Monday, May 4, 2015

Race Report: Cheshire Half Marathon

Time to wake up... I had just slept
in my car for the last 4 hours!
I had a 3:30pm flight from Nashville that arrived in Newark at about 6, but with delays on public transit getting me back home, I finally got back to my apartment at around 8pm. After a quick shower and pack up of things, I got out to the Budget at LaGuardia to get a rental that I reserved, and then drove into the city to grab dinner and attend an 11pm party… as one does when it’s a Saturday night in NYC.  I was very good, drank my water, and was out the door by 12:30am.  Had a little detour, driving a friend back to an apartment in the Bronx where he was a dog sitting, and then finally got on the road to Connecticut.  It was a very dark drive through Westchester and Connecticut down the Hutchinson River Parkway and Merritt Parkways, respectively.  It was 3am by the time I arrived in Cheshire -- I parked in the school parking lot, and slept for about four hours in my rental car, on and off (much like the night before in Nashville).... and BOY was it COLD. The temps had dipped down into the high 30s, and despite wearing a long sleeved shirt, a peacoat, and wrapped in a blanket, it wasn’t enough to keep me warm in the drafty car. I had posted about the late-night drive and the sleeping in the car on my Facebook wall in the morning before the race, and my mom was not amused, telling me "Jim, please don't do this again."

Pre-race with my friend Kim!
I woke up at around 7am, feeling pretty good, considering I had quite the Saturday (and early morning hours of Sunday!) I went over to the festival area to register for the race, and picked up my bib, then headed back to the car to pick up my bag so I could go to the locker room to change for the race.

Thankfully, the weather had warmed up a little bit, and we were in the 40s – still chilly, but bearable with the shorts I was wearing and the foil blanket I had wrapped myself in.  As the festival area began to fill with people, I ran into my friend Kim and snapped a couple photos with her before heading to the startline.

The startline
It was a small race, but sizable, considering we were in a small town in Connecticut.  With over 2000 runners doing both the 5k and half marathon, it was going to be a fun day.  The race started about ten minutes late, but soon we were off, crossing the timing mat through the little neighborhood next to Cheshire High School along Elmwood Drive, turning onto Main Street, and then off down some gently rolling hills through residential Cheshire.  My M.O. was just to run my own race and stop to walk at the mile markers as need be - for about half a minute to a minute.

The entrance to Farmington Canal
Linear Park!  Gorgeous flat part of
the course!
Just before mile 3, we started the flat section of the race, running through the Farmington Canal Linear Park.  This area has a very interesting history, as it started off in 1825 as a canal dug for water transportation as a route to bypass Connecticut River traffic through inland Hartford.  The companies that supported the canal fell into severe debt and transferred the ownership to railroad company, who built a railroad on the canal bed in 1847.  The railroad operated into the 1980s, then was discontinued, paved over, and turned into a multi-use trail used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and skaters alike.  This flat trail was our route for the next roughly 4.5 miles - dotted by aid stations with both water and Nuun, and spectators mainly cheering for us at the six street crossings along the way.

Some of the beautiful views
along the way...

At mile 7.5, we emerged from the linear park, and began to follow a few roads adjacent to the linear park.  Traffic flowed in the opposite direction in the other lane, while us runners took the east side of the road.  This was where the hills really played their role in the race, rolling along down Brooksvale Avenue, Mount Sanford Road, and Brooksvale Street, providing us with more gorgeous Connecticut scenery.  Mile 9 probably had the steepest ascent for roughly 0.2 miles, but as we continued on, we turned back into a section of the trail at mile 11.  We began to retrace our route back to the start, turning onto Higgins Road, hitting the mile 12 mark, and then turning back onto Main Street.  The turn just before the school would be up ahead, and then we made the last run back to the high school, with the finish line visible after making just short of a full loop of the track.

Where to next? And is there
a half marathon there I can
sign up for?
The second half marathon of the weekend was complete for me in 2:16:28, a mere THREE seconds faster than the race prior.  This would be the third race in a row, completed in 2:16.  I stuck around and waited for Kim, and we headed off to get ourselves scheduled for massages, which really helped me post race, as I had another 1.5 hour drive ahead of me.  Being the crazy over-achiever that I am, I still had another engagement to get to for the weekend - my second cousin's wedding shower in Piermont, New York!  Kim helped me get an awesome victory headstand photo with the Nuunmobile in the background, and I completed my 22nd state!

Victory Headstand in front of the Nuunmobile!
Only five around the country...

Met the beautiful fellow Half Fanatic Mwenyewe
(I know you're reading this -_-) after we both finished
a Nashville and Cheshire double weekend!  

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