low, so I couldn't tell anyone he was running it. haha. This was perfect because Melissa was the one John had hung out with last year at Pack Monadnock, so they knew each other, and Melissa had offered to watch John anytime she wasn't racing and she was spectating. Such a relief. Took away some of the stress for sure.

With the warm weather, I felt like I packed half the amount of what I did in 2015. I didn't need any warm clothes. The only odd thing I did bring (just like I did last year) was my juicer. It's a pre-race ritual, so I wanted to stick to it. The drive over to Burlington wasn't bad, unless you count the rising temperature gauge in my car. By the time we got there, it was at 88 degrees. And it felt like it when we got out of the car at the Expo. I was thinking, "Oh my god. This is going to be awful," but for some reason, I had this all of a sudden strange optimism about my race. I even said to John, "I actually think I'm going to do well tomorrow." Power of positive thinking maybe? I don't know, but it was there. I still had doubts, and the nerves were kicking in, but something in the back of my mind was routing for me. Haha.

We went into the Expo, grabbing the free chocolates first thing. I love those Lake Champlain Chocolates. SO GOOD. John and I would make many passes by the chocolate bowl during our 2 hours at the Sheraton. I went right to bib pickup. I was curious to see my official bib # since the elite women's bibs are always different than the original assigned ones. Last year, I was F10, and the masters women started at F20, so I was expecting to open up the envelope and see F21 or F22. The shock when opened up the envelope to see I was F4!!! Oh my god!! It was cool that I got to be the number of what I had finished the previous year, but oh my god! F4!! No way would I come close to that in the 2016 field. I was a little embarrassed at first, but then I had to remember that it was pretty fucking cool to be given that honor. And I most certainly did my best to honor it!! (Whoa. I just got choked up writing that, by the way, and I'm not usually emotional like that, nor can I blame it on PMS. Haha. Must be one of my girly moments. Something about VCM brings out the emotions in me. Now, I'm wondering what's in those chocolates.)
I had John attempt to recreate the same photo as last year with the tree coming out of my head. Haha. Left:2015. Right:2016.
I love the VCM expo because it isn't too big and has just the right amount of stuff. We went to the LL Bean booth so John could spin the wheel for a prize. They also had a drawing for a $100 gift certificate by posting a photo of the LL Bean Shoe to Instagram. John wanted to do it, so I helped him download the Instagram app to his phone, thus creating a new Instagram junkie. I've gotten quite a few cute dog Instagram shares since. So funny.

Us in front of the shoe. He was still downloading Instagram when I took this.
 I sniffed out all of the free samples and of course the beer. Expos with beer rock.

14th Star Maple Breakfast Stout. It was so-so, but it was still BEER!
 After we had taken all of the free samples we could find, including more chocolates from a different table, and entering the Heady Topper raffle (which I didn't win, by the way. WTF), we went downstairs to the Invited Runners room to decorate my water bottles for the elite runners' tables that would be at six water stops along the course. I like to get down there earlier in the day before the small room gets crowded with runners. Like last year, it was just me and two other runners with their wives, so it was quiet. John helped me decorate. I did things a little differently than last year after learning 8oz Poland Spring bottles I used were too low on the table and hard to open while running. I finally had a way to get rid of all of those cheap plastic water bottles you get at events, so I brought those along and made high handles out of bring orange duct tape for each of them to grab easily. John helped decorate some of the bottles like he did last year. I had to really plan each stop well this time around with the heat. Last year, I just put Nuun in every bottle and had 3 gels taped to 3 bottles. The heat changed things. This year's bottles:

Mile 4.3- I decided to have just water in the first bottle since it would be out on the Beltline where we'd really start to feel the temperature, but with no relief from water hoses, etc. I wanted to have plain water to squirt over my head for about a mile. I taped a ziplock of with 3 Hammer Endurolyte tabs in it to the bottle.
Mile 9.3- Nuun in the bottle. Accel Gel
Mile 13.1- Nuun in the bottle. S-Cap attached in a bag
Mile 17.1- Tailwind in the bottle. Accel Gel and 3 Hammer Endurolyte tabs (I would fumble and drop two of the three during the race.)
Mile 20.9- Tailwind in the bottle. S-Cap and chia seeds attached
Mile 23.8- Tailwind in the bottle. Accel Gel.
It was really all a guessing game, and there are things I would do differently, but all in all, while I was out on the course, I think the placement of my water and fuel were pretty good.

