CT Pace Per Mile Update: St. Patrick’s Races

In this Connecticut Pace Per Mile Race Report for February 27 – March 11, 2012, I am featuring St. Patrick’s Day themed races. It’s that time of year – Shamrock Shakes are at McDonald’s, the green beer is flowing, and St. Patrick’s themed races are everywhere. Consider one of these races for a great run, a fun time, and maybe a costume party.

WPLR Shamrock and Roll 5k, New Haven, CT, Saturday, March 4, 2012, 9am – The 15th annual WPLR ShamRock and Roll will be presented by Connex, who encourage you to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with them. Registration is $28 in advance, $30 on race day. the first 2,000 entrants will get a technical shirt. There will be tag timing, on course entertainment, and a post race party hosted by local radio station WPLR. The race organizers are participating with the Huggies Diaper Challenge. This means that Huggies will match all diaper donations made on race day, with donations going to the local diaper bank. What make this race unique is the awards. There are the usual age group awards, but they also have unique categories like Best Costume, Diaper Division and Tallest Finisher. What’s not to like about a race that awards a prize to the slowest finisher or weirdest finisher?

Hartford Marathon Foundation St. Patrick’s Day Themed Events – Every year, the Hartford Marathon Foundation hosts several St. Patrick’s Day themed events. This year, they will host the Max’s O’Hartford, in Hartford, Sunday, March 18, 2012, at 1pm. This event features a restaurant relay – with servers running a course while carrying a full tray of beer, a wee mile, and a 5k. Costumes are encouraged and prizes are awarded for really great costumes. Registered runners get a t-shirt and a great finish line party with Thomas Hooker beer and hot food. If you’re closer to Niantic, you might consider the O’Niantic 5k, Saturday, March 17, 2012, at 9:30am. This event also had a wee mile, restaurant relay, and 5k. Winding through the streets of Niantic, the course is Connecticut flat. Costumes are encouraged. Finally, for more St. Patrick’s Day fun, consider the Courthouse O’Putnam 5k in Putnam, Sunday, March 11, 2012, at 1pm. This race features a wee mile and a 5k. As usual, costumes are encouraged and t-shirts will be provided to all registered runners. Hartford Marathon Foundation events tend to attract large crowds, so if you like the party atmosphere these races are for you. A word of caution – show up early to HMF events. The parking can be crazy and the starting lines in hard to find areas with poor markings. While the races aren’t the best in terms of organization, they throw a great party.

Shamrock Shuffle, Oakville, CT, March 17, 2012, 10am – This event is a unique, 3.5-mile, distance. There is also a 2.5-mile walk and a kids’ run. There will be a post race party at Ordinary Joe’s, and all participants will get a drink and an Irish hot dog. Commemorative glasses will be provided to the first 100 registered runners.

20th Annual Leprechaun 5 Miler, Madison, CT, March 18, 2012, 11am – Benefiting the Madison Exchange Club’s fight against child abuse programming, the Leprechaun 5 Miler offers a certified course along Long Island Sound (that means flat!). Online registration for the 5 mile race is $20 in advance. The event also offers a 2 mile walk and a ($17) and a kids’ fun run ($10). Your registration fee gets you into the post race party with free beer, clam chowder, and entertainment. T-shirts will be provided to the first 600 pre-registered runners. This would be a great event for a new PR – a flat course and a unique distance.

Keep running!

Race Recap: 2012 Colchester Half Marathon

Today, I ran the Colchester Half Marathon. I featured it in a Pace Per Mile Report and it sounded like a great race, so I decided to sign up. I had corresponded by email with the race director in advance of the race, so I knew it would be well organized, rural, and hilly. I wasn’t disappointed on any count.

The Colchester Half Marathon is organized by Rick, the awesome race director. In advance of the race, he sent me some race info and a funny confirmation email when I signed up. Among the features of the race, according to Rick, are the following: USATF certified course, mile markers on the road, three water stops, and a loud and encouraging race director. The entry fee is cheap ($12) and entitles one to the post-race party, complete with massages, showers, and homemade food.

