Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hogsback Half Marathon

Today, Seth and I traveled to Colebrook, Connecticut for the Hartford Track Club's Hogsback Half Marathon. This was my first half marathon, so I was a bit nervous. I had trained using Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan for novices and using Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method (with 4:1 intervals). I knew I was ready -- I just had to get there an do it.

After an hour and a half ride with some slightly crazy directions from the Hartford Track Club, we arrived at Goodwin Dam, the starting location for the race. It was absolutely gorgeous!

I checked in, as I had pre-registered. All the volunteers were super nice and helpful. We'd arrived at 8:00 a.m., an hour before the race was scheduled to start, so I had plenty of time to prepare.

After checking in, we headed up the hill to where the race started. I coordinated my race gear. I was running with my water bottle. I also had two honey sticks (which I use to fuel on the run) and my iPhone to track my pace (in Nike+) and intervals. I lined up at the back of the pack to give myself plenty of space for my run-walk-run method. At 9:00, we were off!

The run was a negative / flat course and was very lovely. The entire run took us through Riverton, Pleasant Valley, Hartland and Colebrook. The race took us along and across the Farmington River and past many state parks and camping grounds. Towards the end, we ran through Peoples State Forest.

In training, the longest run I had done was 11 miles. I decided to mentally prepare for the half marathon by dividing us the distance in my mind as I ran. I would run 5 miles. Okay, I can do that. Then I would run another 5 miles. Great, now I only have 5K left! It wasn't quite as easy as that, but things went well.

We started the race by running down hill for around two miles. We took a right turn, the only one of the race, and ran through a cute down town. After that, we began to run through state forest and along rivers. It was a lot of scenic woods. The weather was comfortably cool, in the mid-50s when we started and in the upper 60s when I ended. Running through many wooded areas kept the sun off me, and I felt pretty comfortable temperature-wise the whole way. After the woods, around mid-way through the race, we again reached a slightly populated area. It was nice to run along some country roads with houses. I passed some very nice houses and did my normal House Hunter-while-running thing. I went across a bridge that crossed over the Farmington River and was back again in state forest area. The balance of the run was again along the water and through state forests.

I had fuel and water with me, but there were water stops every two miles to keep me motivated and on track. There were markers every mile that helped me pace myself and feel like I was making good progress towards the finish line.

I found the first nine miles of the run went relatively easily. Around mile nine I started to get tired. I was able to mentally motivate myself and get from mile nine to ten where I was able to re-energize; after all, now I only had 5K left. I was excited and ready to go and finish this thing! I ran along with energy closely matching the middle sections of the race. I went along pretty successfully until mile twelve. The last mile was hard. I was exhausted. I could barely convince myself to run after my brief walk breaks, but I did it. The last half mile turned out to be a bit of a hill. In my normal runs, this hill would have been no problem, as it wasn't too different from what I might tackle in the somewhat hilly area around my house. After over two hours and 12.5 miles of running this was a different story. I struggled up that hill absolutely spent.

Finally, at the top of the hill I was greeted by a welcome sight -- a sign for the dam. Now all I had to do was run the last 300 meters or so, and I was done!

Rounding the bend to run across the dam I saw a second even more welcome sight, Seth waiting for me to cheer me on. I was exhausted, but seeing him made all the difference. Seth ran the last little bit of the race across the dam with me, pacing me and keeping me moving.

I crossed the finish line at 2:28, totally tired and totally excited that I had just finished my first half marathon! Cross that off the bucket list.

After the race, I relaxed and had some great snacks provided by the Hartford Track Club, which did an amazing job organizing the race. I was also able to see some excellent videos of the area where the race started and finished, Goodwin Dam. Seth took these videos while I was out running, and I think it gives a really good idea of what the area was like. This is a lovely part of Connecticut.

After the snacks, we hopped back into the car for the trip home. I am now relaxing enjoying the spoils of my first half marathon.

I had a great time doing my first half marathon. I'm not a competitive person (although I am very goal driven) and didn't care about my time at all. I run for fun and my only goal was to complete this race. I did it, I am still standing, and I would want to do this race again. You might see me again in Colebrook next fall for this race again.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Congrats Nicole!! Next... full marathon! :) (or triathlon)