You can see one of my bottles in the box by John. Bright orange handle. The key!
While we were there, I grabbed some food since I hadn't eaten anything other than samples. John helped himself to way too many cookies. I also had to some verification for the USATF in case I won prize money and sign the drug testing agreement. It was good to see the guys who take such good care of us invited athletes, like Lyman and Zeke. Such great people who provide us with such a nice program. They really go out of their way to make each one of us feel special, and it's so appreciated.

The day was becoming extremely rushed by this point and would end up going nonstop for the rest of the night. We left the Expo so we could go check into our hotel in Essex Junction, the Baymont Inn & Suites. We had been offered lodging in the dorm rooms by the race, but I had declined it since I knew my parents would be more comfortable in a hotel. Thank goodness I did because this hotel has the best pool ever! Such a good choice for John. With my parents no longer there, I was going to have to drag John around with me to everything. I felt really badly about it, too, but I made sure we discussed the weekend many times to prepare him for it. I told him that it was going to be a busy, stressful weekend that wasn't going to go how it was originally supposed to. I told him I had a lot of things to do that he would now be dragged to, but that I would do my best to make sure he got his time to do things. And, by golly, that pool saved me!! Haha! We had about 1.5 hours after checking in before we had to go back to the Sheraton for the Technical Race Meeting for the Invited Runners, so he went right to the pool. Had the coolest slide and it was salt water treated.

The meeting back at the Sheraton was short. Last year, I walked into a crowded room of elite runners feeling super intimidated. This year, I walked into a crowded room of elite runners feeling super intimidated. Haha. No change. I didn't even want to go all the way in the room, so I hung out in the back with Brenna, Eric's wife, for a few minutes before getting the nerve to venture to the only seats left...right down front. These people all looked like fast runners. I don't have that "look" exactly. And I probably outweighed all of the women by about 15 pounds. Once again, that feeling of, "I don't belong here." That thought that I was going to do well kind of went out the window especially when the topic of the weather forecast came up, and I started to feel stressed out. They explained the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature that they would be using throughout the race. This information had been provided in the Runner's Handbook, as well as in a formal announcement that VCM officials had put out on social media in the days leading up to the race. They didn't anticipate it going into the Black Flag temperature, but they warned us it could change, and sure enough, it all changed.

John and I met up with Amy Bernard and her husband, Rick, and Eric and Brenna at Pascolo's on Church St. It ended up being not so great. My meal was ok, and at least they had Hill Farmstead on tap, which I flaunted to the water drinkers at the table. I am so done with no drinking the night before a race. Doesn't seem to hurt as long as I stay hydrated. The food took forever, and John was so over being out and started to complain. The waitstaff was really nice and gave us free olives while we waited for our food. If it wasn't for the awesome beer I was having, I would have been really annoyed with how long it was taking. When the food finally came out, of course....Eric's meal was messed up. Instead of his parm on pasta, it was parm (if that's what you can call whatever that was) over a bed of kale. Haha. Poor Eric. I think I'm going to only refer to him as Bad Luck Eric from now on. Brenna agrees with this. I'm pretty sure all of those MBTA issues he has are only because he's there. Haha.

That's right. Look at that beer that no one else had but me!

Bad Luck Eric when he finally got his pasta 20 minutes later.
Oh! Oh! Speaking of Eric. A Facebook memory popped up in my feed from post-VCM 2015... Look at his glasses!!!!! So funny! Little did they know they would be held hostage at gunpoint a year later.

The glasses in Burlington 2015!
We finally made it back to the hotel right around 9pm. I was SOOO tired and the stress/nerves over the race were really getting to me. John wanted to go to the pool again, and even though, I had nothing ready yet for the morning, how I could I deny him that. I could barely keep my eyes open sitting in the poolside chair watching him. It was 10 by the time he got out. I think I finally went to bed at 11-something, but couldn't sleep. My mind wasn't just churning over the race in the morning, but also personal stuff that I was stressing over. I'm just never in a good place mentally the night before a marathon.

