Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016 Hartford Marathon

My New England's Finest poster in Hartford, CT...and me

Just when I thought I would never have a race like the 2015 Vermont City Marathon again, along came Hartford!! What an experience. I've been putting off my blog post about it because it just seems like so much to write. And it is! So I guess I'll just have to start off with the beginning of the week and work my way up! Don't worry, it will only take up an hour or so of your time. Haha. I do wish I had been caught up on my blog and had written this with a fresher memory, but I seem to do ok with it as you can tell with my novellas. :)

Monday, October 3, 2016- The one night I really didn't want to go out on any we did. I was nervous about work this week with the 24 hour shifts. Any lack of sleep could set me back for the marathon, so when it happened, I was pretty bummed out. I would just have to do my best to catch up over the week. I got in a 2 mile walk on the treadmill during the day, and took my typical day off from running.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016-

Foliage was really starting to pop. I took this from 113 in Madison.
I've started a tradition for the week of a marathon. It's not always at the same time of day or the same day of the week, but it's done at some point over the week. Today was the day for it this time around. The entire Mountain Division Trail down and back (with an extra .2 on the other end to make it an even 8 miles). The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and I was surprised the speed came easy. I badly needed a speedy run. Only the first mile was in the 7s at 7:01, which is typical since the first mile is basically my warmup. After that I brought it down into the 6s where it stayed pretty consistent hovering around 6:40 pace. I felt really good and took this as a sign that maybe, just maybe I was going to have a good race on Saturday.

Mountain Division Trail run splits

That afternoon. I had been putting off getting my concealed carry permit, so John and I drove down to the Sheriff's Dept in Ossipee to apply for one. That ended up being a waste of time since I learned I had to do it at the Albany Town Hall...the one I had passed right by on my way down here. Oh well, we continued with our plan to stop at the Sandwich Creamery for ice cream on our way to fill up on spring water at the Sandwich Spring. We stopped for a 2-mile walk on the Brook Trail with Spot and Phoenix on the way home.

I had the false impression we were taking a photo together, but at least he was playing with leaves and not on his phone.

This walk never gets old.
Typical evening involved John's ninja class and then beer for me. Tuesday falls in between my two non-drinking days of the week, so I try to save some of my best beers for Tuesdays. I had a Night Shift Awake, which doesn't keep me awake, thank goodness. Haha.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016- Since it was the weekend of the Fryeburg Fair, John's dad's parents rented out their house (where John's dad normally stays) as they usually do, so he needed a place to park his van for the week. I had no problem with him staying in the driveway (I swear I'm not cruel! He lives in his van because he wants to! Just needs a place to park it). This meant I wasn't stuck to the treadmill for my Wednesday morning run before work. With him there, I was able to get out on a dark road run through Cranmore Shores. I kept it really short and slow; no need to for speed or distance only 3 days out from Hartford. 4.3 miles, 8:06/mi pace. Perfect for just getting something in and testing out the knuckle lights I won at Greylock. The constant movement of the lights almost makes me a little dizzy, but I think I just need to either get used to it or stop overly swinging my arms as I run. The latter is unlikely, so I'll just have to get used to them. Way better than a tight headlamp on my head, for sure, though.

This next 24 hour shift wasn't too bad, and I fortunately slept all night. I went to sleep super early since I was tired, and actually woke up feeling pretty refreshed. EMS (Earn Money Sleeping) really lived up to its name this shift. During the days, I got a walk in on the railroad tracks, back and forth, back and forth for 2-miles.

RR tracks walk
I was extremely relieved during my Wednesday morning pulse check to find my resting pulse back to its norm in the mid-40s. Another sign that things were going to fall into place on Saturday. I was starting to get really nervous, but it was coupled with optimism. Yay!

Thursday, October 6, 2016- I had a lot of errands to run today in prep for the weekend away, so I got my run in first thing right from work. It was nice just having a short, easy trail run. I parked at the Thompson Road trailhead in North Conway and did a lollipop loop on the mountain bike trails. The trails were still clear of leaves, to it made for some enjoyable, mindless running in the woods. 5.6 miles with a decent amount of gain at 747ft, but the slow pace made it barely noticeable.

