Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Life's too short to not go for broke" - Hogsback Half Race Recap

I hope I remember everything I wanted to say about this event. There is a chance I will update it as I recall things.

WARNING: this will be long my adventure to the Hogsback Half Marathon started on April 13th when I completed my registration. It seems like so long ago now. Because there is so much going on in my head I will apologize in advance for any rambling.

The reason I even attempted to entertain the idea of running this half marathon was, well, for 2 big reasons. 1. it was being held in Connecticut and 2. Running for Rescues benefited financially from this race. I do not think I can actually gush anymore how much I love Running for Rescues. The woman in charge of the organizations is amazing and they help so many animals in need. I had also heard great things about this half from others both online and one woman I met at the Cheshire Sea Dog 10k, I thought to myself how bad could it be?! Well, I should not have challenged myself... Since registering in April my health has been less than ideal. My training has been less than desirable. Truthfully, I was hoping I'd be able to pull off a miracle.

From the beginning of this race everything seemed very organized and calculated (in a good way). I had initially registered for the 9am 'runners start' but once I heard about the 8.15am 'walkers start' I emailed the Race Director and asked to be switched. Just like that, nice and easy. I was also asked to choose my shirt color. Green or Pink....obviously I chose pink, how could I say no!

It wasn't until August 29th when I was contacted by Sonic Endurance with a notice I had won a free entry. I attempted to raffle off that entry but was unsuccessful. I had not heard of a race doing this before and I loved the idea. I was also thrilled to win even if I wasn't going to use it. I didn't want to take money away from Running for Rescues.

Within the last week runners received 2 emails about race day information. I appreciated that greatly considering I like a good amount of contact before a race.

Friday was my half marathon prep day, I 'took the day off from work' and rested with Ace. We also went for a 2 mile walk. I got my oil changed and filled the tank. Got new compression socks from Old Navy, my favorite (pictured below), and packed my post race bag while laying out my clothes. 

 My outfit.

Now to race day morning!

I'm not sure if he was upset I was leaving or was wishing me luck...I'm thinking it was both.

I set my alarm for 5.15am and 5.30am...thinking I might hit the snooze once. I did in fact hit it once but woke myself up before the second alarm. I kt taped my knees and got dressed. When I GPS'd Goodwin Dam it said about 50-60 minutes. The bad part being it's alllll back roads once you get off 91. I got on 84 around 6am, I thought I was making great time. I was on track to get to the Dam by 7.15am. Of course even though there were 2...yup 2 emails with directions to the correct entrance of the Dam, yours truly did not fully comprehend it. I drove 2 different ways and ended up at the same closed it was 7.25am, I was later than my anticipated arrival. I do not like stressing about directions to a race the morning of. I looked at the email one more time and noticed the Route 8 to Eno Hill part. I put that into my GPS and ended up pulling down the very large hill to the parking lot at about 7.30am still 45 minutes before my start. 

This has to be one of the most gorgeous views I have seen the morning of a race.


When I got there I took a second to catch my breath...yes, I think for a moment I may have stopped breathing because I was so nervous about being late. Luckily I got there in perfect time. I was able to park in the actual lot and not on the course. Also, without knowing it, I parked next to Jodi, the President of Running for Rescues. I walked over to the tents they had set up for bib and shirt pick up. This was another race where I had to go to a board to see my bib number and then go tell that number to a volunteer. I guess this is more and more common than I had previously thought. What I did like is that the volunteer did have a list of the names and bib numbers in front of him, just in case. I got my bib and pink, long sleeve tech shirt. One of the best I have gotten so far, I am so in love with the design and the material. After getting my bib and shirt I realized how cold it was. Like cold cold, like frigid cold (obviously dramatic). I was beginning to kick myself for not bringing a long sleeve. Luckily I had a hoodie to wear before the race to keep myself warm.

After I got my bib I thought I noticed Jodi and went over to introduce myself. We had only ever spoken on Facebook before the race. She was so genuinely excited to see me and gave me a huge hug, I needed it so badly. It helped calm my nerves big time. (Thank you Jodi <3) We then went back to our cars and I met her husband and family and stretched before the early start, which she was part of too. I was so excited to know someone at the starting line. I wish I had taken a picture of the hill you had to walk up to get to the start line. I am so happy it wasn't part of the actual course. 

Sorry it looks like I am so far away, really I was only on the other side of the road. This is the Start Line.

The race began a little after 8.15am and off we went. For the record I was in 3rd place for .10 of a mile! Guaranteed to never happen again. Jodi took off and I reminded myself to keep to a pace I would be comfortable with. The course was GORGEOUS. I found myself looking around at the houses, the trees, the foliage. Yes, I said foliage. I half wanted to just stop and take it all in. The cold stopped bothering me once we started running which was fantastic. I don't think I actually stopped to take a picture until Mile 3. This was the first time I stopped at all and it was for a split second.

