Last weekend, I headed out to Connecticut and Rhode Island to complete a back to back half marathon weekend and knock off 2 more states in my 50 State + DC quest. This was not a planned trip and in fact, I didn’t even think about this until around Labor Day. When the opportunity presented itself, I said why not and just went for it! I ended up connecting with two other 50 State Club Members, Jodi & Julianna, so that helped with splitting hotels, etc. I’m all about keeping cost down when I can!
I headed out to Rhode Island early on Friday and had about a 90m wait at the airport before the other 2 landed. I actually was able to get some work done while I waited so it seemed to go by fairly quickly. Once they arrived, we got the rental car and decided to head down to Narragansett to pick up the packet for Sunday’s race before heading to Hartford. There wasn’t really any type of expo for this race, the Ocean State Rhode Race – Narragansett, so we picked up our stuff pretty quickly. The only snafu was that Julianna had registered for the Newport race that weekend and not the Narragansett. Apparently I learned later the Newport race is brand new after “issues” occurred and Rhode Races was basically kicked out of Newport. Luckily, she was able to register for the Narragansett race and eventually get a refund on the Newport race!
It was getting late in the afternoon so we decided to stop at this place called Crazy Burger for lunch. It happened to be a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives visited spot and was very yummy! Super small and quaint little space, but worth any wait you may have.
We got on the road to Hartford and once we arrived went straight to the expo. It was decently sized and I enjoyed walking around. We had planned to join other 50 State Club Members for dinner, but none of us were hungry. We still went over but just hung out and enjoyed the company instead.
We finally got to the hotel, found dinner and settled in. Race start wasn’t until 8am, but we planned to leave at 6:30am to ensure we could get parking, check our bags and head to the start line. I was really looking forward to run the Hartford Half Marathon though.
I had picked out 2-3 parking lots to aim for and luckily they were good ones. We had to wait in some traffic but I think we were in the lot by 6:50am. We waited around a little, but then headed over to the start line area. It was maybe a 10 minute walk. The race organizers did a very nice job detailing out where parking lots were, which was a huge help.
We headed first to the port-o-potties and hung out in what ended up being more the finish line area and then we headed up to to gear check, which was pretty close to the start line. It didn’t really make sense to me to put it here as you had to walk back up the hill after the finish, but it’s where it was. After I finished my race and got my gear, I did notice volunteers in golf carts giving rides up to gear check. Too bad I didn’t see it sooner. Gear check though was super easy. They gave out the bags we had to use and they were huge. I actually ended up using it the next day for my RI half as well. Since Jodi was running the Full, the plan was for Julianna and I to just head back to the hotel to shower and grab our stuff and we’d be back to see Jodi finish and bring her her stuff.
The start line was right out front of the State Capital, so we just hung around a few minutes before getting into the start line area. For being a bigger race, I was surprised at the lack of security and control at the start line. There were no corrals and essentially it seemed like spectators were even in the start line area with runners. If anything, I could do without that because they were just clogging up space. After the National Anthem, the race started promptly at 8am and off we went! Weather wise, it was near perfection! High 40’s to low 50’s and partly cloudy. Nothing to complain about in that department.
Once we crossed the start line, this is where it got interesting for me. The goal for this race was to be around 2:30, since I had the race in RI the next day. I did not know how the body would be, plus being right in the thick of marathon training, I didn’t want to do anything stupid. On top of that, my stupid ankle was really rearing it’s ugly head and was causing quite a bit of pain Friday and on race day. I wasn’t all too please with this.
Pretty quickly into the race, the half marathoners split from the marathoners. I thought we’d be spending some more time together, but it helped spread the herd out a little, which was nice. I had been to Hartford only once years and years ago, so it was fun starting right downtown. Somewhere in the first few miles we headed into what I would call the Spanish area of town. All the store fronts were named in Spanish and somewhere around 2.5 we had a DJ out spinning some great Spanish music. At not point through this area was it quiet. It was great to have all of the spectators out there cheering us on. In fact, there really was only one half mile stretch that I noticed no spectators.
It was around mile 2-3 that I really pulled myself back and made myself slow down. I didn’t want to over due it and wanted to just enjoy myself. I wanted to just enjoy the race and take it all in. The ankle pain was also pretty intense through the race too, so I really wanted to ensure I made it out in one piece.
The first hill of the race came around mile 4.5. It wasn’t a huge hill at all, but it was the first of three to four hills throughout the course. I went up with no issues and it was nice to be able to do that. Lots of people were walking up that hill. I found that there were plenty of water stops along the course, but it was hard to see them coming up. Luckily, it seemed a lot of spectators were shouting out that they were close every time we’d come near. It was simple things like that, that I enjoyed.