Redstone Quarry, the farthest point of my run before looping back. 
I went to Frontside Grind after the run and did something I never do. I ordered a sweet coffee drink, the Maple Latte! I spotted it on the sign and for some reason just really wanted to try it. I stopped drinking sugar in my coffee and cut out all other sweet coffee drinks one day in April 2007 (when we were housesitting in Gloucester). I decided the day before that I was going to stop. I followed through on it the next day and never looked back. But today, I decided to do it since it was maple syrup. I just wanted to try it, and damn was it sweet, but very good. Would I order another one? Nah, but worth trying once. The barista made it with a heart. Too bad it wasn't special for me, though. Everyone was getting hearts. Haha.

Maple Latte from Frontside Grind
 I also got a sausage, egg and cheese bagel and a day old donut. I rarely eat donuts either, but it was there... in the day old basket. How could I not? I really shouldn't have. I needed to be eating healthier so close to the marathon, but I knew I would be busy all day running errands and wouldn't eat again until dinner, so I didn't care.

While I was at Frontside Grind, I got a Facebook notification...

Thank goodness for the reminder or I might have forgotten!! Haha! It certainly did remind me to be nervous, very nervous. Only 2 more days!!! I didn't even do any marathon-specific training for this! Eek! I was feeling good, but running a sub-3 is pretty fucking hard (for me). You have to be on your game and everything be right. Things can change in 2 days. I only did 3 long road runs since VCM. I had no idea how I was going to pull off a sub-3.

I went home, showered and then back out to run my errands and walk the dogs. My first stop would be my biggest decision of the day. What color nail polish for my nails?! I stared at the wall and then it caught my eye. A sparkly green. I picked it up, then put it back. An assorted glittery polish said, "Pick me!" so I did. Sat down and while I had a fill done on the acrylics. Watched America's Got Talent streaming on YouTube that they have up on a tv. I never really watched the show until I started getting my nails done here, and I find it to be really good! Amazing people on there. Anyway, it came time to put the polish on, and when he did, the color turned out to be a dud. It went on clear, no glitter. So I walked back over and picked the green again. And that's when I noticed the name "Running in Circles". Oh hell yes! That was the one!

From there, I parked at LL Bean and took Spot and Phoenix on a short walk on the Audubon trails down to the Saco. I still can't get over how low the water level is. Just crazy.

After that, I had some clothes shopping to do. John and I were going to Ellen Tidd and Tom Raffio's wedding on Sunday, so I needed to find John a nice looking outfit. I spent forever in TJ Maxx and walked out with only socks for John and a new dress for me to wear to the wedding. They had absolutely nothing in his size other than sportswear, so it meant a trip to Walmart. I hate the place, but I knew they would have what I was looking for. I had to go there anyway for a few things for the weekend, so it worked out. The last stop was Discount Beverages to buy a beer for Friday night. I didn't want to rely on what I could find in Hartford for my pre-race beer, so I picked up a Stoneface Porter.

After I got home, I broke out a beer and started packing for the weekend. I actually had no plan. The marathon only gave us Friday night at the hotel, so I didn't know what to do yet on Saturday. But instead of making a decision, I decided to leave it all up in the air to be decided after I finished the race. We might just go home. We might drive part of the way to Pat's Peak, where the wedding was to be held. Or we might just spend another night in Hartford. I had no idea, but since we could potentially be gone ALL weekend, I had to pack for it. That meant A LOT of stuff since we would have to bring the wedding clothes, as well. It took me HOURS to pack. It's not like I was going to the middle of nowhere, but I didn't want to have to buy anything I didn't really need while we were there. John's stuff was pretty easy to pack since he mostly just lives out of a bag to go back and forth between his dad and me. I always just make sure he has clean clothes and what he needs in the bag. The rest of it stays with me in his room at home.

I got done in time to relax and watch my favorite two shows on tv (and pretty much the only shows I watch). It was the season premiere of Those Who Can't, and wow, that show is way over the top but hilarious.

Friday, October 7, 2016- I got a pretty good night's sleep and woke up at 7am. I got right on the treadmill first thing for 3 miles that I ran in 22:18. Super easy. I woke up John up at 8am so that he would have 2 hours to play his games and/or watch YouTube before we had to leave for Hartford around 10am. I had a schedule for the day in my head that was already stressing me out. I had booked one of the free massages for 4pm at the Expo so we had to get the rest of my schedule in prior to that in order to get back for the pasta dinner they had for us back at the hotel. I was stressed about it which in turn led me to yell at John when he complained about going to "another stupid race". Before you call me a bad mom, it should be known that I gave him the option of not going with me for this one. He told me he wanted to come with me, and I reminded him of this. The complaints continued so I had to throw out the fact that there was money on the line. Big money, in fact, and that I needed to race well and not have him complaining the whole time. I had gone over the whole weekend with him many times, just like I did for VCM, and I ended up extremely stressed out for that one.