 So. In. Love.

Sonic Endurance was the company who put the race on. They did a fantastic job with setting up the signs so runners could see and having volunteers placed in the correct locations. I usually do look forward to having Gatorade/Powerade as my electrolyte replacement during a race but they opted for Skratch. I had recieved a sample I believe in my Bulu Box a month or two before, tried it and was NOT impressed. I figured I would give it another try. Huge success. I am so happy I give it another chance. I didn't know they had more than the lemon flavor too. I will be looking into the red colored one this week. There were tables set up every 2 miles, it ended up being perfect for me. I didn't feel thirsty at all.

Once I hit Mile 6 I knew there would be energy gel, water and Skratch. This was the first time I actually stopped! A milestone for me. I kept such an amazing pace for myself and felt untouchable...until I stopped to walk and get water & gel. All my aches and pains hit me at once: knees, ankles, shoulders, back, hips, arms, fingers. I was not even half way done. I took a tube of Honey Stinger Strawberry gel, but noticed it had caffeine in it. I took the tiniest taste of it and realized I was going to have a replay of my Clif Shot Blocs episode and tossed it. I had gotten so excited when I saw the Powerbar energy gels but no strawberry sadly.

 Mile Marker 6

At this point the 9am runners had already taken off and I was sure by now they would have passed me.. NOPE. Not until 6.60 did the lead guy pass me. WOOHOO! I felt amazing! I made it to the half way point before he ran by. Unfortunately at about Mile 6.75-7 a little white dog saw us running and decided to either say 'keep going' or 'stop and play with me' either way, he ran out into the road and a car was flying towards him (open course). The guy in front of me and I ran into the road. I waved like a mad woman trying to get the cars attention and the other runner ran towards the dog. The man finally, after what seemed like yards, put the breaks on and chose not to make eye contact. I apologize to those around me who heard the unladylike things come out of my mouth. I was a little shaken up. After rounding back towards the start line, over a bridge with another GORGEOUS view (sorry I didn't take a picture) I saw the most peculiar site...I thought there were children playing with malamutes, large Alaskan dogs. Upon closer inspection I noticed they were goats. Goats in trees. Goats roaming, no farm in sight.

I turned to the woman behind me and asked if she was seeing the same thing. Her mouth dropped open too and we crossed the road to take pictures. Her name was Giselle, she said to me "I'm from Ohio, you don't normally see things like this!" I responded with "I'm from Connecticut and you don't see things like this!!" We laughed and I asked her a couple questions about Half Fanatics and learned that she was going to run Rock n Roll Providence the day after!! What dedication! We spoke for probably about a mile which was a fantastic break for my legs. Another runner approached and joined us. Her name was Hilary and she told us about obstacle course racing. It was so fantastic to meet other runners who were at different stages than myself. Ladies, I appreciated your time. Thank you :)

After Giselle took off, Hilary and I walked a little while longer, but I had a goal. Break 3 hours. I picked up my pace about Mile 10. Miles 10-13.1 were the hardest miles I have probably run up until this point. The most encouraging part was all the faster runners passing me, giving words of encouragement. At first I felt embarrassed but then I felt connected. I have never seen or been part of a race like this. Like everyone mattered, I'm not saying Disney isn't all about fun or family but this was different. Mile 11 I thought I might actually die. Mile 11.5 I thought I was close to finishing and had plenty of time to do it, so I walked a little. Mile 12.....yeah.....Mile 12....UP.HILL. Holy sweet love of all that is good. I was not anticipating it to be as uphill as it ended up being. Yes I looked at the elevations, and humorously enough I had driven it at 7.15am this morning looking for the correct entrance. In a car it doesn't seem so impossible. Again the words of encouragement from other runners came in. The finish line was in sight! As I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock! 2:11...yeah I know that wasn't my clock. I looked down at my watch to stop it..... 3 hours! 

I took my medal, grabbed my water and walked straight for my car. I needed to sit. I knew I'd be walking plenty later and decided against the most obnoxious and dramatic approach of throwing myself to the ground. However, it most definitely crossed my mind. I sat down for a couple of minutes to mentally recap what I just accomplished. My first non-Disney half marathon. I PR'd a half marathon. 12 minutes. I took 12 minutes off 13.1 miles. Wow.

