48 Hours in Burlington – Eat up, drink up and watch the sunset

What can you do with two days in Burlington, Vermont? Besides of course running a marathon.

Well for one visit the Cabot Cheese Creamery for a factory tour and eat so many cheese samples that you’ll be good on cheese for weeks to come.

Burlington Cabot

Okay so technically it’s not in Burlington, it’s about 30 minutes away. But the drive from Boston is a long one so you’ll want to make a stop or two.

Our first stop was in Lincoln, NH at one of my favorite places Gypsy Cafe

Burlington Vermont Gypsy2

Burlington Vermont Gypsy

I got the Tuna steak, it was so big that I kinda just gave up on the bread.

After eating, then more eating at Cabot, we set up our tent, picked up our bibs, stopped by a corner store for wheat thins and wine and went abroad the Whistling Man Schooner for our sunset cruise on Lake Champlain.

Burlington shio

Burlington ship

Although it didn’t look that way, back in Burlington, it really was turning out to be a beautiful day.

Burlington ship 2

but then the clouds rolled in

Burlington ship 3

and things started to get a little scary

Burlington ship 4

and a whole lot more wet. It actually started to pour and get quite cold, so we cut the boat ride short and hightailed it to shore.

Back at the shore, it was still clear with a cloudy but beautiful view.

burlington scary sunset

Since wine a box of wheat thins is not a dinner for me, Tony and I went to Pho Hong because I was cold and really craving some pho!

burlington dinner 2

I got some spring rolls and a pho, Tony got a curry and everything was awesome.

After the marathon, the initial plan was to visit some breweries, but my marathon, finding the car and showering took all a little longer than planned so I had to pick one brewery to pick. I opted out of visiting Magic Hat and went for something a little smaller.

burlington beer

Four Quarters brewing just opened up tastings about 3-4 miles from downtown Burlington and although they currently have 6 brews on tap, they’re all light and tasty. I did try the Oyster one but it was a little to much for me. Number 2 was mt favorite! They also sell local honey, which we restocked on!

burlington marathon lunch

So marathon, plus beer equals a starving Liana! I really wanted to return to farm house tap and grill, but Tony said we should try something new, so I guess we should.

We decided to try out American Flatbread and got some pizza. I loved the way this was cut, that way I can eat all the yummy center and leave the crust pieces for Tony.

burlington tea

After lunch, or early dinner, we walked around with a stop to Dobra tea. I wholesomely believe that every city desperately needs a tea den like this one!!! Tony drank tea and I half napped, half nodded along.

burlington lake

After some tea, we walked around some more bike baths around Lake Champlain that I’m pretty sure I didn’t run on.

burlington lake2

And as you know, walking is exercise and exercise deserve reward so this

burlington creamy

And before driving back home, we watched our final Lake Champlain sunset.

burlington Sunset2

 

QOTD

Ever been to Burlington, VT?

Soft serve ice ream? What do you call it? They called it creamies in Vermont! I always called it soft serve.

Vermont City Marathon Race Report

Hi! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been traveling a bit, and at home I’ve been having some spotty wifi. Thanks Verizon Fios! Glad I’m paying you all $$$ to get limited wifi. Anyways end rant

It’s been two marathons and two weeks since my last update. I know I’m still behind on many race recaps, but I’ll follow a LIFO (last in, first out) approach to races because I rather have one fresh great recap and two slightly hazy memories than three hazy race recaps.

I’ve had Vermont City marathon on my calender since Christmas because it was one of my gifts. I was planning on making it a peak race and a PR race, but then I got into a dangerous world of weekly marathons. And while I still believe high mileage is the key to PRs (for me), high racing events takes a wear mentally and physically on me. What also didn’t help was that after my 50K, I was having some runner knee issues and pretty much took two weeks off running. Problem with the two week break is that I went straight into a marathon, a hilly one in Olympia, just to take a few days off again before going into Vermont. Needless to say, don’t do that if you’re looking for a PR.

