Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Greater Hartford Marathon

What a day for the 15th running of the Greater Hartford Marathon! I think I've been present for 5 marathons, 2 half-marathons, and once as a volunteer/spectator, so almost half of them. The race has changed sponsorship hands from Aetna to UTC, and now to ING. Temps at the start were around 50 degrees and sunny.

I hadn't planned to run this year since my training had been very inconsistent (to say the least) after the Vermont 100, and I decided to train for the Stone Cat Ale 50 miler on November 8. Dawn signed up for the marathon, her first road marathon, and I wanted to be there for her. I knew she had a good shot at breaking 4 hours, and felt she had a reasonable shot at qualifying for Boston (sub 3:50). While I wanted to be there for her, I really did not feel mentally or physically ready to put out a full effort for the marathon. I ran 3:04 last year and then 3:00 in the Jacksonville marathon in December, so topping that would be a stretch. I have a hard time being a spectator though, so the half seemed like a good option. I figured it was a chance to get in some speedwork and would leave me enough energy for a long run with the Goat on Sunday. My goal was to run 6:40 pace which would give me a half marathon PR.

This event is always fun because it's a chance to see friends and fellow runners in the Hartford area. Dawn and I ran into Matt Estes after picking up our numbers on Friday. Matt and his wife Aimee were doing the full marathon. Matt had a PR last year with a sub 2:45, but hasn't been running much this year. Matt was predicting a possible sub-4:00 for Aimee. Cool!

At the start, we found Paul and Flo Dickie from our Reach the Beach Relay Team, and I gave a wave to Scott Turco across the mass of humanity separating us. It was so great to see some friends. I gave Dawn some words of encouragement, and off we went. Neither of us had slept much Friday night, so I didn't expect much for both of us. We had lined up fairly close to the front, but it still took awhile to pcik through folks in the first mile. After crossing the Founders bridge into East Hartford, I caught a glimpse of the Legend, Rich Fargo, who was running to qualify for Boston. I did a training run with Rich about a month ago, and he was definitely in sub 3:00 shape. We ran together for about 1 mile and he said that 3:10 was his mark. Of course, we were cranking at 6:40 pace at the time. He decided to back off the pace a bit, and we wished eachother well. I was running well for the first 8 miles, but knew that I was hurting. A young guy pulled up behind me and asked if he could run on my shoulder. Sure, no problem. He asked what my goal was and at that point I had no idea...I told him it was a training run and that blew his mind for some reason. He credited me with saving his race...I guess he liked my pace. I told him to relax. Eventually, he pulled away and seemed to be running strong.

I hung with the same group for most of the race, but a few of them past me with 3 miles or so to go. I kept missing mile markers and I think they reversed the 1 and 2 miles to go markers. It was very confusing. Anyway, with 1/4 mile to go, I found my finishing kick and passed a few more folks. I ran 1:25 with a 6:32 pace (53rd overall and 6th in my age group). I think I was within 1 minute of 3rd in my age group, so I was a little disappointed I didn't run harder or prepare for the race. Oh well! It was still a PR for me and I feel much better about my conditioning now.

I saw a bunch of folks at the finish of the 1/2 marathon. Cliff Lane from HS finished around 1:30. Nice run Cliff. Steve Worthington ran well. Paul Dicke finished around 1:40. Great job Paul! Flo took 2nd place in her age group and I think was sub 2 hours. Good job Flo! Paul Shook ran a 1:50. Nice work Paul!

I didn't get to see Matt Estes or Rich finish, but heard that they were both running well. Mark Buongiorno set a PR with a sub 3:13 finish and Scott Turco ran a strong race at around 3:17. After watching them finish, I ran back to the car and changed my clothes quickly. I got back to the finish area to watch the 3:35 pacer go by, and figured I had plenty of time to watch for Dawn. Then, before I knew it, there she was! Holy cow! Dawn finished in 3:39 in her first marathon! Wow! She even looked happy and fresh! Congrats Dawnie!

We were watching for Matt's wife, Aimee, to finish, and then I heard the famous name of "Stanislav Jankowski" announced as he crossed the finish line. "Stan the Man" is a member of our Reach the Beach team and is the guy laying down in the above photo. Well, Stan was almost laying down again after the race. I guess he was a bit dizzy and weak after a big effort to try to run sub 4 hours. Great effort Stan! You left it all out on the course!

After making sure Stan was OK, we walked over to get Dawn's bag and ran into Bill Lutkus, another climber turned runner. Bill ran his first marathon at this race last year, and looked ecstatic to have taken about 1 hour off his time from last year. He ran a sub 3:30 to qualify for Boston. Nice work Bill!

It was so great to see so many friends at the race. My climbing buddy, Quantum (Physics teacher), shouted out my climbing nickname (Pretty Boy) around the 5 mile mark. They say a persons name is the sweetest word(s) they will ever hear. I think that applies exponentially more when running a race at full bore. I didn't see him, but was so happy that he gave a shout out to me. We caught up after the race and chatted a bit.

I must admit that I was not super motivated to run this race, but was so glad that I made the effort. It was a beautiful day, and I was so happy to celebrate with friends. Everyone ran well, and I was so happy for everyone. Of course, I'm especially happy for Dawn. She rocks! What an amazing finish for her first marathon.

For marathons, the Hartford marathon is extremely well run. It's a great time to run in NewEngland, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good race. It's a relatively flat course, but there are a few hills in the finishing miles for both races.

All in all, it was a great day! Congratulations everybody!

Now, I just have to drag myself out there tomorrow for that 6 hour run with the Goat! Yikes!


Jamie said...

That is one speedy half! Congrats man. Rest well. See you at Stonecat (I'll most likely be volunteering).

Scott said...

Congrats on the PR. Nice...

cherie said...

it's cherie who you met yesterday while running. fantastic meeting you. i'm really hoping you arrange that 100k -- i'm def up for it. good luck at your next race.

Stan said...

Congrats Steve, and great job everyone. Thank you Steve and Dawn for your concerns after the race. It was great to see you both. I flew to Poland the next day, an took some time off from running. Back on the USA soil now. Take care.
Stan the man.

Rachel Blair Massa said...

Hi Steve - I am running the Hartford marathon on Saturday! I'm hoping to qualify for Boston this time (sub-3:40) - I was 4 minutes short when I ran NY in '02. My husband is coming up to watch me, with our dog, but I have no idea about the spectator situation. Is there an area he should watch from? Any good thoughts? Good luck with all of your racing!