Race Recap: Greater Hartford 1/4 Marathon

Today I, and a big group of friends, braved the terrible weather to race in the  2012 Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon. Hosted by the Hartford Track Club and benefitting Blazeman Foundation for ALS, this was the 6th running of this great race.

I woke up this morning to less than ideal race conditions – 37 degrees, sleet, and some “wintry mix” accumulation. Not to be deterred, the running husband and I set out to meet up with friends so that we could all run the Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon. We arrived at the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford to find that a lot of people must have been too wimpy for the weather – the parking lot was nearly empty. We wisely waited in the car with the heater running full blast until the last possible moment.

At race time, the weather had not improved. It was about 38 degrees, with a rain/sleet mix. Thankfully, the wintry mix had lessened and it was more of a misty sleet. The race course is a two-loop course run around the paved trails in the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford. It’s a gorgeous course. I wish I had pictures of the beautiful course, but it was raining and cameras don’t like rain.

The reservoir is beautiful and the woods surrounding it are lovely. This morning, steam rose from the reservoir and the attached lakes, making a particularly beautiful scene. The first couple (and middle couple since it’s a loop) miles have a number of what we New Englanders call “rollers”, gradual hills that make for a smooth up and down experience.

About 2 (and 4.5) miles into the race, the course comes around a bend, giving runners a picturesque view of the runners ahead as they pass beyond a lake and around a curve. It was gorgeous. And, on the second loop, gave me a view of how close my husband was – just close enough to catch him at the end. Yay!

The course was extremely well marked, with accurate mile signs and sand markings noting the course direction. It would be difficult to go the wrong way given that the course is a well-planned loop on paved trails. A runner would have to work hard to get lost in this one. The wooded views were magnificent and the lakes, ponds, and reservoir areas were the picture of New England beauty.

The finish line chute was well organized – runners were ushered along to get medals and to head over to the food area. There was a nice spread of homemade baked goods, including cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and the best rice crispy treats I’ve had in ages. There were bananas, bagels, and Nutella, too. I am pleased to note that I didn’t wait in line for food and all the volunteers were friendly (for which I give them a lot of credit – I wouldn’t be terribly friendly standing out in the sleet for hours). The medal and t-shirt were pretty cool.

The race was well-organized, it had a beautiful course, and it was fun to run. The race benefitted the Blazeman Foundation for ALS, a great cause. This year’s event raised over $6,000 for Blazeman. All in all, I highly recommend the Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon.

Picture courtesy of Greater Hartford Quarter Marathon

On a more personal note, I had a great time running this race with a good group of friends. What really made the race special for me, though, was seeing one of the RDs, my old running coach, HDH (check out his website if you’re local-ish and looking for a coach). I worked with him last year, just after I was given permission by my medical team to start running. He’s a nice guy, and someone who genuinely loves running and runners. Seeing him at the 2/4 mile water stop brought a smile to my face. When we first met, I could barely run 3 miles on the treadmill. Today, I ran my way to a good time in a 6.55 mile road race without knee pain. It really was a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Official race results are here, at Platt Systems, who did a nice job of timing, as usual.

Race results, pictures, and other goodies are here, at Purring Hedgehog .

To check out the pictures from the event, head on over to the event’s Facebook page.

Details for Rachel’s outfit, above: Lululemon Go For It pants (DWR coated pants were definitely the right choice for this weather!), Nike Vapor Jacket (the similar jacket now is the Nike Cyclone Jacket), ancient Nike hat and headband, lots of layers you can’t see…

Feeling Funky

I’m feeling funky. And not in the good way. I’ve been in a cranky, sleepy funk lately.

Before I complain, let me first congratulate Elle from Eat Run Sail, the winner of my Facebook Drip Drop contest. Congratulations, Elle!

Let’s get back to the funk. First, I think part of the problem is a travel hangover. I’ve just gotten back from a few weeks of travel and that always messes with my routine. I typically suffer from post-vacation depression, which I’ve heard other people refer to as a travel hangover. It’s clear that the travel hangover has been a problem for me. Next, things have been extra crazy at work. It seems the anxiety is at full volume, and dealing with that has been tiring. I have lots to do and neither the time nor the energy to really deal with it. My runs have been lackluster and I’m feeling underwhelmed by my progress in training. Beyond that, I don’t know what it is that’s bothering me. I just feel funky. I haven’t been myself. I’m tired, cranky, and generally in a funk.