Through the race, I barely looked at my watch. Again, this was suppose to be nice and slow and I wasn’t racing time. Every so often, they’d have clocks out, but I wasn’t taking the time to calculate how I was dong. It didn’t feel fast, but I knew I was moving along. Up until mile 12, I only took one 45 second walk break just before mile 9. I think it was more out of boredom, that I took it. It was also at the water stop around mile 8 that I realized I hadn’t taken any chews yet. This was a surprise to me, but again, I just feeling GREAT that I felt that I didn’t need one. I remember thinking to myself that this might be one of my best races because I wasn’t worried about anything and I was just having fun.
My favorite part of the course, was Elizabeth Park. It was a nice surprise from the houses and city streets. It was packed with spectators, had a candy station and was just beautiful scenery! It also provided for a nice little hill coming out of the park.
Once we came out of the park, we had a nice downhill and started seeing the mile 10 marker. It is here I did something I never do! I took a cup a beer, drank it and enjoyed it mid race! There has only been one other race, the Pittsburgh Marathon, that I took beer and it was maybe 1 sip at mile 25ish. At that point I don’t think it even mattered! Maybe it wasn’t the best beer, but I just was having a blast, I went for it!
Then came mile 10 marker. Then came the mile 10 clock. Then came the realization that I was going A LOT faster than I thought and if I did those calculations in my head right, I was on my way to a PR. Well, at that point I started racing. I told myself just get through this last 5k and do your best. I knew if I had the PR right there and would lose it at this point, I’d just be mad.
The worst part was that these were necessarily easy flat miles. Mile 10 and the beginning of mile 12 had nice little hills. Again though it was nice to stay strong and run up both hills. These last miles clocked in at 9:39, 9:19 and 9:30! To see those type of numbers after 10 miles was a nice confidence booster.
As we were in the last miles, I heard some runners say as long as we get to Farmington Avenue we are done. Well, it was the way they said it that made me think we turn onto that road and we’re close to the finish. Well, no. Not that close. We turned onto Farmington Ave around mile 11.25, so still lots of miles to go. I definitely pushed a little hard in mile 11 that when I got to mile 12, I was feeling the 9:19 mile. I took a few walk breaks this last mile and was completely okay with it. I essentially would walk for about 10 seconds and just run until I saw a good mark up ahead. I was pushing the pavement pretty hard and even with some walk breaks, I kept passing people.
Finally, I turned and saw the finish line! I tried to sprint in fast as I could. I was done. I did it. I didn’t know how fast I was, but I felt the PR was there. I saw the clock say 2:15:XX and I couldn’t help but to just smile. I started about 2:50 after the horn and doing quick math in my head, I had crushed my PR of 2:15:00.
Just as I was finishing, the announcers said that the marathon winner was coming in! I hung out for a few seconds and saw him come in to quite an ovation of cheers. He was stoked and barely looked like he had just run a marathon in 5:xx miles! After seeing that finish, I continued through the chute to get my medal, a bag of goodies and eventually an awesome water bottle already filled with water!
I meandered up to the gear check tent and the whole way smiling and telling just about anyone who would listen why I was smiling (sorry, random souls, I really was just happy). After getting my stuff, I quickly scanned my bib and there it was: 2:12:59! I unintentionally just shaved off 2:01 from my PR that has stood since January 2014.
Finally, I headed back down to the finish line area and eventually met up with Julianna, which finished just minutes after me. We headed to the hotel to shower and clean up and then headed back up the race area to see Jodi finish. Timing couldn’t have been better as we maybe waited 20 minutes before Jodi came through the finish line area.
After hanging around the finish line area, enjoy some PR beers, we eventually got on the road and headed to Rhode Island. Oh yes, there was still another 13.1 miles to run the next day! I tried to roll, stretch and use my stick and/or moji as much as I could! I had no idea how the legs would be later that night let along the next morning, especially after going a lot faster than I had planned!
As we were traveling to Rhode Island, we stopped for lunch and all of a sudden I heard CLINK, CLINK, CLINK! I looked down and there went my medal! The ribbon had broken and there was my beautiful medal sitting on the ground. It had gotten pretty scratched with it fell, too. I emailed HMF Events immediately and they responded that they could get me a new one! I’ll definitely be awaiting the new one in the mail and kudos to them for helping me out!
Official Finish Time:
214, Females, 30-34