In this episode Angie recaps the Hartford Marathon in Connecticut -her 60th marathon and fastest to date. Plus, Trevor talks about his experience at the Kaisermarathon in Austria. And in the quick tip segment you will hear how to set yourself up for a marathon PR.
The 26th edition of the Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon was held on Saturday, October 12, 2019. This is a non-profit race and $7.5 million was raised for charity.
This was my 47th state in my 50 State quest and my 60th marathon overall. My A goal going into this race was to break 3:30, my B goal was to PR (faster than the 3:35:41 set back at my 9th marathon in 2012), my C goal was to BQ (less than 3:40), and my D goal was to run my very best.
I’ve been visualizing breaking 3:30 for the past several months and at the expo there was this board where you could write your goal. Although I felt a bit sheepish about it I wrote “break 3:30”. Based on how well my training had gone I knew I had it in me if all the necessary factors would come together on race day.
The expo was held at the XL Center in downtown Hartford and it was a nice mid-sized expo. I got my bib, my corral seeding sticker, race shirt and bag, and then walked around. Of course I had to stop by and say hi to Katie at the UCAN booth.
The starting line area is right by Bushnell Park, close to the State Capitol, the Bushnell Building and the State Library & Supreme Court. I found my way to B corral which was for runners who’d posted a sub-4:00 marathon and went to the very front where the 3:30 pace group was located.
I kind of felt like a fraud being up there. But I knew if I wanted to attempt breaking 3:30 I needed to give myself every advantage. Even though I had a lot of nerves I kept telling myself that I was just excited and was prepared to give it my best.
The weather was absolutely perfect for a marathon. It started out in the low 50’s and got up to low 60’s by the time I finished. It was mostly overcast with some wind.
The marathon and half marathon courses split pretty quickly which reduced congestion. They also had a marathon relay with several relay exchange points along the course and there was a 5k that had a different course. I’d heard that the half marathon course was more scenic but the marathon was quite nice too. We ran along the Connecticut River and near Riverside Park and Great River Park for a stretch.
The half marathon had a time limit of 3 hours and the marathon time limit was 6 hours. There was an out and back section from mile 13 and the turn around just after mile 17. The course advertizes as having some rolling hills and the hills at mile 17 and mile 25 felt the most challenging.
They seemed to have reliable pace groups out on the course. I started just in front of the 3:30 pace group and my goal was to stay in front of them for as long as possible and then hang on when they passed me. They caught up to me at mile 25 and after that I stayed right on the 3:30 pacer’s shoulder before passing them in the final stretch.
There were frequent aid stations along the course stocked with water, Nuun energy drink, and some with gels.
- The race estimates that they serve 11,232 gel packs.
- 9,400 gallons of water was served at aid stations.
- The marathon works hard to make the event as environmentally friendly as possible. The 142,000 paper cups they use are fully compostable and 13,785 pounds of trash is diverted from landfills.
- 29,350 volunteer hours are donated to make the races possible. The volunteers that I interacted with were all helpful and encouraging.
For my fueling I had a Generation UCAN bar with my breakfast about an hour before the race. Then I carried 2 UCAN bars and took them at intervals washed down with water from the aid stations. I also had some caffeinated chews that I used to boost my energy in the last few miles. Use the code MTAHARTFORD for 15% off your UCAN order. New customers use the code MTA25 for 25% off.
The finish line is absolutely beautiful. The finish goes under the Veteran’s Memorial Arch and the street is lined with 500 autumn mum plants to decorate the final stretch. There are lots of cheering spectators in the last 0.2 miles making it extra exciting. This year there were 1,493 marathon finishers and 3,710 HM finishers.
The post-race area is in Bushnell Park which has lovely walkways and an antique carousel. There was a ton going on post-race and a party atmosphere with a live band, beer garden, and great food area (choices included fruit cups, chips, granola, donuts, bananas, chocolate milk, bagels, and veggie rice bowls).
They also gave out a reusable water bottle, heat sheet (they estimate seven thousand are given out), and an awesome medal which has the Capitol Building and Veteran’s Arch with a stained glass look behind it. The race shirt was long-sleeve in soft cotton and another perk was free race photos and finish line video.
