Countdown to the 20th Disney Marathon

Let me first say – Eeeeeeeeeeeee! I’m here. In Florida. The Disney Marathon is tomorrow! It’s so exciting that I can’t stand it. As training has progressed and it’s gotten closer and closer, I have been progressing at the expected rate through Rachel’s Seven Stages of Race Preparation.

  1. Confidence (“That training run wasn’t so bad. I can totally do this!”)
  2. Denial (“I have plenty of time to train. The race isn’t for weeks.” Truth – race is less than a month/two weeks/etc. away -or- “My leg doesn’t really hurt that much.”)
  3. Bargaining (“Gods of Running, if you let me survive this training run, I will give up candy.”, “Fibula, if you stay in place, I will never curse you again.”)
  4. Paranoia (*cough* “I am sure I have pneumonia, or Ebola.”, “I am sure that the cramp is the first sign of gangrene setting in.”, “Maybe I didn’t even sign up for the race. Do I have plane tickets?”)
  5. Sense of Impending Doom (“What the hell was I thinking?!”, “Something horrible will befall me and I won’t be able to race.”)
  6. Existential Questioning ( at the start of the race – “Why did I think this was a good idea? This is very bad idea.”, “Running is really weird. Why do I do it?”)
  7. Euphoria (post-race – “I LOVE running!”, “That was amazing!”, “I can’t wait to race again. Next time…”, “Woooo hoooo!!”)

Deep into the Paranoia stage of race preparation, I traveled to Florida earlier this week. I was sure my sore throat was the beginnings of this epic flu, or perhaps salmonella. Maybe malaria. I decided no homeopathic remedy was too weird to try. I have sprays and zinc lozenges and Airborne and vitamins. Luckily, I was distracted from my Chicken Little state by the expo. Yay!

Disney Marathon Expo

The expo was super fun. In typical Disney fashion, everything was well organized and every detail anticipated. There was one door and staircase to get in, one to get out. There were individual computers and printers that printed waivers for forgetful folks (I printed mine twice but left it at home). There were helpful and happy volunteers and cast members at every corner. Tons of great vendors were in the vendor space – SPIbelt, Runningskirts, Run Team Sparkle, The Stick, and many clothing vendors. Mom and I had a great time shopping and looking around. We even spied Jeff Galloway. There were great picture opportunities.

Disney Marathon Expo Pictures

Back at home, Paranoia gave way to Sense of Impending Doom. Luckily, there were plenty of distractions. I’ve been enjoying great Cuban food, fresh picked strawberries, and time with my mom and dad. Yesterday, the big task was putting the finishing touches on my costume (Cinderella) and developing a race-day plan. Mom made puffy cap sleeves for my Cinderella outfit and I sewed my tiara on my hat. The tiara is one my mom made for me when I was 6 or so, and totally in love with Cinderella.

Cinderella prep

Sense of Impending Doom wouldn’t be denied by daytime distractions. Last night, I had the most vivid dream that I woke up at 6:30am and missed the marathon start by an hour. It was so realistic that I woke up (at 3am) with a start. Being in my room at home didn’t reassure me. I thought that not only had I missed the start, but that I wasn’t even on Disney property. I had to look at my phone to check the date, and Twitter just to be sure that it was the half marathon today. Whew! Doom or not, tomorrow is the big day. Everything is done. All there is to do is run – and have a magical race!

Have a great race

Connecticut Race Report – December 2012

It’s winter in Connecticut, and though we don’t have snow right now, the cold temperatures and threats of bad weather mean that racing season is coming to an end. There aren’t many upcoming races, but there are opportunities to save on great spring events. I will highlight a few great events in this short Connecticut Race Report.

December Events

Hartford Track Club Indoor Track Meet, “Bring Back the Mile”, December 9, 2012, 7-10pm – The HTC is holding an indoor track meet at Weslyean University in Middlet5own, CT.  Events include the mile and 5k. Races will be organized by age in the mile and by pace in the 5k. There is a youth quarter mile event for children.  More information can be found on the Hartford Track Club website and the listing for the event on Active.com.

Save on Registration for Spring Events

Want to get a jump start on that New Year’s Resolution? Consider signing up for one of these great spring events today. Need a training plan or a coach to help you get (and stay) motivated? Check out my coaching information.

Bolton Road Race, Sunday, March 10, 2013, 1pm, Bolton, CT – Featuring both a 5 mile and 5k distance for the second year, the Bolton Road Race has something for everyone. The 5 mile race features a challenging hill at mile 4 and both races have lovely, rural loop courses. The race is well organized thanks to a great race director. Advance registration in the month of December is only $15 online.