Race Day! I got up at 5am so that I had time to make coffee and eat breakfast and get all of my stuff together. My race day outfit was quick to change into since it pretty much consisted of nothing. Haha. Central Mass Striders sports bra, skirt (I picked the WRONG one for this day), Six03 visor, my favorite Balega socks and the funky Brooks Neuro shoes I wore at Boston. I decided to forego the post-race shower at On Track Fitness this time, so I didn't have to bring as much stuff with me. I packed John's backpack up for him since I wanted to let him sleep as long as possible. It was a little difficult getting him up, but I allowed for a few extra minutes of "getting John out of bed" time, so it wasn't an issue. Drove into town where it was super quiet. I parked on St Paul St south of Main so that I could get my car out easily after the race, and then we walked down to On Track Fitness where a quiet space and bathrooms are provided for the Invited Runners.
Goofy pic John took of me as we walked down

Posed pic John took
Once down at On Track, I still felt intimidated walking into that room of people, so I sat off to the side. Matt Pelletier gave John and me VCM tattoos to put on, so I decided to put mine on the left arm. John put his on his leg. They would both be completely smudged 4 hours later. Haha. I went to the bathroom and came out to find Melissa Garfield standing there with John. They had just happened upon On Track while Matt Garfield was looking for a bathroom and found John there. It was perfect since I wouldn't have to drag him up to the start and try to find them. Huge stress relief for me. I'm sure not many people have to worry about taking care of their kid right before the start of a marathon, so add that to the general pre-race nerves, and you can probably guess I was a bit on edge. Once I knew he was in good hands, I was ready to take the shuttle up to the start. When I walked outside, though, the predicted mostly cloudy morning was nowhere to be seen, and I quickly (and, thankfully!!) made the decision to rush back in and grab my sunglasses. I would race under bright sun until mile 22.

The van drove us up the hill where we were dropped off in the sea of other racers. A Marathonfoto person asked a few of walking near each other if we wanted a photo. I usually decline these, but thought why the fuck not and grabbed the three women closest to me for a photo.
Jessica Marlier, me, Caroline Martin and Liz Ryan. I didn't even know who I had grabbed for the photo until after I saw it. haha.

After the photo, I made a beeline for invited runner bathrooms. We share these with the official pacers, but they're still supposed to let us move ahead. I hate to pull that elite card like a snob, but when Amy Bernard showed up in line, she led the way to getting us in front. I grabbed gatorade, went back to the Invited Runners area and then went back to the bathroom again. Haha. By the time I was done, it was time for us to walk up to the start together, so we all gathered and were led up the hill to the starting line. Amy and I decided to start off together to keep each other at bay on the pace. We started off together with Diane Senecal in 2015, and the 3 of us ran that first mile way too fast. The goal was to be closer to 7:00 for the first mile. While lining up, two women wearing water bottle waist bands stepped in front of us. Amy and I were both thinking the same thing... that we should be in front of them, so we moved up, but when they moved us all forward after the handcyle start, we found ourselves behind water bottles again! Dammit. And wouldn't you know it, we actually got stuck behind them after turning the first corner. Haha. It actually took some maneuvering to get around them. We laughed about it later that we both saw water bottle waist belts as something we should be in front of. Couple of snobs. haha. Watch some sub-2:40 female blow past the two of us at Manchester wearing a water bottle waist belt while also giving us two middle fingers.

So Amy and I kept a good pace for the first mile in 6:56. Perfect. During that first mile, Charlie Bemis would catch up to us. He and Amy's husband were doing the Relay, so Charlie ran the first half with Amy, then Rick joined at the half and ran with Amy the rest of the way. How cool is that?!! We caught up to Dianna Chivakos just as we finished mile 1. Dianna and I would run together for almost the next 7 miles. This was Dianna's first marathon which had to be tough. These conditions were horrible for that, but we kept the pace easy enough so that we could talk. We talked for the entire time just until I lost her before mile 8. Our miles were decent and pretty much right where I wanted to be. Miles 3 and 4 were a little quick at 6:45 and 6:47 (which would have been too slow in 2015!), but as long as we kept a pace we could still talk at, I felt like we were playing it smart. At the first fluid table, I think Dianna, Amy (who was right behind us), Jenny Goswami and I were only ones left for the elites after seeing how few bottles were left on the first table. Filling my first bottle with just water was a good call. I drank a good amount and then put the rest over my head. Even though we were only in the Yellow Flag stage when we got on the Beltline, it felt much hotter being out there in the sun, so that water really cooled me down. I could see everyone in front of us just before we turned around. Some of the women already had the pain face on, and that was not a good sign. I had a feeling I would be passing some of them later on. I loved this section in 2015, but the temperature was just too warm this year to be enjoyable and it felt like it was rising rapidly. Sure enough, right around mile 7, the Red Flag had gone up. Shit was getting real. But I surprisingly felt good. I was right around 7:00/mi minutes for the all of the first 8 other than the two mentioned. It was perfect. I was getting into a groove. I pulled ahead of Dianna all of a sudden just before the 8 mark and would learn later that she dropped 2 miles later. Amy, Charlie, Jack Pilla and Aliza Lapierre passed me here and would stay just ahead of me in a group through mile 17 or so. I used Amy to pull me along the entire rest of the way. I could see her the whole time up until the very last mile.
First 10 miles

