This morning was it – the ING Hartford Half Marathon (also the full, but I just did the half)!!
For those who haven’t been playing along since the beginning, I initially signed up for the half, then changed to the full when I was talked into it by some friends who were convinced I can do a sub-6 marathon. Then I got my lovely case of PF and lost a LOT of training time. I felt like I could do a half, but not a full, so I ate the $35 I paid to upgrade and dropped back to the half.
I set myself an A-goal of 2:29:29 or better and a B-goal of a new PR. My current half PR was set on a double-loop of Central Park course, so with having been told there was nothing like Cat Hill or Harlem Hills, I felt pretty confident that one of those would happen. (My C-goal is always to finish and have fun. And so far I’ve accomplished that…at least the finish part. Ha! But I wouldn’t say Nashville was fun – though in good weather it might be.)
Last evening I got on a train and came up to Hartford. Checked into the hotel.
(Yes, Porkles Bacon Scare Pig came along for mascotting duty!)
Laid everything out.
And went to bed.
This morning I got up, ate my bagel, and got dressed.
Met up with Amy in the hotel lobby, and we walked the five or so minutes down to Bushnell Park. We wandered into the merch tent, and when looking at a shirt that said “It’s not 13.1 miles, it’s 7 water stops!” I looked at my hands and in my bag and… Yep. No water bottle. (This should come as no surprise…remember my history of leaving and/or checking fluids??) Thankfully it was still early, so I headed back up to the Hilton and grabbed my bottle. No harm done. Checked my bag, and I was ready to start.
This was my first race where I was running without my Garmin. On purpose. I decided to try Coach Jenny’s yellow-orange-red (yellow = easy; orange = more challenging; red = go for it) run by feel method and not stress about pace. And honestly, I liked it! Ok, I did look at my wrist a lot to see how much longer in the interval – it was much harder to do that with my gymboss on my belt, but that can be fixed easily with a wrist band for it.
The course… Well… Let’s just say the phrase “I was lied to!!!!” crossed my lips more than once. Though that’s not totally accurate. In all fairness, what Rachel said was there was nothing like Cat Hill or Harlem Hills. And there wasn’t. What there was was a course that was basically the west side of Central Park with its rolling hills. For 13.1 miles. (Rachel later said on FB that around mile 3 she thought of me and thought “She’s going to kill me…” – no murderous thoughts. Just the “I was lied to!!” Haha!)
So probably not the best race to do the yellow-orange-red technique for the first time. At least not knowing the course. I will have no issues doing it next year as I’ll know what to expect. But here I did adjust to the early hills…I just didn’t know they were constant.
But I found myself LOVING this race. I love running through the neighborhoods and seeing the people out cheering us on. The whole city it seems really gets behind the race. Little kids were out dancing around and giving high fives. People were brunching on their lawns. Puppies abounded. And yes, I did stop for some inspirational puppy cuddles. Briefly. We ran through a beautiful park, which was really nice. The on-course entertainment was good. Anything that includes bagpipes is good!!
Don’t get me wrong. It was still tough. And at Mile 8 I had a “Huh???” moment…
OK, I’ll just admit it. I do not need to do math while running. (I really don’t need to do math anyway, but…) I hit Mile 7 and saw the clock. At that point it was saying 1:24:xx (race clock…I knew it had taken me a while to cross, but honestly I hadn’t looked at the start clock). And I legitimately said to myself “OMG, you’ve totally got this!! You can do 4 miles in an hour easy!!”
Anyone else see the problem here?
A half isn’t 11 miles. It’s 13.1.
So at Mile 8 when someone said “Five miles to go.”
What? No, I only had 4 at 7 because… Oh. Yeah.
Fail on the mathematics. Big time!
But I sucked it up, vowed to quit doing math in my head while running, and kept going.
At this point I was walking more than running…I burned my legs early on the hills even though I was in yellow…should have walked them totally while in yellow.
After the park, it didn’t take long until we were seeing people coming back along the course with medals on encouraging us and saying that we legit were almost there. Sure enough, soon I was in a wall of sound and heading towards the finish.
Next to Mickey 20, this is my favorite medal ever!!! (I’m sparing you the chubby face pic with it. OMG the diet starts tomorrow!!)
The post area was good if a bit crowded. After finishing, we got mylar blankets, NICE water bottles already filled, and a reusable bag with a little lara bar thing, pretzels, pineapple chunks, and some “energy water enhancer”. Got the pretty, pretty medal. Then I went and got my gear bag and headed back to the festival area.
There we got food – legit food! A bagel, apple crisp, tomato soup, and a grilled cheese sandwich. With chocolate milk! We also had a ticket for a beer in the beer garden.
I went to the merch tent and got two t-shirts…
I love the top one especially.
Started heading back to the hotel and realized that I had to cross a street that was very close to the finish of the marathon. Crossed it and got Starbucks. Then went back to cheer marathoners in. I figured I’d maybe be able to catch my running club friend Chen and most likely my friend Amy. Cheered and cheered!! I knew Chen was starting with the 4:30 group, and once we were well past that, I figured I’d missed her. Kept watching for Amy, and was determined to stay for her. And yes, I was able to see her and cheer her in! 🙂 By that point I was getting cold, even with the sun and my sweatshirt, and I knew I needed a shower, so I headed back in (and as it turns out missed Chen by about 15 more minutes. 😦 ).
Showered, piddled around the hotel room, watched Titanic to the point where the ship hit the ice berg, and then headed to Vaughan’s Pub for my now traditional post-race black velvet.
Also had a bacon cheeseburger (I’ve learned my lesson about skipping protein after a race) and fries. And then a Guinness-infused brownie.
Which, OMG. I think it puts bacon fat popcorn to shame.
Came back to the hotel (I’m spending another night), and Titanic was STILL on!! I forgot how long the movie goes on after the ship hits the ice!! And now I’m chilling and filling you in on the race.
My time ended up being 2:56:28. But for me this was about way more than time. This was about staying strong and ultimately staying positive throughout the race. I might have walked more than intended. I might have done math wrong. But I never once wished I was anywhere else. And I’m not sure when that has happened (including Disney because let’s see… first half, first full, and hot as hell full). So I’m calling it a win.
And yes, I’ll be back next year after doing a ton of training along Central Park’s west side!
I have some unfinished business with this course!!