Vermont City Marathon

By now most of you know that my Vermont City Marathon experience did not go 100% as I expected it to go. I want to start by saying, it’s only a race…everyone has bad days….there are many more races to run in the future. A friend of mine (Mike Simonds) brought to my attention that it is okay to have “off” days and everyone has them. He also mentioned that another thing that has helped him keep things in perspective is thinking of people like Sarah Defren who lost her life at the Frederick Half Marathon. When you think of it like that it really is just a race and you should take some time to enjoy the fact that you are actually able to be out there doing it and working together with every single other person in the event. Another example, my wife’s grandmother (Nanny) has been sick over the past couple months and today, after my wife had been through the stress of hearing about me being in the medical tent and wondering if I was okay, she received a phone call from her father saying that it did not look good and she should come down to see her asap. Now, I’m in Vermont and my wife and kids went to go say goodbye to Nanny without me… It is also not normal for me to travel without my family and I miss them immensely! I love experiencing new places with them…

About the race:

After going out in 5:30 for the first mile I ran 5:11, 5:11, 5:07, 5:18 for the next four miles. My original goal was to run 5:17/mile and I definitely think that those early faster miles could have been a little “too” fast. I noticed I did not feel “right” as soon as 3 miles into the race. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was definitely a feeling of the pace not being right. In hindsight I should have probably gone out a little slower, but it sounds like the heat eventually got to everyone. By 10 miles I knew it was going to be a “long” day and I started to slow down significantly. I told myself that I was still going to finish the race as I had come all the way up to Burlington and did not want to let down the race organization, my family, and anyone else that was pulling for me. Unfortunately everything started to go downhill fairly quickly. 6:00/mile ended up being hard and eventually between 17 and 18 miles I almost blacked out twice. After the second time I almost blacked out I decided to try and continue running until I saw the next race official. When I eventually saw a race official I felt like very muscle in my body was cramping up….from my feet all the way up to my neck. I ended up sitting on the road with the help of the volunteer and they called for medics. I had expected a car or ATV to come and pick me up and take me to an “official” medic tent, but the local fire department paramedics ended up coming to get me. In hindsight I am glad they came as I was not doing well and had never felt that way before.

Now, of course I am trying to figure out what I did differently, why did it happen to me, how am I able to get in 20-30 miles in training and not have issues like this….. I can say that one main fact that stands out is in training I do not take any fuel. I complete almost every workout in a “fasted” state and only take in electrolytes and maybe some caffeine. I have to get over the fact of thinking that during the marathon I should take in carbohydrates and go crazy with carbo-loading in the days prior. I need to stick with what works. Sure I think it might be beneficial to take some carbs later in the race, but I need to stick with what works. In the future I am going to do that….and maybe carry a gel or two and use them late in the race when I actually feel like I need them…..

With all of that being said I do realize that it is just a race and that there will be many more opportunities to run races like Vermont City in the future. 

I also want to thank the organizers at Vermont City….Joe Connelly, Lyman Clark, Zeke Tucker, and all of the other wonderful volunteers for making it such a great experience for me. It is definitely a race that I would love to come back to in the future! I’m glad I had the opportunity to come up to Burlington and be part of such a great event!



7 thoughts on “Vermont City Marathon

  1. Mike Simonds

    After a disappointment like this, I think I would be motivated to go back and do it better the next year. If nothing else to prove it to myself that I can.
    Congrats on the new job, btw.

  2. Nate Jenkins

    Don’t beat yourself up too badly VT is a tough course with a lot of light rollers and a couple tough hills that can really take a surprising toll. I think you are right that a shorter cycle may have hurt you a bit. Overall I think your training was really quite good. The three small things I noticed were that, one, your last specific block was very close to the marathon. I wouldn’t do one inside the last three weeks. I know you had a short cycle but I would suggest one of canova’s 30k to 40k marathon specific progression or alternating pace workouts in the the last few weeks instead. Second your training loop for marathon specific stuff is very flat, which in terms of overall fitness is IDEAL, but in getting ready for VT where there is a ton of light rollers the first 20 milers this may have left you getting beat up more than you expected. If your regular training runs are very hilly ignore this one because that should be enough to counter the flat workouts. Finally a few of your specific workouts drifted towards being more half marathon than marathon. For example doing the reps at sub 5:00 pace in the PM session of specific blocks. In a shorter cycle that could have an impact. Anyway take it for what it is worth. Keep up the good work and keep tweaking things and you’ll really nail one sooner or later.
    Nate Jenkins(fellow canova marathon training enthusiast)

  3. Graham Peck (@gpeck89)


    I’m not a nutritionist or anything close to a health nut and don’t try to act like one. With that being said, I’ve got some practice on fueling for 2+ hour races so I’ll give my recommendation. Lately, both in training and racing, I’ve been eating those Powerbar energy blasts. I think they go down easier without water so they are more convenient than a gel. They are ~25 calories per gummy. I probably had 10 between miles 8-22 at Boston plus a gel somewhere in there. Gu chomps are the same sort of stuff. I’m a coffee addict so I tell myself I can handle the caffeinated versions but it is a fine line between getting a little extra boost and looking for a porta-pot stop!

    Got any plans for the fall? Your workouts across the board are significantly better than mine but the shorter the distance, the bigger that gap is. I might try your hand in a 1:04:59 half for a goal race.. then move back to a marathon the next season. But hey, life’s too short to not do what you want. Keep grinding at 26.2 if that’s what your heart desires!

    I speak for alot of folks when I say that reading your training blog is humbling and beneficial for us!

  4. RM

    Dave –
    As a person who has had numerous, numerous “bad days” (see: just about every Ironman I’ve entered), my two cents: don’t overthink it.
    Bad days happen, like you said. Have a bad 5k, do another next Sunday. Bad days are magnified in the marathon, because in a given year you have two, maybe three in you. Particularly when you’re trying to compete at your level. To Nate’s point, you put in a seriously hard workout day recently. 29 miles in two runs, that may have been your race right there. Separately you were able to recover and battle on. Even 20, 22 mile training runs – they’re not the marathon.
    There’s something different about the race week prep, the travel, the sleeping in a hotel, the food, the morning of, the pinning of a bib – all that stuff takes a different toll than just going out and cranking on your own.
    Like you, I have a tendency to not eat during long training efforts. On a hundred mile ride I may only take in 500-800 calories, which I can survive the ride on, but it’s the recovering afterwards. I’m certainly not saying the Canova-esque glycogen depletion runs are wrong, but I think it’s important to consider the effect it has on YOU. What works for Graham doesn’t work for me, and vice versa. If you need to consume calories during marathons, there’s no shame in that game. If you need it to come from liquid instead of solid, do it.
    Just my outside perspective, but you do a LOT of your training on the same routes, week in and week out. Everything is very controlled, you seem driven by what the data is telling you. What about the qualitative data? How are you feeling? I think some of the guys that use the NCR Trail for their long runs EVERY week are making a mistake, because it doesn’t have the feel of the road. And unless they’re racing on NCR, it’s too controlled.
    Again, ask 10 different people about training and you’ll get 10 different answers. I’m not saying I have the answer, because I can’t even run one mile as fast as your marathon pace right now. But, I do know that when things are stagnant, or results aren’t what I’m looking for, something has to change. We invest too much time and energy into it to not give ourselves the best chance at success. Change things up! Do workouts in some different places, challenge yourself with different workouts. Race a couple of low key events, shorter stuff – whatever.
    To quote Eminem, you’ve got the beat, all you need is the words.


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