We left about 30 minutes late, and I proceeded to stress all the way past Worcester. And finally, I just decided to email the massage guy and cancel my appointment. I realized that this appointment was what was stressing me out the most. I needed to cut something out, and as soon as I did, I was relieved. All stress, GONE. This would turn out to be the most relaxed and fun I've ever had the day before a marathon. The whole weekend in fact! Everything was so easy. We could walk everywhere. And I didn't have to worry about John while I ran. When we got to the Radisson in downtown Hartford, I parked my car and didn't have to drive it again until the next afternoon. We checked into our room, and some kid I know definitely stopped complaining.

John getting to live the high life!
One of the best parts about being invited to these races, especially New England's Finest at Hartford, is that John gets to experience a little bit of the privileged life. It's almost just as special for him as it is me. I think the Hartford Marathon really impressed him. Fancy hotel room, the free snacks, the free dinner, the elite tent with bowls of candy and as many hamburgers as he wanted. The kid was in heaven! Haha.

We went down the two floors to the NEF/Elite room to check in and grab our bib #s, gear and credentials. John even got his own ELITE tag to wear. We met Ken in the there. He pretty much ran the show for us both days. I can't say enough about his kindness. Really helpful and just so nice. Ken was constantly making sure John and I were ok throughout the entire event. He was busy making sure everybody was taken care of. Before we left the room to go back upstairs to our room, Ken made sure we took all the snacks we wanted, so John grabbed bags of cookies. Haha.

Cute idea the Radisson gave us.

Cool 1/4 zip they gave us. The only problem is that long hair covers up the "New England's Finest" part. haha. I still love it.

Never thought I'd be wearing one of these
When an old hiker friend who was also running the next day posted a picture of my giant poster on FB, I came up with a plan. I knew they did posters, but I didn't know I was going to be chosen for a huge one! Scott Mason mentioned they wanted a photo, but I doubted I would be a chosen one. Sure enough I was. I didn't want to do the token boring photo standing next to myself one, and voila! The photo this blog post began with was born. I had to do something funny. I make myself laugh CONSTANTLY and could not stop laughing over my idea. It was finally time to execute it.

John and I walked down to the expo, and there I was! The first poster visible outside the building from the direction we walked. I had overlooked the fact that I would be doing this in the middle of a busy downtown sidewalk, so it was a little awkward when I started stripping down to my copy cat running outfit with school kids walking by. Some woman walked by and asked if that was me and then offered to take a picture of John and me with it.

I felt silly because people were walking and driving by looking confused.
Um, I didn't mean a photo with "me" while you looked for Pokemon. haha.
John then took many takes of me spoofing myself until I finally got one I liked. I didn't realize until later that I had my left arm wrong. Damn. It was actually hard to copy me running up a mountain while standing still on a flat sidewalk, but I still think it was awesome. I got dressed and then we walked into the expo...and there I was again! Haha. This time I did the token pose with my photo, but I made John kiss my feet. I couldn't believe he did it, and after he did he was dying laughing! We definitely had some fun with the posters. They're actually mailing me one of them, but where in the world do you hang something like that without looking completely full of yourself?! Haha.

There were only two things I wanted to do at the Expo. The first was find a new visor. All of my Headsweats visors had worn out elastic, and I didn't want to wear a safety pinned one for the race. The second was eat as many samples as we could find. Haha. We accomplished both! I could only find one visor that fit the bill, a black Bondi Band headsweats visor. It would do, so I bought it, and we left. Funny thing happened, though, right after I bought the visor. We just happened to walk right up to the massage area where I had my, now cancelled, 4:00pm 3:56pm. Haha. All of that stressing out, and we would have made it exactly on time without trying. Oh well, it was too late now, and we left.

We stopped in Starbucks so I could grab a coffee then walked down the some different streets of downtown Hartford on the way back to the hotel. And, man, what a shame to see such beautiful infrastructure and so much potential wasted! Empty storefronts and odd shops that you used to see in cities in the 80s. There were some neat restaurants tucked in there, but it could be so much better. Part of the problem, I would learn, is the parking situation, but I don't want to go on and on about that. Pretty boring. It's just that I got to participate in city planning for my hometown of Athens, GA when I was in college, so I just end up with so many ideas for a place like Hartford swirling in my head. Haha.

