Well maybe the true name of this race report should be come ING Hartford Come for the race stay for the career....I have an interview with them on Monday for a job in their Windsor call center, thanks to some clever networking at the expo. Apparently as I was looking at the "official Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon memento stand" I heard two young women commenting on the prices. "$50 for a sweat shirt..we work for them for crying out loud they should be giving it to us." "You work for ING?" I said with a gasp "Yeah for their Windsor office" after explaining my plight I was given a card and told to put in an app. Needless to say I had my phone interview on Thursday and I'll have my face to face on Monday. On the Umbrella Corporation Front I have my phone interview either Monday or Tuesday, then some other screening and then a face to face. Right now I'm hoping for the Umbrella job, granted if I'm working for ING I may take advantage of their cushy benefits to get my MBA and try to get into their global talent search. We'll see but right now any positive news on the job front is a welcome relief that I may soon be escaping my duties as an overglorified cashier.
Oh where was I oh yes the race. My last write up got the "that's it...you kept us waiting for 2 day and you wrote less than a paragraph." So here is the long drawn out bloody gory on the Hartford Marathon 2009 edition.
On Friday after my net working session...I mean expo, I went to the Olive Garden and redlined my DDA by putting some much needed pasta in my system. Then to my friend Josie's place to crash since she lives about 6 blocks from Bushnell Park and any cash I could save by not having to park downtown is an added benefit. I made my way over to the pump house and called Cranky. Yes Cranky is still alive and well and was 2 weeks removed from a marathon PR at Akron. We met up and went over our race game plan: Hold with the 3:10 -3:15 pace squad for as long as humanly possible and keep the 3:20 crowd behind us.
As we lined up behind the capital...apparently I couldn't pull the same crap last year where Claire and I walked through the VIP section and pressed into the sea of humanity, I had to pee. I quickly darted for a port o let and after about 5 minutes of waiting was able to do my thing and then ran back into line with Cranky with about 2 minutes until race start. After the usual crap of Hartford and ING would like to thank this VP of investment services, this VP of underwriting who is running her first 5k, and about 30 Politicians we were finally ready to go.
The gun went off and the elites left then we filed through the start. The first mile is Chaotic as I weeded my way through slower runners who had put themselves at the front. We darted around Bushnell park and through the Financial district then over the Founders Bridge. As we were crossing I noticed a dude with a Country Music Marathon Shirt. We shot the shit and I found out his name was Ari. And for the next 22 miles he would be one of my pacers. As we crossed the bridge I noticed my split was at 7:30 "Where was the first mile marker?" I asked. "It wasn't marked but we went through it a minute ago." Ari replied back. Shit I thought to myself...in my zeal to get around the 5 hour power walkers who placed themselves at the front I had really turned up the juice. Mile two came along with the first aid station of the race and the first mile marker. At this point in time I was still pacing with Half Marathoners, I grabbed a water for my core temp and gatorade for the engine because despite the fact that it was only supposed to be in the low 60's it was really muggy and running in a large pack only multiplied the effect. At mile 3 I could hear Cranky's voice and looked back to see the 3:10 pace squad chugging along. I figure I had to stay infront of them at least for another mile...afterall they didn't catch me until mile 6 last year and even then I could only hold with them for 2 miles. By mile 5 when the full and half Marathon guys went their separate ways ( and I almost took a left when I had to stay straight.) I knew that I wasn't going to be able to hold off the pace team for ever. By mile 6 I was in the group. Cranky and the guy running it were having a conversation. Apparently our pacer was on of those 50 marathons in 50 states guys, he only had 2 more to go after this. The 3:10 group consisted of me, Cranky, Ari, and about 8-10 other runners. 4 of them were color coded in black and red two were wearing all black track gear and a few were guys who conceded that they had gone out too fast. At this point the pace team was comfortable holding between 7:09-7:17 miles. We made our way into Windsor and all seemed to be good except the pace leader was getting worried as we took two miles at slightly above pace. Mile 8 we went a 7:25 and mile 10 a 7:19 after running a blazing mile 9 to make up for it.