 Medal and Bib

 Gorgeous Medal

After I realized my clothes were soaked with sweat and I needed to change I got up. The line for food was already so long but I couldn't even fathom walking another step in sneakers. I put my Uggs on and immediately felt them hugging my poor aching feet. I went and changed, only took me 15 minutes. A nice look into my Senior Citizen future. Then I got in line for food...mmm mmm mmm. The line was silly long but Kelly (I didn't know it was her till later) the Race Director was kind enough to walk along the line of people waiting to give out orange slices. Definitely hit the spot. The line moved at a slow but bearable pace. Once I was about 20 people away from throwing my face in an apple pie Kelly started the raffle prize giveaway. As ridiculous as this sounds I was so happy I didn't win because I wasn't about to give up my spot in line. Although a takeaway would have been nice.

 The line for food.

 Line for food

Chicken and potatoes

First there were some desserts, chocolate chip cookies, rice crispie treats and brownies. Then salad, followed by chicken and potatoes. Sadly by the time I got to the food all the pasta was gone. I will admit I was very sad and dissapointed. I had really been looking forward to it. After the empty spot where pasta once stood was apple pie and pumpkin pie. I snagged a piece of the apple pie and found a seat on the grass.

 My plate

After announcing all the raffle winners and overall winner and age group winners Jodi got up and thanked everyone.

 Jodi on the megaphone

Once everyone was thanked and fed and awards were given out Kelly announced she had some volunteer cookies left over! I couldn't say no! I grabbed a hedgehog and introduced myself to her. She gave me the same warm welcome as Jodi did. I couldn't stay around to help clean up because I had an hours drive back home and 2 events to try and make, otherwise one of those fabulous pint glasses would be in my kitchen right now.


 Here is the shirt and my bib again.

So a couple shout outs need to happen...

Kelly and Shaun- You put on an amazing race! Congratulations on a job well done!
Jodi- Your volunteers were amazing! And thank you for such a great welcome.
Pregnant lady- Thank you for passing me at Mile 5 and giving me another reason I don't have any excuses....
Man in long sleeve white shirt- Thank you for running into traffic with me.
Children with Goats- Just thank you.
Lynyrd Skynyrd & iPhone- Thank you for playing Free Bird at Mile 10. I needed that.

Positives on the half:
-Gorgeous course
-Well marked course
-Plenty of water stations
-Well organized from start to finish
-Fabulous shirt and medal
-Cheerful volunteers
-Encouraging fellow runners
-Early start option
-Skratch as opposed to Gatorade
-Communication from RD

Things that could possibly be improved:
-Parking, I can only imagine how it would have been had I not gotten there earlier.
-Offering different flavors of energy gel without caffine (I know, picky me)
-More pasta
-Maybe road signs directing people who are lost or confused (even if we got the email haha)

Overall I was blown away by how successful I think this event was. I will most definitely be in attendance next year and will be better prepared for that darn hill.

My race bib is already up with the rest of them :)


  1. Whooohooooo! Congratulations!! It looks like such a beautiful race! I'm so happy for you that you PR'd! I love that the race benefited rescues, what a perfect match for you. LOVE the pink longsleeve tech! Why do I never get good race shirts? ;) Oh and the goats were funny. I probably wouldn't have even made a second glance, I live in a rural area and tons of people have goats! LOL

    1. hahaha <3 <3 <3 Thank you!!! It really was beautiful and I am happy I PR'd with minimal to zero training for it. Those darn goats threw me off! I didn't anticipate them to be in trees!! hahah It was such a perfect race!

  2. I love Free Bird near the end of long races. My playlist is shuffled once I get going, but I always hope that song is during the second half of the race. It's definitely a huge pick me up.

    1. hahahha! I love that you feel the same way!! I think I started humming the guitar solo at one point, out of breath but I wasn't going to go soft on it haha. It really helped!

  3. What a great race and yes, the scenery was gorgeous! This seemed to be a perfect race for you because of the cause it supported. Cute race shirt too. It's super neat that you got to pick the color you wanted!

    1. It honestly was such a great cause and a fantastic course! I'm already excited to run it again next year! We had the option between the pink I had or a darker green. I loved the options.

  4. First of all, CONGRATS on your PR that amazing to take off 12 minutes!

    I loved the scenery photos of this race but a hill at mile 12 would definitely be rough - way to beat that hill!

    1. Thank you!! I am pretty pleased. It kept my focus for the whole 12 miles, running on the sides of a stream was a gift! Yeah...until mile 12 when all I wanted to see was the finish line hahah. The hill almost beat me!

  5. Absolutely gorgeous scenery! Congrats on the new PR! - Jess

    1. I know wasn't it so relaxing!! And thank you! :)

  6. Congratulations and you Pr'd! Way to go! Looks like a beautiful race! Love the scenery!