Today, Debbie and I returned to the Colchester Half Marathon for the first time since 201o. We ran it once before that in 2007. We like this course. It’s 13.1 miles of undulating roads in a really nice rural town in eastern Connecticut. It was a cold but sunny day. The temperature at the start was in the teens (Fahrenheit), though it warmed up to 20F by the finish.
This race is very important for local runners with cabin fever and 473 finished! This wicked winter had its impact on the course. The asphalt roads were clear, but the two sections of dirt road (a couple of miles worth) were ice and snow-covered. They were quite slippery. I wore my trail running shoes and opted to run on the far right side of the dirt roads to get some traction where there was more snow and less ice.
The race has really grown. It’s very popular and it is very runner friendly. It seemed like all of our friends from the Silk City Striders were there. Several other friends from the Shenipsit Striders also ran. Even some of my friends from the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes awoke from their winter slumber to run today. “Rivals,” the Hartford Track Club and the energetic Race Director, Rick Konon, tout the event as “no frills” and are proud of its reputation. It’s a true value at $14 for pre-registration. There are no race goodie bags, no t-shirts, and no awards. What you get is a fantastic post-race spread of food prepared by the culinary students at Bacon Academy, where the race starts/finishes.
The school’s cafeteria was packed after today’s race with hundreds of happy runners. They even had a dedicated vegetarian line. The food was good and the conversation was even better. It was a great day for a run. I hadn’t done a race since the first week of June last year. 2014 was quite an “off-year” for me on the athletic front.
I was thrilled to run hard today though I faded badly in the second half of the race. That was expected. My pace slackened and heart rate rose as the hills and slow roads took their toll. Even the asphalt was rough. I saw two runners take spills right in front of me. One rolled his ankle on a frost heave and hit the deck. Another got tangled up with other runners at the first aid station and took a hard fall. I had to leap out-of-the-way to avoid him.
I took it as easy as I could on my injured left foot (plantar fasciitis) and was happy that the pain in my arch and heel was the same after the race as it was before. In the past 60 days, after months of therapy and stretching, the tightness in my foot and calf have noticeably improved. With a four mile warmup, this was the longest I’ve run in nine months since last year’s Wapack and Back 50 Mile Trail Race that pretty much did my 2014 season in.
The time away from running was good for my body, though my Labor Day bicycle crash was quite a setback and resulted in me doing nothing for several months at the end of last year. I started spinning and swimming again in December and then started running last month. I’ve run a dozen or so times so I knew that I wouldn’t match my 2010 time. I’m five years older and I ran six minutes slower. I took advantage of the free post-race massage to loosen up my legs, but I know that tomorrow they are going to really hurt.
This year’s plan is to get back to the level I was in prior years, but it is going to take some work and a bit more training. I’ve got modest goals for 2015 that include comebacks at some of my favorite (short) local races, but with less running and no ultras. Debbie has some fun stuff planned this year with travel involved, so she was also pleased with her Colchester. It is a necessary part of her buildup as she adds mileage and intensity.
We missed the Colchester Half Marathon four years in a row due to various trips, so it was fun to stick around and experience this fun race again.