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At the Races

ING Hartford Marathon, October 14, 2012

Barbara Zirl writes:

Just another long training run!  That’s what I told myself as I drove up to Hartford, Conn. to run the ING Hartford Marathon for the third year in a row.  I’m preparing for the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November and this race fits into my training schedule at the point where I’d do a 20-miler.  Since the summer, training has been going well and I decided not to alter anything –even in a race environment.  I’ve been training with music and though I usually don’t race with it, since this was “just another long run,” I brought it along.

The weather forecast for race morning was perfect– cool, dry, no wind.  No excuses!  Okay…it was 28 degrees at the start, so a tad freezing, but the sun was out and I knew it would warm up and I could shed a long sleeve layer and gloves once I got moving.

The race starts in front of the State Capitol Building with 6,000 runners for the half marathon and 2,500 for the full marathon starting at the same time.. There is also a 5K with another 2,000 that takes off a half hour later.  For the first mile, it’s crowded until the races split in different directions. Then the marathon loops through Hartford’s parks, and along the Connecticut River.  By the 13.1 mile mark you’re running in East Hartford where there are farms and you’re passing by homes where people are tailgating in their driveways like they do in Massachusetts on Patriot’s Day.  Here spectators and volunteers take ownership of “their mile.”  It is their race as much as it is yours.

I was running well and feeling good — comfortable 9-minute miles — and my split at the half was 1:58.  This is also the point where you see the guy who will win the race in 2:15:34 (and set a new course record) coming towards you.  And later the woman who will win in 2:40:33.  I still have miles to go.  But I’ve reached the turnaround point at mile 17 and I’m  feelin’ fine!  Now I’m surrounded by a pack of runners and I discover I’m amid the 4-hour pace group.  Perfect!  I ran the next few miles with the group until I lost them at a water stop at mile 22. But by then, I’d reached my training goal for the day.  Only 4.2 miles to go.  At this moment, there is nothing better than some loud, fast music in my ears, telling me to “try, try, try” drowning out that annoying voice in my head that shouts “my feet hurt, my legs are tired, I want to stop”!  So I kept going.  I even managed to power up the last hill (a ramp at mile 25), spotted my spectator at mile 26 and ran strong to finish in 4:07:13!  Very happy!  I haven’t run this well in two years and now I have high hopes for Philadelphia next month.

This race starts and finishes in a beautiful park,where there is a lively post-race picnic/expo with food prepared by the Hartford Culinary school, live music and all that swag from big insurance sponsor ING (New York and Miami).  I keep telling all who will listen, this is a terrific race!

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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