Monday, October 17, 2011

ING Hartford Half Marathon (Race recap)

State # 21
Hartford, CT

Since this was my first time to CT, let alone the East Coast in general, I figured I'd arrive earlier in the day so I had time to explore after the expo. The expo itself wasn't anything spectacular.

 I had NO time agenda since I was by myself, and it was nice to just take my time to peruse through all the different booths. I had a great conversation with the Lara Bar people. After asking her when the new flavors were going to be more widely carried, she gave me several of the new dark chocolate cherry full bars (not the dinky ones they hand out as samples)

The had displays of the medals on all the mannequins- Gold castle for full marathon, silver castle for half.
 2 great swags were the race shirt- long sleeve and colorful, and the easily recognizable orange track bag.

The race started and finished in Bushnell Park, so I figured I would walk there to explore the area and get familiar with where I needed to be for both the early morning photo and of course to the start line.

Past this neat little restaurant along the way...

And here it is, the infamous tower arch that is the logo for the medal, the shirt, the bag etc- this is also the chute to  finish line, the mums divided marathon finishers (left) to half marathon finishers (right). If you zoom in on the pic you can see the finish line back there. Isn't it gorgeous?!?!

As luck would have it, while I was checking my map to see if the start and finish line were at the same spot (they weren't) I happened to run into no other than Dave Mari who was out taking photos as well. Of course he was!!!

Dave and I

The girl next to me, her name is Shannon. Her goal is to run 50 marathons, in all 50 states... under 4 hours. Somehow Adidas caught wind of it and sort of 'sponsor' her. Basically she only wears Adidas when racing AND she has her own running coach that they provided her with. By listening to everything he said, she dropped 10 min off her marathon time and is running in 3:40s- further proof that I may need to look into getting a running coach (obviously it won't be the same as someone who works for Adidas, but it can't hurt) 

We part ways, I explored the park some more- a carousel in a park... seriously?!?!

Adorable. I finally depart and check  into my hotel, eat dinner, and veg out in front of the tv before I go to bed... yes yes I live an exciting life when I travel. GREAT NIGHT sleep by the way. 

Our photo meet up was set for 7:10 by the finish line, so left my hotel (which was 15 min away) at 6:30, got downtown, found some FREE parking, walked to the park, and still made it in plenty of time. Its quite easy to navigate downtown Hartford. 

Getting pumped to be able to run through this chute!

After our meet up photo I pretty much jetted so I can find the start line and do PLENTY of stretching since I'll need it this weekend. I've found that if I really work my hips, I'm less sore. I note this NOW because I neglected to do so for the following race the next day and it was apparent.

The area surrounding the start line was gorgeous. I took photos, but none could do it justice, so I took this bad boy off the race website- I don't know what that building was, but it was a sight to see. 

There are no corrals for this race, just expected pace times. I lined up by the 9:00 min pace because I knew I needed to start out slower. Oddly enough the 3:30 marathon pace had his group line up next to me (thats an 8 minute average)- I note to myself NOT to get intimidated and get caught up in the excitement and run alongside them.

While waiting for the start, Dave happened to find me in the large crowd. Sometimes being tall has its advantages. 

For once I loved everything about this race: Now the recap itself broken down to THE FUNNY, THE GOOD, and THE DOWNRIGHT AWESOME. 

The Funny:
  • I have a problem with going out too fast. I know this about myself and it is something I am CONTINUALLY working on. Apparently I can't run by 'feel' because then I go even faster. Since this was day 1 of my 2 day back to back half marathons I told myself to take it easy. Instead I apparently went out faster than normal (but didn't know it till after the race) and my first three mile splits- 8:21, 8:12, 8:16. Oh Stupid Lisa. 
  • Not once, but twice 2 different people were done with their gatorade at an aide station and I 'assume' they weren't anticipating anyone running by them at the last second, so I got DOUSED with their leftover gatorade. How does that happen twice??
  • A runner with ZERO etiquette didn't look to see if anyone was behind her and when she spit, it went right on my leg... she even turned around and saw that it landed on me and said nothing JERK (I would like to say that I smoked her on my final kick at the finish- sucker!)
  • I was actually making pretty good pace, so I didn't want to stop and take photos. One guy was holding up a "GO LISA" sign, so I decided to pull over and I asked him if I could get my photo with the sign. It took us a bit to get situated, then my phone was locking up and wouldn't take the photo- this seriously was a whole minute ordeal. In the process the Lisa that they were cheering for ran by and they didn't notice till the last second when she was shouting their name. I felt awful and apologized and told them I would catch up to her and explain what happened (which I did)  Unfortunately I don't even have a photo and it added 1 minute to that mile *sigh*
  • After the finish they had this AMAZING beer tent, and despite me being a HUGE beer advocate, I didn't bring my id, so I got to taste ZERO of it. 
The Good
  • I literally can't say enough good things about this race- first off the weather was PERFECT- high 50s, maybe slight 60s when finished. It did cool off with winds picking up after I was done, but that didn't affect me, so I didn't mind. 
  • Within the first 1/2 mile the marathon and half marathon course split (we never saw them again) which alleviated a LOT of congestion. 
  • The course was gorgeous. The first half was run through neighborhoods and was okay, but the 2nd half, which is when I feel like you need more to occupy your mind, was run all throughout different parks. I managed to snag 1 photo though, just 1. 

