Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vermont City Marathon Race Recap!

I have officially returned from my 5 year hiatus of road marathons after running Sunday at the Vermont City Marathon, in Burlington Vermont! Re-entry to the distance was very kind to me and I am very happy with how I did and the race experience was awesome!  Since being a teacher is a very busy profession I would have to say my training leading up to the race was very low key and not at the level where it should of or could of been so I really had to guess what kind of time I thought I was capable of running. Not to mention that my training and racing mindset has shifted greatly since because of doing so much trail running and racing, for me now it is not about each mile split and time but how I feel effort wise. On race day I decided to shoot to run a 3:15 time which is about 9 minutes slower then my PR so I figured it would be a fairly conservative pace run at. I was fortunate enough to have qualified for the preferred corral start so I didn't have the issue of being stampeded at the beginning with stir crazy runners although I do believe it made me start out a little too fast. Overall the whole race went fantastically! I was running closer to a 3:10 pace till about mile 19 until then rolling hills and neighborhoods caught up to me. I was sooo thankful for the abundance of aid stations throughout the course and for the aid stations people had set up in between in their driveways! I believe  it made all the difference in how I did since it was so warm, staying hydrated was crucial and I feel like I was able to do so.  The crowd support was incredible. My favorite stretches of the race are when we got to run up and down Church street in Burlington. It reminded me of running past Wesley College at Boston. So many people cheering! It really energized me! The sound tunnel affect brought goose bumps!

The last 4 miles or so were the toughest just because we were out of range of spectators and we were running on a long stretch of bike path. The last couple miles in a long distance race always seem to be the hardest just because you know you are so close to the finish  yet you just want to be done then! I was fortunate enough that I was able to run with a several different runners throughout the race to help pace myself, even if few words were spoken it helped to now that there was someone else right there. After eyeballing the finish line and the ginormous sea of spectators in the distance was the last little push I needed to have a strong run to the finish in a time of 3 hours and 14 minutes! Not a PR but it was faster then I was going for today! All in all it was a great race. The volunteers were amazing as was the crowd support! Can't wait for my next 26.2! Running a sub 3 hour time is next on my list of goals.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Letter L

L is for Long Trail!

I want to thru hike this rail sometime! I have hiked the stretches that lead to Camel's Hump and Mt. Mansfield...If I could only be a professional, full time hiker. that would be the life :-)

Vermont's "footpath in the wilderness"
The oldest long distance hiking trail in America

Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border as it crosses Vermont's highest peaks. It was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, which coincides with it for one hundred miles in the southern third of the state.

Although the Long Trail is known as Vermont's "footpath in the wilderness," its character may more accurately be described as backcountry. As it winds its way to Canada, the Trail climbs rugged peaks and passes pristine ponds, alpine bogs, hardwood forests and swift streams. The Long Trail is steep in some places, muddy in others, and rugged in most. Novice and expert alike will enjoy the varied terrain of the trail as it passes through the heart of Vermont's backwoods.

With its 273-mile footpath, 175 miles of side trails, and nearly 70 primitive shelters, the Long Trail offers endless hiking opportunities for the day hiker, weekend overnighter, and extended backpacker.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letter K

K is for Kale!!!

Eat More Kale! Kale has become one of my favorite vegetables since coming to Vermont! I liked it well enough before, but one day I was walking past a shop and saw the most awesome eggplant colored t-shirt that said 'Eat More Kale' and I was hooked! I went in and bought that shirt just because I thought it would be a very Vermontish thing to wear. The rest is history! Even Chik Fil A tried to get a piece of the action...but in the end just remember weather it is raw, steamed, fried, or baked.... Eat More Kale!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nature Noises

Went on an awesome hike on Sabbath. Took some really cool pictures. The SD card on my camera went crazy. Bye bye pictures. I will try to share with you the great details of my barefoot hiking adventure...through the description of the noises I heard whilst frolicking through the woods on yet another gorgeous Sabbath afternoon

Rustling leaves blowing in the wind....

Chirping crickets singing in the tall grassy fields.............

The distant hum of cars driving by on Rt. 2................

The babbling of the brooks...............

The gushing crash of water bouncing off and between the rocks

Sweet chirping of birds and their melodious songs............

Squelching of mud in between my toes.............

Buzzing mosquito's and other pesky insects..

