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Hat Trick

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

Amy O'Toole (in green) at the Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon.

I don’t know what it is about October, but there are just too many races to choose from, especially half-marathons. The half-marathon is my favorite distance. It’s long enough that I can get into the groove of the run, but not so long that it takes months of specific training. And it’s short enough that it doesn’t kill the entire weekend, but not so short that I really have to push that anaerobic threshold.

So some friends of mine and I signed up, and signed up and signed up for more. Lo and behold, one friend of mine, Jess, and I signed up for three this autumn, and we’re going for the hat trick.

(Random thought: I am a fitness runner. I run for fun. Sometimes I can run fast, sometimes not so much. I think of the three Fs: Fun, fitness and friends. Three is the lucky number.)

Race 1: Leaf Peepers brought to you by the Central Vermont Runners. You have to sign up for this in May because the half-marathon fills up. There is a 5K, but if you want to be hardcore, you have to take the most punishment. So we raced to sign up! The race was Oct. 7 and had a new starting location (which was great) at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury. The weather? Superb: a little cool but not rainy. Most runners were in shorts and T-shirts.

Amy (in green) at Leaf Peepers.

There’s always that nervousness at the beginning, especially at a bigger race, around where to line up. I usually pick about a third to halfway back of the pack, and I did so here. And then, we were off! Yeah, chip timing! The clock only starts when you actually cross the starting line, so you don’t have to worry about the time you spend getting to the finish line being counted against you. The pack of runners quickly spread out as we took off through Waterbury. It was a casually rolling hill course and an out-and-back, which can be fun because you get to cheer and high-five everybody, though sometimes I find these out-and-back courses tedious because of the repetitive terrain. We saw cows, horses and fabulous foliage all under the grandeur of Camels Hump. Three of my friends set personal records (PRs). It was a bit chilly after running and some coffee would have been nice while cheering in runners. Instead we then went to Waterbury Reservoir restaurant to celebrate. They have an awesome array of local beers, including my husband’s favorite, Hill Farmstead. I usually have some kind of reward for myself after a race to add to the adventure.

Race 2: I would normally not run half-marathons on back-to-back weekends, but one of my favorites is the Green Mountain Athletic Association’s Green Mountain Half-Marathon. They added the half to the marathon two years ago. Yeah! So I signed up. This race is in North Hero and runs along the lake and through some vineyards. This race had chip timing too. I think the vineyard should have a wine stop! (Just saying.) I woke up at 5 a.m. to start getting ready, and it was pouring and only about 40 degrees out. My husband had signed up and he was lamenting. He had even tried talking me into running the race on Saturday, as it was gorgeous and sunny. I replied this is not how you race. You gotta face it all. But that rain just made me want to stay in bed. Anyway, we persevered. No rain but very windy! Man, it was blow-you-over windy. I say you can deduct five minutes from your time … that windy. No PRs today, but a fun race with one of the best shirts (really, and this is important for some reason) and great soup, bagels and hot cider after. The prize for this race was a side trip to the Allenholm Orchard. My husband brews beer and is fermenting cider. They have unpasteurized cider for this project so he bought 6 gallons. While he was working on the cider purchase, I checked out their animals. They have a horse that when you feed her a treat, she sticks out her tongue! I was laughing so hard! I totally recommend meeting her.

I’ll be writing about my third October half-marathon in my next post. Wish me luck!

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