So in three weeks, I covered about 80 miles, with three of them being marathons, two of them being very ugly time wise for me. I’ll get more into the race later.

Race Expo

So the first thing that makes Vermont City marathon so awesome is how late their expo is open. On the day before the race, I had until 7:00PM to grab my bib and they also offered race day pick up. Since, I no longer make a full weekend out of races, and sometimes traffic is a complete bummer, the later expo time was a huge plus to me. I went into the expo Saturday around 5:50PM and saw the usual expo stands, some food samples and the usual running expo fun. I didn’t linger too long, because Tony and I had an evening boat ride, but I was able to grab all our numbers and shirts and quickly scan over the booths within 5 minutes.

The swag back consisted of a chap stick, chocolate, soap (but only in one bag?), natural apple sauce, a cap, and our shirts. When I went to grab Tony’s shirt, they did run out of men’s mediums, but since he wasn’t running due to injury, I just grabbed a second women’s small for myself.

vermont shirt

I usually donate my race shirts, but between the memories and how soft it is, I’m keeping two of them!

Race Day

So we had our first AirBnB fail. We had a lovely studio on church street that got canceled a week before. My theory was the dude was airbnbing his place and when the landlord found out, he got kicked out. Being memorial day weekend, with a huge marathon, our lodging options were pretty depressing. We decided to camp at North Beach campground since our alternative of paying $250 a night for the Days Inn was not going to cut it. North beach is what they call an “Urban campground” basically you’re on top of each other in a dirt parking lot. Whatever, the weather was nice and we have a great looking tent.

Vermont Camping

I actually slept better than usual with the exception of an annoying group of women in tent next to us slamming car doors at midnight! Come on! They continued to annoy me with an early wake up call of door slamming as well. If I was a monkey, I would have thrown my feces at them. Instead, I grumbled and tried to assemble myself together.

The good part  of camping vs. hotel room, is that once you’re awake, it’s not really that comfortable lingering in a tent, so you get dressed and get going. I usually eat toast and peanut butter but since we had dinner at 9PM, I still felt insanely full so I just opted for peanut butter in one of those single serving JIFF things in the 3 minutes it took us to drive from the camp site to the race start.

vermont marathon start

I lost track of what number marathon this is, but every race day always feels like my first =)

The Course

When I first studied the course map, I found it a bit confusing and intimidating. I think since more than 5,000 of the 8,000 runners were participating in a 2-3 person relay, the design was so for the most part everyone can start and finish in the same area.

vermont map

I ran as a relay of one, but it seem like a great way to make team work a dream work.

vermont marathon course fog

The gun went off and I knew right away this wasn’t going to turn into a fast one. My legs felt dead and sun was already breaking through the humidity and fog. I think it was around 60 degrees. However, I loved watching the fog, and it was going to be a beautiful day.

vermont marathon course

I reached the halfway point around 1:55. At this point my strategy was to hang easy and steady. Slow running was better than slow walking.

I held about 8:12 average pace for the first 10 miles and then went through some major struggles as my body wasn’t used to running distance any more. I slowed to an average pace of about 10 minute miles for the rest of the race.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 26.2 we started going on and off this beautiful bikepath. While normally I would get cranky since I find them narrow and crowded,  this beautiful view of lake Champlain was only really accessible with the bike path so I loved it.

vermont hill

While the course has mild inclines and declines, there is technically one “hill” that goes on for about a mile. The photo doesn’t do exact justice, but it’s definitely a killer after mile 15. What’s cool is that they line it with Taiko drums!

drums

Totally loving how some of the drummers are rocking their bibs because they just ran part of the relay!

So I would like to say I ran the whole hill like everyone around me, but I didn’t! Instead, I took my time, and when I got to the end of it, I was rewarded with a downhill that I got to run on instead!!! One day I want to eat hills for breakfast, but not today.

vermont elevation

If I look at the elevation, it looks like there’s two hills, but I really don’t remember the one around mile 7-9.

vermont Residentual

Somewhere around mile 18 or 19 we ran through this little residential neighborhood where the roads sucked but everyone was all out and about with little kids cheering and make shift aid tables of fig newtons and watermelon and beads. I by passed the food but accepted some beads from a little girl and glammed myself up a bit for the final 7 miles.