The quiet pitter patter of bare feet on the smooth dirt floor of the forest....

The whirring of mountain bike wheels turning....

Tall grass swaying in the breeze

                           Through all of the peaceful 'noise' of the woods I believe one can hear God conducting a magnificent orchestra...an ensemble that is truly worth the extra time to stop and listen to

Letter J

J is for J Bar! *disclaimer* I didn't take this picture because sadly the SD card on my phone went bonkers and deleted the J-Bar pictures I had taken earlier....

J-Bar station at the mountainwe went skiing at this year!

Yes for  the J-Bar, every novice skier/Florida natives best friend! I think it is called the "J-Bar" because if its J shape. Very creative. I became very acquainted with this great skiing aid the first few times I hit the slopes this winter, mostly because I had to supervise kids but it also helped me to become more comfortable with my awesome skiing skills before going up on the the real chair lift! I am proud to say that I eventually did indeed ski from the very top of the mountain all the way to the bottom and lived to  write this post! I can still say that I much prefer the relatively FLAT terrain aspect CC skiing or even better, water skiing!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Letter I

I is for....

(Switching gears here and going for an I shaped picture...I couldn't think of anything "Vermontish" besides icecream and I already posted about icecream)

Spring flowers remind me of the letter I

                       These aren't shaped like the letter I but I thought they were pretty!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Letter H

H is for Hiking!! (One of my favorite parts of Vermont!)

Vermont has been prime territory for many hiking endeavours this year! I will highlight the most recent hike I went on this last weekend and that was climbing Vermont's tallest peak (4,395 feet), Mt. Mansfield. I learned that it is named Mansfield because if you view the mountain from the side it looks like the profile of a man's face. I tested this theory after I hiked it and with a little imagination I found this to be true. The different summits of the mountain include the forehead, nose, the lips, chin, and Adam's apple. According to wikipedia this is how the mountain was named:

The name comes from the dissolved town of Mansfield, Vermont, in which the mountain was located. It was common for settlers to name Vermont towns for their previous homes; several of the original grantees were from Mansfield, Connecticut, which in turn is known to have been named for Moses Mansfield, one of the chief landowners there. The Town of Mansfield was platted before anyone involved had visited the site; when it was surveyed, it was discovered to be mostly mountainside. Although a few hardy pioneers settled in the town's few lowlands, the town was dissolved by degrees, with the portion generally west of the mountain being annexed to Underhill in 1839, the eastern portion to Stowe in 1848 after a vote of the citizenry. The dividing line did not run exactly along the ridge of the mountain; thus, the Chin is in Underhill and the Nose in Stowe

It was an awesome hike! I wasn't exactly sure where the trail head was but thankfully I spotted a couple groups of hikers who were heading up the mountain as well! I asked them if I could join them and after a short debate whether we would compromise the leave no trace principals after discovering the trails were "closed" we decided to hike anyways and set off! The pace was very casual but it helped me to really take in the sights and get to know the other people I was hiking with. Most of the people in the group are avid dragon boat racers! There were incredible views all the way to the top and once we reached the summits I was very thankful for the thin jacket I had brought along to block out the gusty breezes! Here are a few pictures of our epic hiking adventure! (Photo Credit Jimmy Chan and yours truly!)

                               Once again showcasing my inability to jump!
                        We weren't the only rule breakers at least
                            Almost to the top! This is at Taft lodge

Letter G

G is for Granite

There is lots and lots of granite in this state.Barre, the town I live in is also the "granite capital of the world"

One "tourist spot" I heard about when I first moved to Vermont was the Hope Cemetery. I thought it was a strange thing to go tour a cemetary but I finally ended up discovering it while out on a run one day and was amazed by the art gallery of tombstones, which are all cut from 100% local Barre granite. Here are a few examples.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Joy in the Congo: A musical miracle

Watch the full video on 60 Minutes here!

Take a few minutes and watch this clip (watch the full 13 minutes actually). It is an amazing story! What is better then Africa and classical music then combining Africa and classical music!

Letter F

F is for 'Falls (Waterfalls!)

Yeah I could of thought of something else but I wanted a reason to post pictures of the awesome sights I saw this past weekend! It was a beautiful day to see waterfalls as well as hike up Vermont's tallest mountain, MT. Mansfield! I will post another blog post about the hike soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Letter E

E is for Ethan Allen

                                 A statue of EA in front of the Capital building in Montpelier

This guy, in short was a Revolutionary war hero and is a very prominent figure in Vermont history! Ethan was one of the main founders of the state of Vermont, had a club of men he named the Green mountain boys, and conquered Fort Ticonderoga! Gotta love state heros!

