Race Report: 2019 Hartford Half Marathon

Seeing that my fall racing season is OVER it’s now time to look back and admit that the last 5 weeks have been all race no recap, and where’s the fun in that? After a handful of 5Ks over the summer to keep things entertaining, it was time to get off the road and back to distance for the fall racing season.

Let’s start back in October, at a local half marathon near and dear to my heart, the Hartford Half Marathon. After injuring myself doing too much CrossFit in 2015, this was my first ever half. If you told me 4 years later I’d be back doing this one for a “fun run” …I’d have asked from what height your parents dropped you on your head when you were a baby.


2019 Hartford Half Marathon: The Basics

Race Date/Time: Saturday October 12, 2019, 8:00a
Weather: 52°F, cloudy with a light breeze. Ideal.
Course Type: Road
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Why I Chose This Race: I was registered for the RunDisney Wine & Dine Two Course Challenge coming up a few weeks later, and wanted to use this weekend as a dress rehearsal to make sure my body could handle a 10K and Half Marathon 24 hours apart, and then RACE the Lululemon 10K a week later. This fall was about doing my best to find the happy medium between speed and volume.

Outfit, Footwear & Accessories:

Absent from this list are any sort of hydration vest, water bottle or FlipBelt. I chose to run this race 100% HANDS FREE for the first time, and I’m not gonna lie, I kinda sorta loved it. That said, I didn’t have my phone on me between gear check and the finish line, so there aren’t too many photos to spice up this post. SORRY FOR ALL THE WORDS MMMKAY.


Hydration & Fuel Strategy

I used this ‘experimental’ race to do something I’ve always been to chicken to do: not carry water with me. When pushing it on a PR effort I can’t always know when I’ll want/need a sip, but I also want to be able to run distraction free.

I only used the nuun/water on course and didn’t find myself regretting that choice at any point in time.

I carried a pack of Clif Shot Bloks in my back pocket. Usually when I’m on long runs, I am sure to take one per mile starting at 6 miles. In San Diego I was so excited about nailing my paces that I forgot fuel until Mile 9 and it was almost disastrous.

This time, I ALMOST forgot again and got my first in at 6.4, then another at 8, then forgot until 10 when I got a little bit of the shakes/chills. Again, so zoned in on nailing paces that I forget that each time my watch beeps it’s SNACK TIME. I need to work on this.


Pacing Plan & Mindset

Miles 1-4: Keep it a chill pace not necessarily constrained by LHR, but also don’t go ahead and blow yourself up in the first 5-10K like you did last year.

Miles 5-Finish: Negative splits. Chop the pace down by :10sec per mile. If I felt I needed to hold pace for a mile before cutting down again, I could.

Having accidentally run the 3rd fastest 10K of my life the morning prior, the ultimate goal was to finish feeling strong, not gassed from the weekend’s efforts.

NO PR attempts to be found here. Given that Disney & lulu were so close together, and I was only 4 weeks back into ‘normal’ training, I just wanted to make sure that I could get my body used to recovering from taxing efforts and being competitive again within a short time span.


SHHHHH…

I did it again. Raced a half marathon with no music. Last time, I had my headphones in my pocket and a mini playlist built JUST IN CASE. This time, I didn’t carry the safety net.


Pre-Race & Race Start Logistics

Hartford has an Elite Corral followed by three seeded corrals, and then it’s self-seeding. Seeding is available for those who are able to submit a proof of time under 2:05 something like no less than a month before race day.

Next year, it’s my goal to run this race and start in that seeded corral. I’m at 2:06:41 now. Gonna get me a 2:04:59 on my way to that 1:59:39. Sub-2 has been my reach goal for a while, but now that Kipchoge can go 26.2 in 1:59:40, I need a 1:59:39 to stay just barely HALF as fast as the best in the world at double the distance.


Mile by Mile

Mile 1: I am going slow but my HR is not having it. I blame race start giddiness. (Split: 10:25, HR 157)

Mile 2: Going even slower but somehow my HR is still giddy. Starting to get annoyed. (Split: 10:41, HR 160)

Mile 3: Ugh, ok fine obviously the adrenaline is NOT taking a chill pill. Whatever. (Split: 10:18, HR 160)

5K Split: Official 32:40 (10:30/mi) / Garmin 32:32

Mile 4: Time for math. After this one I’ve actually got to start trying. But what’s this right pinky toe? You never hurt. Why do you hurt? I thought I was doing you a favor by adding a band-aid onto my right 4th toe in the name of blister prevention… but not even 4 miles in I realize this may have been a mistake. (Split: 10:28)