Hartford Quarter Marathon, Saturday, March 30, 2013, 10am, West Hartford, CT – This annual event is a favorite of local runners. The unique distance, great finisher’s buffet (with homemade food!), and friendly crowd make it a fun event. Advance registration, before January 1, is a bargain at $25.

Connecticut Race Report: November 2012

It’s November in Connecticut and, as if we didn’t notice the colder temperatures and blustery weather, we got a Nor’easter last night that dumped inches of snow on the area. Yuck!

 

November is also the end of the busy fall racing season in Connecticut. Races will be few and far between until spring, but there are some options for the hardy few who want to get out there and race.

Monson Memorial Classic, Monson, MA, Sunday, November 11, 2012 – The Monson Memorial Classic features three events: a half marathon, a 5k, and a 2 mile fun walk. The half starts at noon, the 5k at 12:15 and the fun walk immediately after the 5k. The Monson Memorial Classic road race was started in 1996, shortly after the deaths of Kelly Waldron and Kathy Waldron Perry. These sisters died eight months apart from different types of cancer. This race is in their memory, and proceeds to Griffin’s Friends and Melanoma Education Foundation. I’ve run Monson before and it’s a fun, challenging race. Both the 5k and the half marathon have largely uphill courses. The first 7-8 miles of the half marathon have an overall uphill profile. But, the course is lovely, run on back roads and country lanes. Be forewarned that traffic is not blocked from the race course, including the final two miles of the half marathon and the finish line on Route 32. There will be cars on 32, and caution is merited. This year, there will be chip timing, free massage after the race, and prize money for individuals and teams. As an added bonus, this race has wonderful, home cooked food post-race. I thought the apple cider and chili were fantastic! I enjoy this race and recommend it if you’re looking for a challenge. Fees are $55 for the half marathon and $35 for the 5k. For reference, here’s the elevation profile for the half marathon.

Freedom RunFreedom Run, Hartford, CT, Sunday November 11, 2012 at 10:00 am – This popular 5k is a production of HYPE (a great organization) and the MetroHartford Alliance. It’s a measured 5k course that’s run on well maintained park trails. The course starts in front of The Riverfront Boathouse and runs north through the Riverside Park trail system. The course is a loop and ends back at the Boathouse. This event is run to honor the men and women who serve our country. Registration is $25 in advance, $30 race day. There is a discount for students and children. There will be professional timing and runners will get a t-shirt.
8K Cross Country Challenge8k Cross Country Challenge, West Hartford, CT, Saturday November 17, 2012 at 10:00 am – Sponsored by the Hartford Track Club, this trail race features a rolling course with gravel, trails, fields, and minor asphalt. It’s a unique distance, perfect for a PR. The race is also a bargain at $10 in advance and $15 race day. There will be few amenities, but expect a well organized event.
Finally, no race report would be complete without mention of the Manchester Road Race. This great race needs almost no introduction. It’s on Thanksgiving Day, in downtown Manchester, and is a wonderful, spirited race. Learn more about the race and its storied history on their website.

Connecticut Race Report, October 2012

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great events in Connecticut in the month of October. With the Hartford Marathon and some fun Halloween-themed races, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Here are a few running events you might enjoy:

Aids Run & Walk

AIDS 5k Run and Walk, West Hartford, CT, Saturday October 6, 2012 at 10:00 am – Come out and run or walk the 5K course where the proceeds will benefit AIDS Project Hartford and the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition. Registration is $25 for the 5k run and $10  for the 5k walk. Amenities include professional timing, awards, and water stations.

ING Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, 5K & Kids KING Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, 5K & Kids K, Hartford, CT, Saturday October 13, 2012 at 8:00 am  – Join thousands of runners at one of Connecticut’s most popular marathon/half marathons! The races start in beautiful Bushnell Park and wind through Hartford, West Hartford, and other nearby towns (depending on your distance). Registration includes a shirt, awards, finisher medals (for the marathon and half), on-course entertainment, and post-race food. This year there will be NO race day registration, so come prepared! Check out their website for registration details and information about the associated weekend events.
Harvest Run and Walk, Manchester, CT, Saturday, October 21, 2012 at 8:30am – This 5k race is sponsored and organized by Manchester Running Company and will be held at Manchester Community College and will benefit the Community Child Guidance Clinic of Manchester. Registration is $20 in advance and $25 on race day. The first 100 registered participants will get race t-shirts.
Race for Crew, Mansfield, CT, Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10am – This new race starts and ends at EO Smith High School (near UConn’s campus) in Mansfield Connecticut. Proceeds will benefit the EO Smith High School crew team and help support their season. Prizes will be awarded for overall and age group winners. Registration is $15 in advance and $20 after October 19th. Register online or in person on race day.
Devil made me do it 6.66 miler and Not so devilish 3.33 miler
Devil Made Me Do It 6.66 Miler and Not So Devilish 3.33 Miler, Glastonbury, CT, Sunday October 28, 2012 at 9:00 am – The devil made me do it is a fun Halloween themed road race that is designed for runners of all abilities. The courses begin and end at Smith Middle School. All registered runners will receive devil horns!