So, I have been working on getting out of the funk. I tried new runs -a long one, a new trail, a run with a friend (twice), and taking a few days off. I tried getting a little extra rest. I tried going out to eat with my husband. I even tried getting myself a small running gift. No luck. The funk persists. It seems to be lightening, but I still feel funky.

I have lots of things to be excited about – I’m running Hood to Coast in August (YAY!!), I’m beginning training to become a yoga teacher this summer (hooray!), and everything is going well in general. Yet the funk persists.

So, I ask you, my loyal readers, what do you do to break the funk?

The Liebster Award

I feel so cool! Rebuilding Roberts honored my humble little blog with the Liebster Award!

This is how the Liebster is described: This award we’ve discovered is given to bloggers who inspire you and have less than 200 followers. The Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning ‘Beloved, Dearest or Favorite.’

I really feel so honored. Not only does someone other than my mom read this blog, he actually likes it! Yay! This truly is, as my grandmother would say, a red letter day for DrRachelRuns.

Now I have the honor of sharing the love by passing on the award. Here’s how it works:

  1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.
  2. Post the award to your blog.
  3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value (It’s a great way to get to word out there about other blogs!!)
  4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have received this award.

So, I looked over the blogs I follow and found some of my favorites. Of course, not everyone displays their followers, so I’m guessing here, but these are my picks. I hereby award the following blogs with their very own Liebster Awards:

Life is Beachy Keen – Jena sometimes makes me jealous with her gorgeous West Florida pictures, but her blog is always fun to read. She has great stats and interesting posts.

What Would Betty Do? – Alisa has a great blog and is a fun person to follow on Twitter. She not only posts about running, but shares her excellent recipes. I can personally attest to the high quality of several recipes.

The Running Mike – I love the Running Mike’s blog. He’s an ordinary enough guy who posts regularly about his running and fitness adventures. Mike also has excellent guest blogs, training tips, and other fun stuff.

Big Man Running – This blog is funny, insightful, and fun. Written by a Clydesdale runner (and grandpa!), you can count on him for funny posts and personal stories.

Utah Tri Girl – Rachel is a fellow Pace Per Mile reporter, covering the great state of Utah. She’s a triathlete, fast runner, and generally fun person. Follow her on Twitter to hear about her ongoing training with a great triathlon group.

There you have it – my picks for the next winners of the coveted Liebster award. Congratulations, fellow bloggers!

CT Pace Per Mile Update: April Fools?

In this Connecticut Pace Per Mile Race Report for March 26 – April 1, 2012, I am featuring some excellent races that are not April Fools jokes, but fun races you might enjoy.

Hartford Quarter Marathon, Saturday, March 31, 2012, West Hartford, CT – The Hartford Track Club will be sponsoring the Hartford 1/4 Marathon. It features a certified 6.55 mile course along the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford. The $35 registration fee gets you a custom-designed long sleeve t-shirt with men’s and women’s (!) sizing available. Race morning shuttle service will be provided from the UConn Health Center to avoid any parking hassles in downtown West Hartford. There will be age group awards (3 deep in 5 year age groups) and very cool finisher’s medals. If that’s not enough, there will also be a post-race party with a raffle and a spring egg hunt for children. As an added bonus, this race also has a great race director, so it’s sure to be organized and well run. You can learn more on their Facebook page. There are just a few spots left, so sign up  today! I’ll be there with a big group of friends, and I hope to see some of you there, too.

Oleksak Lumber Half Marathon (and 5k), Sunday, April 1, 2012, 11am, Westfield, MA – The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield and Oleksak Lumber will be hosting this half marathon and 5k. The half marathon course is a certified, rolling course through rural Massachusetts. According to the organizers, most of the hills are in the first four miles and there will be 6 aid stations along the course. The half marathon registration fee is $40, with race day registration available for $45. Pre-registered runners get a long sleeve technical race shirt. Everyone gets the post-race dinner and half marathoners get a special finishers’ medal. There is also a 5k event and runners and walkers are welcome at both distances (note that walkers must start the half marathon early at 10am). There’s plenty of free parking at the Amelia Park Ice Arena and In-Line Rink adjacent to club. For speedy racers, there will be a $100 cash prize for the first male and female finishers in the half marathon;  $50 cash prize for a half marathon course record. This sounds like a good one and good weather is expected.

Want to stay up to date on local racing? Like my Facebook page!

Pace Per Mile’s Chris is running across America to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Like Pace Per Mile on Facebook to follow his journey.

Happy spring running, everyone.