I knew my training indicated that I could have a good marathon in Hartford if everything came together. Of course 10 days before the race I started feeling really fatigued and having symptoms that indicated I was coming down with a cold (taper troubles). I did everything I could think of to feel better and finally decided that it was fall allergies bothering me. I also knew that my period was scheduled to start on marathon day which is a wild card that many of us ladies have to deal with.
There are some things you can control and others you just have to roll with.
Gratitude and Courage
Two core values that I’ve been thinking about lately are “gratitude and courage.” Each person will apply gratitude in different ways and each person will have individual ways that they can be courageous. I wanted to bring these two elements into the marathon with me.
I felt good on race morning and was cautiously optimistic about a PR. The weather was looking perfect and I knew all I could do was to go out there and give it my best.
Waking up on race morning I saw that Eliud Kipchoge ran 1:59:40 in Vienna to go sub-2:00 in the marathon and that was so inspiring. To see his smile and wise words about pursuing your dreams gave me more motivation to go out and do my best.
On my Race Ready ID (which I wear on my watch) I put the mantra “keep pushing” and that’s exactly what I did. I decided not to settle back and get comfortable on any mile but instead stay relaxed, stay grateful, and be courageous.
I focused hard on keeping my self talk positive. If I was going up a hill I’d say something like “good thing you trained on hills” or “this hill is smaller than the one’s back home.”
I specifically looked for beauty around me (which wasn’t hard considering the fall foliage in New England). If I felt my focus drifting I brought my attention back to the present and told myself to have courage.
It looks slightly different to keep pushing depending on what mile you’re in because you don’t want to push your effort too hard in the early miles. And it gets significantly harder to keep pushing as the miles increase.
I knew I’d have to keep my pace at 8:00 minute miles to break 3:30 so in the earlier miles I allowed myself to run a bit faster to make up for any later miles that might end up being slightly slower. But I didn’t obsess about my pace or splits and only looked at my watch to see my mile split when it buzzed.
At mile 23 I knew that if I held the pace and nothing went wrong I’d be able to break 3:30. The 3:30 pacer caught up with me just before mile 25 and I knew that I’d hang on with everything I had. The last mile felt tough with the final hill but I passed the pacer and was able to accelerate in the final stretch. I knew that I could finish strong and couldn’t wait to see the 3:29 on the clock. I also felt so grateful to be running my 60th marathon and be strong and healthy.
When I crossed the finish line I felt emotional with gratitude. It was awesome to meet my goal of breaking 3:30 and set a PR. My last PR of 3:35:41 was set at my 9th marathon back in 2012. So this new PR of 6 minutes and 9 seconds was over 7 years in the making.
As far as results go I was 256/1,111 overall, 59/384 females, and 6/74 in my age group. My official time was 3:29:32.
I got to see Academy members Shira and her husband Chris along with Jo just after crossing the finish line. It was rather amusing that I was able to run strong the final stretch but when I started walking through the finisher’s area my body started seizing up. I got a foot cramp and it was hard to walk. Still, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
MTA Meet Up:
Later that afternoon we had a small MTA meet up at the Hog River Brewery. This was where the Manchester Running Club was meeting as well. It was wonderful to meet Kaitlyn who was there with her family (she did the marathon relay), Jo from WI who did the HM, and Shira (and husband Chris) who did the HM. I also got to meet David who heads up the running club.
1. Build a solid foundation
Don’t rush the process. If you’re looking to PR make sure that you build a solid running base first and are injury free before ramping up your training.
It’s important to focus on building a strong foundation first before demanding more out of your body. My recent marathon PR was built on the top of two solid marathon training cycles (London Marathon in April and the Charlevoix Marathon in June).
2. Love the process.
This really is another way to say “don’t forget the “boring” stuff”. Success in long distance running often comes down to what you do behind the scenes. This has been one huge key to how I’ve been able to run 60 marathons and make progress toward my time goals.
This will include things like . . .