 

Connecticut Race Report, Race for Crew

In my efforts to report on races in Connecticut, I sometimes come across great races that need a little promotional help. I want to point out one such event.

Race for Crew, Mansfield, CT, Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10am – This new race starts and ends at EO Smith High School (near UConn’s campus) in Mansfield Connecticut. Proceeds will benefit the EO Smith High School crew team and help support their season. Prizes will be awarded for overall and age group winners. Registration is $15 in advance and $20 after October 19th. Register online or in person on race day.

Please consider running this race and supporting a good cause.

Lake Winnipesaukee Relay – Legs 5-8

In this continuation of the Mansfield Trail Runners’ recap of the Fred Brown Lake Winniepsaukee Relay, my teammates will cover legs 5-8.

Leg 5 – Sarah

Wow!  The Winni relay exceeding all of my expectations-  I had a blast getting a chance to bond with fellow Mansfield runners and was impressed with the scenery of New Hampshire. Oh, and the run kicked my tail 😉  Many thanks to Warren for sharing this unique race with us and to Rachel for organizing so many logistics.
I ran leg #5–10.6 miles from a ski area to Morgan Farm.  I waited with team members at the ski area for Alicia to arrive.  Around 1:30, I lined up very seriously in the exchange zone and was stoked to see Alicia finishing strong. I grabbed the baton and took off, but then my visor flew off!!  So I actually had to turn around and grab my visor. Geez, I’m a klutz!  That inspired me to take off a bit quickly.  After a few minutes, I passed a dude wearing a purple singlet.  It was hot and the sun was glaring down on me.  The course was on the side of a somewhat busy road. I was sweating a lot and had to deal with the extremely slick baton.  I felt like I was running pretty strong and powered up a couple short hills.  My first two miles were under 9 minute pace.
It was getting hotter, and I drank water at every opportunity. At a couple spots, folks were stopped on the side of the road, handing out water, and their cheering really helped out.  I could see a couple runners ahead of me, and I was glad that I wasn’t lost 😉  By mile 4, I could tell that I was expending a lot of energy. The course was scenic- going by farms with traditional New England stone walls.
At mile 5, I took a gel.  I was a mess during this race!  I was running in a sports bra and shorts and was still boiling. I guess that’s what happens when you race in the middle of the afternoon!  I started dumping water on my head to cool myself down. I did NOT want to overheat. I pretended that I was doing an Ironman- where they end up running a marathon in hot, brutal conditions. There were some extended downhills, and I knew they’d shred my quads but I also wanted to make up some time. I tried to let myself float down those hills.
At mile 7, I had to bribe myself to get to mile 8. I checked my garmin a ton, hoping that the miles would click along.  Fortunately, there were a few shaded sections of the course and some clouds rolled in.  I passed a couple people and crossed my fingers that I could stay ahead of them. I sang a few Lady Gaga songs in my head. I reminded myself that my comrades from Connecticut were waiting for me and that really, really motivated me to keep running. It made a huuuuge difference to be running as part of a team.
By mile 9, I knew that I’d make it to the finish. I wanted to finish strong.  My leg ended with a downhill, and I forced my jello legs to move to the exchange zone. I was elated to hand off to Stacey.  I couldn’t believe that I survived this race.  Apparently, Lake Winnipesaukee means the”smile of the Great Spirit.”  I think someone was smiling that we had the moxy, the fierceness, and the sense of humor to run all the way around this fine lake.

Leg 6 – Stacey

My leg was #6 which was 6.4 miles that was relatively flat (some minor inclines).  It was on a course that started out on a country like road (at the farm) but ended in a stretch of highway that had lots of traffic and not a whole lot to look at.  I was very fortunate to run at a time when the sky was getting cloudy as it would have been a lot harder if the sun was beating down on me- it was just plain humid!! (I feel sorry for the others before me that had to run in the hot sun).  It started to sprinkle but did not rain during my leg.  I also got a chance to ride around the entire course and I thought that my leg was a great match for me. (running any distance in heat is challenging).  It is really a perfect match for someone who only runs short to moderate distances at a time and who does not like downhills.  I did find the baton hard to hold as it felt slimy, so I ended up lacing it between my fingers.