  •  Right around this photo I took (miles 10.5 - 11ish) there was this runner guy who was screaming, cheering, cracking jokes, all loudly to cheer up the runners and to get the spectators to be louder. I was literally feeding energy off him and was able to keep up for a while, which inevitably, helped my pace (he made the running look so easy) 
  • There was a good balance of flat and rolling hills. I hate completely flat courses because it hurts my hips and probably hate super hilly courses even more because it kills my quads and calves. These were baby 'rolling hills' 
The downright *AWESOME*
  • NO IT BAND pain.... seriously none. Well I stand corrected, there was a little in the first mile or two, but once I was warmed up I was good. 
  • I was surprised at my time- I really thought I was going slower than what I was, and the fact that I stopped for a full minute and walked a bit didn't tarnish the time was a shocker. 
  • Spectator support was..... as you guess it, AWESOME. ING had set up cheer stations and handed out cowbells, horns, pom poms- it was a sea of orange everywhere you looked
  • The gorgeous finish line (for me at least)- the fact that I toured the finish the day before helped as well to know when to trigger 'picking it up'
  • Apparently this is touted as the Greenest Marathon in the Nation- so to prevent trash they had long sets of water trough /fountains set up- super convenient.
  • They also handed out marathon theme sport water bottles filled with water and water stations throughout the 'athlete's village'to fill them up. 
  • The medal!!! If I haven't made it clear already, I'm OBSESSED with castles and castle type architecture. I love that I now have a medal that resembles one of my loves. Also I'm big on having a cool ribbon, this had both. 

  • Post race food- they had so much HEALTHY selections. Its hard for me to eat following a race, but this one had all agreeable foods for my stomach- not pictured, mcdonals was handing out bags, so I was able to throw all my food and free samples in there- so so so much easier. 

  • The fellow runners weer so friendly. I chatted with at least 7 different people after the race- EVERY SINGLE PERSON I talked to was pleased with the course and their own personal race, lot of positivity going around! 
  • So other races may do this, but if they do I have been in the dark till now. The hotel I was staying at would not allow me a late checkout--- checkout was at 11:00am. Considering I'd have to stretch, get food, get to car, and drive to hotel- its next to impossible to try to shower and be out of there by 11. Since I have a membership to the YMCA, I figured I'd just pop into one as a visitor. When I got there, they said that every race participant can shower for free as long as they have a bib #. How awesome is that! I took the longest, hottest, shower- the best part was I was on my OWN schedule. No racing around or feeling rushed. 
  • Lastly- generally when I"m done with a race, I get my medal, my food, maybe stretch, then leave. Originally I thought I was picking up Becka & Laura from the Hartford airport around 4ish, so I had tons of time to kill (turns out I was completely wrong and it was @ 7:30 in Providence RI, whoops)  So after my shower I went back down to the race and cheered on the marathoners. It was such an experience to watch. I was so overcome with emotion of witnessing the pain and struggle on people's face, that I FINALLY was touched enough to realize that if these people can do it, maybe I too can complete a MARATHON!!! So with that being said, I have an idea of which marathon I will train for, but i'm not ready to announce it until I am 100% okay with this decision. 
If you can't tell, I adored this race. From the weather, the crowd support, the architecture / scenery surrounding the course, the speediness, post race food etc I would HIGHLY recommend this as a must if you are in the New England area!
Love my awesome hair?!?

Official time: 1:55:33
Mile 1:  8:21
Mile 2:  8:16
Mile 3:  8:12
Mile 4:  8:44
Mile 5:  9:05
Mile 6:  8:48
Mile 7:  8:35
Mile 8:  9:46 (when I asked for the photo that never saved)
Mile 9:  8:55
Mile10: 9:30 (walked a little)
Mile11: 8:18
Mile12: 8:40
Mile13: 8:29
Mile.25 7:24


  1. gah.. the pictures are so cute!! that castle arch thing.. UMM YES!!! in love. now i thinking should i do hartford or philadelphia for my fall marathon? seriously great job selling this race lol. and yay for no IT band issues!

  2. Fun report. Way to get around on your own.

    A full, really? Can't wait to hear about which one you decide on...

  3. this race seriously sounds awesome! i love the medal and the shirt! and it sounds really organized! LOVE that you ran with no pain and are basically amazing doing TWO halfs in TWO days!!!

  4. Such an awesome race!! Great finish! I loved that one too. Who am I kidding... New England in the fall is amazing. Please Please PLEASE let me know when you pick your full... I could totally be coerced into joining you :D (PS, you can do it, you are awesome).

  5. You did incredible and the photos and the story were great! I've never run an ING race but I hear they're well done! The water spickets are a GREAT idea!

    I definitely think you should do a FULL. You're big time ready! I've never run faster than a 2 hour half and I took the plunge! All ya need is will power! :)

  6. Great job!! I still can't believe you ran the Newport one the next day! Can't wait to see that recap!

  7. this is an AWESOME recap. I know which CT race i will be running. The medal is freaking awesome!! I can’t wait to hear about your marathon choice too!!

    I wish ING still did the GA marathon. I will be running Miami in january…I hope its just as cool!

  8. You have made me want to do this race!! It sounds amazing all around. Congratulations on such a fabulous race experience!!

    **of course you saw Dave multiple times. Of course! His face will be on a coin before too long. Or a stamp. Yes, maybe a stamp!

  9. CONGRATS on a fantastic race!!! This race is on my to run list and I can't wait, the pics and the medal look awesome :)

  10. Great job Lisa!! This on is on my list as well! I absolutely think you could do a full!!! Way to rock it....ummmm how about Newport?

  11. Im glad you liked Hartford so much!! I guess I've never really thought about what a great race it is, because I haven't done a ton, its so close to me, and ive done either the half or 5k half a dozen times.

    The course is new over the last few years, and I really liked it a lot better compared to the old one. Running through west hartford and elizabeth park was so beautiful.

    Im so sad we missed each other, especially since I was hanging around forever waiting for my brother to finish the marathon.

    If you ever come back to do Hartford again, let me know! I promise this time, Ill pay better attention!

  12. Awesome pace and recap Lisa. Makes me want to sign up!