The weather for the race was not ideal, but not terrible. It was 37 degrees at the start with steady winds of 20mph and gusts up to 55mph. It was strange weather for a race. I know what to wear in 37 degree temperatures and I know what to wear in 19 degree temperatures, but I don’t know what to wear when it’s 37 degrees with a 19 degree wind chill possible. I dressed for 37 and hoped the sun would make up the difference. Luckily, the race began at the local high school, Beacon Academy, so  runners could relax in temperature controlled comfort before the race. I did just that. I also enjoyed the clean, well-lit, not-portable restrooms. I spent some time with my friends who were also running the race. We decided on a race plan (survive, have fun, take pictures) and got ready. Soon, it was race time, and the runners began the short voyage to the start line.

In our pre-race correspondence, Rick also promised cows, rural scenery, and hills aplenty.

Hills – check.

Rural scenery – check.

Cows (and other farm creatures) – check.

The Colchester race was HILLY. The first few miles were what we Connecticut people call rolling hills. Then, at mile 6, the serious hills started. I must admit, this race is one of the hilliest I have run. Between being sick and having some long runs cancelled due to snow, I definitely wasn’t in good enough shape to run it well. Luckily, Rick, the extremely loud and supportive race director, and his small team of volunteers, were on the course at mile 6 and at the finish, cheering on the runners. The cows didn’t have much to say. The wind wasn’t as bad as expected and the scenery was beautiful. The race ended with two miles of gradual uphill running, into the wind. Ouch.

Just before the finish, Rick was on the course, cheering and giving high fives to runners as they passed. I really have never seen a more enthusiastic race director. One of my friends was also there. I really needed the cheering, so I was so grateful for her support. At the finish line, there was a race announcer, who read names as runners crossed the finish line. It was a nice touch not usually found at small races. Back inside Beacon Academy there were post-race massages (I got one from my awesome massage therapist, Karen, at Grounding Touch Massage) and a delicious food spread. I did have a moment of low blood sugar crankiness at the length of the food line (20+ minutes), but I got over it when I tasted the delicious chili. It’s worth note that guests are allowed to eat at this race. This is unusual and lead to lots of post-race chatter about the food running out. I was worried myself, but need not have been. There was still food left after everyone had eaten. The food was delicious and worth the pre-race hype. There was salad (it ran out, but I doubt anyone cared), delicious chili, meat and veggie lasagna, pasta with tomato sauce, and green beans. Yum.

All in all, I had a really nice time at the Colchester Half Marathon. It was exceptionally well run, organized, and had all the perks of a big race for a much lower registration fee. The real draw for Colchester is the course. There’s only word to describe the course – brutal. But, it was brutal in the way that runners like. It was challenging, maddening, and punishing, but it made me feel like I had *run* something. I’ll be running it again next year.

Race results from Last Mile Racing can be found here.

Official pictures from J Macht Photography can be found here. Note: they actually got some nice shots. Mine weren’t even terrible and I’m a very un-photogenic runner.

Details on my outfit: Lululemon Run Your Heart Out Pullover (no longer available), Run: Free Pant (PERFECT for this weather – they’re a soft shell front and fleecy back), Lululemon Run: Swiftly Long Sleeve base layer, Athleta Beanie Visor, and my usual water bottle and shoes.

Running on the Tenure Track

Today at work, a friend and I were talking about the ways in which being a runner prepares one for being a tenure track faculty member. After careful consideration, we determined that they are a lot the same.

To be successful as a junior faculty member, you have to have a few key things. First, you have to be able to tolerate discomfort, tedium, and hysteria. Also true of running. You have to constantly strive to improve. Immediately after finishing a project, a study, or a publication, you must think “I could do that better/more”. Same with running. To be a good junior faculty member, you have to be willing to put in long hours, sometimes doing repetitious tasks, without thanks. Check. Finally, to be on the tenure track, you have to be willing to work insanely hard at something most people don’t really understand. Yep.

Though things have been super crazy at work lately, I’m comforted to know that running has prepared me well for the challenges ahead.

Wolf Rock - a giant rock on the top of a hill, probably pushed up there by someone on the rock-pushing tenure track

CT Pace Per Mile Report: A Hilly Half

In this Connecticut Pace Per Mile Race Report for February 20 – 26, 2012, I am featuring a hilly half marathon. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be, too.