We were in no hurry to get back to the hotel so we took our time. When we did get back, we had time to relax until the pasta dinner was ready for us in the room across from the NEF/Elite room. Since it was right downstairs, I didn't have to drag John all around. The dinner wasn't quite ready so he was able to just go back to the room by himself and hang out until I texted him that it was ready. I couldn't get over how relaxed and laid back the atmosphere was. All of the runners, too. I knew quite a few people there and ended up sitting with Scott Leslie (who ended up having an awesome race, finishing 3rd!!) and Matt and Caitlyn Germain. There were two other people at our table that we didn't know, but they were nice. The dinner was pretty awesome. Chicken parm, pasta, garlic bread then really good cookies. Although I could have, I didn't stuff myself. haha. I actually don't eat much pasta anymore, so I only got a little of that and opted for a big piece of chicken parm and garlic bread. So good. This was so the way to go instead of trying to get into a busy restaurant. It was nice to sit there and have a relaxed conversation with Scott and Caitlyn. John came down eventually to eat then went back up to the room while I hung around for our pre-race meeting. Many more familiar faces trickled in, including a very frazzled Eric Narcisi. He and Brenna were both sick, and they had gotten there so late. He wasn't feeling too optimistic about the next day. Amanda DeBlauw was there, but also not feeling good about the next day. So many familiar faces. It was pretty cool. The meeting was quick and then we were sent on our way.

I went back to the room to find John sound asleep. I was actually relieved to see this. He tends to be a night owl, and we were up super early the next morning. Him getting a good night's sleep would mean a less grouchy kid to wake up the next morning. It also gave me time to sit in the quiet, drink my Stoneface Porter and just relax. What a huge difference from this night and the night before VCM. I have never been this calm and stress-free the day before a marathon ever. I owe a lot of it to the Hartford Marathon for setting everything up for us in a way that would mean as little worrying as possible. They really treated us like royalty. And I can't thank them or praise them enough. I was so thankful to be part of the New England's Finest program as I sat there drinking my beer and looking out at the window. I was still nervous about the race, but nothing more than the usual pre-race nerves.

As soon as I finished my beer, I used my juicer to make vegetable juice then hopped in the tub for an epsom salt bath. I'd never done that the night before a race, but I think I'll need to make a habit of it. It was off to bed after for an actual sound sleep, also a first for me the night before a marathon. Everything just seemed to be falling in place perfectly so far.

RACE DAY, Saturday, October 8, 2016- I came to the Hartford Marathon with 2 goals: 1)Sub-3 finish 2)Finish 1st Female Master. I wasn't expecting to run anywhere close to my 2015 VCM time of 2:55:49. I had trained very hard and specifically for that race. I was also about 5 pounds lighter for that one. So I was not holding myself to the same performance. I just wanted a sub-3, and the way I was feeling, I felt like I could definitely pull that off. As far as masters goes, I only knew of one person who would be there. Mary-Lynn Currier. I was pretty sure I could beat her, but I didn't expect it to be easy. At 52, she may be slower than what she used to be, but she's still damn fast. So those were my goals for today.

After drinking coffee and eating this granola, that I'd never had and decided to experiment with the morning of the race (dumb), I woke John up. I had allowed plenty of time for him to not be rushed. I was actually surprised to see him get up easily and not complain at all. He seemed to finally get how important today was for me. I made sure he had everything he needed in his bag while I raced, then we walked to the race. The sun was just coming up, and it appeared to be the start of an absolutely perfect weather day. Finally!! After Boston and VCM and Bobby Doyle and Seasons and...I could go on, I was due a perfect weather day. Temps in the 50s, sun or fog, the whole race.

John was loving being in the city because there were Pokemon everywhere, so the walk to the Elite/VIP tent area was enjoyable. Slow, but enjoyable. Haha. When we got into our private area, I was so impressed. Our space was small, but we didn't need anything more. We had our own porta potties, and for post race, they had a fancy trailer set up for a buffet and a bar for the free beer. Tables and chairs lined the finish line area. We were literally right next to the finish line. I got John situated in a chair, and Ken came over to make sure we were ok. I took a few pictures, then went out on a warm up.

Catching Pokemon while walking to the elite tent.