If,  I had to guess, I would say I was feeling my best in the final 10K. Yes it was hot, yes I was barely breaking under 10 minute pace, but at this point nothing was bothering me. I had the finish line in sight and I found a nice dirt path on the side of the bike path that seemed to be agreeing with my legs a little more and I had this in my mouth

vermont icee

Or maybe I was so heat stroke, that I was in a new state of unawareness. Either way, I’d like to think I finished with a kick!

Finish Area

I guess if I had one complaint, it would be the finish area. I know they’re limited to the park, but I found it hard to navigate to the family meeting area due to the barricades they set up for crowd control. Maybe it was worse without them, but I got trapped in between crowds and couldn’t exit for a little while. I didn’t see much food, but it was hard to get around so maybe I just missed it. I grabbed a banana, a water and gave up trying to find the family meeting area and instead found a parking lot to meet up at instead.

The Runners, Spectators, Volunteers

What makes this race such a blast are all the participants from the runners, to the spectators to the volunteers. I think well more than half the runners around me where in the relay. This kept the course energetic and exciting, but also crowded. Despite that, I was felt pushed, spitted on, or any of the other annoyance I find sometimes when different distances are mixed in. The volunteers were all excited to be there. Sometimes when talking to random folks outside the race around Burlington, everyone loved to share their day whether they ran, screamed, volunteered and anything in between.

It was truly an event that everyone was participating in. It wasn’t Boston, but the excitement I felt around me, it might as well been.

vemront medal

Final Thoughts

I can’t say I feel truly happy with my time, but I don’t have anything to complain of either. It was such a beautiful day and I was doing one of favorite things in the world, running.

Plus how neat is this little infographic

Vermont Results

2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon Race Recap

The 2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon was held on May 4th, 2014. For the third weekend in a row I was running a back to back 5K race with a marathon or 50K race. Needless to say, it was all starting to catch up to me.

The full marathon started at 7:30AM and the half marathon at 8AM. Unlike 2013, this year my friend and I drove up the morning of the race. A 5:30AM wake up call was unpleasant, but the traffic-free drive was a lot better than the one I took mid day last year (at least as a passenger for me it was). I’m not sure what the original race registration fees were, but about a week before the race, a $25 off code was emailed out and I jumped on it Tuesday night so it was $75 for me. I can’t say no to a bargain ;). I wasn’t planning on running a marathon this weekend, but figured why not go for it.

Aside from some parking confusion (since the roads were closed around the starting area), number pick up was easy. Similarly to last year, they were out of my shirt size, so I just grabbed my bib, wished my friend running the half and bolted to the finish line. Except an hour drive and over hydration made me realize my bladder was a bit full. I looked at the bathroom lines and decided it wasn’t worth the wait and bolted to the starting line. And then I waited and waited and to no surprise, the race started about 10-15 minutes late. It wasn’t really a big deal for me since I had no expectations and the weather was warm, but I could see how in colder weather I would have been more cranky about a delayed start.

Once we started, I was feeling great. There was a light breeze and it was about 60 degrees. Last year, I played smart. Because I was running on tired legs (20 miles the day before), I started conservatively and kept a relatively steady pace. This year, I seemed to have forgotten my wisdom and busted out into 7-7:15 minute miles for the first 10K of the race. By the time the 10 mile marker arrived, I was running with the 3:15 pace group like an idiot because I was quickly beginning to fade.

Mile 10-17 were some of my least favorite miles. I was quickly losing speed, feeling hot and tired at the same time and very well aware of it. The water stations seemed to barely exist and what seemed flat on the elevation table and my 2013 memory, seemed to be a little bit more hillier. I’ve been taking salt tabs every 70 minutes but around mile 17, I decided to eat one of my hammer gels only to realize there was no water stop for the next two miles. Gross.

