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Posts Tagged ‘running’

Half-Marathon, Full Hat Trick

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

My friend and hat trick compadre, Jess.

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.

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!

Meet Guest Blogger Amy Miller O’Toole

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing you to several Vermonters who are going to be sharing what it’s like to live, work and play in Vermont. We selected these bloggers to represent a variety of ages, occupations, interests and in what part of the state they live. We’re still looking for a few more bloggers, so get in touch if you’re interested!

Meet Amy Miller O’Toole, an educator and runner:

In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing you to several Vermonters who are going to be sharing what it’s like to live, work and play in Vermont. We selected these bloggers to represent a variety of ages, occupations, locations and interests. We’re still looking for a few more bloggers, so get in touch if you’re interested!

Meet Amy Miller O’Toole, an educator and runner:

Well hello! My name is Amy Miller O’Toole. I will be 40 years old soon (along with my twin sister, who is especially dreading the big 40). I have lived in Vermont for more than 15 years. I was born in Davenport, Iowa, I have lived in Portland, Ore., and I moved to Vermont from Rock Island, Ill. The short story of why I moved to Vermont is a boy, a house and a desire to really learn how to ski. Sometimes my family members who live in Sacramento, Calif. and Seattle think I am crazy for living in Vermont, but I think they are crazy for not living here.

Since living in Vermont I have married and had a child and earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johnson State College. I have learned how to ski, played women’s soccer and started running. I have worked at Stowe Mountain Resort, Clearwater Sports, and finally started my career as an educator at Lamoille Union High School. I have worked as a special educator at LUHS for more than eight years. It is a job with rewards and sometimes exhaustion. Really I just try to make high school more fun for the students because I didn’t particularly like high school.

I live in Hyde Park Village and have the world’s shortest commute. Sometimes we can’t even listen to one song on our commute. We have been a one-car family for about five years. Students often ask if it is because we couldn’t afford a second car. I laughed and say no, it is environmental mostly. I commute with my daughter (a freshman) and my husband, who is also a special educator at the high school. And no, my husband and I enjoy working together and have for over five years. I guess we really like each other.

A little over three years ago, I looked down at myself and wondered what had become of my athleticism. At one point I had been a state champion cyclist in the road race and criterium. I wanted to reclaim some of that early glory. So I decided I had to get off the couch and do something. The easiest and least gear-centric thing to do was dust off an old pair of running shoes put on a pair of soccer shorts and try to run. That is where my current adventure started and continues to this day. I have completed four marathons and countless halfs, and 5ks, as well as myriad other distances. I’ll be writing about my running endeavors here, and I hope my story inspires more people to get out there!

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