Leg 7 – Jack

Well….actually it was about my leg at least partly.  An occasional chronic Achilles issue did bother me, but did not stop me. What a fun weekend.  I wanted to get this written down before I forgot the significant stuff.  My leg was #7 and 8.5 miles which I rounded up to 9 in my log book

First a couple observations about the relay from my perspective….  I’ve run for 30 years but never an event like this.  A race that I did not know really when I would be running (sometime between 1 and 4PM) or the conditions….or even the terrain.  I did have the benefit of driving around and seeing my teammates legs and figured it would be something like theirs.  Maybe a two mile hill up Gunstock like Laura….or maybe a 90 degree slog like Rachel., even a rolling changeable 11 miles like Sarah.  We had gotten in late and missed Rachels elaborate spread sheet of expected times, conditions and contingencies.    But I found it odd that although we were at Winnepesaukee……we barely ever had sight of the lake.  A glimpse here and there, but mostly the race takes place on busy two lane highways with fairly wide shoulders and busy traffic….my leg was no different…except for the weather.

So….my lovely wife ran leg 6 and handed me the baton at a school for my own little race at about 4:00PM.  It was sort of over already in the sense that we had no hope of making the 5:00 cutoff for the last leg and I knew Warren would be running before I could hand him the baton (race rules).  At this point the baton has been with 6 other people and was fairly slimy and not fun to hold…..I decided it was most comfortable to shove it down the back of my shorts where my butt crack would hold it secure……believe me it was better than the other places it had been earlier in the day.  We may have to invest in the baton holster next time.   The first few miles were an uncomfortable and increasingly painful slog along another two lane highway.  I had no idea where we were competitively since other teams had finished hours before….and a few people passed me right away….but I settled into an even…if slow pace to try to accommodate my leg pain.  But around mile 4 I got lucky.  A light rain quickly turned into a torrential downpour.  It changed everything for me. Its odd…..I just love running in the rain…and this was more than that.  Eventually it was a driving downpour and the road runoff was just little rivers that were fun to splash through and lubricated my gait, my body and my attitude.   Ahhhh….after the whole day stuck in the car, cheering and waiting, this was my turn.  Although the race itself was long over, I did manage to pass Lori from Silk City Striders and splash my way to the transition.  Of course there was no one there by then….but the timer guy got out of his truck with his umbrella and told me I was done.

So…lessons learned.  After many years of running, its nice to find so many things I can still work on and try to improve.  How to eat and hydrate before an anticipated and indefinite start time.   How to be competitive with a coed, mixed open/masters/senior team.  And how to have fun and enjoy whatever the race day and the weather can deliver.

Leg 8 – Warren

My leg started at 5 when all the last leg runners   teams   that had not reached that point had to leave together. It had the feeling of a race within a race. It started on a steep downhill so I positioned myself near the front to take advantage of my downhill “prowless” At the last minute I shucked my beloved MTR shirt because of the impending rain and warm temperature (about 80 degrees). I  got off to a good start and actually led the group down the first hill.I will summarize  the rest of the leg under “ugly”, “bad” and “good” categories. THE UGLY: This had to be me plodding up the three long steep hills. The first was one and one half miles long with nearly 350′ of vertical rise. The other two were “only” 1/2 miles long but just as steep as hill #1. THE BAD There was a torrential downpour for most of the leg. It was like running in a river.  And there was a constant stream of cars going by the whole leg. THE GOOD For each uphill there was an equal and opposite downhill where I was able to pass the runners who passed me on the uphills. I was actually able to have a finishing kick on the last up hill to the finish. In spite of the uphill trudging I was able  to average 9.5 min/mile average! Finally the enthusiastic greeting I got from Laura, Rachel and Marc at the finish.
All in all I felt the weekend was a great success!! It was a pleasure to bring back some old running memories and to share the Winnipesaukee Experience with my MTR buddies. I agree we need to go on more road trips.

Lake Winnipesaukee Relay – Legs 1-4

This month, my team from the Mansfield Trail Runners and I ran the Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay. It was a wonderful race and we had a great time. In our prep for the race, we noticed that there wasn’t much information online about the legs and the race itself. As a public service to the running community, I asked each of our runners to write a short recap of their experience of their legs. In this first part, we’ll cover Legs 1-3 (a recap of Leg 4 is on the way). You’ll see a theme – my team didn’t do much research and had a great time. Sounds like runners to me.