Colchester Half Marathon, Colchester, CT, Saturday, February 25, 2012 – This year will be the 20th running of the Colchester Half Marathon. This USATF-certified course features hills, dirt roads, hill, cows, hills, and rural scenery. The race director bills this race as a hilly race, which, in Connecticut, means HILLY. The race begins and ends at Bacon Academy, which is Colchester’s high school, so there will be a warm spot to rest pre and post race. Rick, the race director, sees the Colchester Half as his opportunity to give back to the running community. This means that the race registration is a bargain at $12 (just $15 on race day). Your registration fee entitles you to a post-race buffet with home cooked, hot food and free post race massages are available. Register online, or by completing and mailing in the 2012 Colchester Half Marathon Application. Course information can also be found at my Colchester Half Marathon link. I hope to see some of you there!

A few other notes:

If you’re interested in some winter running gear advice, check out my guest blog over at The Running Mike. Finally, if snowshoeing is your thing, consider checking out one of the WMAC Dion Racing Series races. There are several upcoming races and races throughout the winter. Check the WMAC Dion Racing Series website for registration information and, more importantly, weather information. Obviously, snow is required for snowshoe races, so all the races are dependent upon weather conditions.

Keep running!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

I love the Shel Silverstein poem Where the Sidewalk Ends. I love the idea of a special place beyond the asphalt, where nature begins. This morning, I went running with my running friend. We went to the rail trail, where we’ve been many, many times, but today, the sun hit the trail just right and it really looked like the place where the sidewalk ends.

It was a beautiful run. The pace was slow and easy, I felt healthy, and the sun shone off the beaver pond.

That’s something special about running – it can take you to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Land of the Living

I think I have finally rejoined the land of the living. I can breathe most of the time and I almost have my voice back. Tomorrow I will even try running again. It’s going to be good to be back.

It all started out with the illness I mentioned a few posts ago. I felt generally crappy and asthmatic for about a week. I finally decided to go to the doctor when I completely lost my voice. It was gone gone – no scratchy voice, not even a squeak. For some unknown reason, whenever I can’t see my usual doctor, something ridiculous happens. This was no exception. I saw an APRN at my usual doctor’s office. She proclaimed that I did not have strep throat and, if I could just stop smoking, would be just fine. I don’t smoke and never have. Undeterred, she decreed that running was “too strenuous” and that it was certainly the smoking or the running that had made me sick. She seemed pretty convinced that if I were to stop smoking I would be cured. Never mind that I don’t smoke. All I got was a pamphlet and a lecture about smoking. Resigned, I headed home to rest and take some time of work. A few days later, my illness took a turn for the worse and it required another visit to the doctor. This time, I got my regular doctor. Turns out my blood oxygen level was dangerously low and I had bronchitis and a sinus infection. Since it had been almost a week since the last visit, and two weeks of sickness, my lungs were a mess. I got an immediate nebulizer treatment and a prescription for heavy duty antibiotics. She insisted that I get and use a nebulizer at home.

I headed on over to the medical pharmacy, a magical land with lift chairs and canes and shower stools, to get my new nebulizer and the juice that goes in it. My doctor must have been pretty serious about getting my lungs back on track because she prescribed 288 treatments.

That’s a lot of nebulizing! The helpful woman at the medical pharmacy offered me my choice of different tubes and off I went with her tube of choice.

It’s been a couple days and I’m feeling better. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will have a nice run tomorrow and will be back on track in time for the Colchester Half Marathon. Wish me luck!

Running with the Husband

This weekend I decided to run with my husband, Joe. He usually runs in the dead of night and I prefer morning runs, and we run at different paces and have different preferences for talking, so we tend to be incompatible runners. But, we both decided to try a run together mid-day Saturday. Since I’ve been sick and having asthma issues, we decided to run a local trail that is flat and goes along by the water reservoir.

Part of the fun of this path is the nice view at one end. It’s a raised path that overlooks several connected ponds.

I like looking out at the water and the lake beyond. I like seeing the little people walking around on the other side of the lake. There’s something about it that’s very pleasant.

If you keep going along the path, you end up on an old road that travels along a stream. Like all streams in Connecticut, it’s beautiful and rocky and full of tiny waterfalls.

Joe was convinced he could see fish swimming around in a pool in the stream. This led to me taking lots of pictures of the stream. I wore my new Lululemon Run: Free Pants. They were awesome and totally deserving of their own post/review later because they’re the best pants ever.

