Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Recap: ING Hartford Half Marathon

This weekend was the long awaited New England Double... 2 half marathons in 2 states in 2 days. The idea for this challenging weekend arose nearly a year ago from Kim. Seriously, I booked our flights last December!
Saturday - ING Hartford Half Marathon, Connecticut
Sunday - UHC Newport Half Marathon, Rhode Island

Unfortunately, I wasn't as well trained for this double as I was for the Southern Double (Alabama/Georgia) last spring. I knew I had to run smart in order to survive both races. I was told ahead of time that both courses were "rolling", which to this flatland Illinois gal, that means hills. I decided to run my typical comfort pace of 10 min/miles, hoping to bring home both 13.1's in under 2:15. I wanted to run as consistent as possible, take in the scenery of new states and not die just enjoy my runs.

Hubby and I flew into Hartford on Friday evening and headed straight to the packet pickup at the XL Center. We arrived right around 7pm, when evidently a hockey game was also starting - so parking was a slow congested expensive P.I.T.A. Once we got into the expo hall, we grabbed our bibs and quickly veered thru the vendors - only to come upon the shirt nightmare happening at the back of the building. They were OUT of shirts... well everything except women's XS and S. There were a ton of pissed runners and volunteers doing their best to pacify. After standing in a long line, I was given the option to wait for the 3-mth reorder (and it would be mailed to me) or accept one of their black 20th anniversary shirts... which I had been oogling online anyway. Easy decision - and honestly, I think I won in that disastrophe.
ING Hartford swag
Next we went in seek of our hotel (again reserved back in January) in East Hartford and couldn't find it. After a near stroke, I discovered they simply changed their name. Our reservation was still there. Whew! Then we went down to the hotel bar for a drink and a small bite to eat... the unfolding episode there deserves a reality show in itself; but I won't even get into it. Needless to say, I went to bed shaking my head wondering what more this trip could possibly have in store.

Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous outside - sunny 50's. Chilly at first, but ideal running weather. We had no idea where we were driving and yet somehow stumbled upon a parking spot right next to the start line... seriously, less than a block away. Score!

We arrived in plenty of time, so hubs and I huddled in the car to keep warm. After a quick line for the portapotties, a walk back to the car to ditch the jacket, I tried to find Kim by the starting line. Oh-wait, there are two different starting lines! Thank goodness I caught on because I was hanging out by the 5K start! Geesh! By time I walked a block over to the marathon starting line, it was jam packed. I squeezed my way into the corrals just in time for the singing of the National Anthem and an ode to Boston "Sweet Caroline". The whole crowd singing this song was a really neat moment.

Now THIS was my correct starting line!
As I made my way under the starting line banner, I jumped to slap the banner overhead. And we were off! The roadway was wide and packed. I was in no hurry, so I just ran with the flow of the pack. It seemed slow but I didn't care today. I vowed not to look at my watch during the entire race and just run on feel... never let myself get into deep breathing. Keep it steady and even...
Mile 1 - 9:47
Mile 2 - 9:26
Mile 3 - 9:53
Mile 4 - 9:52

The sun was wicked bright and I warmed up quickly once we started running.
There were uphills. There were downhills. I rolled with the punches and took it one mile at a time, keeping my heart rate steady and pace under control. I looked around a lot to take in the scenery and buildings... The backhalf of the course was the prettiest, but the early miles did feature a row of firemen. Hello fellas... 
Mile 5 - 10:13
Mile 6 - 10:01
Mile 7 - 10:02
Mile 8 - 10:14
Such pretty fall colors...
By mile 8, we ran into St. Joseph's College. I figured we were close to a student population since there were coeds sitting on couches in their front lawns. The sight of them made me giggle and I wanted to be 20 all over again. In mile 10, we entered Elizabeth Park and zig-zagged thru the pretty wooded setting. I would have liked it more... but the steady elevation changes was making my quads unhappy.
Mile 9 - 10:19
Mile 10 - 10:11
Mile 11 - 9:58
Running thru Elizabeth Park
When we hit the 11th mile marker, I remember thinking, "I've never felt this good before at 11." Typically I'm exhausted and starting the final countdown by 9 or 10, but today I was in a comfortable place. It felt good to run 13.1 this way and not be pushing against the clock. Of course, then I decided to step it up for the end... you know, since I was feeling so good and all.
Mile 12 - 9:49
Mile 13 - 9:31

The ending stretch was really quite nice... except for the gal being loaded onto a stretcher. The only best part of these larger races is the huge amount of spectators at the finish and the energy you can feed off.  I had juice left in my legs so it was just plain FUN to pass so many people in that final stretch. Running under and through the Soliders & Sailors Memorial Arch was a pretty darn amazing finish.

I guzzled water from the row of water bubblers (green thumbs-up!) and made my way thru the chute to receive my finisher's medal, a cool souvenir water bottle and bag of snacks. (There was also a food tent a.k.a. the 27th mile party, but we hurried back to our hotel in order to snag an ice bath & shower before hotel checkout.)

State #17 Connecticut
Official Chip Time 2:11:37
average pace 10:03 min/mile
Overall  #3849 out of 6562
Female  #1888 out of 3898
Div F35-39  #312 out of 582

I finally found Kim at the finish, hanging with my hubby.
The Connecticut State Capitol in the background.

Hartford gets a THUMBS-UP from me.
Part 1 of the New England Double is done!
On to Newport...


  1. How do you find Saturday-Sunday half marathons in two different states?

    1. This was brought to my attention by a friend, but I search a lot of race calendar websites. Also Running in the USA has a great tool for locating doubles. Check it out here:

    2. Thanks for the link. I'm intrigued by the 50 half marathons, but only have 2 States so far. There's a series of 5 marathons / half marathons in 5 states in 5 days.

  2. I live in NH and after reading your recap, I've added Hartford Half to my bucket list...Newport is already on there ;) Great finish!

    1. Ummm Ms Amy shall we do Newport together next year?

  3. You got some great photos, and I am jealous of your shirt disastrophe. That black shirt is awesome!
    I agree, this is a must do race, the atmosphere was awesome. Could we have asked for any better weather? And, the cute guys waiting for us at the finish!

    1. Oh yes! Our personal attendants were HOT! loved having the hubbies along for the trip!

  4. Congrats!! That shirt is pretty sweet!

  5. Nice job! I love it when the weather works out so well on race day.

  6. looks like a very pretty race! Great job!

  7. That race looks amazing. Great job!!

  8. Your shirt is much better than the original ones, I wish I showed up late! My cousin ran the full and when she finished (5:37) they had run out of medals!

    What did you think of the start line? I thought it was kind of a big cluster...

    1. Starting line was definitely a cluster - but that seems to come with the territory on these 'big' races... or at least that's been my experience. Tight spot for a lot of people... :)

    2. I heard once I got back that they ran out of marathon medals - how horrible! That happened at the Chicago Marathon last yr too. My hubby ran the 5K and he saw volunteers handing out the marathon medals to 5Ker's (both the marathon and 5k had orange ribbons - although the medal was very different.) He said they eventually got it straightened out, but that mistake could count account for the shortage once the real marathoners finished. Totally stinks though... I can't imagine finishing 26.2 and not have a medal waiting for me.

  9. great job! way to knock out two in one weekend!

  10. I'm so so glad you both enjoyed the new england double as this was hands down my favorite back to back i've done. awesome photos as always.

    meant to write back on Instagram--- if i get rid of more of the triathalon shirts i'll reach out to you directly :)

  11. Great recap! I particularly liked your line under one of the pictures "The sun was wicked bright and I warmed up quickly once we started running.". Using wicked - spoken like a true New Englandah.


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