Mile 11 became the breaking point as we approached the turn around. We could see the leaders coming back at us and then the sub-3 hour crowds sprinting ahead. As I passed through the Aid station I could tell that this is where I was getting unhitched from my "train to Boston." As we approached the turn around Cranky dropped off, then another runner then another then me. I watched the pace leader go through and start sprinting ahead with a sea of red and black attached to him . He was still in sight as we hit 12 miles but his fluorescent green vest was flying up the road leaving a trail of blown up runners in his wake. About this time Cranky came back alongside and we began to pace one another. We reeled in Ari and began the comments of "man that 3:10 is ramping it up too early" "Well at least we can pick off the carnage." I said as I chugged along. "Brother I'm ready Carnage." Ari said with a laugh. As we approached the half marathon point I looked at my watch squinted then looked again with disbelief. " Cranks I'm going to set a PR in the Half." "What ?"Cranky said as he looked back at me. "No seriously my best is a 1:37 and I'm on pace for a 1:35" I said noticing the pace clock and timing mat approaching. "You need to run more halves. " He retorted with a laugh. We crossed the mat and I officially registered my PR a 1:34:59. Only 13.1 miles to go at this pace.
Running with Master Yoda
The next three miles are probably the toughest in any marathon. It begins a count down to the 16 mile marker. At that point the race is a training run or as Ari put it "A short training run." Cranky and I went over a strategy to stay loose and take our minds off the pain that was beginning to make itself known. "Remember attack the hills, relax on the decent and focus on getting your knees up." He said as we charged along. Having Cranky along with me was a real good thing. He was a vet at this stuff and the technique training was helping. It kept my mind busy to think of how to charge up hill walk down hill, slow a little bit a aid stations to get fluids, lift the knees and for get about the tight calves and aching glutes and the constant feeling that I had to drop a duce when I hadn't eated anything but 2 gus the entire morning. The next few miles passed in quick succession and as we made our way back to the city we knew the worst was yet to come. With Ari in there with us we became the "anti-pace team pace team." Sharing advice and getting one another through.
Hills, Hills and oh yes Hills.
The last 12-10k of this race are known for its terrain. It begins with a decent on to the rail trail then a climb back to the main road. Ari dropped about here.Cranky and I were still ahead of the 3:15 pace team at this point and were determined to keep them off and finish 20 miles in under 2:30. We hit the 20 mile banner at 2:28 and began to settle in to attack then climb up the founders bridge at mile 21. It was on the Bridge that you could tell who had gone too hard too early as I screamed by at least 5 -10 walkers.We made it up and then it was past the old state house and the crowds of the Financial District back out to the 22 mile mark. As we made our way through here this is when the wheels fell off. The 3:15 pace team chugged around as 1 green vest and five runners held on. Cranky and I got dropped. My goal became to beat the 3:20 squad. I was still on pace to run a 3:17 but as I passed the Jimmy Buffet aid station at about mile 23 my scraming calves could take no more. Cranky accelerated away and I couldn't reel him in.
It was back on to the rail trail along the river and after an eternity the 24 mile banner appeared. 2 more miles I thought to myself, as I tried to keep myself under 9 min/mile pace. It was a losing battle but my blazing first half had put minutes in the bank. We went under the Buckley Bridge and continued for ever on the trail as we crossed the 25 mile mark my legs were lead. Som photographer sanapped a picture of me shuffling with the grimace of death on my face. We crossed som rail road tracks and it was back on to the streets. You could see the Capital the distance...almost there but as you descended it disappeared. It was back into town back to the financial district and then down an alley way, then you could see the crowds gathering , the Arch in the distance less than quarter of a mile. You know you were almost there when you saw the diiders with plants. At the 26 mile banner I saw Josie screaming at me. She sprinted along side me bulldozing through the crowds until she hit th baracade. I tried to ramp up as I made my way to the arch. I looked back the 3:20 pace team wasn't any where around me. I looked at my watch as I crossed the line. 3:21...just 11 minutes from Boston, 1 minute short of my "mile 16 goal" but still a PR by 5 minutes. Official time 3:21:27.
As I sat at the fountains I got my nice foil blanket which became my foil kilt I caught up with cranky who pulled a 3:20:21 and as I tried to hobble along Ari came in after pulling a 3:22 Josie got a picture of us with our medals. Ari left as Josie Cranky and I made our way to bag pickup and Cranky and I got some post race grub and a well deserved sit. All in all it was a good day in Hartford. Despite my lack of real training it's making me wonder how much deeper can this rabbit hole go. Do I have the potential to break 3 hours? Do I have the potential to qualify not only for Kona but Boston as well? It's realizing that I have a high tolerance for pain, and perhaps still more potential that I have yet to discover.
The Running man