Hartford Half Marathon Recap – The Run That Became a Race

hartford-half-marathon-1Every Columbus Day weekend for the past 6 years, I have run the Hartford Half Marathon.  It’s a great race and one that I look forward to every year.  I mean, I live about 10 minutes from the start line, so I love the fact that I can sleep in and still make it to the start line with time to kill.

Just coming off racing the Lehigh Marathon several weeks prior (read my race recap here), I am still in the “recovery” mode.  I am still running, but my mileage has been reduced and all my runs have been easy.

However, I had discussed running the Hartford Half Marathon with Coach James, and because he knew how special this race was to me, he gave his blessing.  When people would ask, I would say I was running 13.1 miles for “fun” – something only a runner would say with a straight face.

I was not overly concerned about completing the distance, as I had a good base to work off of, but I was not sure how “fast” I would be able to run.  Coach James did not want me to “race” it (that he made perfectly clear) but enjoy it for what it is – a chance to run in Hartford, surrounded by my fellow running friends.  Whether running the 5k, half marathon or full marathon, this event is one of the few times during the year when a majority of my running friends come together for one race.

The week leading up to the race – I continued to run easy.  Overall I felt good, but had been dealing with some piriformis soreness that I just could not quiet down.hartford-half-marathon-2

The morning of the race, I, along with Mark – were up early, found parking easily and headed to the start line.  We stopped along the way to catch up with friends whom I had not seen “in person” for a while.  Because I was lucky enough to have “qualified” for seeding with my Amica Half Marathon time this past June, I made sure I took advantage of this and got myself into the corral well before the “masses” lined up at the start.

Standing in the corral and getting ready to run 13.1 miles for fun, I was joined by two fellow female runners whom I have know (and run with) for several years.  Talking with them and being surrounded by all the other runners, energized me.hartford-half-marathon-3

After a gorgeous opening ceremony and a quick good luck to those around me – we were off.

I want to say that I listened to what Coach James and I discussed, with regards to my “run” plan BUT  to be honest I got caught up in the excitement.  As I made my way to the corral before the race, I decided to run by feel.

It was not until Mile 3 when I decided to look at my watch to check my pace.  I did not see any of the pacing groups around, so I really did not have any idea of how, I was doing until that point. I looked down at my Garmin and realized that I was running about an 8:05 pace AND I felt good.

SO, I decided (probably not one of my best ideas) to hold on to the pace for as long as felt comfortable and back off as soon as I felt fatigued.

I have run this course for the past 6 years, so I know it pretty well.  It’s a relatively challenging course with some hills, but nothing so steep one way or the other.  I continued to run consistent splits, as I made my way through West Hartford and back to the Bushnell Park.

I held up pretty well, until about mile 10.5, when the fatigue started to set in.  At that point I was really, really glad I decided to not switch and run the Full Marathon, something I really had my heart set on after my less than stellar Lehigh Marathon.

On the final straight away – which brings you up Farmington Avenue and finally through the arch at Bushnell Park – I struggled.  I really wanted to stop and walk but I kept telling myself that I just needed to keep moving regardless of how fast or slow I was going.

Past Union Station and through the arch, I was glad to cross the finish line and finally stop running.  I walked through the finish, grabbed some water, saw my Coach (whom was proud of me but also chastised me for my pace – two things I knew would happen), and headed to grab my medal.hartford-half-marathon

Mark and my mom were waiting for me as I headed out of the finishers chute.  I was happy to see them and regale them with how my race went.hartford-half-marathon-5

Mark was proud of my consistent paces, but he knew Coach James would have more to say (which he did).hartford-half-marathon-4

I grabbed some food (the pumpkin brownies were delicious!) and hung around to see some friends whom were running the marathon.  Watching the runners cross the finish line – I was a bit jealous but I know that I was in no condition to run another marathon so close to Lehigh.

So – What Did I Learn From The Race

  • I don’t give my legs enough credit,  they are stronger then I make them out to be.
  • If there is a race/run plan, I need to follow it, regardless of how “fast or slow” I will be.
  • In the same regard – I can get caught up in the race excitement but can’t let it go to my head.
  • This was the first race I have run in a long, long time when I did not tape anything!  Score!
  • The Hartford Marathon Foundation puts on a great Half Marathon, the course support – from the water stations to the volunteers to the crowd support is pretty epic.
  • I love this course and know there is no place I would rather be on Columbus Day weekend.
  • I really love the finish of the Hartford Half Marathon because I never felt “pushed” to exit the finisher’s chute.  It gave me a chance to see some other friends finish and all walk out together.
  • Crowd support sometimes makes the difference between walking and running.  On Farmington Avenue I really wanted to stop and walk BUT seeing the spectators cheering gave me the push I needed to finish.

So with that – my 7th Hartford Half Marathon is in the books.  With this race out of the way, I will be focusing on preparing for the Manchester Road Race next month.

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