The Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon is arguably one of my favorite Spring Races that is put on by The Hartford Track Club but it is arguably one of those races that has been held on days with notoriously memorable weather.
It’s the kind of race where those who have run it always have war stories to recount. From the years of torrential downpours to the year the wind almost blew you sideways to the year that runner’s faced almost every type of precipitation in the span of 6.6 miles – this race has had its share of challenging race conditions.
BUT – I Love this race so it’s always a no brainer to sign up for it.
The Warm Up
Of course I had a plan for this race :).
As this is a two loop course (with a twisty hill on the 2nd and 4th mile) – I was challenged to run this race by threshold EFFORT not threshold PACE.
One of the keys for me pre-race (at least for me) is parking at the MDC and not using the shuttle bus that is available for those runner’s who decide to sleep in a bit. The race is at 10am so that means I am in the parking lot and eating my oatmeal at 8am.
I was lucky that this year the weather was downright glorious. Some clouds hung overhead when I arrived but as soon as I warmed up and headed to the port-a-potty the sun came out. I ended up having to head back to my car to drop off my jacket, gloves and arm warmers and grab my sunglasses.
And then – WE WERE OFF.
I headed up and around the first “mini” hill and settled into my pace. It took me a while to find my groove but unlike the Hartford 5k I ran several weeks ago – I did not let my “slow” uphill pace be a detriment to my mental state.
Up, around two reservoirs, down a hill for the first 5k, through the finish line and back out to the course again.
It’s the second loop that gets me every year and this year was no exception. As soon as I headed through the “finish” and back out on the course again my breathing became labored and I could not catch my breath. Dark thoughts (“you can stop”, “just walk up the hill and then you can start again”) entered my mind BUT I pushed them out and focused on calming my breath.
I also started to feel nauseous so that Honey Stinger Gel that I had with me went uneaten but I held it in my hand to try and draw my attention to how I was feeling.
Pushing through the final mile I headed through the finish – definitely ready for some water and an orange slice.
The Cool Down
I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch, grabbed an orange, did a quick check of the results AND THEN finished the workout which included some short, but quick, 45 second reps.
I circled back and did a more detailed look at the results AND GUESS WHAT – I came in 5th Female OA and 1st in my AG! The race director was nice enough to give me my AG swag so that I could do my cool down and head out. BOGO makes a great hat (I have won several at this event) so I was tickled to add another one to my collection!
I have run this race at least 5 times over the past 5 years so I did more of a deep dive of my times over that period. Here is how it shook out –
LOOK MA – A PR!
My times over the years have been anything but linear – a variety of factors have been at play during that time – fitness, injury, and weather but each year I show up.
As Coach said – Faster as a Mater.
I definitely don’t look like that in my pictures (honestly I rarely take an “un-ugly” race picture) but I DEFINITELY look like I am working hard.
Also – what am I doing in this picture – I really have to work on my peace sign pose.
I could not have asked for anything more last week during The Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon. The Hartford Track Club sure knows how to put on a first-rate event from beginning to end. (and some other *cough* race directors in the area could learn a thing or two).
And if I can be honest – the weather although a welcome and pleasant surprise might have spoiled me for next year – not that I am complaining in the least because regardless the hills I will be back next year!
Onward we go!