John in the elite tent

Pre-race selfie. Caught Matt Garfield in there.
I didn't need to do a long warm up so I just ran a mile around Bushnell Park at an easy pace, a little over 8 minutes. It was chilly out so it felt good to warm up my muscles. When I got back, I used the bathroom 2 more times, and then it was time for our us all to walk to the start. It was cool walking together over there. I walked next to Mary-Lynn, and we chatted. When we got over to the start, they opened the gate and let us all in at the starting line. I was standing near Matt Garfield and Amanda so we wished each other good luck. Then it was go time.

Right off the line, I immediately tried to get Mary-Lynn in sight. She always goes out way too fast, so I didn't want to match her pace. I only wanted to make sure she stayed in view the whole time. The first mile is super fast, but I didn't want to get caught up in it. My goal for the first mile was a 6:40, which I hit right on the money. Good sign. That meant pace was matching feel. The race thinned out very quickly when the half marathon runners split off to the right, never to be seen again... until the finish. I was happy to see that because I didn't want to be running with people going that fast. Once out of the crowd, I found myself alone by mile 2. There were a lot of people, but for some reason, I had a huge gap in front and behind me. It was odd. I hit mile 2 at a way too fast pace 6:29. I don't know why, but I immediately backed off the pace a bit. I had no intentions of running a pace near that today. Granted, it had a good downhill, but even so, I would have been ok with something closer to a 6:35 at the fastest. But it was ok. On mile 3, I all of a sudden was feeling the effort in my legs. I got a little worried at this point since I should not have been feeling the effort like this yet. I'm not really sure what it was I was feeling, but it didn't affect my pace at all, and I was still feeling great otherwise. I managed to stay very consistent through mile 5 with 6:43, 6:41, 6:40. Mile 6 had a bit of a climb, so 6:46 was perfect. I hit the 10K mark in 41:09, a tad fast, but I was ok with it. These miles of the course were very enjoyable. Just a beautiful section to run. Flat and easy which led me to quicken my pace a little too much, running miles 7 and 8 at 6:33 and 6:25. But what can I say, I am queen of positive split races! Haha.

I don't remember the mileage point, but it was somewhere early on. Photo by Scott Mason. 
At this point, I had planned to try to stay around 6:40, but I ran it just a little too quickly before slowing it back down as we started to make our way out of downtown and onto Prospect St. I was still feeling good, though, and I noticed that I was finally, yet slowly, reining in Mary Lynn. I got my pace back to a very consistent one with miles 9 & 10 both at 6:39. Just past mile 10, I finally caught up and passed Mary Lynn. I was pretty sure that put in a position of first master, but I wouldn't know for sure until the out and back section when I could check to see who all was in front of me. Just as I passed Mary Lynn, we both got passed by a younger woman, who would go on to run around a 2:54. I could tell I was out of her league today, so I just let her go on and didn't try to stay with her. Somewhere in mile 11, we passed the marker for mile 23 on the opposite side of the road. That was a little defeating since it seemed FOREVER away at this point.

Capstone photo. I think near mile 9.
I hit mile 11 in 6:38. Still too fast, but for some reason, I couldn't get myself to slow down. I was being consistent at least. Haha. I knew I couldn't maintain this pace another 15 miles, but then I hit 6:38 again for mile 12, which I had actually been warned was a gradual climb. I remember thinking at the time that I must be remembering the mile wrong because this was easy. Mile 13 was a reality check, and I hit the mile at 6:47. That was more what I was looking for for an overall average pace for the race, so I was happy with that. Came through the half in 1:27:31. It was too fast. I wasn't running a 2:55 or better today, and that's exactly what I was on pace for. I saw positive splits in my near future! I knew this. I accepted it, and just kept on trucking. I actually felt pretty good, even though the course had some very quiet boring sections. At some point around this time of the race, I thought to myself that there would be no wall today; just as I finished that thought, I saw a Trump sign. I laughed inside and thought, "Fuck you, Trump. There will be no wall!" Like I said, I make myself laugh. Haha. Mile 14 was at 6:44.

I was definitely starting to feel the distance in my legs at this point, but, thankfully, the faster runners began to come into view on their way back from the 17 mile turnaround. This was great and gave me something to focus on instead of the pain I was beginning to feel. Miles 15 and 16 were quicker at 6:40 and 6:39, and I cheered on all of the people I knew. Matt Garfield looked strong, so I was sure he was finally going to get the marathon time he was looking for. Eric Narcisi looked like he was hurting, but he was hanging in there just fine. I was so excited when I saw Liz Ryan come into view in the lead for the women. I didn't know that Erica Jesseman had dropped until now. And Liz looked great. I was so happy for her to be in the lead.

