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.
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.