Leg 1 – Laura

I did not do any research prior to the relay and only knew that I was running the first leg and that it was 10.7 miles. The leg started with a long downhill which I took pretty fast because I’m better at downhills than uphills and I figured this was a good opportunity to put some time in the bank. My quads did not thank me later ;-). Next, as best I can recall, came rolling hills. The temperature was not very hot but it was muggy and I rapidly began to overheat. I determined that I must lose the shirt and stopped at the first aide station, unpinned my number, moved it to my shorts and took off the shirt. Now I was cooler, but carrying the shirt in addition to the baton. Within a mile I found some kind strangers who would be at the finish and were willing to take the shirt off my hands. Thank you kind strangers! There was more help from kind strangers in the hydration department over the course of the leg. The two water stops available were not enough and I failed to carry water with me so I was grateful. If I do this leg again I will bring a hand bottle. Towards the middle of the leg I fell in with a small pack and we worked together for several miles. This pack provided me with valuable intel on how far we had gone, how far we had to go and what I was in for. I learned that the last 3 miles was mostly uphill! I really had not planned or conserved for this hill, but managed to schlog up it anyway, as one always inevitably does in these situations. Things got very uncomfortable towards the end of the leg, kind of like the way the last few miles of a marathon feels, probably because I have not been running much and am not in good running shape. Boy was I happy to see my team at the transition area when it finally appeared! Well that’s my report. My advice: Prepare for lots of downhill, lots of uphill, bring extra water and take off your shirt while you still can!

Leg 2 – Marc

I didn’t do any homework on the legs and simply asked for the longest, as I enjoy long distance runs. Consequently, I was assigned leg two–and didn’t really know much about it other than it was purported to be mostly downhill.
It started with a long, gradual climb. Just about the time I had my fill of climbing, the downhill began–and the leg lived up to its reputation: significant downhill. In fact, this leg is not for a person with knee issues or someone who doesn’t like to run downhill. I found myself widening my stride and picking up a great deal of speed. This probably contributed to me running faster than I should have in the first half of my leg. I became concerned about positive splits once the course transitioned into rolling hills.
 This leg does go onto secondary roads and along the water for a distance, which is quaint and pleasurable to view; however, if you’re anything like me, you don’t really do much sight-seeing while racing.
 By the time I reached the second water station, there was a little more than 4 miles remaining and I was definitely feeling the effects of the first third of the course. The last mile or so flattens out and–if you have any reserves–you can step it up and come in strong for a finish. Overall, the leg was enjoyable and probably one that you want to assign to the fastest runner in your group.
Leg 3 – Rachel (Me!)
One of my teammates had quite possibly the best description of leg three – it was a survival exercise. When my leg started, it was just starting to get sunny. It was about 85 degrees and humid. My leg began with Bay Hill Road, billed at the steepest hill on a “hilly course”. They weren’t kidding. There’s a big warning sign at the bottom of Bay Hill notifying unsuspecting motorists (and runners) that the hill has a 20% grade. It lasts for just over a half mile. At 20% grade. Everyone had been warning me about Bay Hill and I heard several reports that it “evened out” after Bay Hill. So, motivated by the idea that if I could get over this one big hill quickly that I could have a nice, flat run, I ran up Bay Hill. And turned the corner to find a second, huge hill. This one a mere 12% grade over a half mile. I was just over a mile in and had climbed over 500 feet. The sun was shining, it was about 90 degrees and humid, and I was so, so hot. I had water with me, but it wasn’t enough. I refilled my bottle at the first water stop.
I came across a friend of a friend at mile 3. I didn’t know him. I shoved a pile of sweaty clothes at him, took off my shirt, shoved my number in my shorts, and went on my way. I was sure that the stories of the crazy, shirtless lady would be circulating the exchange by the time I made it. By the fourth hill I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to walk. I was hot, miserable, and exhausted and I had 4 miles to go. The hills kept coming. There really was no break and, given that I was running on Route 28, there was also no shade. There wasn’t so much as a tall weed to give me any relief from the sun. Heat ripples were coming off the pavement. I walked up a few hills because I was so hot that I was dizzy. A few people passed me and I saw them fade into the distance. My team appeared like a mirage around mile 4. Some nice strangers gave me water at some point. It was cold and I drank it immediately. Time passed slowly. By mile 6 I was demoralized. I had been walking some, knew I was going to go over my projected time, and there was no end in sight. I forged on, knowing my team was counting on me. Later, our hosts would tell me they don’t even like to drive on Route 28.
At mile 7.5 the course turns and heads into the city. I was so grateful to be off route 28. Exhausted, I continued to the exchange at a school. When I finished, the only thing I could say to my teammate was “take off your shirt while you still can”. Marc asked me if I was ok. I was pretty sure I wasn’t. I was dangerously hot, despite walking and coming in nearly 10 minutes over my projected time (a minute per mile slower than I had hoped). The moral of the story – give Leg 3 to your teammate who can best tolerate heat and hills, or who is slightly sadistic. It wasn’t the leg for me, a terrible hot weather runner and not really a lover of so many hills. It was punishing and I won’t be rushing to repeat it. Next year I’ll try a different leg and our sadistic friend, Jack, will take mine. I won’t be sad to say goodbye to Leg 3.