Mile 17 was the other long, gradual climb I had been warned about, and my legs were really feeling it. I expected a slower pace and was really happy with a 6:46. This was the turn around point and time for me to see who was on my tail. Just as I predicted, Jenny Goswami and Laura Brustolon were probably a minute back. I knew the two of them would be passing me at some point. Jenny looked like she was just warming up. Mary Lynn was right with them. A little too close for comfort, but I had a feeling she wouldn't be catching me. So as of this point, I knew I was first master. My plan was to keep that. I didn't see another person who looked like she could be a master anywhere close. Where mile 17 was a gradual up, 18 was a gradual down. I normally love running downhill, but at mile 18 in a marathon, it really doesn't feel that great to pound the downhill, so I held back and hit 18 in 6:40. Mile 19- 6:40. Mile 20- 6:40...and then I started to lose it.

My pace for mile 21 is a bit deceptive. I actually wasn't really losing it quite yet. Mile 20.5 was where the last elite table with our water bottles was. I ran right past it! It wasn't too far really. Maybe 10 yards. I would have kept going, but I really needed that last gel I had taped to the bottle. Like really needed it. So I turned around and ran back to the table, grabbed my bottle and ran on. I think I lost a little momentum from this and lost the pace I had been maintaining. To be honest, I think it actually threw me off for the rest of the race. I hit 21 in 6:54, and I was once again mostly alone. There was a relay runner and one other guy in front of me, but that was about it. I did use them to try and get back to the pace I was on, and, even though I was able to speed up, I just couldn't get myself back down to the 6:40 range. Mile 22 and 23 seemed to drag on FOREVER. 6:45 and 6:49 for those two miles.

I officially lost it from here to the finish. Just lost it. I was done, but to be honest, I didn't care. I had figured out my time and knew I was finishing a sub-3 no matter what, so I just went with it. Right at mile 24, Jenny passed me. She looked super strong and tried to get me to stay with her, but I told her I couldn't. I said, "I'm all done." I had full-on pain face. It was so quick how I went from ok to just done. Mile 24- 6:52. Not horrible, but I knew we had the evil climb back up over the bridge coming up and there was no way I was going to stay under 7. Somewhere in here (no idea if it was in mile 23 or 24), a guy I know from the Mountain Series rolled up next to me on a bicycle. He had run the half and then biked back to cheer the marathoners on. He started riding next to me and yelling what he thought was encouragement, but he was just repeating himself over and over and loudly. I felt really bad, but I really couldn't take it and told him that I needed quiet. When I'm at that point, I can't have someone screaming in my ear. I need to be able to get inside my own head and talk myself through it. He immediately got quiet and rode up ahead. I apologized to him later, but he understood.

I watched my 2:56 finish time drift away. Haha. Just before we hit the on ramp, I saw Todd Brown who briefly cheered me on, and then I crossed the mile 25 point in 7:04. Ouch. It was uphill from here and through the chute marking one more mile to go. That was the longest mile of my life. The bridge felt like a mountain.. I saw the photographers at the top of the bridge,and out of all 92 Capstone photos, one of these turned out the best. Go figure. Haha.

Hard to tell, but I'm on mile 26 in a world of hurt.
The downhill didn't bring much relief since I could see the uphill right after it. I kept looking at my watch, but I'm not sure why. I knew I was going sub-3, and I knew it would be 2:57:something. So who knows. I hit mile 26 in 7:19. So awful! It should have been at least 30 seconds faster, but it is what it is. And only .2 to go.

Then there it was, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, and I was about to make that left turn to run under it. I was about to finish. I think the relief of knowing I was finally about to stop made that last stretch under the arch and to the finish not painful. I saw Scott Mason there taking photos, and I know how hates watch stopping photos. This actually made me smile as I came through the finish. When I stopped. I paused for a second and then dramatically stopped my watch. I don't know how I was able to smile through that, but it was probably because I was done. 2:57:30. Hell yes! 12th Female. 1st Female Master. Both goals met! I was psyched. Full Results

Finishing Hartford with a smile
I grabbed water. They tried to put a heat sheet on me but I ripped it off. Too hot! I never got a medal. I think I missed them because I turned right into the elite tent before I got them. I honestly didn't even care nor notice until I saw Eric Narcisi with his. I was like, "Oh yeah. I didn't get one." Haha.