As we headed back through town, I spotted John in the sidelines waving to me. That was so exciting to see him (and dammit, just got choked up again writing that. Haha). I ended up pretty much alone and never really ran with any one person for more than a minute the rest of the way, but I did manage to stay right behind that group for a long time.

Running down Church St at Mile 9
After the course leaves Church St, it heads towards the south end of town. I admit that I don't love this section, so when we passed Queen City Brewery along the course, I wanted to just stop right there and have a cold beer. This was mile 10, and I was starting to really feel the heat on this long stretch in the open on Pine St. Fortunately, when we took a right, we had a slightly cool-ish breeze coming off the lake for the run through the neighborhood before it jumped on the bike path at the half. This is also when we really started to see the water hoses and sprinklers come out. Just like Boston 2012, I really don't think I would have finished if it weren't for those people doing that for us. Seriously. That's what saved me at Boston, and I firmly believe they saved me here. The only downside to being soaked with water was I realized my mistake in skirt choices. Haha. I chose the one I did because it's super lightweight and "airy", but that also meant that once soaked with water it became extremely heavy. So heavy that I was sporting a pretty good plumber's crack for about 16 miles. I kept trying to roll it up and fix it, but nothing I did worked. I finally just had to say Fuck It. This was also the point at which I put a good lead on my competitors in the Wet Sports Bra Contest. I dreaded seeing my race photos, but to my surprise, I had a lot of good ones!!

I crossed the half marathon in 1:31:26. That was exactly where I wanted to be. I knew I would run positive splits so I wasn't counting on a 3:02 finish, but for the first half it was literally right where I wanted to be. Not too fast and not too slow. Amy was about 15 yards in front of me here, so I watched Rick join her for the second half. Charlie left the course about a mile later when it got back on the road after the bike path. Jack and Aliza hung right there near Amy and Rick. This next section was new and had us going back up Pine St on a two-way. The people going out cheered me on, but I was already to the point of not being able to respond with anything other than a thumbs up. I didn't feel bad, but I was starting to get to that point where I needed to concentrate on what I was doing. The big hill to Battery Park was coming up. The big hill that I charged up last year now loomed in front of me. Like at Boston, I decided not to waste any energy on it since it would be the last real hill on the course and slowed the pace a bit. As I got to the top, I would see John again waving to me. It was awesome! I would run this .4 mile section 20 seconds slower than last year. Not too bad. I didn't know this at the time, but now that I see it, I'm pretty happy with the effort I made on it. I guess I cut it back exactly how I wanted to. Just at mile 16, I grabbed a huge handful of ice and shoved it in my sports bra. It lasted for 2 miles before it was all melted. Helped a lot. As much as I don't like the main road we are on for most of the next 6 miles, it's the point on the course in 2015 where I started to reel people in. And once again, it's exactly where I started to reel people in this year. I could see Amy catching and passing them, and so I kept pushing to do the same thing. Between mile 16 and 21, I passed 4 women, two of them masters. Which meant I had been running 4th master up until mile 18. I actually didn't know if there was another masters woman ahead of me or not, but I knew there definitely weren't 3 up there. This made me adamant not to let any masters woman pass me before the finish.
This is my favorite photo from the race. All I know is that it's between mile 17 and 22.
I was starting to feel the normal fatigue of the marathon. That combined with the heat slowed my pace down by about 15 seconds per mile through mile 22. I wasn't upset by this at all. I felt ok. I was passing people. Amy was still in sight. I had expected this to happen. It wasn't a surprise to be losing speed. At this point, I just wanted to finish.
Miles 11-21

