2023 Colchester Half Marathon

It’s been two months since my last blog post. Coincidentally it’s been two months since my last race, which was on December 25th. I guess I didn’t have anything else to write about.

Today was the 31st edition of the Colchester Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races. It’s the seventh time I’ve done it. I first did it in 2017. This was the fourth year in a row that Debbie and I have done it. This was Shepard’s second time running it with us after his debut in 2022.

It was a bummer but he had an off day today. We ran stride for stride for about eight miles. Then, he started to struggle. We got caught by a group of three runners (including Peter Oviatt and Ryan Lerner) and I chose to latch on to them. This kept the pace high and when we hit the first of the serious (dirt road) climbs in the second half of the race, he was hurting.

He hung tough but I gapped him. As we crested the second of the big climbs I had about 20 seconds on him but was just off of the group. I looked back and decided to let them go so that he would keep me in his sight. We ran that was for about three miles with him about 30 seconds behind me. The three fast dudes pulled away and we were in no man’s land until we got caught by another runner.

I let him go as well and when we came off the last of the dirt with about 2.5 miles to go, Shepard was slowing even more. I made the decision to push ahead in attempt to break the 90 minute mark. As I made the final turn on to the long uphill to the finish, I yelled across a field for him to hang in there.

From that point I focused on just keeping the past. Those last few miles are always brutal and even though were averaging 6:35’s earlier in the race, it was hard to break 7 now. With about two miles to go, Adam Bulewich caught me. He was running like a metronome. His pace was steady and strong and I couldn’t match it. He bridged up to the guy who had passed me a few miles earlier, but I never gained on them.

The last mile was a slog. By this point, it had started to snow steadily. The temperature never got about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but mercifully the wind wasn’t bad. The road conditions were also good since it’s been dry this week. The dirt was hard packed and smooth. There was no ice.

I finished in 1:28:21 and am happy with the time. I ended up 15th and second in my age group. Oviatt (who is in my age group) and Lerner finished in the low 1:25 range and though I wish I had gone with them, I’m glad I hung back to keep an eye on Shepard until I knew he was in the homestretch. I doubt I would have been able to stick with them the whole way, but if I had gone with them earlier, I might have shaved a minute or two off my own time.

Unfortunately, Shepard had a mental meltdown and walked big portions of the last two miles. It was a good lesson for him. Last year, I ran behind him and encouraged him.We finished in just over 1:30, but this year, he was on his own for that last stretch and it was ugly. He didn’t run much the last three weeks and he paid for it. That’s OK. Track season is coming and he will have more chances to perform to his own expectations.

Debbie had a good run. Dahlia was a race volunteer. The post-race spread was even better than usual. The food was fantastic and the cafeteria at Bacon Academy was jammed with happy runners. That festival is one of the reasons that this early season race is so popular.

Thank you to the volunteers for putting on another great edition of this race.

I won’t wait two more months before blogging again.

Race Results

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