Colchester Half Marathon Recap – Oh ‘Dem Hills

Happy 2019 everyone!

I know – it’s been a bit since my last post (almost 4 months) but don’t worry I have been doing lots of things since October.

Coach has build back my mileage slowly, and with the exception of a 10k I ran “for fun” while I was traveling in London this past December, my race calendar has been silent.

That is not to say I have not been working toward my next goal – The Cheshire Half Marathon in April – and with the exception of 1 day I have completed all my runs OUTSIDE.

I had the Colchester Half Marathon on my radar for a couple of years, but whether it was the weather or injuries – I had yet to check this race (and town) off my list.

I am happy to say that I finally ran this race whose slogan is “Where No One is Really Over the Hill”.

I am going to try something different this year for my race recap posts – laying them out in Three Parts – The Warm Up, The Workout, and The Cooldown.  Not sure I will keep this going forward, but let’s see how it goes.

The Warm-Up

The Colchester Half Marathon is one of the first halves AND one of the most “bang for your buck” races in Connecticut.  I paid less than $15 (although I paid extra for this sweet shirt) and in return, I got one of the most well-organized races(large or small) I have ever attended.

Where else can you spend less than $20 and be offered pre & post race massages, showers, chip timing, a USTAF certified course, AND lunch in Bacon Academy’s cafeteria offering some of the most delicious post-race food.

Leading up to the race I had been upping my mileage and getting my quality workouts in – regardless of the weather.  I had done some hill workouts but since I had never run this race I really only could go by other “tales of woe” I had heard from friends and the running community.

BUT  I figured it would be a good test for me in a couple of ways – 

  • My Endurance- Up until Saturday, my longest easy run had been 90 minutes (10 miles).
  • My Nutrition – To be honest this is something I have struggled with for years, always waiting until it was too late to take a gel.  “Saving” calories has been a motto of mine for a while and I have come to realize that some of the races where I had nothing left in the tank was because I actually didn’t. In addition – dealing with IBD last year I was not sure how my stomach would react – but after MCM last fall I knew that my fuel of choice (Honey Stinger) wouldn’t fail me
  • My Mental Toughness – In addition to fueling issues, I also fell into a “this is hard, I can just walk a bit and regain my energy and plow on” mentality last year.  I trace it back to the Amica Ironhorse Half Marathon last June and after that, I just could not shake it.  So I knew that this race would be a great test of “pushing through”.

So after a after a hearty bowl of oatmeal, a 30 minute drive, and a 1.5 mile warm up – it was time to fly…up a hill..literally…

The Walk to the start of the Colchester Half Marathon

The Workout

I am not lying – the race started on a hill right by Bacon Academy.  I started in the middle of the pack and luckily they people around were about my pace – meaning not a lot of bobbing and weaving to settle in. 

This is not a race that you can run at a consistent pace – hello hills – but coach wanted me to attack the down hills and run by effort up the hills.

The other part of the plan was to fuel 100 calories every 30 minutes – such a difference from my “usual plan in which I would wait until mile 7 to take a gel – way too late!

Regardless of the hills – the course was absolutely beautiful – country roads (paved and unpaved), cows, horses, well-placed volunteers to make sure runners don’t get lost, and a wonderful “Candy Station” at mile 7.

I think one of the problems I had is that I took what people said about running the course and held it close to me – I was fearful after concurring one hill to not go “all out” on the downhill as I was unsure what awaited me around the next corner.

Don’t get me wrong – the 2 major hills were major, especially the last one at mile 12.  Granted my pace slowed down BUT I plowed ahead and DID NOT STOP regardless of how my quads were screaming at me to walk.

As for fueling – another victory.  One Honey Stinger (Chocolate) at the 35ish minute mark and another (Ginsing) at the 65ish minute mark. I was a big fan of the Honey Stinger gummies last year during MCM training but this was my first time trying out the gels.  My stomach handled them well – no stomach cramping or pain – which as someone who has Ulcerative Colitis is HUGE! 

I ended up crossing the finish at 1:49 and change – an 8:24 pace and considering the course and my mis-step with attacking the downhills – I ran about 5 minutes FASTER than I ran Amica last year (my first half of 2018) – so in that regard I will take this race as a WIN!

Solid work for the day!

The Cooldown

After chatting up some friends (and losing an earbud in the bushes – Womp, Womp) I headed inside for some of the best post-race food I have ever had the pleasure to eat.

Such a surprise to see these two at the finish!

There was something – literally for everyone – something that many races do not take into consideration.

Colchester Half Marathon Post-Race FOOD!

I get it race directions have a lot of balls to juggle so the fact that there were vegetarian AND vegan options was great.

I filled my plate with some of the best sweet potato casserole (I think), vegan chili, and possible a slice (or 2 of pizza) and sat down with other runners telling tales of woe, swapping “gear” recommendations and just being in the presence of like minded (abiet tired) people.

Soon though stiffness started to set in so I bid adeiu, headed back to my car and home a hot shower and my compression socks.

SO that’s a wrap – the first race recap of the season.  A great race because I learned a lot about myself and what I need to work on in the weeks and months ahead.

Onward we go!



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