Mile 18-26 were physically the hardest miles of the race. At this point the wind picked up to 25 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH directly against the runners. At some point I felt like I was running in place. However, mentally, I would say I was in a much better mood than the 2nd third of the race. With less than 10 miles to go, I felt assurance that it will soon be over. I also pulled up some Nashville soundtrack songs and rocked out to myself in some slow and steady but happy pace.

When I started this race, I was hoping to run a BQ time, a sub 3:35. It wouldn’t be a PR, but I like to make an effort if I’m paying the race fee. Last year, I ran a 3:41 so anything below would be a course PR. With two miles left in the race, and the wind stronger than ever, I realized there was a very small chance of me making my cut-off. It sucked, but I accepted and took pride that if I keep running, I can PR on the course.

Cox Marathon Results

Time: 3:36:08

Place: 223/1372

Gender: 48/657

Division: 26/213

I came in a little over a minute too long of my goal but so happy to be out of the wind.

They had sandwiches at the end of the finish line, but it was in the runners only area and with me trying to hold a water bottle, trying to hold onto a sandwich was getting too complicated so I just passed on and went to look for my friend who ran the half marathon.

Cox Marathon

I was pleasantly surprised that the medal design was a little bit different from last year’s!

photo (12)

After cheering on more friends of friends, we went to the beer garden and enjoyed our midday Narragansett because nothing like beer on an empty stomach post marathon =).

Don’t worry, after resting in the sun, we did eventually walk over to Federal Hill for a very late brunch.

Cox Marathon Refuel

Julian’s had a little bit of a wait (40 minutes) but the food didn’t disappoint. I got a tofu/spinach/cauliflower scramble with a side of spinach and blue cheese ash that was good to the last bite. I was famished at this point.

To Summarize Pros & Cons of the Cox Providence Rhode Marathon

Pros

  • Flat(ish) course – There’s some hills but more than half of the miles is on a fairly flat road
  • Post race sandwiches
  • Separate medal designs for the half and full marathon
  • Day of race bib pick-up
  • Gu available at several aid stations

Cons

  • Sporadic water stations, sometime it was a mile apart, sometimes I swear I ran 5 miles without water
  • Confused volunteers, for example although a gel was available at a few stations, many of the volunteers had them in a box off to the side and many runners missed them
  • Shortage on t-shirt sizes – don’t ask me my size, if I am not getting it!
  • Roads open to cars – Parts of the course was on a bike path and some on the roads, most were open to traffic
  • Construction along the course- there were several piles of dirt along the course that blew into my face and mouth with the wind. I probably wasn’t very hungry after the race because I had quite a few mouthfuls of dirty!

Conclusion 

To be honest, this is one of my least favorite marathon courses. While I am really grateful to the volunteers, I don’t think they were well organized and the water stations and support wasn’t the best. I also think it’s a pretty expensive race (over $100 at full price) for a course that doesn’t close the roads, with boring shirt designs (same every year) that are not even in the correct size you request when registering.

As far as this race goes, I find the half marathon route a lot prettier, it’s hillier, but it’s prettier. The only advantage to do the marathon is an excuse to visit Providence, or if you’re trying to find a Spring BQ opportunity in the area, this is an easier course than most. Otherwise, if you’re trying to do 50 states and need Rhode Island, I prefer the Newport marathon in the fall instead.

Race Against Extinction 5K Race Report

As racing season is in full spring (pun intended), I’m slowly trying to catch up on all the race recaps. I got through Boston, and the TARC 50K, now I just owe you a Spring Classic 5K, a MEA 5K, Providence marathon and a small little race called the Georgia Marathon from way back in March.

The Boston Race Against Extinction 5K was held on Saturday, 11AM, on April 19th in Artesani Park just off the Charles River in the Boston/Brighton/Cambridge area. Proceeds will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. I don’t recall what race registration was because I was lucky enough to win an entry from The Perfect Fuel Chocolate, a local Boston company!