All in all, it was a nice run. Joe ran further than usual, I got to take nice pictures, and we both had a good time. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I confess – sometimes it can be good to spend quality running time with your husband.

A Note to My Younger (Asthmatic) Self

If you’ve been reading, you know that I have been sick. I get sick a lot. I have asthma, which, for me, means my lungs are pathetic wimps who take on any and all germs within a 10 mile radius. About one in every three bouts of sickness the germs migrate to my lungs, taking up residence, and necessitating steroids and/or a lengthy rest period to get things back on track. During this period of lung-failure I can’t regulate my breathing well at all. Running becomes nearly impossible and my heart rate gets erratic. I start to see black spots. I simply am not moving enough air to run and think at the same time. This isn’t new. It’s been happening for years, but every time it’s so discouraging.

Today, while on the treadmill, I got to thinking about this lung-failure phenomenon. Being a grown up and even a therapist who preaches acceptance, you’d think I would be ok with it. But every time, I feel the same way I did when I was younger – discouraged, defeated, like a failure. Turns out my younger, asthmatic self is hanging around inside me. So, I wrote the following note to her (yes, while on the treadmill, on the back of an old flyer for a fundraiser having to do with Zumba):


You have asthma. There’s no question about this, so it’s time to accept the uncomfortable realities that come with it. You will struggle to breathe at random times. You will get sick and take weeks to recover. Your lungs will revolt and will make it impossible for you to catch your breath. You’ll have bad races and bad training runs and bad games because your lungs just don’t want to cooperate. This happens. You didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this. You are no less of an athlete because of it. It is not an indicator that you are fat, out of shape, or lazy. Lying about how bad you feel and skipping that workout helps no one. Have patience with yourself and your breathing. It will come around eventually. You are not less of an athlete because you have asthma.

Hang in there,

Older (and wiser) self.

I like to think this note would have helped the younger me. I sure helped the older me – who turned off her Garmin and just ran because she could.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

Product Review: Drip Drop

Recently, the nice folks over at Drip Drop Oral Rehydration offered to send me some samples of their product to review. Never being one to say no to samples, I happily agreed. Though I was provided the samples to review, this review represents my honest opinion and experience using the Drip Drop product.

Drip Drop initially appealed to me because it’s a company with a great story. Drip Drop was started by Dr. Eduardo Dolhun, a physician in California. As the story goes, the idea came to him while he was a medical student on a mission in Guatemala. While on his medical mission, Dr. Dolhun saw previously healthy children die of cholera, some who were so dehydrated that doctors were unable to find a vein for the IV therapy that might have saved their lives. This experience led Dr. Dolhun to become a proponent of oral rehydration therapy (ORS). The problem with ORS is that the optimal balance of glucose, water, and electrolytes often results in a disgusting, salty beverage that no one wants to drink – let alone drink when they really need it. So, Dr. Dolhun set out to create the product that would eventually become Drop Drop, a fresh tasting, enhanced ORS.

Drip Drop has been used around the world to save lives of children and adults who need to quickly restore proper electrolyte and fluid balance lost through vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, or excessive heat (check out their amazing testimonials on the website). So, how did I get Drip Drop, you may be wondering. Dr. Dolhun himself contacted me to offer me the samples of Drip Drop. His idea, that an ORS should taste good, is appealing to athletes, myself included.

Let me be honest. I hate most sports beverages. I don’t like salty foods and the taste of salt in a sick-y sweet beverage is disguising to me. I can’t stand most of the conventional sports beverages and I have never really found an electrolyte enhanced drink that didn’t taste horrible to me. I was hesitant to try Drip Drop, so I started small. I started with 1/4 of one packet (meant to go in an entire bottle of water) per bottle. Pretty tasty. Then I bumped it up to a half packet and eventually a whole packet.

I like Drip Drop. It has a nice, tangy lemon flavor. It isn’t sweet and tastes rather like lemon and not lemon flavoring. Drip Drop does have a bit of the salty taste that’s requisite in any sports beverage, but it isn’t overtly salty. I must admit, it tastes pretty good. To confirm that I hadn’t lost my sense of taste, I passed it out to some ladies on my regular Saturday run who are consumers of another electrolyte mix. The reviews were good. Everyone seemed to like the taste. We all thought it had a nice, light lemon flavor and wasn’t overly salty. Those of us with sensitive running stomachs tolerated it well.

