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.

Connecticut Race Report, Late August

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great events in Connecticut in late August. It’s hot, hot, hot, and the kids are back to school, so there aren’t many races, but here are a few you might enjoy:

Running Events:

X-Treme Scramble #3HMF Extreme Scramble #3, Hartford, CT, Thursday, August 23, 2012, at 6pm – In this third installment of the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s summer series of X-Treme Scrambles, country music will be the focus. The course will be unpredictable but you’ll get Harpoon beer and Moe’s burritos at the finish line. The entry fee is around $30 and awards will be presented to age group winners. Full disclosure – I’m still mad at HMF for the 3.9 mile X-Treme Scramble #1 of 2012. These races are usually fun, but buyer beware – they are notorious for mis-measured courses and poorly marking the courses. If you run, be prepared.
Westport Road Runners Summer Series 9.3miWestport Road Runners Summer Series 9.3 mile run, Westport, CT, Saturday,  August 25, 2012, 8am – This is part of a 10-race Grand Prix Series hosted by the Westport Road Runners. The race is a bargain at $5 for Westport residents and $8 for everyone else. There is Grand Prix style scoring, so no prizes for individual events. The organizers promise a well-marked, interesting course with water stops.
Brooklyn Fair 5K Road RaceBrooklyn Fair 5k Road Race, Brooklyn, CT, Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 8am – Benefitting the Brooklyn School Cross Country Program, this race is part of a country fair. You can’t beat a fair for family fun. Come to run the race and stay all day to enjoy the country charm. Race entry is $14 in advance, $17 race day. There will be professional timing and post-race snacks. More information about the fair, along with a complete schedule of events, is here. 
Multisport Events:
Trifitness Women’s Triathlon and DuathlonTriFitness Women’s Triathlon, Duathlon, Norwalk, CT, Sunday August 26, 2012 at 6:30am – This great multisport event features several races suitable for everyone from seasoned triathletes to beginners. There is a Sprint Triathlon with a .5 mile swim, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run; a Duathlon with a 1.5 mile run, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run, and a relay option for the triathlon. Pre-registered athletes will get a women’s specific t-shirt and there will be awards and food post-race. The du is $55 and the tri is $65 in advance. Relay teams are encouraged and more information is on their website. Sorry, guys – this race is women only.
I hope you’ll consider one of these great events. If you’re looking for something else in the New England area, check out The Race Robot, a great site by athletes for athletes.

Let’s Tri!

I’m delighted to report that I can now add “triathlete” to my list of descriptors. I have been running a long time and always think of myself as a runner. But, in the past few years I have been thinking triathlon. It all started with my coach and friend. I saw him finish his first triathlon and have been hearing about his triathlon experiences for years. There was something oddly appealing about the combination of misery and accomplishment. I think it’s a sickness that runners have – that desire to push harder, do more, be faster, go longer.

In June I bought my very first grown up bike. His name is Bert and he’s a Trek commuting road bike. He’s not the fastest bike ever, but I love him. He and I have been going on rides here and there, trying to get comfortable with riding faster and farther. I started thinking that maybe I could do a triathlon. There was the tiny problem of swimming. I can swim and am a strong swimmer, just a pathetically slow swimmer. I had very good intentions of practicing swimming, but got an infection near my eye and had to stay out of the water. Undeterred, I signed up for a sprint triathlon.

Sandy Beach Triathlon

Before I knew it, Triathlon Day was upon me. I finished the Sandy Beach Triathlon in Morris, CT. It had a special “first timers” division, so it seemed like a good place to start. It was a sprint tri, with a .5 mile swim, 10 mile bike (advertised as “hilly”), and a 5k run. It was 90 degrees, sunny, and humid at race start. It cooled off to a balmy 84 by race end. The Sandy Beach area is gorgeous. The lake is a neat figure eight shape and has soft, brown sand.The seaweed was minimal and the water was very warm. I got all set up with my little transition area and didn’t even forget anything.

The race was well organized for a low budget operation. Everyone got their chip and got marked and were directed to select any spot in the transition area. The transition area was a free for all with a combination of very experienced folks with professional looking set ups, and a large group of first timers with our things off to the side. It was easy to get set up and helpful volunteers pointed the way.

Things got a little scary as soon as I saw the swim. A half mile is a super, crazy distance to swim. Add a bit of drifting of buoys and it may as well have been 10 miles to me. My arms were shot about a third of the way in. I have never been so happy as when I kicked the sand and could run into the transition. T1 didn’t go so well. I was dripping, sandy, and exhausted. I found my way easily through the transition area and there were volunteers there to point the way. Three minutes later I emerged on to the bike course. The bike course can only be described as a roller coaster. It was gorgeous, wrapping around the lake and past adorable marinas, lake homes, and forests. The roads were smooth and, although they were not closed to traffic, seemed safe. The course was very well marked and cheering volunteers were at every turn. Riding around the lake and through small communities was made for a pleasant ride. Had I not been racing I might have liked to stop at some of the lovely public piers. My bike segment went quite well. I was 144th place in just the swim alone, 59th place in the bike alone. I was pleased with my bike performance and even passed a few people. Coming into T2, I felt strong. That ended when I stepped off the bike. My legs were stiff, my arms were sore, and I was exhausted. I really felt like I had nothing left. But I had an uphill 5k in front of me, so I pulled myself together and, after a few minutes of walking, ran along. The running course was pretty much uphill. Luckily, there were friendly volunteers at a water stop halfway. It was a challenging run but an attractive road course through a forest.

This is what an exhausted triathlon finisher looks like. Notice that everyone else has left. Time to work on the swim!

I’m pleased to say that I finished. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast, but I did it. Now I know what I need to work on and how I can improve for next time. Because there will be a next time.

Results from the Sandy Beach Triathlon are here.