I finally turned onto the bike path which meant just over 4 miles to the finish! I was hurting, but not too bad through mile 22. It started to cloud up right at this point, and the humidity shot up so much that it was noticeable. By mile 23, I was my pace had slowed significantly. The heat was starting to get to me. I felt like I had run a smart race, but I was just all of a sudden way too hot. That's when I realized there were no water hoses or sprinklers on the bike path. Those had been keeping me going, but now, there were none. I was losing it. Jenny Goswami passed me by at this point. She looked great. I was so impressed since she probably ran one of the smartest races of anyone that day. I think this motivated me a little bit, and I was able to bring the pace down again for mile 24, but mile 25 was probably the hardest mile for me the entire race. My pace shot up to 7:45. I was starting to feel really dizzy, and I questioned whether I was actually going to make it or not. I even weaved to one side on the bike path at one point. I was telling myself just to stay upright. Just stay upright and you'll finish. But I still kept thinking that I didn't want to get passed again. I started asking people if there was a woman behind me. Little did I know that Aliza Lapierre was gaining on me and would only finish 10 seconds back.

When I could finally see the opening ahead for the park, I knew I was going to make it. I saw the big finish line banner and felt so relieved...until I realized it wasn't the finish line! It was the exact same thing as a finish line banner, but it was off to the side. I wouldn't be the only one who wanted to cry when we realized that wasn't the finish. haha. The last .2 miles were excruciating. It felt like half a mile, but then there it was. The Finish Line. I was done. I was so done that I practically walked across the timing mat. 9th woman. 3:07:34.
The pain was real

Scott Mason's photo really captures the world of hurt I was in.
 As soon as I crossed the line, I could barely hold myself up. I was so dizzy. I was so out of it, but I think it was Lyman who came right over as I was bent over and being held up and said, "You did it!" as he put the 2nd Masters Female lanyard around my neck. I think I said, "Yes!" I started to move on with help, and they wanted me to go to the Med tent. I wasn't opposed to this at all since I thought I could definitely use some fluids. I was set to head down there when I turned to ask someone if they were about to do the awards. He said that it would be really soon. I did not want to miss that part. I earned that shit! So I told the woman who had been helping me that I was going to skip the Med Tent for now, but that I was an EMT, and I would know if I needed it. She helped me over to the Invited Runners area. Eric was on the ground icing his ankle with Brenna helping him. Amy came over with Rick. We all started talking race stuff. I pounded water and gatorade. As we sat there, we noticed the air was stifling. Like thick with humidity. The awards took a little longer to start, so by the time they did, it had probably been well over 1.5 hours since I had been sprayed by a hose. My skirt and sports bra were still completely soaked. And I mean drenched. Which meant the air was so humid that my clothes weren't drying at all.

The awards ceremony finally got underway. It was fun being interviewed. The guy kept moving the microphone away while I was trying to talk. That was probably my queue to shut up, but I kept putting my face back into it to finish what I had to say. haha. I just remember talking about tattoos and how I fizzled out in the last 4 miles.

I finally needed to make my way back to On Track where my phone was. I had forgotten to make an after plan for retrieving John. I wanted to get some food, but I couldn't figure out how to get in there, so I gave up and went by the Family Meeting Area just to check to see if they were there. I noticed people didn't seem to happy and thought it was probably just due to the heat. Little did I know that while I was sitting there at the awards area, the race had been halted! The Black Flag gone up around the 3:55 point of the race. Most of the somber faces were probably those people who had just come back to the finish area on buses. But I had no idea, and there I was walking around with my medal and award lanyard like an asshole. I didn't even find out the race had been cancelled until we were on our way back to the hotel. It didn't surprise me, though. The change in the air was noticeable.

I got back to On Track where it took about 20 minutes for my phone to come back on. I changed clothes while I waited, and then when the phone was ready, I got a message from John saying they were there at On Track. I went out to get him and thank Melissa for the help. I so, so, so very much appreciated it. Matt Garfield was there, and the first thing I said was, "Please tell me you finished this time." Haha. He did. 2:52. Obviously not his goal time, but after dropping out of Boston, he needed to finish this one.