Here’s what I like about Drip Drop:

  • It comes in nifty little packets so you can add as much as you like and control the taste. For those of us who are salt-averse, this is a huge advantage over the pre-mixed or tablet variety sports drinks. I think I will be more likely to use it because I can control the amount of powder I mix in, making the taste palatable for me.
  • It has a nice, light lemon flavor that isn’t sweet. This is great, because nothing tastes worse to me on hot long runs than sugary sports drink. I am sure the light lemon flavor will be wonderful when it’s really hot and humid.
  • It made me feel subjectively well hydrated. Granted, I tried it in the winter, but I did feel like I needed less water after my run. I am looking forward to trying it out this summer. My usual strategy of drink tons of water could stand to be improved upon.
  • It didn’t have any adverse gastrointestinal effects. Need I say more?

All in all, I liked Drip Drop and will continue to use it. To get your own supply, you can order directly from Drip Drop on their website. Just click on “Buy Online”.

Grade: A

Retail price: $26.99 for 12 packets

Note: Dr. Dolhun had a great follow up point that I think is important to mention – Drip Drop is a true ORS by international medical standards. Most similar sports drinks are just that – sports drinks. They are drinks with sugar and without the proper electrolyte balance. In his words “[other sports drinks] are not even close in terms of electrolytes and their balance with sugars.  If [another drink] has no sugar, then it cannot utilize the sodium-glucose co-transport system, the life-saving electrolyte and H2O uptake mechanism of the body.” All the more reason to give Drip Drop a try.

I’m a Fiend

It’s true. I’m a running fiend. I am sick (again!) and off running. It’s been three days since my last run.

I’m heeding the running wisdom of head cold = run/body aches and cough = don’t run. Since I have a cough, sore throat, body aches, fever, laryngitis, and headache, I have a mixed bag of symptoms. It seemed best to not run. Well, truth be told, I’m so tired I don’t know how I could possibly run. That, and I can’t breathe well when sitting still so running and breathing might be tough. I know my running friends like me, but I doubt they want to carry me home from a run. But I really did think about ignoring the conventional wisdom and going for a run. A little run. A run-ette, just a tiny run…

Maybe I could run. Just a short one. It could be our little secret. A little one would hardly count. I could go just one mile. No one would ever have to know…

Don’t I sound like a fiend? I swear as I’m typing this I’m trying to rationalize going for a run. I know it’s crazy, but I really miss running. This is something you can’t tell your non-running friends. Non-runners don’t understand how I could miss something so much after only three days that I seriously consider sneaking out for a stealth run.

Being a therapist by trade, this begs the question, am I really a running fiend? To be a fiend, I suppose I have to be an addict. The classic CAGE acronym may be useful here. Basically, if you answer yes to the majority of the questions, you have a problem. I have substituted drinking for running.

  1. Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your running? – Hmmm maybe?
  2. Have you ever been Annoyed when people have commented on your running? – Yes! Only if they are run haters, though.
  3. Have you ever felt Guilty or badly about your running? – Nope. Well, maybe now and then when I leave work early for a run.
  4. Have you ever had an Eye opener first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover? – Yes
Uh oh. Not looking good. Let’s try another test, a simple signs of addiction test.
  • You’ve built up a run tolerance. You need to use more of the run to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts. – Yep.
  • You use runs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without running, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety. – Yep.
  • Your life revolves around running. You spend a lot of time using and thinking about running, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the run’s effects. – Definitely!
  • You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your running use. – Does it count if all the activities I enjoy are running-related?

It seems clear. I am an addict. An addict who is fiending for a run. My name is Rachel and I’m a runner.


(side note: As a therapist, I feel compelled to note that this post is meant to be silly and is not meant in any way to detract from, or make light of, addiction and the serious consequences of addictions to things other than running. If you answer these questions and find that you, or someone you love, is addicted to alcohol, drugs, or another maladaptive habit, please consult a therapist. You can find a therapist in your area easily on AAMFT.org, or TherapistLocator.com)