Letter D

D is for Dairy (I cheated, I didn't take these pictures!)

Yep Dairy. Vermont has lots and lots of cows (more cows then humans I have heard) and the dairy industry is very big here. Milk (hood, booth brothers) Cheese (Cabot), and of course ice cream are one of the biggest economies in Vermont. Not only does dairy provide many farmers with a way to live but the abundant supply of red barns, lush pastures with cows grazing, and dairy farms liter the Vermont country landscape and add in the perfect touch of quaintness to the already picturesque countryside! Read more about dairy here!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Letter C

C is for Covered Bridge!

There are many beautiful, unique, and historical covered bridges around this state. I have seen several while driving from place to place and it is always fun to add them to the list when I do spot a bridge! I feel that covered bridges add in perfectly to the quaint, country living picture that most of Vermont paints in my mind!  This website lists all the covered bridges in Vermont. I hope to see a few more before I leave. The 1st and 3rd photo are pictures of a local covered bridge right in town. The 2nd photo was taken during a school canoe trip down the Connecticut river back in September. That bridge is particular It is the longest wooden bridge in the US and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. I think this statement on a website dedicated to Vermont covered bridges says it perfectly:

 "this tour will take you back to a time when covered bridges were seen as a necessity rather than a quaint structure. Crossing a covered bridge is like entering a portal of time, transporting you back to the days of horse & buggy. Vermont's covered bridges span time and progress, linking more than just the opposite banks of a river or stream"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Letter B

If you are at all familiar with Vermont culture this picture would be an obvious letter 'b' choice.  What is one thing that Vermont is most known for? Ben and Jerry's of course! I snapped a quick picture at my local price chopper grocery store. This is one of the most common form to see B&J, in pints! I don't think I have a favorite, they are all good. I'm currently on a no ice cream fast since my marathon is coming up but I know that it is on my post race list of things to do, indulge in a yummy bowl or cone of Ben and Jerry's! We run right by one of the flagship shops on the course as well, I wonder if they will pass out samples during the race? :-)

Here is the run down on the history of Vermont's most tasty business!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Letter A

The "Aud"

AKA The Barre Municipal Auditiorum.

When i first moved to Vermont I always wondered what this building was used for. I heard about various events being held at the Aud and always thought it would be cool to see it myself. I got that chance this year during the 2 weeks of High School basketball playoffs. 3-4 nights a week I would walk the half mile from my apartment and go sit in the very energetic and spirited crowds to watch some basketball action. It was a fun way to relive my high school playing days. Even though I didn't know any of the players/teams I watched personally after being  referee all season I had been able to follow a few teams around so it was fun to see how they did in post season play! Half the time I sat in the "zebra balcony" with other fellow referees. Ever try watching a game with a ref? It is fun because contrary to popular belief by some, refs actually know the rules of basketball! The rest of the time I sat closer to the floor which offered just as much excitement. I usually would end up sitting with these two middle aged guys who were as into local basketball as you could get. They always saved me a seat even if I didn't end up sitting with them. They thought it was really neat that I was a ref and told me they expected to see me out on the floor reffing playoffs next season (wishful thinking :)

A-Z Photo Challenge: Vermont Life

Well I think blogging has become a habit now! After a few days off of writing I am ready to be back at it! This time I thought I would do something a little different. I have seen a few different photo challenges floating around so I thought I would give that a shot as well. The idea of this challenge is to take a picture (with only my cell phone camera!) of something related to each letter of the alphabet and I thought it would be neat to have a Vermont theme. I am still racking my brain for what X, Y, and Z may be but until then I hope you enjoy a first hand look into an A-Z look at Vermont living! Letter "A" Coming soon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tea Party!

A couple Sundays ago I had the honor to join the wonderful women in my church to an afternoon of tea and fellowship! Normally this kind of social gathering is not my 'cup of tea' but it turned out to be a really fun way to spend the afternoon after a great long run that morning! There was good music, beautiful hats and china galore, awesome scones and delightful CHOCOLATE, and a whole gym full of amazing, God fearing ladies, it was a real treat!