Saturday, October 25, 2014

Running a Trifecta - Race #1

As I've been completing my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states plus DC, the dilemma has been working the puzzle pieces in a way that will maximize efficiency and minimize expenditure.   The big states in the middle of the country have been easy to schedule, as have the Pacific Northwest states.  The tricky ones have been the New England States.  There are so many of them all clustered together up there in the northeast corner of the country.  How to knock off as many as possible in as few trips as possible...that was the challenge.

I had the good fortune to meet a fellow runner while doing a half marathon near Rome NY in August 2013. She was from Rhode Island and as we ran along together in the Turning Stone Half Marathon, I picked her brain for advice on how to accomplish this.  Her suggestion:  Do Hartford and Newport on back-to-back days in October.  Well, I took a look at that and also looked at several different on-line race calendars to see if I could add NH, MA, or ME to that trip.  Bingo!  There were a couple of half marathons in Massachusetts the following weekend so I chose the one in Lowell MA and then marked my calendar, bookmarked the race webpages, and waited for registration to open for each of those races for 2014.

One by one, the registrations opened up and I paid my fees, booked hotels and flights and then for the next 6 months second-guessed my ability to pull this off.  I'd done plenty of back-to-back weekend races but never half marathons on back-to-back days.  What have I gotten myself into?

As October drew near, and as I got myself back into decent running shape after faking it through the long hot Texas summer, I relaxed and quit worrying.  I would just take it one race at a time and not be concerned with doing them well.  Just finish.

I started packing several days ahead of the trip, watching the weather and readjusting the wardrobe as the weather forecasts changed radically every time I checked.  In the end, I packed a bit of everything and hoped I had enough of anything to get through 12 days.

Hartford is one of those cities I've driven or ridden through countless times on the interstate without ever visiting the downtown area.  It's the state capital and has several charming features that caught my camera.  I flew into Providence RI, picked up my rental car, and drove to Hartford Thursday, stopping at a Walmart along the way to buy Cheerios and bananas.  I arrived into Hartford in plenty of time to visit the race Expo, get my race packet, and then explore the city a tiny bit before getting dinner. Hilton Hotel, convenient and easy self-park garage, connecting bridge to XL center where the Expo was being held, and a very nice sandwich shop and convenience store right across the street.   Perfect!
These were everywhere on the sidewalks of Hartford

The next day - Friday - was glorious, with sunny skies and perfect temperatures.  I took off toward the capitol building perched up on a hill and then explored the race venue start/finish line a bit before continuing on into other parts of the city.

Runner Village

Finish line being readied for next day's race.  Love that
we'll be running under that icon arch as we head for the finish line

I found the old, original state house, in beautiful condition even right down to the old stockades in the yard.  While the bits and pieces of the "old" Hartford are still there, it's a city that has reinvented itself a few times and in so doing, has lost much of its original architecture unfortunately.

Hartford Capitol Building

Old Hartford State House, complete
with stockades in the yard

Friday evening, a small group of us met at Salute Italian Restaurant for our pre-race "carbo load." We had fun and I enjoyed meeting a few more Half Fanatics/50 Staters.  A few of these ladies will also be at the Newport race on Sunday, so I looked forward to seeing them again.

Saturday morning - race day - was cold and wet with a forecast for rain all day.  Yeah....cold and wet.  This is why packing for this trip started several days before departure.  I left the hotel at the last possible moment, leaving just enough time to walk the 1/2 mile or so to the start line.  I arrived just in time to hear the national anthem and then we were turned loose onto the course.

The only way to stay warm was to keep running.  I gave myself permission to walk through the rose garden park at miles 9-10, but picked it back up again once the route exited us from the park and headed us back toward downtown and the finish line.  Really, the variety and diversity of the route, plus the rain, actually kept my mind occupied and the miles seemed to pass quickly.

Approaching the finish line

Done!  Here's the medal:

I had tucked a $5 bill into my pocket, knowing I'd be passing a Starbucks on my way back to the hotel.  A nice hot cappuccino...did that ever go down easy after being cold and wet for 3 hours!  I moved quickly toward the hotel, got a quick shower, packed my wet running clothes into a plastic bag, and just made it by the check-out cut-off time.

In my rental car, I let my GPS lead me to my next race stop - Newport RI - where I'll run another half marathon the next morning.  

Tomorrow:  Newport Half Marathon, #2 in the Trifecta.

1 comment:

  1. Great job running in the rain. You are so dedicated.

    I enjoyed the architecture pics. SO much history on the East coast.