Thinking Spring (and Giveaway!)

I don’t know about all of you, but I am loving this unseasonably warm weather. Perhaps it isn’t unseasonable. Maybe spring really is here. Given that it is the first official day of spring, it would be nice if this weather were here to stay. (Note: super exciting giveaway details to follow)

This past weekend, I went to DC for a conference/race trip. I love DC. I truly think it is the most beautiful city in the world. I flew in early to take advantage of the spring weather with a run around the National Mall, my most favorite place to run. It was gorgeous. The cherry blossoms were just starting to open and the weather was warm and sunny.

After doing a few days of work things, I met up with my DC friend to run the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon. This was the inaugural running of the USA half and we loved it.

Here are some of the high points: First, we loved the wave start. There were approximately 20,000 people running (in both the half and full marathons), and we were all organized in waves based on pace per mile. Since the first half of the full marathon was the half marathon, it made organizing waves easy. The waves were timed starts, so the race never really felt crowded. Sure, there were people as far as the eye could see in either direction, but I didn’t feel like I was squished. In fact, I felt free to run whatever pace I wished the whole time. I thought the start was very well organized. I loved the crowd support on the course. I was really impressed by the number of people who had come out to support the runners. I saw lots of clever handmade signs, and some neighborhoods even had their own water/beer stops set up. Everyone was cheering and having a great time. The bands along the course were excellent. My favorite group was an all-female drum line. They were outstanding. All along the course were musical acts ranging from a country singer to children rapping. The mix was eclectic and created a fun atmosphere. I thought the course was wonderful. I enjoyed racing past the Capitol and the legislative office buildings. I had fun running through neighborhoods and around DC. The entire race was well organized. There was plenty to drink at aid stations, a well-marked course, and helpful volunteers. Finally, the finish chute was well-organized. We were able to pass through smoothly, picking up our medals and an assortment of the usual food along the way. All in all, I would recommend the Rock N Roll USA races.

Results of the Rock N Roll USA races are here.

Today, I went on my first real spring run with my local running friend. It was a lovely day for a run. It was cool, but the air felt like spring. It was wonderful. The running felt easy, the company was good, and the weather was amazing. Mornings like today are one of the reasons I love running – though I could do without the spider webs of thousands of spring-happy spiders.


And now for the giveaway…

In honor of spring, I’m thinking more about my hydration strategies. I’m looking forward to sunny runs and warm temperatures. That means I need to pay more attention to my hydration. A new product I’ve been trying is Drip Drop. You can read my review of this unique product, or, to try for yourself, you can enter my new giveaway. To enter, like my page on Facebook by clicking this link: Dr. Rachel’s Facebook Page. Then, tell me you did it by commenting on this post. If you’ve already liked my page, just tell me so in a comment. You need to comment on this post to enter. Every person will get one entry and I will randomly select one winner to get a sample packet of Drip Drop to try. Good luck!

CT Pace Per Mile Report: Spring has Sprung

In this Connecticut Pace Per Mile Race Report for March 19 – 25, 2012, I am featuring some excellent races you might run to make the most of this spring-like weather.

Finally Spring 5k, Saturday, March 24, 2012, 10am – The fourth annual Finally Spring 5k is a true trail race, run on the trails in the Howard/Porter Reservoir area. Just a note – this race is called a 5k, but the distance is more like 3.3 miles, and the organizers are clear about this on the website. This race is hosted by the Manchester Running Company and benefits Public Allies, a group that promotes grassroots social change. Learn more on their Facebook page. Registration is $15 in advance. Race day registration is available, starting at 8:30am, for $20. The kid’s fun run is free, and children are encouraged to run the 5k (at a reduced rate). I’ve run this race the past two years. It’s a nice trail race. The trail is groomed and smooth. There are the usual rocks and roots, but it isn’t a terribly technical trail, so road runners can feel comfortable running. Be forewarned – the first mile is uphill, so that’s a bit of a challenge. Be sure to warm up before you begin. You may also want to add extra time for parking – the only parking is on-street in the local neighborhoods. There will be a food spread after the race, a Soles4Souls used shoe drive, and awards in the usual age group categories. Consider this race if you’d like to try a trail race or enjoy a spring run through the woods.