Connecticut State Report, September

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great events in Connecticut in the month of September. It’s starting to cool off and there are some really fun events coming up – including several half marathons and a new relay race in West Hartford. Here are a few you might enjoy:

Running Events:

September 15-16

Lightfoot Summer Series Half Marathon
Lightfoot Summer Series Half Marathon, Norwalk, CT, Saturday September 15, 2012, 8am – Presented by The Lightfoot Running Club & The City of Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department, this half marathon is part of a series. There isn’t much information online, but the registration cost is low ($15) and it’s advertised as having professional timing and an interesting course.
Free to Breathe 5KFree to Breathe 5k, Glastonbury, CT, Sunday September 16, 2012, 9:30am – This event provides an opportunity for lung cancer advocates, survivors and the community to come together to raise awareness and support in the movement to defeat lung cancer. All proceeds will benefit the National Lung Cancer Partnership’s research, education and awareness programs. The course will be run in Glastonbury on their rural streets. Registration is $28 in advance and $30 on race day.

September 22 and 23:

Hogsback Half MarathonHogsback Half Marathon, Colebrook, CT, Saturday September 22, 2012, 9am – This great event is hosted by the Hartford Track Club, which usually means a well-run race. The course is advertised as super fast, with a 100-ft net decrease in elevation. The course will be run on country roads through the towns of Riverton, Pleasant Valley, Hartland and Colebrook. Long sleeve technical t-shirts will be provided for all pre-registered runners. There will be 10 water stations stocked with water and sports drink, GU available on course at miles 5 and 9, great post-race food, custom “piggie” finisher medals and electronic bib tag timing by Platt Systems timing. All this for only $40! Check them out on Facebook, too.
Niantic Bay Half Marathon & 5kNiantic Bay Half Marathon (and 5k), Niantic, CT, Sunday September 23, 2012, 9am – The certified Half Marathon course runs through picturesque Rocky Neck State Park and into Giants Neck and includes scenic views of Long Island Sound. The certified 5K course is mostly flat and will be run entirely in Rocky Neck State Park. There will be professional timing and water stations on the course. Registration is $40 for the half marathon, $25 for the 5k.

Relay!:

Interested in running a relay but not ready for a multi-day event? Try the new, Max’s West Hartford Relay!

Max’s West Hartford Relay, West Hartford, CT, Saturday, September, 22, 2012, 8am – This new event, sponsored by Max’s Restaurant Group, features 8, 5 mile loops. Teams of 2, 4, or 8 runners each run either one or two loops (non-consecutive runs for the 4 person teams). More information about the loops and the team structure is on their website. The registration fee varies by number of people on the team. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the West Hartford Public Schools Physical Education Department. This sounds like a great event. I hope that some of you will try it – and report back to me on how it is!

Multisport Events:

Women’s Triathlon
Women’s Triathlon, Farmington, CT, Sunday September 9, 2012, 7:30am – This women’s only event includes a sprint distance triathlon and triathlon relay. The sprint includes a 1/2 mile in Dunning Lake at Winding Trails, 12 mile bike through Farmington and Avon, and a flat 5K run on the shaded, wide dirt trails in Winding Trails. This is a great event for first time triathletes and women of all ability levels. Registration is $75-100 depending on when you register and that includes a shirt, professional timing and photography, and USAT sanctioning.

Simply Du It DuathlonSimply Du It Duathlon, Ridgefield, CT, Sunday September 23, 2012, 8am – Enjoy a fast, flat loop run through a wooded residential area. Then transition to a very fast, scenic ride through Ridefield’s back country. The course is: run is 2.5 miles, bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles. Registration is $75 in advance.

Hood to Coast – A Recap, Part 2

Read on for the second installment in my Hood to Coast Recap. Part 1 is here.

