Friday, October 17, 2014

In case you missed it….

Now that we’re all fully rested up from last weekend, we’ve been able to reflect on the many special moments of the NU Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon.  It’s an honor for us to hear about your PRs, goals attained and memories made.  We love seeing your pictures and hearing the appreciation for all of the volunteers, without them last week’s events wouldn’t be possible.

There were a few exceptionally special moments for us that we wanted to share here, just in case you missed it.

Directing thousands of cheering middle school students into waves to run the “Final Mile Event” of the HMF FitKids in School Program was really a lot like herding cats – take a moment on the visual there.  But truly, it was amazing to really see the faces of these kids as they took off at the start and the celebrations when they crossed the finish.  Whether we’re helping them to consider running as a lifelong passion or simply giving them a goal and the support to reach it, this was a good day.  Could not be better said than this:


All that hard work paid off,” said Kevin Cloutier, student runner from Two Rivers Magnet Middle School.


Last Thursday night, the first-ever Girls Night event was above and beyond what we hoped for! Truly powerful stories were shared from incredible women, but in casual, comfortable conversation that felt like being among friends.  The positive energy and feeling of camaraderie and inspiration filled the room.  We were able to take away powerful words to keep us motivated – a few snippets

"You always can do more than you ever imagined, but you have to take the first step" 
-Kathrine Switzer, marathon woman and author

Running is simply a metaphor for everything great that exists within us” 
-Molly Barker, Girls on the Run founder

"In every single exhale, let go of the negativity" 
–Colleen Alexander, athlete and survivor


So we came off this great night feeling moved by the power and strength of women.  But in an emotional mile I will never forget, crossing the finish line on Friday night may be the single moment that most impacted me from race weekend.  My friend and fellow runner Marj Sasiela is under hospice care.  Just two years ago, Marj finished 2nd in her 70-74 age group of the Hartford 5K.  On Friday night, she pushed through that mile, never submitting to the wheelchair that her son Rick pushed next to her - she walked and ran her way through downtown Hartford.  Her story was captured by the Hartford Courant’s longtime running reporter Lori Riley – see story here: She Refuses to Let Cancer Stop Her


All this happened before Saturday morning.



The whirlwind that is race day produces some pretty amazing moments.  A few that we caught Saturday are captured in photos below. Thank you all for making the 21st running of the NU Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon another one to remember.  We’ll see you out there again soon.


Team HMF member Kimberly Markey talks with
NBC Connecticut before the race.
Kimberly raced all through the year while receiving
chemo treatments, the NU Hartford Marathon was her first
26.2 since finishing treatments.

Aiello Inspiration Team member Carlos Quiles wins the NU Hartford Half Marathon
disabled division with a time of 1:13:20.

Javiar Hernandez of Norwalk, CT, celebrates
after his marathon finish.

L-R US Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Sanders, Staff Sergeant John McNally, Staff Sergeant Derick Peirce and
Staff Sergeant Brandon Howland were provided 5K registrations by Bank of America, sponsors of the new
Freedom Point hospitality venue.

Little runners stretching out before their 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile or mile races
as part of the HMF FitKids program on race day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Running through walls

GUEST POST: Marathon Junkie Chuck Engle has run more than 350 marathons - just passing his 300th sub-3 hour marathon this past spring.  Chuck was a special guest of the Hartford Marathon Foundation on Saturday running to raise $1 for every marathoner he passed on race day.  Chuck came in 38th, passing well over 2,000 marathoners from his start position of dead last to raise money for Camp Rising Sun. Hear his race day story in his own words:

Running for Camp Rising Sun this past weekend in the NU Hartford Marathon was absolutely one of the best feelings I have ever had while taking part in a marathon. To start last with about 15,000 half-marathon and marathon runners in front of me was a new challenge. I have been very fortunate to start at the front, if not on the line, of nearly every marathon I have ever raced. I was ill-prepared for the difference in speed that I had with the majority of the half-marathon runners. 

With about a 9 minute delay from the official starting time I embarked on a race that would let me face a different kind of wall. The bell curve of runners created a unique situation as I quickly romped past the thin line of walkers only to slam into the hoard of joggers and walkers that most would call mid-packers. Miles of runners stretched across the rain-soaked city streets. 

I watched my mile splits rise to 8 and 9 minutes during the first several miles as I weaved to the left and right through a kaleidoscope of runners. The drenching rain coupled with meandering runners made quick stops and fast turns a treacherous decision. The challenge of navigating up through the field should have been frustrating for this usual front runner. However the cheers from fans and friends for the charity propelled me to continue with my oft-times peregrinating jaunt. 

With each mile the crowd thinned. Despite my new tangential approach to the course, it became more difficult in the later miles to catch and pass increasingly faster runners. The early weaving had begun to take its toll on my legs. The weather seemed unrelenting and the crowds thinned during the most critical miles. 

I was now mostly alone to battle the storm inside and out. The wall of runners and now the wall of pain began to envelope my fog-filled skull. It was at this very moment near mile 22 that I could only think that the exact opposite should happen for children with cancer. They should be surrounded with love through their storms. That thought alone gave so much more purpose to pushing past every runner that I could. My wall was easily conquered as each runner was one more donation to the camp. 