Savin Rock Half Marathon (and 5k), Saturday, March 24, 2012, 8am, West Haven, CT – Billed by the organizers as one of the most beautiful races in Connecticut, the half marathon features 5 miles run along the beach in West Haven. The entry fee is $55 for the half marathon ($30 for the 5k). That entitles each runner to a technical (Coolmax) race shirt, a half marathon finisher’s medal, and a post race feast provided by the Olive Garden (yum). Roads will be closed and aid stations stocked with Gu and Gatorade will be along the course. You can learn more on their Facebook page. As of today, there are just 50 spots remaining in the half marathon and 50 spots left in the 5k. Sign up today!

Hartford Quarter Marathon, Saturday, March 31, 2012, West Hartford, CT – The Hartford Track Club will be sponsoring the Hartford 1/4 Marathon. It features a certified 6.55 mile course along the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford. The $35 registration fee gets you a custom-designed long sleeve t-shirt with men’s and women’s (!) sizing available. Race morning shuttle service will be provided from the UConn Health Center to avoid any parking hassles in downtown West Hartford. There will be age group awards (3 deep in 5 year age groups) and finisher’s medals. If that’s not enough, there will also be a post-race party with a raffle and a spring egg hunt for children. As an added bonus, this race also has a great race director, so it’s sure to be organized and well run. You can learn more on their Facebook page, and even make post-race food requests. There are just a few spots left, so sign up  today! I’ll be there, and I hope to see some of you there, too.

Want to stay up to date on local racing? Like my Facebook page!

Happy spring running, everyone.

And the Winner Is…

Audra from SnapEatRun. Congratulations to Audra, the winner of the super cool Sof Sole gift box! A huge thanks to everyone who entered.

For those of you who care about my winner selection method – I wrote down the names of everyone who entered (two times for people who liked and followed) in the order they were entered. Then, I used a random number generator to select a lucky number. The person whose entry was the lucky number won.

Want to win more cool stuff? Like me on Facebook! I will be posting a special Facebook spring contest with a chance to win Drip Drop, the best water additive ever.

Well, that sucked.

Let’s face it. Some runs just aren’t meant to be good runs. Sometimes, running is wonderful. You feel free, loose, fast. You get in that trance-like state that happens on good long runs. Today was not one of those days.

I think the problem began at work. Things have been extra crazy lately, requiring long hours and lots of working breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. It’s been a stressful time, and the early mornings and late nights (and, admittedly, the stress-related Girl Scout cookie binges) are taking their toll. This morning, my alarm went off, alerting me that it was time for track day. I took a quick survey of my status.

Sleep – bad

Diet – bad

Stress level – bad

Headache – present

I went back to sleep. A few hours later, I woke up for another try at the track. Not much had changed, but I decided to get out there anyway. It should come as no surprise that the run was bad. I felt sluggish and miserable. My Garmin died two intervals into my workout. It just sucked. I pushed through, but it was’t pretty or pleasant.

It’s runs like these that make me appreciate the truly beautiful runs. No matter how bad any one run may be, running is pretty cool. It’s the bad runs that make the good runs great.

So, I’m moving on from my bad run – by hopping on a plane to DC. I’m doing part of a conference for work, then, on Saturday, running the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon with a friend. I’m sure we will have a fun time. Here’s hoping that the running is good…

CT Pace Per Mile Update: Bolton Road Race!

In this Connecticut Pace Per Mile Race Report for March 12 – 18, 2012, I am featuring an outstanding race, the Bolton Road Race.

If you’re looking for the results, you can find them here.

34th Annual Bolton Road Race, Sunday, March 18, 2012, 1pm, Bolton, CT  – Beginning and ending at Bolton High School (72 Brandy Street, Bolton), the Road Race features two distances: a 5 mile and a 5k course. The 5 mile race is the classic distance, complete with a HILL at mile 4.5. The hill is what makes it great! This unique course runs through beautiful Bolton on a well marked course. Yes, there’s a hill at mile 4.5, but it’s a great hill – just the type of challenge runners like – and a downhill finish. For the second year, they will also be offering a 5k option. The 5k will be run around Bolton, but will not include the famous hill. T-shirts will be provided for the first 100 pre-registered runners and there will be awards at the finish. Age group awards will go three deep for the 5 mile race. Plus, as a special bonus for Bolton residents who run the 5 mile race, there’s the First Bolton Finisher award. The first finisher from Bolton gets his/her name engraved on a giant trophy that’s kept in the library for all to see. The defending champion isn’t running this year, so it’s a chance for a new first finisher to win the honor. The entry fee is $20 and children under 12 are free. This race is well organized thanks to Dani Kennedy, a great race director, and a team of dedicated runners in charge of every aspect of the race. A runner herself, you can count on Dani and her team to plan a well organized, well marked, runner-friendly race. This is my top pick for the weekend of the 17-18th. Sign up today!

