Runners Of Vermont is an ongoing series here at the VTRunCo where we get to meet and start to get to know some of the amazing people that call Vermont home and share our affinity for running. So, sit back and enjoy. The people profiled here are the main reason Vermont is such a great place to live and run. Also, if you know someone that lives and runs in Vermont who you think should be profiled here… Let us know. We’d love to be introduced and give them the opportunity to share their perspective on Vermont’s running scene.
Name: Justin Geibel
Occupation: Co-Owner at Vermont Running Company
Location: Westford, VT
Hometown/Birthplace: Ipswich, MA
How did you first get involved in running and what was it that kept you coming back? Did you develop your habit easily, or was it something you had to work at?
Running was always a part of my life, but in the sense that athletics were always a part of my life, and running was a part of athletics. From a young age, soccer was my sport. I wanted to become the best soccer player I could be, and one of my biggest assets as a player was my fitness and endurance. As a student athlete at UVM, I certainly was not a standout in the national pool of Division I soccer players. I found my niche in the early morning fitness tests and track workouts.
Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why?
Besides competing against my teammates in a variety of torturous fitness tests, running races didn’t hit my radar until a few years after my soccer career ended and I was back in Vermont for Graduate school. One of my old teammates from UVM mentioned that he ran the Vermont City Marathon that year and had completed it in under 4 hours, despite having only gone for a handful of training runs. I thought, “well… I had always been a good runner among my soccer peers, how hard could a marathon be?” My first ever running race was the VMC in 2013. The experience of the training, the technical aspects, the struggles, and the satisfactions that came along with that race had me hooked.
After graduate school, my now-wife and I moved out to Colorado where we dove in to climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking, and all of those things that make Colorado so appealing. Soccer again became a big part of my life there, and my running again become more about maintaining fitness. Just last summer, we decided it was time to move back to Vermont and start our forever life. With that came the purchase of a home on a beautiful dirt road in Westford, new jobs, and a new commitment to getting back into running.
Since moving home, I have competed in a few races, and I am on track for my second go at the Vermont City. I have learned so much in the last year and I have set pretty lofty goals for myself. As I have started the process of trying to become a better runner I have learned so much about how I train and the mountain of things that I can do better/smarter.
Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?
So far my favorite part of getting back involved in the Vermont running scene is connecting with all of the great people involved, and places it brings you. One of my favorite races brought me as far as my back yard; The Rollin Irish Half Marathon goes directly by my front door at about mile 7. It is a hilly beast, but those hills have become my home turf, and its great when you can have a sip of your wife’s mimosa at mile 7.
Do you have a favorite distance…Why?
Right now my focus is to work towards going faster over the marathon distance. Its crazy how 26.2 starts becoming a “shorter distance,” as you talk to all of the bad-ass runners in this area, but I really want to try to find my potential at this distance. I hope to get in to some Ultra-distances soon but that is on the back burner for now.
Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont?
Besides the amazing trail runs on Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, some of my favorite runs are the simple ones. I have found some loops around my home in Westford that wind through beautiful dirt roads lined with pastures, forest, farms, sugar bushes, and quintessential Vermont character. Another go-to this past year working in Burlington was the Intervale/Ethan Allen Homestead loop that always reminds me what a cool town Burlington is.
Favorite piece of running gear you own?
I have amassed quite a collection of buffs, and I have found this simple article one of the most valuable and versatile that I own. From hot and sweaty summer days, to the coldest winter outings running or skiing, I have at least one of these babies with me at all times. Neck-warmer, sweat band, hat, rag, handkerchief… you name it, it works. *Shameless plug alert* I recommend you start your own collection with one of our exclusive VTRunCo buffs for sale in our online shop!
Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?
Although I have dabbled with a lot of different on-the-run nutrition options and have no particular loyalty, I do have a strict pre-run nutrition regiment; two ibuprofen and a handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans from Uncommon Ground!
What is the most valuable training lesson/tip/trick you have learned?
The hardest lesson I have had to learn is that training for a distance run is not like the training I have done my whole life as a soccer player. The mantra in most of athletics is the harder you push the more you gain, and “train like you play.” It has been a challenge for me to understand that I don’t need to be at or above my race-pace for every training run. Nor should I be shattered at the end of every run. When I can successfully complete a longer run at an appropriate “training pace” its not only more enjoyable but better for my overall progress and helps reduce injury risk. I’m still working on it!
Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?
The real rewards are the “guilt-free” burger and beer after a long effort. I would say the “guilt-full” burgers and beers still outnumber the “guilt-free” versions, but nobody is perfect right?
Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?
After spending a year working with the Catamount Trail Association on some great events, I am most excited for the Skimo season this winter. We have seen the excitement and enthusiasm for this niche sport grow here in Vermont. It’s a really fun compliment for runners of all abilities to get out there and stay in shape over the winter, and there are going to be some great opportunities for people to try out the sport, and compete in Vermont this winter. I am personally looking forward to participating in the Skimo Training Camp at Bolton Valley, and the Green Mountain Skimo Citizen Race Series.
Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/
You have already learned a bit about Greg Maino in his Runners of Vermont post, but this guy is more excited about getting out there and adventuring than anyone I have ever met. That, paired with him being one of the biggest gear geeks I have ever met, this guy can get anyone excited about running, hiking, fast-packing, and skiing in Vermont. It has been a fun experience so far, getting to know Greg and his family, and diving in to building VT Run Co. We are both really just kids who still think we should be able to “work” and “play” at the same time. So, a big shout-out to Greg for making his dreams a reality, and bringing me along for the ride. Onwards and Upwards!
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. Stay tuned for our next installment of Runners Of Vermont. Our goal is to post a new interview every week until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont! If you know someone that runs and they live in Vermont… Please connect them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.