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Getting Into the Swing of Spring

Written by Amy Miller O'Toole on . Posted in Outdoor Rec and Nature

Last time I blogged, I told you that I would update you from Hampton Beach and the Half at the Hamptons half-marathon. Alas, I had an unexpected change in plans. The race was cancelled, due to weather. A major storm was forecast (although it missed us). Boo. I was able to get my hotel rooms refunded, but not my race entry. I rarely, OK never, spend $75 on nothing. What a huge letdown.

I had been planning the weekend getaway for months. Vermont is the kind of place I rarely want to leave, and only do so with good reason. So I was seriously bummed to have to cancel. I know the race directors were under the gun and had to make a decision; I am so glad I was not in their shoes.

So my training continues for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon in May. I think the Hamptons race would have buoyed my spirits a bit, but I am trudging along nevertheless. This last weekend I did a 14-mile training run. I went to meet my trusty training friends for some Burlington Bike Path action. With no snow, we treated ourselves to capris, short sleeves and fresh breezes. It looks like maybe there is going to be some work done on the bike path? I hope so, I love running and biking on the local bike paths. I think they are very important assets to our communities.

I am looking forward to some longer runs, what I like to call adventure runs. We plan to do point-to-point runs: from Waterbury to Hyde Park or Hyde Park to Greensboro, for example. We get to see some pristine countryside close up. I try to wave a friendly “thanks” to drivers for getting over or slowing down. If it’s you I’m waving at, feel free to wave back!

I have some challenges coming up in addition to the marathon. I have a team of three co-workers for the Corporate Cup 5K. We are hoping to bring our A-game! Three years ago my team placed second; that was a huge accomplishment! My team this year, Lady Lancers, is ready for a race against Team Hyde Park PIE (led by my co-worker and former teammate). There is a lot of good natured smack talk! Fingers crossed for speed on the day. In the opposite direction, I have signed on to a team for the Green Mountain Relay, a 200-mile relay. We have a team of six, so it’s technically an ultra, with everybody running 28 to 40 miles. I have also signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in New York.

I hope your running and training is going well. It’s almost time to get out the sun block!

Two Weeks Down, 16 to Go for KeyBank Vermont City Marathon

Written by Amy Miller O'Toole on . Posted in Outdoor Rec and Nature

My running buddies and I wearing Skida hats. Skida is a local company that caters to the cross-country community and makes hats, headbands and scarves. I love the patterns and have gotten all my workmate/runner buddies one of these. I can’t recommend them enough. I have stayed warm enough in a Skida headband through this last cold spell. You should try one, you’ll be hard-pressed to ever run into anybody else wearing the same pattern.

Two weeks of training down, 16 weeks to go before the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. In the mean time, I can’t wait for the day that 12 miles seems like a cakewalk. It will come, but it seems a long way off right now. At this point, I am just trying to get through an easy nine — although it definitely makes training easier having co-workers who are friends to train with.

Coming up on my schedule is Half at the Hamptons. This is a half-marathon that starts in Hampton Beach, N.H., and meanders through some other little towns, finishing down a majestic couple of miles along the ocean. This will be my fourth year competing in this event, which is put on by Loco Running (they also put on the Stowe 8 Miler). Loco does some fun race partnering with Smuttynose Brewing for after-race revelry. To prepare, last weekend my training buddies and I did a nine-mile run. We ran the Stowe 8 Miler course plus an extra mile. After our run, we decided to try a new restaurant: Piecasso. The new addition at this Stowe favorite is beautiful. We opted for a couple of pizzas and drinks.

I have also signed up for a new challenge, the Green Mountain Relay, a 200-mile relay race being held in June. I have run in the 100 on 100 Relay the last two years (a race that covers 100 miles on Vermont Route 100) with my team, A Dozen Legs on the Lam. We run the costume stage of the race in lady prisoner costumes!

Half our team from 100 on 100, plus our devoted driver (my husband Tom) will be upping the ante from our past experience. Originally my friend Helen had started putting together the typical 12-person team, and I thought, ugh, 12 people, two vans, with long stretches — like 10 hours — between each leg or runner section. I sent her a message and said, why don’t we do the ultra, as in just six runners? And as a bonus, we could then put “ultra” after our name! I knew Helen could do it; she ran the Disney Goofy Challenge, which is a Saturday half-marathon, followed by a Sunday full marathon. She agreed, and we had a team. I must say that I’m a little nervous about all the night running, but hey, that’s also what a challenge is all about.

Well the running has been good, I wish I cold say more for skiing. Oh well, you can’t have it all, I suppose. Until next time. …

New Year, New Marathon Training

Written by Amy Miller O'Toole on . Posted in Outdoor Rec and Nature

Amy (in blue) and running buddies on the Stowe Recreation Path.

Well first, Happy New Year! I’ve been working on my resolution, have you? Man, that cold spell sure set me a twitter, -15 degrees is pretty cold. I think I wore more clothes then ever: a pair of pants, tights, sports bra, tank, long sleeve, short sleeve, sweatshirt, neck warmer, hat and ski socks. Brrr. My neck warmer froze in minutes from my breath. But we roughed out a couple of so-so miles before bagging the run.

How were your holidays? A friend Jess gave me a pair of arm warmers for Christmas. I have always wanted to try these, but I felt like only serious runners — people who win races — wear these! I told Jess, thanks for thinking I’m that fast and in the “winners” league, and thanks for the vote of confidence. I asked if now I had to win or maybe even place? She laughed. Nothing like a little friendly camaraderie or push. I’ll try Jess, I’ll try.

One of my favorite runs is the Stowe Rec Path. It’s just so easy, marked on the quarter mile, flat and close to home. But in the winter, its main function is cross-country skiing. Like I’ve said before, I try not to impede or anger motorists, so the Stowe path is perfect. On New Year’s Eve, my friends and I opted to park at the church in Stowe and run out the River Road to Moscow. It was close to five miles. We chatted about what we’d gotten for Christmas gifts. My big gifts were family Bash Badges to Smuggs, tickets for the three of us to Keane at the Flynn and undivided support for the Vermont City Marathon. This gift — support at the marathon — manifests as my friend Tom acting as photographer, Sherpa, driver and general weekly supporter for me and my co-runners. Thanks so much from us all Tom!

Finally finishing our run, we walked up to Frida’s for a salty margarita. Nothing like replacing those electrolytes! What, closed on New Year’s Eve? What are we to do? Well how about Mr. Pickwick’s Pub? This is the best place for a beer. We drank Trapps, lager, stout, and cider. Yum. Mr. Pickwick’s is such a great place and the finale for the Stowe 8 Miler, which is an awesome July race. The finish features beer and ice cream!

While I’ve been running, I’ve started plotting specific marathon training. Jan. 27 was the start. My partners and I are again going to try to balance life and running with the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program. We will up the 19-miler for another 20-miler. But this is the program I used last year and ran a 4:15. I think a whole year of training is worth more than a specific plan. My marathon times are 5:10 (VCM), 4:57 (Green Mountain Marathon five months later), 4:34 (VCM) and 4:15 (VCM). I have done the VCM each of the last three years, and my first, in 2010, was with 10 months of running. I had absolutely no base before that, as in zero running.

I think I am finally getting the hang of this and hope to have much fun training for and running in this year’s VCM.

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