Sunday, March 20, 2016

RACE REPORT: 2016 Colchester Half Marathon

The 24th Annual
"Tough as Nails"
Colchester Half Marathon

When you find a good quality race, it is hard to say "no."

That is so incredibly true of this race!  Welcome to year #4 of my attendance of this race.  Why do I race here so consistently?
  • It's hard to find a half marathon in February!  It's cold here in the northeast!  
  • 40 minutes from home.
  • $14 for a half marathon??  Yes and Thank You!
  • This is up there for the best post-race food!  I would pay more than $14 for the meal alone.
  • The race director is AMAZING towards each and every racer.

If you're interested, here are my previous race reports.

Ok!  Here we go.  What happened at the Colchester Half Marathon in 2016?!

The race starts at 10am.  Gotta' love early season races that are restricted by sunlight!  So I was up at 5:30a as usual, waited to have breakfast until 7a (2 eggs, banana, applesauce, toast), and headed to the race about 8:15a.

The race is centered at Bacon Academy High School in Colchester, CT and the parking lot looks like this as soon as you get there.  It is packed!!  And I typically arrive early for races, but I tend to get one of the last parking spots at this one.

Bacon Academy High! 

Inside, it is a swarming mass of runners chatting, getting ready, and all around shaking the nerves out.  Upstairs, downstairs - all runners!

Registration and bib pick up are completely volunteer.  This race would not go on without the incredible help of volunteers year in and year out.  Thank you!!!  If I didn't love this race so much, I would volunteer in a heartbeat!

The HEAT crew pre-race

I chatted with some friends, hit the long bathroom line a couple times, changed into thermal shorts because of the temperature drop, and then headed out to warm up; about 10 minutes.  It's nice to run down and back up the final hill just to get it in your head that "Hey, you just ran this earlier today.  You got this.  RUN!"

I immediately knew that my double layer mittens would be too much.  But with 4 minutes to race start (and this race is ON TIME!), I quickly asked a volunteer if she could hold them for me.  Instead, we stuffed them under a finish line cone.  Great idea!!  But trust me, I had multiple thoughts of "I wonder if they'll be there when I get back."  They were.

Kristen & I pre-race.  ...about to CRUSH IT!
Okay!  I'm ready.  Ready as I'll ever be.  I said good luck to all my friends, found my way to the front, and prepped myself.  I had a new friend running this year too - Pete.  Pete is 14 years old and has done a 1:18.  My hope was simply not to let him crush me too bad.  Man has he flourished!!  Great kid too, but MAN can he fly!

Up to the start line.  Rick, the race director, thanked the runners, the volunteers, and the weather gods.  And without much ceremony, sent us on our way!

Picture thanks to JS Photography
I'm in the blue with the party hat (it's a tradition with my birthday) and Pete is in the green.  Gotta' keep him in sights!!

Race Nerves

I will admit that on my way to the race, I had some butterfly's in my stomach.  It's the first race of the year, I've done very little high speed running, my longest "tempo" may have been 20 minutes, and I have no idea what to expect for time or performance.  Here's how I deal with that.
  • I don't run with any usable metric.  I run with total ascent so that I am forced to go by feel.
  • I set process goals.  For this race, it was negative split and feel strong in the back half.
  • I remember that I paid $14 for this race.  My financial side can't get bent out of shape about that!
  • I wear a birthday hat.  Yes, Tuesday was my birthday, but it's just FUN.  I love cracking jokes mid-race.  That's my way of lightening the mood.

So in those first 5 miles, I was worried.  I was!

Can I hold this effort?
Am I going to burn out?
Should I pull back?
How am I going to feel at mile 10 when I need to REALLY push??

That whole time, I cracked jokes - some out loud and others in my head.  And eventually my body and mind came around.

Around mile 5-6, something clicked.  I had control of the effort level, I felt the gauge on my gas tank, and my body screamed at me "We got this!"  From that point on, I was in control; not a single internal question from there to the finish.

And I don't know why, but I love this course.  It would be gorgeous with some foliage, but it's still great in the dead of winter.

The course is mostly paved roads, but there are some dirt roads we use.  At times they can be frozen over, slushy, etc.  This year, they were PERFECT!  And the farms are great to look at!  Again, in the summer, this would be even better.

A part of me just wants to come back and run this course in June for the scenery!

Rick and Andy at mile 4/5

Did I mention Rick, the race director?!  AMAZING!!  Rick makes this race so much fun for every racer!

Rick on the final hill

Without fail, he is out at mile 4-5 cheering us on and giving high-fives.  And then he stands on that last hill welcoming every single runner to the finish line.  He got there just after I finished (after he was done at mile 4/5) and was on that hill still when I left to drive home.

Thank you Rick!!
Such an amazing race and atmosphere!

And last, but certainly not least, we have the post-race food!!

We're at a high school, so they get to use the cafeteria and every year, they do not disappoint.
  • Lasagna
  • Soup
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Brownies the size of your fist
  • Ice cream
  • Drinks
  • Pizza

Eat your fill!!

I will be back in 2017 for yet another running of the hills!


1.  What race do you do every year?  And why?
The Colchester Half Marathon is one because it's cheap, has great food, is the first of the year in the northeast, and never disappoints.  Rev3 Quassy is another, but this year I am actually skipping it.  *gasp*

2.  What is your first race of the year?  What is kicking off your season?


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