Ned Kennedy holding the First Bolton Finisher Trophy - be the first 5 mile finisher from Bolton and get your name engraved on the trophy!

Don’t forget to sign up to win a box of goodies from Sof Sole by following the entry instructions on the Sof Sole review post.

Also, “like” my new Facebook page to get exciting updates.

A few holdovers from past reports that might be of interest:

Shamrock Shuffle, Oakville, CT, March 17, 2012, 10am

20th Annual Leprechaun 5 Miler, Madison, CT, March 18, 2012, 11am

Keep running!

Gear Review (and Giveaway!): Sof Sole Socks

Not only is this post a gear review – it’s a giveaway! One lucky reader will win a cool box of goodies from Sof Sole. Read on to see how to win!

Some time ago, the nice folks at Sof Sole sent me a box of products to review for the blog. I had fond memories of some Sof Sole socks I wore long ago (in high school!), so I happily agreed. In the box came a lovely package of CoolMax Lite socks, Airr Insoles, and a coupon for my next purchase.

I immediately set out to test the socks and insoles. While I like the insoles just fine, I’m not much of an insole person. They were suitably squishy and I enjoyed them. If you like a nice, soft insole with some spring, I would recommend them. But, I really want to draw your attention to the CoolMax Lite socks, because they were pretty cool. Haha.

The Sof Sole CoolMax Lite socks have several key features most runners and fitness walkers would like. They have a nice, deep heel pocket, which minimizes sock shifting (and blisters). They have a thin, synthetic fabric construction, which is not only comfortable, but moisture wicking. Finally, the socks have a snug arch band for a good fit and a little bit of arch support.

I am prone to blisters, so I first tested the CoolMax Lite socks on a normal work day in some casual sneakers. They were a success. My feet were comfortable and blister-free. Thus, they graduated up to short run wear. That test was a success. The final test of the CoolMax sock was a long walk with my mom in Florida. I really wanted to test the cooling and anti-shifting properties of the sock. I must say, the socks were great.

I really liked the deepness of the heel pocket. The sock stayed up and situated on my foot. Despite the relatively deep heel pocket, the socks didn’t come up much higher on my ankle than any other low-cut sock and the sock didn’t shift at all as I wore them. This is really important to me as a blister-prone wearer. I could be sure the sock would stay in place and protect my foot. The sock also didn’t have any seams or changes in thickness on the heel. On me, the slightest change in thickness can cause blisters. I couldn’t find anything that would create a heel blister in the CoolMax socks. I also liked the fabric of the sock. It has a nice, smooth synthetic feel that seemed soft on my foot. The socks are quite thin, with a slightly thicker fabric on the bottom. I generally like thinner socks, particularly on the top of my foot, so I liked the thinness of the sock. It did the job wicking and helping my feet stay cool on a 90 degree day in Florida. I was impressed with the ability of the sock to manage foot moisture. For me, the socks were a success. They didn’t shift, they didn’t give me blisters, they felt soft and smooth, and they kept my feet cool and dry. All in all, I liked the Sof Sole CoolMax Lite socks and would recommend them to anyone looking for an inexpensive, but high quality thin fitness sock.

Details: Sof Sole CoolMax Lite socks are available for men and women and are sized extra small to large for custom fit. The socks are available at major retailers and online. Head over to the Sof Sole website for more information. You can also learn more about other Sof Sole products like their insoles, and shoe care products on their website.

Now for the giveaway…

If you’re interested in trying out the Sof Sole CoolMax Lite socks, this is your lucky day! One lucky reader will be the proud recipient of a box of goodies from Sof Sole, including the CoolMax socks featured in this review (men’s and women’s sizing is available). To win, you must either: 1) Like Sof Sole on Facebook and tell me you did in a comment, or 2) Follow Sof Sole on Twitter and tell me you did in a comment. If you do both, you’ll be entered to win twice. I will randomly select (on March 15, 2012) one lucky reader as the winner of a Sof Sole box of goodies. Good luck!

PS – While you’re on Facebook and Twitter, like and follow me! You can find my links on the right side of this page.

Disclosure statement: Sof Sole provided me free products to review for this post. I was not compensated monetarily and do not have an ongoing relationship with Sof Sole. Though I was given free products to review, I conducted the review with integrity and the content of this review represents my personal experience with the product.