Friday, October 18, 2013

I DID IT!!! ING Hartford Marathon 2013 FINISHER!

I can officially say that I've ran & finished a full marathon! I've been training for months for this race (really since I finished playing lacrosse in college), and I'm so happy to say that I've finally conquered this goal! 

I painted my toes the colors of the marathon to get psyched!
The weekend itself was a bit hectic. I took Friday off from work because we had originally planned on leaving in the afternoon to head down, but Nick's classes ended up taking longer than anticipated and there was traffic EVERYWHERE (stupid holiday weekends...), so we didn't end up getting down to Hartford until about 8:40, just in time to pick up our bibs from the expo, which closed at 9! Apparently, they ran out of shirts before we got there, so we had to write down our mailing addresses to be sent to us later. *sigh*

Our hotel was a bit sketchy, but luckily we only spent a grand total of about 8 hours there, 5 of which were spent sleeping. After checking in, we ventured to Bertucci's for a carbo-load dinner of pasta and bread. When we returned we all pinned our bibs to our race-day shirts and set out our outfits & shoes like a bunch of kids excited for the first day of school!

Of course, I had the most colorful outfit :)
We got up before the sun at 5:30AM, did some stretching and fueling, and headed over to Bushnell Park where they had a bunch of race-day festivities. I had my heart set on buying a 26.2 sticker for my car, so I tracked down the merchandise tent and got my hands on one before the race began.

Pre-race photo!
Waiting at the starting line!
The start time snuck up on all three of us! We headed over to the starting line about 10 minutes before the race began. The energy of the crowd was awesome and got us so psyched to start running! Nothing feels better than the anticipation before a big event! It's also great interacting with other runners who are just there for fun and to accomplish personal goals. It's pretty true what they say about running - it's hard to understand unless you're a part of the community. There are so many awesome and amazing individuals in the running world that you can't help but become addicted! It's great to be involved in such an awesome sport & community.

We *officially* got going around 8:15 AM. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for this race - sunny and about 75 degrees. I was a little worried as I tend to attract rain on race days, but everything worked out in the weather department!

The course itself was gorgeous. It took us through the city as well as into nearby East Hartford, a cute residential section of town. The residents of East Hartford were so incredibly supportive and awesome. So many people were out on their lawns cheering, handing out waters and food, holding awesomely hilarious signs, and just genuinely caring about the runners that closed down their streets for the day. We made it a point to thank every person who was cheering us on as we ran by, as well as all of the amazing volunteers along the course. All of the people at the water stops, all of the aid bikers, all of the police detail, and all of the spectators - without them it would have been much tougher to get through all of those miles!

Louie, Nick, and I all stuck together throughout the first half of the marathon. We chatted, danced, and kept each other sane for about 14 miles before we got separated. My legs and feet were sore after about 12 miles, but I didn't REALLY start feeling it until about mile 22. That's when my left hamstring & calf seized right up and basically screamed at me to stop. But I didn't. In fact, I didn't stop running the entire race. I wanted to run a marathon, not walk one, so that's what I did. The only time I stopped to walk was when I got water/Gatorade at the water stops, and as soon as my cup was empty I continued running.

The last 4.2 miles were rough. I was in so much pain that on the verge of tears almost the whole time. I wanted to stop. I wanted to quit. But I kept telling myself Riley, you can do this. You've worked so hard. You're so close. You're almost there. Do it for the ones that can't. Do it for the ones you saw get injured along the way. Finish the race for them, no matter how badly it hurts. I tried to focus on every part of my body that wasn't in pain. Like my hands, or my ears - anything to not think of the waist down. I tried to think of how good it will feel to accomplish the goal I worked so hard for, and how good the weight of that finisher's medal will feel around my neck. Although all of those things sound silly, they actually helped push me through to the end.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 5:34:20! It felt awesome to hear the announcer say my name as I was coming in under the arch.

All of my results!

I got one of those awesome space blankets you see marathoners get, a water bottle, a little swag bag, but they ran out of finisher's medals before we finished the race. *double sigh* SO frustrating. One of the best parts of running races is to get that medal. It kind of "seals the deal" of completing the race. It was pretty disheartening to find out they had run out, but they said they would place a rush order and mail out finisher's medals to whoever did not receive one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it comes soon! Louie, Nick, and I are already planning on getting together for drinks when our shirts and medals come in, so we can take post-race pictures! (Of course.)

At least I got my sticker to brag about it, right? ;)
This whole experience was extremely positive. There were absolutely times where I wanted to give up, times where I didn't feel like running, and times where I doubted myself, but that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the race was unlike anything I've ever felt before. I'm looking forward to running many more in the future!

Here's a vlog of our adventures in Hartford (as well as a review/rant at the end). This is when the "wound" of not receiving a medal was still fresh and I was still clearly frustrated,  so forgive the negativity!) Hope you enjoy!


  1. That is awesome!!! Congrats!! I am in the middle of training for a half marathon. I can't wait!

    1. Thank you!! I know this is about two months later but GOOD LUCK in your half!! :)