John wanted a creamee, whatever the hell that is, so we walked to the ice cream cart by the Aquarium. The guy in front of us explained what a creamee was. Haha. Then began the slow walk UPHILL back to the car. It was so slow that John had finished his ice cream by the time we got to it. I stopped to get a pint of Ben&Jerry's then we went back to the hotel. John asked if I was ready to go swimming. Wait. What? Then I remembered that I promised I would swim with him in the pool after the race. Oh man. Swimming sounded awful since I just wanted to sleep. But I had to keep my word. I snarfed down the entire pint of ice cream then reluctantly got in the pool. OMG, best pool ever. It was the temperature of a tolerable hot tub. No chlorine. It was perfect. My legs were kind of sore from the race, so I just doggie paddled around. I even went down the slide once. haha. But, seriously, this pool!!! It felt amazing. I didn't want to get out of it. I think I was in there for 45 minutes. John was really excited to have me swimming with him since I can never swim with him. I hate cold water so much, and even though I can get in Conway Lake for maybe 10 minutes by mid-summer, I have to be swimming hard the whole time to stay warm. It really is a bummer because growing up in the South, I was always in the water. Lake, pool, ocean. That's probably the ONLY thing I loved about the South. We actually had a lot of fun just swimming around the pool together for once. It was nice. The only reason we got out was because a thunderstorm was rolling in, and I didn't want to be in the water during that. When I stepped out, my legs felt awesome. No soreness, no stiffness. It didn't even feel like I had run a marathon.

Once back in the room, my fellow racers/party-goers started the group messaging on where we were going for the night. John had time to use his computer while I showered and got dressed. Then I requested our Uber car to drive us to the Courtyard Marriott to meet Amy & Rick, Eric & Brenna, Charlie and Jose Ortiz. We had a drink, then moved on to find food. Well, every place was packed, surprise, surprise. We walked all around town looking for a place to eat.We found Scott Mason at Gryphon and added him to our group. The only place we could find with a table big enough for us was Ri Ra so that's where we landed.
Bar hopping with my kid. This is normal, right?

Amy walking in the rain

John on Church St

The Farmhouse

I managed to have three different Hill Farmsteads over the weekend

Crew at the Farmhouse

Crew at Ri Ra

Photo that Scott Mason took of John and me. The cement wall in the background blends in with my dress making it look like I have a huge gut. Haha.
 On our way to The Farmhouse after Ri Ra, we ran into Matt and Caitlyn Germain. We were on the sidewalk talking for over 20 minutes. I know this because John was keeping track and getting pretty annoyed. But if we hadn't stayed there, then this beautiful gem of a video would never have been made by Matt Germain. Click here! Someone please tell me to shut up! haha.

I had two beers at The Farmhouse and had to call it a night. John was SO done. It had been a LONG day for him, and he was a trooper! He did his fair share of complaining, but I think he still had fun for the most part that night. I requested our Uber car on the app, and literally, 45 seconds later, the car pulls up. Now, that's service. Haha. John crashed as soon as we got to the room. I hung on a little longer and then was out.

I was so excited to sleep in on Monday morning, but I get up at 5:30am every Monday, so guess what? I woke up right around 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. UGH!! I stayed in bed for two hours, though, before finally getting up and making coffee. We made it a super lazy morning but still managed to venture down for one last swim in the pool before check-out. I woke up with sore and stiff legs, but after our pool time, once again, my legs felt great. I was even able to run up the hotel stairs no problem.

We checked out and made a stop at the Beveridge Warehouse right down the road so I could grab some Vermont beers. We made a quick stop at the natural foods store, too, so I could grab some lunch; I had hardly eaten and was starving. Then we hit the road for home.

The drive seemed quick, but I made a stop in Bethlehem, NH so that we could take a short walk around The Rock Estate. It was a beautiful day, so I was surprised to find no one else there. We didn't walk far, but it was still nice.

The rest of the day was routine, except John had gymnastics instead of ninja. I must have been so tired because I don't even remember the rest of the evening. I don't even remember eating anything. I guess I drank some beer because according to Untappd, I checked in Happy Little Cloud by Simple Roots Brewing. Haha.

My Vermont weekend was over. I left there feeling pretty amazing. I had had some highs (the race) and lows (pre-race stress) while there, but the end result was awesome. I went out there and took that shit seriously. I ran a smart race. I hit my goal. My time would have sucked in a different race, but just like Boston, I was happy to have it. I was adamant not to leave there disappointed, and I didn't. And maybe all of this happy, happy, tears of joy, joy was just due to those chocolates. Off to place an order now!

I had a favorite song over the weekend that I couldn't stop playing. The violin part got me hooked.

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