Picking a race can be a funny process. Sometimes the theme of the race really grabs you, or maybe the location is one you’ve always wanted to run.
Then sometimes it’s the medal. Okay, for me, registrations happen a LOT because of the medal. And earlier this year I found myself registered for the Cheshire Half Marathon, a race I had run twice and really had no intention of running again, simply because of an email I received that had a picture of a really great looking medal.
The race is one I’ve had some pretty good luck with in the past. It’s an extremely flat course run largely on bike paths during the early Spring when the temperatures are ideal here in Connecticut.
I wasn’t alone heading to the race that morning as my oldest came along to run the 5K with my mom for their second year in a row. It was pretty cold that morning as we pulled in, so we huddled in the car as long as possible before heading to the starting area.
As we took off through the Cheshire streets, things felt really good with this race. The previous year I had some problems with my right hamstring that had affected me for weeks following the race, so I was a little cautious with my pacing. I found a good groove as we ran through the neighborhoods of this upscale town for the first three miles before jumping onto the bike trails.
While the bike trail is extremely flat, it can also be very monotonous to run. It’s very isolated without much scenery to look at and runners have to contend with a fair amount of pedestrian traffic as the paths are still open to the public during the race.
It was also on this stretch that my stomach became increasingly uncomfortable and I wondered if the lack of portolets on this course would prove problematic. It seems like lately knowing that a course isn’t going to have that type of support really messes with my head in a total psychosomatic way as worst-case scenarios start playing through my mind and every tree I pass becomes a would-be shelter in the event of an unplanned gastrointestinal disaster.
Thankfully I was able to shut my brain up and just zone out as I ran down the path which ended around the 7-mile mark before making the turn to start the journey back to the starting line.
By the time the course hit mile 10, I was still feeling really strong as visions of the medal that inspired me to register for this race danced in my head. The 12 mile mark where I injured myself the year prior brought a sign that had me wondering if I might be able to PR. It would be tight, but I thought if I pushed hard enough, I could come really close.
I really started to feel tired as I came down the last stretch and then ran into a major obstacle. The course takes a 180-degree turn before entering onto the track at Cheshire High School where the finish line was located. Before I could maneuver through the turn, a push-rim racer was there having trouble maneuvering through the turn which forced runners to stop and wait. It’s not the most thought out part of the course, but what can you do? I pushed to make up time on the track and even got a high-five from my son who was there cheering me on as I ran past him. I didn’t make the PR that a mile ago had seemed possible, but I still finished with my second fastest half time of 1:39.
I was beyond pleased with my time which was five minutes faster than the year before. And as for the medal, well, it’s a nice medal but I’ve learned that registering for a race based solely on a picture of the medal may not be smartest move as it wasn’t exactly the whopping sized bling that the email had led me to believe…