Sunday, June 02, 2002

Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Race day! We got up early, wrapped and taped our assorted injuries, geared up and went downstairs for breakfast. We were glad to see that the promised cold front hadn't moved in yet, so we dressed in shorts, but stuffed some warmer gear into our bag just to be sure. I had a light breakfast-- just one cup of coffee, oatmeal and a little fruit. Dan, however, went for eggs and chorizo, making me wonder if trouble was in store for him later on, since it's generally a bad idea to eat heavy before a run.

We found the new parking area for the race, and hurried through a slight drizzle to the bus that would take us to the start area at Suicide Six ski area. We had over an hour to kill, so after we picked up our timing chips and race numbers, we hung out, watching the sky and debating whether the front was moving in and we should therefore dress for rain and cold, or whether things would clear and we should prepare for warm, sunny weather. Noticing that the clouds seemed to be clearing, we decided that the race would be warm and went sleeveless. With that decision made, we checked our bag, drank some water and did a little warm-up and stretching.

The race started late, 10:15. This was 15 minutes later than scheduled and several hours later than any Houston race would ever start. I easily kept to the goal pace I had set for myself for the first half of the race, but later began to feel my lack of training. I had pulled a tendon in my knee in April and missed my last month of training. On flat roads, the undertraining was almost inconsequential, but I sure felt it on the Vermont hills after mile six. I tried to just be glad my knee wasn't bothering me, and planned to pick up my pace after the infamous hill at mile 8. I walked the Mile 8 Mountain, along with nearly everyone else, but I lost nearly 2 minutes off my pace on that hill and couldn't summon the energy I needed to make up for it. At mile 10, I started noticing a little pain in my knee where I had been injured in April, so I contented myself with simply maintaining my pace until the last mile. It was too late to make my goal time, but I was still about 5 minutes faster than the year before, so I had to be satisfied with that.

During the last mile, the promised front began to move in. There was a little rain, but it quickly stopped, unlike the year before, when we got caught in a downpour. The temperatures, however, quickly dropped to around 60. This was great for running, but a bit chilly for wandering around the post-race area afterwards.

After I crossed the mats and got my chip removed, I picked up my shirt and bottle of water, and went to wait for Dan. He wasn't very far behind me, and I ran him in part of the way. Then we both made the rounds of the food tents, where I inhaled four rather large chocolate chip cookies without even trying. Dan wasn’t limping as much as I had expected he would, considering all the trouble his plantar fasciitis has given him in the past year, and he seemed in pretty good shape for a guy who had barely trained at all. He conservatively ate a bagel while I was involved with the cookies, and I admired his resolve.

Since the lines at the massage tent were unbelievably long for a race with only 2000 people, we decided to skip the free massages and caught the next bus back to the parking area. The previous year, everyone had parked in the post-race area, leading to huge traffic jams trying to leave. This year with parking accessible only via bus ride, things were much better. With only a single bus-load of people to contend with for parking lot egress, we were back on the road in no time. On the way back, we picked up some ice for Dan's plantar fasciitis, and debated whether we should go horseback riding that afternoon. I thought hiking the Brownsville trail up Mt. Ascutney would be more fun, but once we got back to the inn, showered, dressed, and had some tea and puff pastries set out by our hostess, we lost all interest in going out again any time soon and took a nap instead.

After we got up, we had more tea and perused some magazines in the parlor. Then we left for Hanover, NH, for Indian food. I had a delicious tandoori swordfish. After dinner, we went for a walk around the Dartmouth campus. We talked, as we had on other trips to New England, about moving to the region, and for some reason this year the idea didn't sound as impossible as it had on other occasions, although I still don't like the idea of living someplace that gets cold in the winter. We decided to suspend all judgment though, until we could make a winter trip to the area to see what it was really like.

We drove back to Brownsville, and once again sat outside and looked at the stars. It was colder than I generally like, but it was a clear night, and it seemed as if every star in the universe was right there in Kay's front yard.

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