Mile 5: Ok so that was like 10:30 for the first 4, right? Ok let’s keep it under 10:20. Success. (Split: 10:19)

Mile 6: Ok cool. Now let’s try 10:09 or less. NOICE. (Split: 10:06)

10K Split: Official 1:04:44 (10:25/mi) / Garmin 1:04:25 (10:28/mi)

Mile 7: Hey this doesn’t feel so bad. Time to crack into the 9’s. (Split: 9:57)

Mile 8: Alright. Gunning for 9:50 but this is the hill I started to lose hope on last year. Flash back to 2018 when I got passed by a guy pushing a stroller uphill; this was also where the back of the 2:10 pace group passed me as I was gunning for a 2:10 PR. 2019 Katy, don’t worry about it. Just hold a strong effort here and see what happens. (Split: 9:44)

Mile 9: Okay, that hill was a bear and you got through it on pace. But that means it was also more taxing to hit a 9:44, so let’s just try to stay here for the next mile. Looks down at watch – OH FOR REAL? Ok legs thought we were gonna chillax but I guess not. (Split: 9:34)

15K Split: Official 1:35:14 (10:13/mi) / Garmin 1:34:46

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I promise this isn’t a fake smile for the race photogs. I’m genuinely having a good time, despite the fact that my watch told me I ran Elizabeth Park slower than I’d hoped to.

Mile 10: It catches up to me. Despite the downhill, I am also realizing that I’ve been a little flaky on remembering to fuel up properly. This fail threatens to spoil my entire plan with a brief spell of the shakes/chills because hey idiot your body probably needs some more juice to keep the motor running. Ugh. (Split: 9:42)

At this point, the chafing on my right pinky toe suddenly gives way from 5 miles of aggravation to a warm WHOOSH feeling. I dread what the situation will be when I take my shoes off post race.

Mile 11: A little bit of downhill and BOOM it’s time to climb again. I put my head down and grind it out. I’m not going all that fast, but I am proud of the fact that I am passing people out left and right, and not just the ones who have slowed it to a walk. Strong and steady. I realize my experience at this distance is paying off. (Split: 10:00)

Mile 12: Ok look at that elevation profile. Everything is well and good and I seem like I’m back on track with a nicey nice downhill, but then OH LOOK WHAT WE HAVE HERE AT 12.7, another climb. I know it’s coming but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. (Split: 9:27)

Mile 13: Hill continues for another half mile. This is annoying. I always get annoyed when I’m less than a mile from the finish line. It just doesn’t come fast enough. After forever, the downhill into the park starts. This is the only mile I look back on and wonder if I could have pushed for that 9:20 a bit more than I did. IDGAF mode kind of set in. (Split: 9:35)

Mile 13.1: The finish chute is narrow but a pretty scenic one going under the arch in Bushnell Park. I do my best to blitz past whoever I could just for funsies, but people running 3-wide RIGHT AT THE FINISH and slowing down right on the mat kind of killed the ability of any runners behind them to finish strong through the line. Grrr. My final .1mi was a 7:51/mi pace.

OFFICIAL FINISH: 2:11:57 (Pace: 10:04/mi) – Not mad about it.

Unofficial Garmin Ego Boost: 13.1mi in 2:10:53 (9:59/mi), 13.2mi in 2:12:04 (9:59/mi)

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Beer (I Mean – Food) For Thought 🍺

The 10 mile mark has emerged as a sticking point for me. The last two races I’ve been so wrapped up in my split game I’ve faulted on fuel a bit, and that’s when it generally biologically bites you in the ass. Everything seems fine starting at a conservative pace, but when you start to hit the gas and need more zip, it’s not there.

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2019 Hartford Half – Trending UP

It was very cool to me to see this screen when I got home after the race, because of the arrows. Last year, I went out too hot and did my best to hang on tooth and nail to get a 2:09:42 PR. My 2018 stats showed that I lost position every single 5K, and this year, check out those arrows.

With each 5K completed, I managed to move up in the field, 625 spots in total. This is now my second race toying with the negative split strategy, and I have to say, I LIKE IT. It’s a bit intimidating because you don’t have that mental wiggle room that a hot start gives you, but of the 8 half marathons I’ve completed, the two in which I’ve employed this strategy on have by far felt the strongest.

I’m feeling good for a casual Saturday morning run. Bring it on, Mickey Mouse!

Oh, and, my toe? 360 degree blister. Far less gross than I expected it to be, but still painful for the next 3 days. If it could just go ahead and heal itself before Disney World, that would be greaaaaattt…..

What Do You Think?