Saturday, 2am

It’s nearly time for me to run. Two faithful (and awake) runners get out of the van in the cold to wait at the exchange with me. I’m so grateful for the fleece Delta blanket a teammate has stolen from the plane. Everyone tells me to hurry. The sooner I am done running the sooner we can get to the next exchange, and designated sleeping point. Leg 18 doesn’t have van support – the vans go a different way to the exchange – so I bring my water bottle. My leg starts out in an area dominated by mini-mall and gas station sprawl. It’s completely dark and oncoming cars have their brights on. I am blinded by the changes in light and grateful when I turn into a neighborhood. The neighborhood gradually deteriorates. Someone on the corner offers me “something to help with the pain”. Yikes. I run faster. A few people pass me, but they’re moving so fast that their lights fade quickly in the darkness. I curse my headlamp. It is not bright enough. I can’t see anything and the road is a bumpy mess of potholes and patches. The course winds through the neighborhood and into farm country. I see the glimmering eyes of animals in the woods staring at me. Creepy! I run on, uphill. The hill changes to gravel, but keeps going up. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I hear cheering and see the distant glow of the exchange. It’s like a mirage. I sprint to the exchange. I am so, so glad that creepy run is over. The teammates who have met me usher me across the field and into the van. We are all eager to get to the sleeping spot. On the way one teammate is so tired she curls up in the footwell of the back seat, trying to get comfortable. I am too awake to sleep. I’m starving, but too tired to eat.

Saturday, 3am

We arrive at the major exchange. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Hundreds of vans are parked in every available spot in a giant, grassy field. Thousands of runners, bundled up in blankets, coats, and hats mill around. The line for the Honey Bucket porta potties is at least a hundred people long. I have to pee but am horrified by the state of the porta potties and the idea of having to use one in the dark. We pull into a spot and have to stop sharply to avoid running over the people who are inexplicably sleeping in sleeping bags in the middle of the field. There are tents and sleeping bags everywhere. It’s what I imagine a runners-only refugee camp looks like. We all try to sleep.

Saturday, 5am

I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept at all. My neck hurts and I’m cold. One van-mate is awake. We give up on sleeping and head outside to check out the area. It’s early morning and we see that about half of the vans have moved on in the night. It’s foggy and cold. We use the porta potty and wait in line for coffee for our van. Back at the van, we all brush our teeth and eat breakfast. I feel cleaner with brushed teeth. I know that this is crazy – I haven’t showered and have been in a van overnight, but I feel better. At least I changed my clothes and used a baby wipe to clean up. I’m sure to a stranger we are disgusting, but I feel practically fresh.

We are all surprisingly upbeat considering the lack of sleep, lack of food, and sweatiness. Despite our state of exhaustion, we rally and get out of the van to cheer on the van 2 runner coming in. Cheers and high fives. Seeing our team is wonderful and we’re all awake and happy. The sun starts to come up and burn off the fog and we’re energized.

Saturday, morning

Everyone is running their last legs and the pain of the previous two is the topic of conversation. No one can move. Our van smells like a medicine cabinet exploded. We have muscle rub, Tiger Balm, and Biofreeze. We apply all of it. We use the Stick. We take advil. The overwhelming minty smell is probably a good thing. I don’t want to know how bad our van smells without it. We make an effort to clean out the van at the next exchange. It’s a lost cause. We’re gross, the van is covered in dust, and our stuff is everywhere. No one cares.

Saturday, noon? I don’t know – I’ve lost track of time

It’s rapidly approaching time for my last leg and we are stuck in a traffic jam at the bottom of the biggest hill I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I didn’t have to run over that hill. Another runner and I leap out of the van to run to the exchange. A volunteer yells at us.

Everyone is cranky. I wish I had eaten something other than another banana and more Fig Newtons. Finally, it’s time for my last leg. It’s billed as “mostly downhill”. Good joke, Hood to Coast staff. As I climb up yet another hill, I curse the course designer. My legs feel like sticks. I’m sure I look like Frankenstein running. But I run on, and suddenly, I’m overtaken by feelings of great joy. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful! I’m running outside, along a gorgeous trail, and I have friends waiting for me in a few miles. This is great! Euphoria lasts approximately one mile.

We are done and head directly to the bar. We have a drink. Everyone is tired and cranky. I don’t want a burger, and another teammate wants a salad, so we move on. I change clothes in a port potty. I’m getting quite adept at maneuvering in porta potties. Some time later, we arrive in Seaside. We’re all happy and already feeling nostalgic. We head for the ocean and dip our feet in. No one is brave enough to go in.

And, before we know it, it’s over. The announcer is calling our team to meet our last runner and we run over the finish line together. We pass out medals, we take pictures. And, suddenly, it’s over. There are hugs and high fives and stories of battles with hill and exhaustion. We are happy. We are a team. And I realize that it’s the best thing I’ve ever done as a runner.

Hood to Coast – A Recap, Part 1

This weekend I had the incredible joy of running in the Hood to Coast relay in Oregon. It was truly an amazing experience and I struggle to really capture its awesomeness in this recap, but I’ll try. The strange thing about Hood to Coast is that it is a bit of a time warp, or an alternate dimension, where it’s difficult to keep track of time and everything blurs together. I have bits and pieces of memories, but some stories seem out of order and whole chunks of time have been lost to sleeplessness and exhaustion. I’ll try to piece together a recap that makes sense…

Thursday

The team is finally together having arrived on various flights. We meet up at the team’s main hotel to go grocery shopping, sight seeing, and touring.

