Saturday, November 21, 2015

Race Report: Catamount Half Marathon

Welcome to Brattleboro!
My next race was a Sunday morning trot through the Green Mountain State of Vermont.  Being relatively close to New York, and accessible via Amtrak, I took a noon train from New York Penn Station, taking me to northward.  Regularly, the Ethan Allen line goes directly to Brattleboro, but there happened to be some construction going on along the line, so the train stopped in New Haven, and riders moved onto buses that took us through the rest of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and then into Southern Vermont - and I got off the bus in Brattleboro, VT around 5pm.

Oh man, these beers were strong...
My Airbnb for the weekend was in an old 19th Century house only a ten minute brisk walk from the train station (which happened to be right on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire).  I met up with my host, Calvin, and dropped off my bags, before I returned to the cute little downtown area to have dinner and drinks at one of the local haunts.  I ended up at Fireworks Restaurant for dinner, having a delicious pappardelle with a veal ragout, and then to the Whetstone Station Restaurantand Brewery, where I indulged in a Stone Imperial Russian Stout flight, with 4 oz pours with a very high 10.5% ABV... good Lord, those drinks were strong - I felt drunk after a few sips -- and I thought I'd be sweating out brown for the half the next day!

The start (and finish) at the Brattleboro Retreat
The shoulder of Route 30
I woke up bright and early for the race the next morning which was conveniently less than a five minute walk away from my accommodations, at the Brattleboro Retreat, a hospital founded in 1834 for mental health and addictions treatment, who was kind enough to let us use a portion of their grounds for the race.  As the few of us gathered to stretch and prepare for the run in the chilly high 40 degree weather (cold compared to what I had been running for the last several weeks!), we got ourselves on the course, and soon, were off on the shoulder of Vermont's Route 30, heading northward.  We ran alongside the West River (a tributary of the Connecticut River) over rolling hills toward the town of Dummerston, for approximately five miles.

The Iron Bridge

At mile 5, we crossed the Iron Bridge, then ran over some hilly gravel trails before crossing the West River again at the 6.5 mile mark, over the West Dummerston Covered Bridge, one of Vermont's famed and iconic covered bridges!  Since mile 4, there was a guy that I would play leapfrog with, and we would do the same as we ran back along Route 30 headed back toward the Brattleboro Retreat.  This would happen until mile 7, when I got a second wind and began to run mile splits nearly 30 seconds faster than I had been for the first six miles.  The last couple miles were the toughest, as we had to go uphill -- of course, it was easier at the beginning since it was downhill!  The guy I was leapfrogging with ended up passing me at mile 12.5 and soon, the finish line was in sight.

The West Dummerston Covered Bridge
Running through the covered bridge
Victory Headstand!

I crossed the finish line and my 13.1 miles in Vermont in 2:11:39.  While a small field, this was a fun race, run by the prolific New England race series, 3C Productions.  This, however, was a rescheduled date, as the original race, which was scheduled for mid July,  was cancelled less than a day before the race.  I don't know too much of the details about that race, but it's still unfortunate to hear of a race being cancelled so close to the start, and with not much information given as to why the race was being cancelled.  I'm glad I was able to get Vermont off my list, though, and allow it to fit into my schedule.  I headed back home on the Amtrak at around 12:30pm, and got home at a semi-decent hour for the first time in weeks!

The spoils of my Vermont race!

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