ING Hartford 1/2 Marathon Recap and Review

Hi!  Happy Wednesday!  Thank goodness for four day work weeks - This week is flying by!  This past Saturday, I ran the ING Hartford 1/2 Marathon.  My only goal for this race was to finish in one piece.  I had hoped to be able to improve my time a bit, but I hadn't run farther than about four miles since my last half, so chances of that were slim.  So, the morning of the race I decided to just enjoy the course and check another state off of my list.

Saturday morning, I woke up bright (well, it was still pitch black) and early - 4:30.  You know you're a runner when you don't mind too much getting up at the crack of dawn the morning of a race, but other days you curse the alarm...  Or is that just me?  I had set out all of my gear for race day the night before, so all I had to do was get dressed, fill my travel mug with coffee and hit the road for the 90 minute drive down to Hartford.  After a quick stop for a bagel, I was on the road.

The drive was easy and I hit no snags until getting off of the highway to try and find parking.  I apparently was too late for the free and $5 lots, but after about 20 minutes, I found a free spot on the street.  I grabbed my gear and headed for the runner's village to find my team's tent.  I ran the race as part of Team Fidelco.  I'm a sucker for puppies, and there was no fundraising minimum, so I signed up to run with the team as a way to raise awareness for the great foundation.  After getting my team singlet, checking my bag and a quick port-a-potty stop, I made my way to the start.

There was lots of excitement at the start and I couldn't help but feed off of everyone's energy.  I was ready to run!  There are no corrals in this race and the half and full marathoners are all seeded in the same place.  I'm not used to that for races of this distance, but I actually enjoyed not having to get into a corral.  A little after 8:00 am, the gun went off and the race started.  There were a lot of runners, but I never felt crowded and there were always runners around me throughout the race.  The course was well marked - especially at the point where the half and full marathoners split off onto their respective courses.

I never looked at the course map for this race, so I didn't realize how many hills there would be.  I maintained my slow as a turtle pace for the first five miles or so, then I started to get cramps in my feet.  I realized that I hadn't hydrated as much as I normally do.  I'd had a really busy week at work, so it slipped my mind to drink extra water and electrolytes a couple of days before.  Ugh.  I took an Island Boost gel at this point and I felt better, but my feet still felt strange.  This is where I started a 2:1 run/walk which slowly turned into running until my feet cramped.  Unfortunately, the cramping wasn't consistent, so I just ran when I could.  There was nothing I could do about it at this point except to be sure and drink Gatorade at every stop (I had water in my handheld).  Luckily, I happened to catch up with a fellow Team Fidelco runner (Betsy) at this point, so we stuck together for the remainder of the race.

I'm happy I started chatting with Betsy around mile 6 because this is where the longest climb began, and it lasted for a few miles.  It was a very gradual climb, but by the time we got to the top at Elizabeth Park, you could see all of Hartford.  It was pretty cool!  I wish I'd gotten a picture, but I didn't want to exert any more energy than needed.  Betsy and I continued to walk/run while chatting, which made the last half of the race fly by quickly.  We decided to cross the finish together since we thought it would be a fun photo for Team Fidelco.

After crossing the finish, we were given our medals, along with a bag of snacks and a nice collectible water bottle.  Betsy went for a massage while I headed for the food tent.  We had the option of bagels, bananas, apple crisp, grilled cheese, and tomato soup.  Oh, and chocolate milk.  I think grilled cheese and tomato soup is the best post-race snack and I wish all races offered this!  Sadly, I passed on the beer garden as I had a long drive home and still felt a bit dehydrated.  After stretching and chatting with Betsy for a bit, it was time to make the drive home.

Overall, I feel like this was a great race and I definitely would run it again.  I totally signed up on a whim since it was the 20th anniversary, but I'm glad I did.  I would stay in Hartford the night before just to avoid the stress of driving and finding a parking spot.  The support along the course was awesome!  There were spectators throughout all 13.1 miles and many of them were ringing the cowbells provided to them by one of the race's sponsors.  I even had one offer to run a mimosa out to me while on the course - Very tempting!  The volunteers were amazing and so nice.

There were really only three negatives about this race - And they're all very minimal.  At the start of the race, it was very hard to hear what the announcer was saying.  There weren't many speakers, so those of us in the middle or back of the pack couldn't hear what was being said.  Another negative is that there is no race day packet pickup.  I know a lot of larger races don't offer this, but your only options for getting your bib are to attend the expo on Thursday or Friday, or pay $15 to have it mailed (which is what I did).  It's not a biggie, but something to keep in mind if you're considering running this race.  Lastly, the shirts are gender-specific.  I couldn't find anything on the race's site or during the registration process that specified this.  I was super disappointed when my shirt arrived and it was a woman's size.  The shirt is really nice, but unfortunately I can only wear it as a base layer as it's just too small.  I had the option of exchanging it at the expo, but unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the expo.  Other than that, I think the race was well organized and I would definitely run this race again.

Has anyone run this race in the past?  Thoughts?

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