The 5K welcomed everyone from Cheetahs (experienced and first-time runners), Tortoises (walkers), Gazelles (inline skaters), Kangaroos (parents with strollers), Wolf Packs (runners or walkers with their pets)! and Sloths (those who cannot or will not be running, skating, walking or moving in general on April 19th but would like to support and help protect their fellow species!).

I wasn’t too sure how I would get there from Malden, but I found a bus that went from Sullivan square to Cleveland circle passing by Artseani Park (just a little tip for my fellow Northbound orange line friends). I gave myself about an hour to get there, but it only took about 30 minutes so after getting my bib number I met Miles and Nicholas (whom I actually met the week before at Yukan races) and fueled up on some chocolate pre-race.

Mark and Nick Perfect Fuel

and before I knew it, it was race time! The course was flat along the paved path around the river. I started out in my usual pattern way too fast and started to feel like lead by mile 3. It’s a good thing 5Ks are only 3 miles because if I had to run another mile, I would have thrown up.

photo 1 (14)As I was wrapping up the final mile, I saw Miles leaping forward as the green man. Having someone dash by you, only reminds you just how relative speed is. Luckily, only gender that dashed past me, was male and I got to win first place female! No tape to break sadly but I got to take this wonderful present home.

photo 2 (1)

My time for the 3.1 miles was 21:28 with a 7th place overall finish.

photo 1 (1)

I did feel a little disappointed about being 15 seconds slower per mile than my more recent 5Ks but I think a part of me tried to keep the race a little easy because I didn’t want to burn myself out in 3 miles, 2 days before the Boston Marathon.

Race WinnersFinish line photo with Miles (21:11), Ben (20:51) and second place female Rebecca (20:54)

There was no medal for finishing but I couldn’t believe all the finishing swag.

photo 3 (9)

photo 2 (13)

There was also a cap and a water bottle that I didn’t take because I already have a plenty of each at home.

I wasn’t very hungry post race since I had a fairly large breakfast (not sure why, but I fueled like I was running a marathon, two hefty toasts with a generous cover of peanut butter). However they had plenty of coconut water, protein shakes, bagels, cream cheese, chips, cookies and anything else you want post race.

So to summarize:

Pros

  • Flat Course
  • Best 5K swag ever
  • Great charity and overall vibe
  • Well marked and traffic free
  • 11AM start (I’m really not a morning person)
  • Plenty of parking
  • Plenty post race fuel

Cons

  • On an open bike path so you’re swirling around bikers, joggers, walkers and everyone else since the path is not closed off for race only
  • Limited public transportation to the race start

Overall it was a great race and a great alternative the BAA 5K if you’re looking for a final shake out before the Boston Marathon.

Five Things Friday

It’s Friday and the weekend in Boston is looking AHHHHH-Maze-Balls

1. I don’t know how, but somehow between my 50K Saturday and 5K Sunday this happened:

photo 4

Something about a sale ($25 off!) and my desire to collect marathon maniac stars let me go against my better judgement. Plus my friends are running and I’m out of excuses cause I’m on a marathon high.

Last year, I ran the Cox marathon after a 20 miler the day before. This year I’ll be running on tons of fatigue from back to back marathons and a cranky knee. Every time I run trails, my knee hurts and sadly Saturday jot in the woods is no different. It’s getting better, but I’m not fully back to racing yet.

2. Ever wonder what happens when you put a ton of peeps in a pot?

photo 1

Peepsocide and rice crispy treats afterwards!

3. Oh the gloomy weather….

photo 3

The weather all week has been rain, rain, and more blahness! Luckily, I’m so used to running in the rain, that I might as well be living in Seattle. Mud and rain, bring it on!

4. The new X-Men movie is coming out at the end of May

photo 2

So I’m catching up on some classic. And I seriously believe that since X-men the animated series, there has not been a better cartoon out there!

5. I’m back on the Oatmeal morning kick.. and I finding all these new fun hot cereals?

photo

 

QOTD

What are you up to this weekend?

Ever have Quinoa for breakfast?