Doin’ the dirt from Pie to Pie. The Kingdom Marathon.
On Saturday I turned 38 and on Sunday I was the women’s winner at the first annual Kingdom Marathon! What?!?! First place in a marathon. 26.2 (actually 26.5 miles in this race!) crazy hilly miles with a total ascent of 2,894 feet. Yikes! The true gift was the gorgeous scenery as we ran “From Pie to Pie” from Parker Wings in Newport, Vermont to Parker Pie in Glover, Vermont. My friend Joanna convinced me to sign up for this 26.2 mile dirt road running “adventure” pretty much at the last minute.That’s right, no specific marathon training plans were followed but I definitely had the miles under my belt to complete the distance.
At the last minute my friend Joanna to switch to biking the out and back option and wrangled Organic Runner Dad into biking it with her. The out and back option gave them a solid ride of about 43 miles and yes they too had to tackle the endless hills!
After they left on their bikes I still had a half an hour to get mentally prepared for the run and to figure out what I was going to wear. The day started out as a chilly blustery 45 degrees so I was hesitant to ditch my warm jacket but in the end decided to go with my original race day outfit because I knew I’d end up being too hot! This ended up being a great decision because they sun came out an with al of the hills I had to climb I was hot and sweaty!
This was the first year of the Kingdom Marathon and besides running the marathon you could also run a half marathon or a 17 miler or you could bike the marathon or ride 13 miles and I think there were relay options too (something for everyone!). I even heard some rumors that there might be horses on the course too?!?! I loved seeing all of the eager runners ready to tackle this new race. Some faces were familiar too which helped make for a fun race day atmosphere. I had convinced my friend Bob to run too and was hoping he wouldn’t hate me after running all of the hills on the course (apparently runners are like lemmings, any talk of a new cool race and we all just blindly follow each other into signing up for something totally new and crazy!)
Finally it was time to start. Everything was so relaxed some of us were almost ready to run the wrong way out of the driveway. This started the race of with some good laughs. I decided to treat this run with the mindset of a training run and to go out and have a great time. My friend Bob and I decided to run together and settled into a comfortable pace. I wasn’t to concerned about having a crazy pace because I knew the hills would get me and I might not come out standing on the other end if I attacked the course with a fast pace from the get go (remember how I talked about running 8:05-:8:25 pace . . . that plan flew out the window when I checked out the elevation profile of the race–2894 feet of elevation gain is no joke!). We ran and talked about running and racing and marveled at the spectacular Vermont countryside. The fall foliage was absolutely amazing especially when the sun came out from behind the clouds and set the leaves “on fire.” You couldn’t possibly pick a more perfect setting for a fall race! As we ran their were scenic sweeping landscapes dotted with farms and cows and views of the backside of lake Willoughby. I loved having a friend to run with because the miles passed much faster and we had the added benefit of his family cheering us on on the course!
The aid stations did not have volunteers at each one however they were well stocked with water and gatorade and many stations had bananas, Cliff bars and Louis Garneau Energy Gels. The bananas were definitely a perfect edition to my race day on course nutrition. I did run with my UltrAspire hydration pack to ensure that I would have enough nutrition and hydration on the course. At the Half Marathon mark of the race Bob and I hit 2 hours on the course which was great considering the monumental hills that we had already tackled! From about mile 2 to mile 5.68 the elevation climbed from 694 ft-1,291. We were definitely giving our legs some killer hill workouts on both the uphill and downhill (what goes up must come down!)
We continued on through Barton, Vermont and then headed back under the highway and up a monstrous hill. At this point Bob picked up his pace a bit and I continued to grind up the hills. It was awesome to have run together for around 16 miles because that left us with only ten miles to go. Ten miles is still along way but I was still feeling strong and ready to run. My strategy at this point was to stay steady, to keep even pacing on the uphills and to use the flats and downhills to lengthen out and relax. I tried not to focus on my watch and my splits and just ran.
The hills were rolling at this point and my legs were definitely starting to feel tighter as the miles continued on. After a long run on a scenic ridge the hill finally took me down and out to a turn around point with a fully stocked aid station and some great volunteers. At this point I think there were 6 miles left (about a 10K). Bob and I crossed paths as he left the turnaround. He looked strong and determined to achieve a sub-four hour finish time. Between 20 and 25 miles the hills kept coming, they were not quite as long but my body was starting to feel heavier so I was glad to see Joanna and Organic Runner Dad as they passed me in the car headed back to the finish line to wait for me (they had completed their bike ride in about 3:45). The cheering was just what I needed. I saw them one more time with two miles to go at an aid station where I guzzled down some water and ate a piece of banana. Then it was on to the finish!!!! Finally the uphills turned into a final descent and I stretched my legs out to take on the final miles. Organic Runner Dad ran back to cheer me on as I came to the finish.
My final result (unofficial) was 4:10 for 26.5 (and yes that extra .3 miles felt long!) with any average pace of 9:26 min/mile! Amazingly I surprised myself by being the first place female which had me feeling super proud! The prizes for the Kingdom Marathon were perfect–A Woodal (hand-carved wooden medal), a nice jug of Pure Vermont Maple Syrup (good thing too, as we just ran out at home!) and some homemade beef jerky (or possibly bear or moose). Since the race ended at Parker Pie we were treated to delicious wood-fired pizza and beer (although I can never stomach a beer after a marathon so I stuck to water) and we all celebrated our day together!
This was a crazy experience but you know what, I will probably do it again next year . . . thank you Joanna for convincing me to run! The views were amazing the atmosphere was low-key, the course was well marked and stocked with nutrition and hydration and the food at the end was perfect!
Now, I think I’ll be taking a few days off. Up next, The CHaD Hero Half Marathon in 3 weeks. Please take the time to check out my donation page. I’d love to have your support!
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