Friday, July 24, 2009

Running the Green Mountains

Not every State’s nickname will immediately lead you to a correct picture of what you might expect to see there.

I mean, really – what might you expect to see in the “Natural” State of Arkansas? Or what “Old Line” are you supposed to see in Maryland? And how many of us have really seen that many Beehives in Utah? But there are some VERY aptly named exceptions – one of those being the site of our last run – the Green Mountain State of Vermont. Indeed, the State was covered with mountains – even REAL Mountains (from an eastern perspective) and all of them were green. It was a beautiful State, a very nice trip, a good race – and a place we know we need to get back to in the fall.

If you think of the postcard that is Vermont – you are not far off. We saw quaint villages with their white churches on the town common/green (to wit, St. Johnsbury). We saw the mountains, lakes and forests which, by the way, seem to cover the entire state.
We saw covered bridges, beautiful streams and waterfalls. We saw Vanderbilt estates (Shelburne Farms) above Lake Champlain and New York across the lake from a morning cruise. We even saw the alpine lodge established by the Von Trapps (after Sound of Music, of course), the corporate home and ice cream plant of Ben & Jerry’s, an Ivy League campus (Dartmouth) and Joseph Smith’s birthplace near Sharon. Yes – it’s a small state – but it packs a pretty good punch per square mile.

As for the race (Covered Bridges Half-Marathon, June 7th), it was the most highly-hyped run we have done. The 2000+ field of runners was full just over 30 minutes after registration opened six months ago. Needless to say, expectations were high. Almost too high. Don’t get me wrong; it was a pretty course in a very pretty area. It started at a small ski area near Pomfret and ran along the valley’s river through a covered bridge to the very picturesque town of Woodstock and then to the Quechee Gorge. There were a couple of hills along the route, but nothing overly serious. Both Karen and I had good times, with mine being about 20 seconds slower than my “Karen-era” PR, which I tied in May in Michigan.
So why “almost too high” you may be asking? Perhaps because of the scenery experienced in the days leading up to the race and because we didn’t get to run through half a dozen covered bridges. Not to mention the fact that there wasn’t a finisher’s medal presented (which certainly wasn’t because the registration fee was low), nor were the post-race victuals very good. Okay – perhaps I’m getting a bit greedy – but expectations are what they are. It certainly was a good trip – one which we thoroughly enjoyed with Karen’s Mom as our traveling companion and dedicated Rachel nanny.

As for the deep, philosophical thoughts (should that be your expectation) – would you settle for a couple of minor ones – worth thinking about the next time you shave? If so, I would just say that expectations are powerful. They color our experience and can influence our perspective – both positively and negatively. Be careful as they form in order to enjoy, appreciate and learn from every experience to the maximum extent possible.

Also – and tied to expectations – be careful how fast you start. You’ll seldom, if ever, see the winner fading at the end. Know thyself. Pace thyself. Don’t run out of gas before the course is finished.


Rachel's Mommy said...

Another great race and state. Good post! It seems like ages since we've run a race, but the reprieve will end very soon. Love you.

princess jen said...

What beautiful photos. I've never been to VT or to MI or WI. You're convincing me I need to travel more...

Bug said...

that looks like beautiful scenery daddy. good pictures!
and congrats on another race finished!
it was a lot of fun to see you the other day and play cards with you both! we miss seeing you guys!
anyway, love you lots! hope you're having fun in chicago!