This weekend, we had a lot of “in state” adventure. From afar, we monitored the progress of many friends, who were running 100 miles from Squaw Valley, California to Auburn, California in the Western States Endurance Run. That one is on Debbie’s list. Today, I did the Litchfield Hills Triathlon for the first time. This race has been around for more than 25 years, which makes it one of the classic Connecticut tri’s. As they have done with several other long time CT races, several years ago, the Hartford Marathon Foundation took over the race production and has kept the event going strong.
218 athletes finished the triathlon, and another 50 or so did the duathlon, aqua bike, and relay. This is an Olympic distance race (1.5 kilometer swim/40 kilometer bike/10 kilometer run), which getting hard to find distance nowadays. Sprints are incredibly popular and at the other end of the spectrum, triathletes are going longer with half iron-distance races and full iron-distance races.
I’m not the biggest fan of the Olympic distance either. My weak swim is a liability in this format because the swim is long relative to the bike and run compared to the other races. I wouldn’t be very good at one of those “equalizer” triathlons that require the time for each distance to be about the same.
I had heard good things about the course and decided to the do the race. The course is awesome. The swim in beautiful West Hill Pond was fantastic. The bike course is scenic. The run is on quiet neighborhood roads. The pond gets awards for being so clean. I hadn’t been in that water since I was a kid in Boy Scout Troop 11. We used to go to BSA Camp Workcoeman, which is on the pond, which is across the pond from Brodie Park, the fantastic venue that hosted today’s race. The HMF invited folks to camp at the park, and we were one of three groups to take them up on the offer.
After dinner in West Hartford last night, we drove up to New Hartford and set up our VW pop-top. Our kids spent an hour playing on the fabulous Brodie Park playscape before retiring to bed. We were up early as the first triathletes began arriving around 5:30 A.M. It was nice to wake up 100 meters from the start/finish line of a race. That was convenient!
The race went off at 7:30 A.M. There was a huge H.E.A.T. contingent and many strong results. Also, I wasn’t the only Team Horst Sports athlete. Old friend, Thom Reid, came out for his Olympic distance debut. We also had great fun chatting with friends Charlie and Becky Iselin. I had the race I expected to have. I felt pretty strong, but not spectacular. I was predictably slow on the swim, pretty good on the bike, and my run is finally coming around. I finished in 2:15:45. I was 9th overall and 2nd in my age group, only 53 seconds behind the first 40-44 athlete. I could see him most of the run and closed a few times, and was gaining in the last three kilometers, but I ran out of road. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know he was in my AG. He was just another triathlete that I was chasing.
I did have a hard fall on the run, which isn’t what you expect in a road triathlon. I caught my toe on a root and went down hard. Thankfully it wasn’t worse because it was only 90 seconds into the 10K. I wasn’t expecting the first kilometer to be on single track trail and dirt road, but it was fun. The bike leg was also a lot of fun. It started with a screaming downhill, then continued with 10 rolling miles on Rt. 44, which isn’t as bad as I expected, then the last part of the ride was on some gorgeous country roads. The final climb up to the park was a doozie, and I used my 23 cog for a good part of it. The course was made more interesting by the presence of a huge bull in the road. When I saw the flashing lights of a police car ahead on this quiet country road, I was worried that someone crashed. It turned out to be the bull instead. I got out of the aero bars for a moment…just to be safe.
Our kids had a blast at Brodie Park, which made it easy for Debbie. They spent hours on that playscape. After the race, we took them swimming in the lake. Debbie had to get in a four-hour training run on rolling terrain, so we stopped in Canton to get pizza at Team Horst Sports sponsor, Flatbread. It was fantastic as usual. We parked at West Hartford Reservoir #6 and ate lunch. Debbie left on her run. She ran throughout the Res, then up to Heublein Tower and throughout Talcott Mountain State Park. She explored the woods and dirt roads before winding her way back to West Hartford Center where we met her at Whole Foods.
I spent the afternoon with the kids at the Children’s Museum. We had a blast exploring the science exhibits including one on chimpanzees. We saw a film called Cardboard Rocket, and closed the place. Debbie had a great run. We had a great time, and it was a full day of adventure. We capped it off back in Bolton at the Bolton Land Trust’s annual Strawberries at Sunset event at Pesce’s Farm.