Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series about Amy Miller O’Toole’s attempt to run three half-marathons in one month. Read her first entry here.
I started running a little more than three years ago. I am not obsessive about times, but I like to know how far I have run. So I mapped a run from my house using the mobile app, Map My Run. I try to run either from home or work, limiting my use of a vehicle. I feel l like running can be done right out your front door and therefore, it has little impact on our environment.
When I started running, I began with a map from my house down the big hill, and it really is a big hill. The run was just less than three miles. I would try to run down the hill to the bridge which is about one mile. I then would take a break look at the water and continue on. My run then took me to the rail trail which has such large, loose stone that is nearly impossible to run on, so I would take a walk break for the 200 meters or so. This then took me to the other side of town and up another big hill into the village. It took me more than a month until I could run this hill, sometime still I walk it.
This loop quickly gave me courage to up my mileage. I had a four-day weekend looming, so I headed to Stowe to the rec path. This is easily marked in quarter-mile increments, my goal was five miles. My husband and I easily completed this so we turned around and ran six miles the following Monday. Oh also the rec path has no hills! So in keeping with my earlier philosophy I tried to find a six-mile loop from home. No problem, I can’t recommend Map My Run enough. This increase in mileage gave me hope for a race. So I looked on Cool Running for upcoming races, and found a half-marathon. In speaking with a veteran runner co-worker, she advised that I only needed to run about 10 miles before running a half-marathon. I felt like this was doable, so I signed up my husband and I for the Kingdom Challenge at the end of October. The race is a point-to-point from Lyndon to St. Johnsbury on mostly back roads, and the run affords stunning views. But how does one get to those views? Up three miles of hills! Hill, my most un-favorite four-letter word.
Last year I didn’t run this race, I ran the Shelbourne Fall Half. I was not happy with that race, we got reprimanded a lot with rules and regulations. So this year we went back to the Kingdom Challenge. The point-to-point adds an adventure aspect to the race. It is smaller about 300 people, mostly locals and Canadians. I ran this with a couple of co-workers and we had discussed that this was not going to be a fast race, so let’s just make it fun race. We ran together chatting away. At mile 10, I saw my husband in the distance. I always want to beat him as I train for these, and he can’t just get off the couch and come out and beat me. So we came to a rise in the final hill and I looked behind me at my trusty friends and decided I had to take off and catch him. So with a whoop of, “Tommy I’m going to catch you,” I was off. I got a friendly reply of, “Go get him Amy!”
I caught him at the last water stop and challenged him. He stayed with me for about a quarter of a mile and then started walking. Now I had the lead. We came to a descent over the interstate and he caught me again, only to quickly fade. The race ends with a predominant downhill so I picked it up, nervously glancing over my shoulder. As I rounded the last corner to the St. Johnsbury Academy, I heard a no more hills, my friend, Jacki was quickly approaching. She had beat me at the Leaf Peepers race and I really wanted to stay ahead of her, so I mustered the last of my energies and crossed the finish line a few seconds ahead of her. In quick succession, my friends and my husband finished. We were awarded with chocolate milk and some fantastic soup. I had chicken and rice with a Kalamata olive roll. Yum. The gym had lockers rooms to change out of our sweaty attire. We stuck around for the raffle but left empty handed. This is such a fun adventure, and I highly recommend the race. It is also very affordable and you get a great long sleeve tech shirt!
So this winds up my hat trick of half-marathons. My times slowed down for each one, whereas last year they went the other way. But I am happy with the effort. So in three years I have completed 16 half-marathons with more under two hours than over. I am now looking forward to a Turkey Trot to keep my race a month resolution going.