This week was the beginning of my “make my smartphone a dumb phone” project, and as a result I was completely unprepared for traffic on 95 to the airport. I nearly missed my flight, were it not for lightning on the runway. To compound my folly I didn’t know the flight was delayed either, because no apps. Ugh. This month is going to be a pain.
Anyway I arrived at Bradley and found my hotel, an HGI near the airport. I got a few hours of sleep before jetting out the door to the race start. On my way out the door I ran into a guy in a Hartford Marathon finisher shirt. He was negotiating a late checkout and he seemed like he was part of the tribe. I chatted him up and he offered to take me to the start. I would have totally taken him up on it if I didn’t need to hop in the car to see my uncle after the race. As it happens after I found my parking and I began walking around looking for fellow amigos I ran into him at the race start. His name is Yassir and he’s attempting to run all 50 states this year to raise money for lung cancer, a rare form of which tragically claimed his non-smoking, marathoner wife in 2018.
I told him I was looking at how to try to pull that off this year, but I found certain states (such as Connecticut) particularly challenging. He agreed and we compared notes for a bit before he had to do some interviews. Shortly thereafter I found Jose, a friend from San Jose (no relation), California. I was happy to see him since I had missed him in Berlin, and he’s one of those speedy people I’m unlikely to see on the course. We were able to talk for a bit, before starting the race. I ran the first few miles with Jose, which I knew would be too fast, but that is the price we pay for attempting to cultivate and maintain friendships. By mile 2 we were passed by the 3:35 pacer (WOW) I looked down at my watch and saw a 7:40 pace and said it’s time to pull back.
I dropped back and held on for what I knew was going to be rough since I’d gone out way too hard for me. I stopped off for a restroom break and came out to see Amy, a fellow 50 stater who I knew was finishing her 50th state the next day in Vermont. I didn’t realize she was doing a double to do it. I congratulated her and before long the race took us out of Riverside Park and across the river into East Hartford where all but the first 10k and the last mile would be run.
The race itself was well supported, it was relatively flat, and the weather quite cool, but I was bored without music thanks to my dumbphone experiment, and it was hard to stay entertained. I chatted up a first-timer named Bryan at mile 18. We shared a few miles, before he continued on when I needed another restroom break. I caught him about mile 24.5 and he was struggling through his last bit, but staying positive. As we came over the Connecticut River I saw Joe, one of the folks I met at White Continent. He’s gearing up to go to Greenland next week for another race. I admit I’m a little jealous.
After we entered Bushnell park I graded myself a C+ for the day, but it’s a finish and that’s all I need for this round. Bryan, the first timer came through a few minutes later and I goaded him into ringing the PR buzzer. Good stuff.
A word about the organization: So the Hartford Marathon is probably the best marathon I know of in the state of Connecticut, BUT this says more about the quality of marathoning in the state of Connecticut than it does about the quality of the Hartford Marathon. I paid to have my bib delivered to me by mail since I would not be able to attend the expo. They mailed me a shirt and gear check bag. No bib. I emailed that I didn’t get a bib and they rushed me a bib. My bib did not have my start seeding on it, but no worries the email said. I could get the sticker at the expo…Uh…yeah the point of mailing it was not going to the expo. Well, you can get the sticker at the start area. Okay. Then another email, the Clydesdale division (runners over 200 lbs) has to be weighed in at the expo. Again with the expo, guys, forget about me and the expo, will ya? Last but not least we received our medals and as I was leaving the finish area I run into a volunteer handing out metallic stickers with the date on them. It seems the medals all had Sunday’s date on them, rather than Saturday’s. Just put the sticker over the date, and viola.
This was my second time running the Hartford Marathon. I don’t remember it being such a shit-show last time, but this year it seems they couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery.
Afterwards I was able to dart over to visit my now-retired Uncle Rick, and his lovely new wife, Deb for lunch and coffee before heading to Scranton for the next race on Sunday.