Hartford Half Marathon Recap: Part I The Road to the Start

Fairly recently, I accepted that I am not a “fast” runner objectively speaking. I consider myself exceptionally average, but for all intents and purposes I’m actually slower than most women my age. Maybe it’s because I didn’t start running until my mid twenties. Maybe it’s because I don’t have many of those coveted fast twitch muscle fibers. Maybe it’s because I am a certain height, weight, body composition combination. But really none of those things matter because subjectively, I’m awesome. I’ve come so far from the days when I hated running in gym class. I’m not a fast runner but that doesn’t matter. I’m runner. And I’m obsessed with running.

After joining the Fleet Feet marathon training group, I began to fall in love with running in a whole new way. Not only do I love the freedom and sensation of running but now I have the love and support of a community of runners in my corner as personal cheerleaders and coaches. It’s phenomenal and I am so lucky and happy to be part of such a wonderful group.

The road to the Hartford Half actually started fairly recently. I had no intention of running any races during my training. That all changed when I found myself running with Coach Rachel feeling comfortable at paces faster than I think either of us knew we were going… Unless she was sneakily pushing me… Anyway, it all started way back during my 18 miler, which feels like eons ago but was really only mid September.

Photo by Brent Robertson- I am one of those people way in the back.

I was talking with Coach Rachel about getting into pacing. I am so in love with the running community and really enjoy motivating others. Because I have done so much training by myself, I like to think I am pretty good at locking into and maintaining a pace. Rachel encouraged me to pace a small local half, Hogsback, and inquired on my behalf about pacing for the Hartford Half. I didn’t get my hopes too high but Hogsback was happy to have me for 3 hours though Hartford was full. So I decided I’d pace Hogsback for the experience and sign up for Hartford and use it as tune-up / training run but with no real expectations.

Pacing for Hogsback was excellent and rewarding. I started with a group of 5 women who were aiming for more like 3:30 but stuck with me until about half way. I would have loved to stay with them to keep them motivated along the way, but alas, my job was to get my butt to the finish line in 2:59:30. Well, I came in at 3:00:27. Oops. I should have charged up the last hill like I knew I could, and gunned it for the last stretch to the finish line like I knew I could, but I didn’t have any people with me so I don’t feel too badly about it. I did learn an important lesson though. As we all know, any race is inevitably longer than the stated distance. So while I hit 13.1 in under three hours as per my watch, I crossed the finish line a little behind schedule. Coach Rachel recommends using two watches one for your pace, and one for the mile markers. Brilliant! And I also think next time I’ll stick with straight running. Adding in the walk breaks in was tough and made it difficult to feel the pace.

The day after Hogsback I ran 20 miles with Fleet Feet. I felt great at the end though the early miles were very conservative so the avg pace was quite slow. Regardless, my watch showed me a number that started with a 2 and I was very very proud of myself.

Following the 20 miler these last few weeks, our back of the pack group has started to thin out as people start tapering for their races. For the 12 miles on the schedule last weekend I ended up running the last 6 miles or so with Coach Kim because no one else at my pace was going the same distance. Coach Kim is typically the leader of the pack. I imagine slowing down to my pace is not an easy adjustment. Even though I mentioned I was aiming for 11:30 miles we ended up running more like 10:30 miles for most of the time. It was a tough effort on my part, but in the end, seeing splits like that was awesome: 10:53, 10:57, 10:11, 10:32, 10:20, 10:19. I left feeling really proud of myself and was left wondering if I had more speed in me than I thought. I wondered if I had been limiting myself, or simply not challenging myself enough. Hmmm…

If you want to find out how the race went, read Part II here.