Monday, August 29, 2016

Vermont Road Trip Report; August 28, 2016

Delayed flight out of IAH (which is becoming quite common, by the way, for United) and traffic coming through the Ted Williams Tunnel (down to one lane) put me at the Hampton Inn in Greenfield, Massachusetts at about 12:20 a.m. this morning.

I still got a solid night's sleep after getting a little shut-eye on the plane ride into Boston.

Out the door a little behind schedule and on the road by 7:50 a.m. to be able to drive into Vermont and make it to the race site - Whitingham, Vermont (the birthplace of Brigham Young) - by about 8:30 a.m.

As I made the drive off the road to the dam, you would have thought that they might have had to pump sunlight back in there.  :-)

Interestingly, the Harriman Dam, which we ran over and back at the beginning and the end of the race, was the largest earthen dam in the world at the completion of its construction in 1923.  The adjacent Glory Hole, which water runs down inside of to generate electricity, was not part of the course (but I parked right above it along the road and could see right down in it.)

The Best Dam Run and Walk in Vermont was produced by The Deerfield Valley Community Cares fund, which helps people with their heating expenses.  (I can only imagine what the winters are like up here.)

Volunteers with the local Deerfield Valley Rotary Club were very friendly.

I had bib #51 and I'm not sure that there were any more runners than that.

The description of the out-and-back race course was pretty spot on:  "The trail through the woods is well marked and relatively flat, so it is suitable to all types of runners and walkers."

But for Vermonters, it is relatively flat.

For flatlander Houstonians, it had a little character, especially in the middle, and some rocky spots.

And for the most part, it was really shaded, even though it got a little warm at the end (what else is new though after running for more than two hours in a summer month).

I was hoping for two hours, 30 minutes since I hadn't run 13 miles since mid-June in Michigan and not a lick since I left Lynchburg after Waverly and I ran a 10K one day and then 40 minutes the next.

My watch shows 2:46:20.  It is another state, though.

I talked to a couple of people while running the course.  One of them was an emergency medicine doctor who was pregnant.  Ran with her for most of the first four miles and she was right there with me at the turnaround as well as another woman who I found out later was doing her first half.

I have two more half marathons in (Pocatello) Idaho and (Ventura) California the next two weeks to get ready for the Virginia Ten Miler, which will be two weeks after that.

Mile 1 - 11:39.44
Mile 2 - 11:22.40
Mile 3 - 12:23.68
Mile 4 - 15:17.53 (where most of the character of the course was seen)
Mile 5 - 12:14.71
Mile 6 - 12:08.57
Mile 6-6.55 - 5:24.67 (not sure if this was right given how I had been running)
Mile 6.55-9 - 31:46.51 (which would have been 37:11.18 for three miles.)
Mile 10 - 14:34.67 (more of the character and a water stop)
Mile 11 - 14:03.37 (some cramping in the calves)
Mile 12 - 12:59.15
Last 1.1 - 12:25.61

It was a beautiful day.  The people that I spoke to were super friendly.  You couldn't have asked for a better race environment at a small race.

I drove over to Brattleboro and up Interstates 91 and 89 to beyond Montpelier and Barre to go north here to Stowe, Vermont for tomorrow's race up to the highest spot in Vermont.

Should be fun.  :-)

When I travel, I usually stay at either a Marriott or Hilton property.  Hotels in these parts during the summer are a little pricey – as I learned that Stowe has become as popular of a summer location as it is for its skiing in the winter time -- and I wanted to be able to clean up immediately after the race before I started the jaunt back to Logan Airport in Boston.

I stayed at a place called the Stowe Motel & Snowdrift.  It was two different properties that came together awhile back under one owner.  These were almost like small apartments as opposed to hotel rooms.  My unit was clean, comfortable, had air conditioning and hot water.  Pretty much meets my minimum qualifications.

After getting a really good bite to eat at this place called Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge, instead of putzing around the small town, I got to bed early – like at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

I needed it.  I got up at 6 a.m., but didn’t get out of the hotel until about 7:30 a.m.

I had scoped out the distance to the race site was about 10 minutes up Mountain Road, but the one thing that I didn’t gauge real well is that like where we live where there’s a convenience store every place you look – the one that there was – a family location – didn’t appear to be open.

I had grabbed a roll at the continental breakfast – and am glad that I had something in me, but I didn’t get a chance to eat it until about 8:30 a.m. before a 9:00 a.m. start.