- Strength training. I started strength training regularly during a period of injury and strengthening my glutes (among other areas) has been key to keeping my hamstrings strong and healthy.
- Recovery. Elements like quality sleep, massage/foam rolling, meditation, not racing too frequently, and doing easy runs truly easy can all play a big role in helping you run healthy and strong.
- Nutrition. Fueling your body well is key to getting a lot out of yourself. Think of yourself as an athlete and feed yourself for performance. Yes, food is also meant to be enjoyed but there’s definitely a balance. This will also help you build muscle and lose fat if those are your goals. We all have our particular areas within the realm of fueling that need to be worked on.
3. Work on mindset.
Your attitude and thought process can either make or break your PR goals. If we spend time thinking about why we can’t do something then it probably won’t happen. But if we think of all the ways we can make our goals happen they’re more likely to be achieved.
Just like we spend time on physical training I’d encourage you to spend time on mental training. In some way spend time every day focusing on strengthening your mindset, finding good mantras, and meditating on and visualizing the results you want. If you don’t practice mindset it won’t magically come through for you when you need it most.
For example, I meditate for 20 minutes every morning and at the end of my session I have a series of positive affirmations that I go through. Each person’s affirmations will be unique but three of mine are,
“I am healthy, I am strong, I am a sub-3:30 marathoner.”
It feels a bit weird at first to speak of your goals as if they’ve already happened but we must remember that goals start with belief, then become thoughts, and then are put into action.
4. Enlist help and support.
If you find yourself running into the proverbial wall over and over again with your goals it’s important to seek help. We often learn and grow best in a community and we all need support at times. The kind of support you need is going to vary from runner to runner.
It may involve following through with a training plan (if you haven’t in the past), joining a local running group, finding a running partner who will challenge you, joining an online community, and getting a running coach.
- There’s no shame in needing help. Almost a year ago I started getting help from a nutrition coach at Metpro to deal with a stubborn weight gain. This was a turning point in my health and fitness and is one of the keys to where I am today with my running.
To be successful in reaching challenging goals like a BQ or PR in the marathon you have to fall in love with the process. If you’re only running to get faster there will be lots of discouraging runs and races where you’ll question everything. And of course there will come a point in every person’s running that you won’t get any faster. That’s just a result of aging.
But if you fall in love with the process and start to enjoy the challenge of doing hard things then you’ll find joy in the journey and not just focus on the destination. You probably know where your weak areas are and what needs to be addressed for you to get better.
And if you’re struggling with knowing what to do or how to do it consider hiring a coach. They can help you pinpoint problem areas and map a successful way forward.
The only states remaining in my 50 State Marathon Goal are Vermont, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.
Also Mentioned in This Episode
Live Podcast with Generation Ucan
Angie will be speaking at a live podcast event with Generation Ucan on Friday, November 1st from 6:30-8:00 at the New York Marriott Marquis. She will be on a panel with fellow podcasters Tina Muir, Carrie Tollefson, and Emily Abbate. This event is free but space is limited! Here is the link to register now.
Morning Shake Out Run with MTA
We are also hosting a short 2-mile shakeout jog/walk/chat on Saturday, Nov. 2nd at 8:00 am. See this Google doc for more info: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iy3_jlaHyFbzR4cJx5tGHQA84omJZ_n9wDMULaZH89w/edit?usp=sharing
MetPro.co. I have lost 32 pounds working with Natalie my nutrition coach. To see if MetPro is the solution you’ve been looking for, take their Metabolic Assessment and schedule a complimentary consultation with one of their experts by going to www.metpro.co/mta
The NuNee – If knee pain has slowed you down this season, NuNee can help get you back on track. NuNee is a patented innovation designed specifically to relieve that dreaded Runner’s Knee pain. Use code MTA20 for a 20% discount.
The Chirp Wheel+ back pain relief wheel. It’s designed with a 5-inch width and spinal canal that cradles your spine and gives your muscles a 4-way stretch. Get your Chirp Wheel+ 3-Pack for 15% off with code MTA.
Trevor’s Recap and Photos of the Kaisermarathon in Austria.