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As a warm up for the Philadelphia Marathon in two weeks I ran the Field House Half Marathon in Shelburne, Vt. Shelburne is a small village four miles south of Burlington. It is known for the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, the Shelburne Museum which is a large rural property with period buildings, and Shelburne Farms which is a restored mansion converted to a luxury inn and also on a large property. The other thing Shelburne is known for are affluent million dollar homes with great views of Lake Champlain. The Field House is a local health club in it's first year of operation. In their short history they have attempted to put on a running race series in and around this beautiful village.<br><br>
Last year I ran a 15k race which ran on the second half of today's marathon course, so I knew it would be hilly. What I didn't know was that the first half would have some very tough hills too. As a tune up for my marathon I was hoping to run under 1:40 and not exhaust myself doing it.<br><br>
Prerace: Even with turning the clocks back I still slept late but made the forty minute drive and arrived 45 minutes before the start. They only had two volunteers to check in the runners so the line took a very long time. The race director announced that everybody could relax and that they would just start the race a bit late. I got checked in and was given a swag bag with a nice tech shirt and bottle of some very tart cherry juice. Then it was off to the rest room: it was nice for the start to be at a new health club as there were plenty of facilities for the small field of just under 200 runners.<br><br>
The weather was overcast, breezy and in the mid 30's. I decided on my red Adidas shorts with some boxer briefs underneath for warmth, a blue longsleeve Cool Max shirt with a cut off cotton tee on top, el cheapo gloves, a fleece headband and my yellow Mizuno Elixirs.<br><br>
Uh oh... this is shaping up to be a very long RR. It's time for some brevity. The race finally got under way at 8:30, thirty minutes late. Mile one was nearly flat and I started out at about 7:20 pace. The mile 1 marker didn't come until 8:24. I realized at this time that the markers were probably going to be haphazardly placed as so often happens at these small races. There were no chips either. I was kind of relieved to not have to be checking my splits and just run by feel instead. The small field spread out and then we came upon a couple of very steep hills. I maintained my pace and felt strong on the hills. My legs were pleasantly cold but the rest of me felt just barely warm, perfect for a fast run. As the mile markers passed they said I was running at 8:00 pace but I knew they were wrong and I had to be going faster. At around mile 8 the course went onto the Shelburne Farms grounds and meandered around the access road, some dirt roads and finally a winding cinder trail.<br><br>
Shelburne Farms tack barn (photo not from today):<br><img alt="" src="http://www.statusq.org/images/2005_07_1619_56_32.jpg" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
With the field being spread out as it was I made it a goal to not be passed and to try to reel in each person that I could see ahead of me. After 8 miles only one person passed me and I managed to slowly and steadily pass about six people. The course left Shelburne Farms and went onto pavement for a mile with a very steep uphill then it turned onto a recreation trail with views of Shelburne Bay.<br><br>
Shelburne Bay (another stock photo):<br><img alt="" src="http://www.vermontcommunityworks.org/cwoutreach/cwprofdvlp/cwinstitute/moreinstphotos/S-L%20institute%2005%20065.jpg" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
The rec path was winding and it climbed gradually for three miles before dumping out onto a flat paved road for the final .6 back to the Field House. I passed a woman at the exit of the path and kept up my surge to the finish. My time was 1:43:35. It was my slowest HM since January 2006 when I was recovering from a serious illness.<br><br>
So what happened? For one thing, the course was way long. One guy with a Garmin said it read .28 miles long. Another guy said his was .4 over. Then there were the hills. I figure by my perceived effort that I had an excellent run and would have been about :30 over my PR if it was flat and certified.<br><br>
I put on some warm clothes and waited around for a fellow Cool Runner named Laura. I saw her before the start. I regard her as my protege because I paced her to a sub 4:00 marathon at her first, VCM in 2005. She was in turn pacing a friend in her first HM. They came across the line around 2:15. I congratulated her friend and let the newbie know that the course was long and they're not all this hilly.<br><br>
Inside the club we were treated to the best post race meal I have ever experienced. Apparently a chef from Shelburne Farms had prepared the meal: cold rice salad with herbs and pomergranites, cold pasta salad with blue cheese, red cabbage salad with chopped winter squash and some sandwich pieces with ham, turkey and gruyere.<br><br>
I checked the race results and was suprised to see I got 3rd in my age group. I guess I was right about the course being very tough and long after all. Unfortunately the awards only went two deep in each AG. In summary I've realized that you can have fun at a race even if it is not fast, flat and certified. Small, scenic, friendly, and with great food is fun too!<br><br>
It looks like I'll have a good shot at a PR in Philly if I can only lose about 5 - 8 pounds. Sorry about the length of this.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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Nice job on 3rd AG Wu. GL on Philly.<br>
That spread at the end sounded great. Compensation for a stingy course maybe.<br>
jjj
 

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Nice, Walt! I thought about running in this, but work got in the way. It sounds like you had quite a good run <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> I never got around to checking the course using gmap, but I had planned to, so I could check the race profile. As hilly as it was, I'm just as glad I had a bunch of work to do. Sorry I missed the chance to see Laura again, though.
 
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