While walking over to John, Liz thanked me for cheering for her, and I congratulated her on her awesome win, running a 2:45:59. Wow! John came over to me, and I was excited to see him, but a little out of it. Ken came right over as well to ask if I needed anything. I uttered Gatorade so he got me one, and then I stepped back out of the tent for some space and air. I took a few minutes and then went back into the tent. I was finally starting to come back around. Eric Narcisi came over and asked if we could take a Level Renner picture together since I had worn the singlet. Oh, so I guess I should explain why I wore the Level Renner singlet. I actually thought about what to wear for awhile before the race. It wasn't a team race or a USATF-NE race, so CMS was out. I thought about Six03, but it still didn't seem to fit. That's when I remembered my Level Renner singlet, and, honestly, how could anything else be more fitting? Level Renner represents all of New England running. This was a New England race, and we were part of the 2016 New England's Finest. So the Level Renner singlet it was. It was also a way for me to show my gratitude for the support and coverage that Level Renner has given me for the last 2.5 years. I spent over 6 months as their cover photo on their FB page last year, and now, I'm on it again with Scott Mason's photo of my Hartford finish.

Eric Narcisi and me representing Level Renner

The double photo bomb. Haha.
I got changed as soon as possible since I was really gross. Those marks on my singlet are spilled Tailwind since I have a "drinking problem" while I race.

(My favorite movie of all time. If you let the YouTube video continue, be prepared to laugh.)

John had a big pile of food trash from the last three hours, but he said he was ready for some real food. The spread in the fancy food area was pretty sweet. He grabbed a hamburger and sat down on the couch. We helped ourselves to the candy dishes. Haha. Then it was time to grab some free beer! Finally! I can't touch food for hours after a marathon, but I can stomach beer! That and ice cream are the only things I can stomach. There was a bar there with Harpoon Beer all complimentary (I left a tip before we left!) I ended up drinking with Scott Mason, Bob Fitzgerald (Fitz!) and Michelle.

Candy bowls. We left with cups full. :)

Harpoon Flannel Friday

John and I enjoying a comfy couch while he ate his burger. 
This picture is so funny. So much going on. Me, Fitz, Scott and Michelle
We hung out for as long as we could, but we had to check out of our hotel room at 2pm. I went with Eric Narcisi and Brenna over to the Vermont City Marathon tent to get our stuff for doing the New England Double. Jess Cover was over there and gave Eric a bunch of Heady Topper. Eric is always generous and shared one of his Heady Toppers with me. I said goodbye to them then went back to the VIP area to get John and our stuff for the walk back to the Radisson.

This seriously weighs about 3lbs

I realized after I finished that there was no way I could sit in a car for 3.5 hours after running. I would have been in so much pain. So I decided to find a local hotel with an indoor pool. I really wanted to book the Hilton, but it had sold out. The only other hotel left that wasn't over $200 was the Holiday Inn, so I booked us a room there. We walked back to the Radisson and got out of our room at literally 1:58pm. Haha. We drove around for awhile until it was check in time at the Holiday Inn then got to our room. This hotel ended up being a disappointment. For as much as it cost me, it should have been way better. The indoor pool wasn't heated! The whole reason I chose it was for that. I was bummed because I wanted to swim, too. John still swam for about 30 minutes, but that was all he could stand. Definitely a let down. Check out was 11 instead of noon, and there was no continental breakfast. Just a restaurant where you could spend more money. The rooms were nice enough, though. John liked the desk chair.

I finally showered, which felt great, then we drove over to City Steam Brewery for dinner. I could finally stomach food and was STARVING. We decided to sit outside on the patio. I ordered their porter, which was pretty good, and a French Onion Soup burger. We walked out of there stuffed.

Back at the hotel, I broke open the Heady Topper while we watched Aliens, then called it a night. I was SO tired.

My eyes were bloodshot, I was so tired.
So what an awesome day and experience! I really can't say enough good things about being a part of New England's Finest. It was nice to feel special for a day, since that never happens. Haha. John even enjoyed it all and didn't even complain when his phone died! We really soaked up the experience. I often feel like I don't deserve any of this, but when it's offered, I accept it! I wasn't going to decline the NEF two years in a row. No way. I'm so glad that got to experience it.

This song is perfect! The chorus is exactly what happens during a marathon!

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