The parking lot was “roughly ¼ mile” the directions said from the start and where packet pickup was.

Roughly, meaning that it was likely more than that.  I’d gather closer to a half mile and it was a long, steady incline along the road.  So up it twice and down once before the start.

The bib numbers went up to 500, I saw, and there was a mountain bike race that started at 10 a.m.

It was 4.3 miles to the top of Mount Mansfield and you had to get yourself back down – on foot.

I was thinking – and hoping – that it would take me a little more than an hour, but as we got into it – and it started to warm up, I realized that that projection was going to go by the wayside.

I think if I didn’t have to worry about getting back to Logan that evening and back here to Houston that I would have stayed and made it to the top; however, I was really fatigued.

I was never short of breath, but I stopped a number of times to just bend over, put my hands on my knees and breathe.

Mile 1 – 17:46.59
Mile 2 – 18:58.09
Mile 3 – 23:39.42 (this included stopping short, going down a little bit and then coming back to get to the marker and then calling it a day.)

Had I gone on, I would have been rushing everything the rest of the day.  The stress from all of that just wasn’t worth it.  I made my way back down the three miles.

People were very forgiving.  One guy said that it was six more miles of work than a lot of people would do that day.  But, honestly, I could really care less about what other people think.

I like to think I can do anything, whether or not I’m prepared for it.

I think that comes out of doing some of the other crazy stuff that I’ve done, including the Leadville Heavy Half, which was about the same gain in elevation but starting at 10,200 feet above sea level.  The bending over there was from the altitude.

I just thought it would be cool to do.  And it still was a good idea.

The drive back was fairly uneventful.  Although you get a little nervous when traffic backs up 40 miles out from the airport, which is just outside of downtown Boston, despite being in that spot four hours before your flight leaves.

Not sure how people live up there.  It just seems so much denser than even here in Houston with all the growth the past 15 years.

Once at the airport, the best part of anything:  my weekly Sunday call with Waverly.

She shared with me the highlights and the challenges of the week.  I’m so proud of her and excited for her and all she gets to experience.  I do my best to encourage her to do as much as she can handle.  I also know that she’s my very best supporter.  Our relationship is truly unique.  She still seeks my guidance as her earthly father, but we’re very good friends too.

So in closing the recap of the weekend, I’m writing here at home (and I won’t be able to post this until I get to the office in the morning), but the two devotionals that I’m in talk about the following:

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.” – Job 22:23.

John Hillman, a longtime friend of mine, wrote, “God assures us, too, that if we do wrong we can return to Him.  If we repent, ask His forgiveness, and concentrate on following His word, we will be restored.”

In some parts of my life, I’m doing that so it was an encouragement to read late Sunday evening as I get ready to go to bed.  We all learn this as young children in Sunday School, but we’re discouraged from the rough times in life where we try to go it on our own that it really isn’t real.

I know when I sin I fear being separated from God forever.

The other devotional is Tony Dungy’s “Uncommon Life” and for August 28, his verse selected was:

“Choose today whom you will serve … As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15.

Two really good paragraphs follow that speak a lot of truth to my situation currently.  Dungy wrote:

“Simply put, when times are good, when we’re flush with cash, or when our careers are going well, it’s easy to realize and embrace the truth that we are called to serve God and not things.  But what about when times are tight?  Who gets top priority then?”

“What about when you’ve just lost your job and you don’t know which way to turn, and when you’re sitting down to update your resume, your younger daughter asks for help with some homework?  What’s more important?  How about when you’ve been offered the opportunity you’ve been waiting for – a job with a big advancement and a larger salary – but it requires moving to another state just as your son begins his senior year in high school?  Not an easy call.  “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord?”  Right?  Easy?”

There’s been a lot of focus lately.  Trying to discern God and what my next steps should be.

I’m sorrowful to an extent that I haven’t done it more fully in my life and I want to strive to do it continually from here on out, not knowing how much longer God will allow me to live.

It wasn’t like I was intense or anything, but there was one time while running back from the turnaround to the finish on Saturday that I literally reached up to make sure my glasses were still on because it was as if I couldn’t feel them on my face.  I’ve never felt anything like that before, but it was a feeling of transcendence.

While I currently don’t want to disappoint God, I also want to be honorable to all of those who are praying for me in this time period of my life.  Why ask for people’s help and be unwilling to do your part as part of the entire process?  That’s being lazy and unthankful.

So I’ll try to do continue to do my best as well as I can each day.

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