First, we headed to the store. What an adventure. You’d think it would be easy to shop for a day and a half in a van. Turns out 12 runners eat 12 different things before runs. What makes one person sick is the best food ever to another. We end up with cookies, pudding, Fig Newtons, Cheerios, apples (two kinds), bananas (5 pounds), and tangerines. We are sure it’s too much food. Next, we decided visit Multnomah Falls, a gorgeous waterfall.

It seemed like a good idea to walk the one mile to the top. Turns out that one mile is straight up. Half of the team pushes onward, thighs burning. We make it to the top, realize it isn’t that exciting, and was probably a bad idea, and head back down. We all pile into the van and drive to the Pearl District for some shopping. Fun!

Friday, morning

We have a great start time – 11:15am, so we can sleep in and leave at 9am. I’m sure this is the last sleep any of us will get, but I’m wide awake at 6am. The team starts the trek up the mountain and we’re all instantly fired up when we start to see runners coming down the mountain. We’re listening to music, talking, taking pictures. We pass the Safeway in Sandy and I realize that’s where my first leg will end. It sure doesn’t seem as flat as the elevation chart in the booklet. We keep climbing. Our first and second runners start worrying. Their legs are really straight down. Another teammate who has run HTC before warns – you can’t stop even if you want to. Yikes.

We make it to the timberline, the location of the start. We take lots of pictures and get into place. Our first runner starts her quad-shredding free fall down the mountain. The first few legs are exhilarating. We’re all so excited to be running that we chat non-stop between legs. When we pass our runner we all lean out the van windows screaming and cheering. Everyone gets out of the van and waits to cheer our runner in to the exchange. We get the first inkling that the legs may be harder than we anticipated. Everyone’s legs are shot.

Friday, noon-ish

I’m hungry. I realize that my plan to eat a huge breakfast and store food like a hibernating animal has failed. I eat some Cheerios, Fig Newtons, and a banana. The runner before me sets off on his “very hard” rated run. We drive down along the same route. I think very hard is an understatement.

Friday, afternoon

Time for me to run and finish the first set of legs for Van 1. I’m runner 6. I have to run along “rolling hills” and into the town of Sandy for a van exchange at the Safeway. It’s 86 degrees and sunny. There is no shade anywhere on my route and the heat waves coming of the blacktop are visible. A fire company hands out water and a gas station owner sprays me with a hose. I think he’s an angel. The hills, marked as “hard”, seem gigantic. It’s punishing, but I race down the mountain, knowing my team is waiting for me. I can hear the cheering from at least a quarter of a mile away. At the exchange, vans are everywhere, people are milling around, some cheering, some shopping, some resting. It’s total chaos and it’s amazing. I feel such a camaraderie with the other runners and it’s great to see my teammates in Van 2.

Van 1 decides to head to the hotel in Portland to eat and shower.

Friday, 6pm

Van 1 arrives at the hotel after sitting in traffic for some time. We are delighted to make it to happy hour in the hotel bar. Everyone eats real, hot food. It’s delicious. We all take showers and have an hour or so to rest. I can’t sleep. I write a blog post and send some texts instead. I’m sure this is a bad idea. Sleep would have been better, but I’m too excited and on an endorphin rush.

Friday, 9pm

We arrive at the second major van exchange, and park in a dirt lot. We walk to the exchange point, a park in the middle of the city near the water. It’s pitch black, but we somehow manage to locate our team and, together, we wait in the dark. We share stories of our legs and talk about the scenery. It’s beautiful. The weather is perfect.

Our first runner sets off on Leg 13. It’s kind of creepy. She runs over a bridge and along some railroad tracks. I’m secretly glad this isn’t my leg. The next two legs seem worse. It’s like psycho killer territory – old industrial areas, train tracks, and scary warehouses on the edge of Portland. Everyone in the van worries about how mentally hard these legs will be for the runners. We begin to move out of Portland and to an area that seemed like a road to nowhere. It’s dark, uphill, and boring. Leg 15 seems so miserable that we wait in the van at the halfway point to cheer for our runner. We make it to the next exchange, an abandoned weigh station. It’s late, dark, and everyone is tired. Everyone isn’t getting out of the van at every stop anymore. I eat more Fig Newtons. I think a midnight snack will help. Word of the tire store fire and associated lengthening of leg 17 is spreading. Our leg 17 runner takes the news of the mile addition with grace. He’s not ruffled. We are all tired, but we press on. It’s still fun, but maybe not as energetic as before.

To be continued…