Camp Rising Sun is a place where children in active treatment for cancer or those in remission are surrounded by love and fun in a judgement free environment. The only cost to them is that they were stricken with disease and are in a race that they did not voluntarily choose to enter. As that thought pounded through my head with each of the passing miles I found myself closing in on the finish line. The crowds grew and thunderous cheers erupted as the announcer spoke to the crowd about the purpose of my 26.2 mile journey. I vaulted down the final mile passing 6 or 7 more runners. My journey was over but the journey for so many of the children at Camp Rising Sun is only beginning. 

It is my hope that each of the children of Camp Rising Sun will have the opportunity to feel the support and love that I felt as I successfully completed my race.  If you have ever run a race you've seen volunteers and throngs of people along your journey. Most of them are there supporting you even though you've never met. If you have a moment, join the crowd that helps surround and support these children. Help them run their race with a ton of cheering fans and well deserved support. http://www.camprisingsun.com/

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mmm, mmm good

We love food and we take the job of feeding runners very seriously!  We are now catering to runner's food sensitivities, with gluten-free and lactose-free options in the Athlete Food Tent as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options at the Pasta Supper.

The talented Chef Kevin Spada at The Hartford Club, host of tomorrow’s Pasta Supper, is putting out a great gourmet spread.  Tomorrow’s menu will feature several different pasta dishes, including both gluten-free and vegetarian options.  Chef Spada has also kindly shared his signature Beef Bolognese recipe with us (below).   

Whether your pre-race includes joining us at the Pasta Supper or making your own feast, feed your body well!  Some tips are included in this recent Runner's World post.

Check out the menu board for race day - hungry yet?  


After crossing the finish line, runners will be directed to the Food Tent to choose what they want to eat instead of receiving food tote bags.  The tent is expanded into two areas with multiple lines to keep the flow moving.  Dole Fruit Bowls, homemade apple crisp, Truebars and bagels await.  Enjoy your grilled cheese and lactose-free tomato soup with an organic recovery drink or a nice cold beer from the Harpoon Beer Garden, a favorite spot for 21+ (ID required).  There are more than 70 kegs awaiting your arrival - just want to give an extra little nudge to get you to the finish line!


Chef Spada's Beef Bolognese
The Hartford Club

(yields 1 gallon of sauce)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large Onion Diced, Small
4 stalks Celery Diced, Small
1 tablespoon Garlic Minced, Finely
2 cups Chicken Stock
96oz (12 cups) Peel and Seeded Tomatoes, Pureed
8oz Tomato Paste
2 pounds Ground Beef (80% fat)
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper 1 teaspoon Anise Seed
4 Bay Leaves
¼ cup White Sugar
1 cup Red Wine
1 cup White Wine (Italian Table Wine is fine. Use wine you will be drinking with the meal.)

DIRECTIONS
-Place a large dutch oven or stainless steel pot on the stove over medium heat
-Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add in ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and cook, continuously stirring until meat is golden brown. Remove meat and set aside in a bowl.
-Sauté, onions, and celery until soft (about 5 minutes) on medium heat.
-Add garlic and sauté for another minute, add tomato paste and let it caramelize in the pan.
-Deglaze with red wine and white wine, cook off the alcohol.
-Add chicken stock, peeled seedless tomatoes (pureed) and bring to a boil.
-Add in the browned beef anise seed, bay leaves, sugar, crushed red pepper and reduce the heat to low and let simmer for three hours.
-Taste and adjust seasoning to preference

TO SERVE

Place 1 cup of sauce in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 cups pasta toss lightly, then add in 1 tablespoon of butter and toss until melted. Serve with fresh basil and ricotta cheese on top


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Friends & Family - Where to Watch

Whether your friends and family have questioned your sanity as you went out on hours-long training runs, or you are part of a running circle who know the drill - everyone is happy to have friends or family cheering along on race day.  This post is for your cheerleaders!  We've got some tips for how they can get the most of their spectator experience.

First off - sign up for athlete tracking TODAY.  Don't wait until the morning of to sign up for alerts.  Best bet is to sign up to track your athlete from a computer (not a mobile device) before race day.  Also - make sure everyone is aware of road closures and parking!

On race morning, enjoy the spectacular start on Capitol Ave.  If your loved one is running the marathon (course map here), your next stop is Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge for miles 4 and 6.  Located just a half mile from Bushnell Park, you can (quickly!) walk there before your runner gets to mile 4 on the riverfront path.  Then you can stay put and catch them again at mile 6 as they leave the city on the bridge.

Once your runner passes mile 6, you can catch them again at Great River Park in East Hartford at mile 8.  This is a beautiful waterfront park and great location to cheer on runners across the Founders Bridge Pedestrian walkway.

From there, you can get creative to catch up with them again, but we do recommend trying to catch your marathoner at "The Wall", mile 20 on Old Main Street in South Windsor.  The phenomenon of “The Wall” evades easy definition, but runner know it when you see it—or rather, hit it.   Their pace slows, sometimes considerably. Some runners say that it feels as though their legs had been filled with lead, others can’t feel their feet at all. Thought processes become a little fuzzy. Muscle coordination goes out the window, and self-doubt casts a deep shadow over the soul. Runners sure need cheering spectators here! Easy access from I-91N onto I-291.

Get back to Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge, encourage them to finish strong as they cross back into the city at mile 25. This location is a Cheering Zone and is located just a half-mile from Bushnell Park.

Cheer Zones - Along the course, Cheer Zones have music, fun and plenty of free cheering gear waiting for you.  Cheer Zones located at marathon mile 4, 6 & 25; half marathon at mile 8.5.  There's lot of entertainment to enjoy as well, check out the music scene by the mile here!

If you're following your half marathoner (course map here), find them around mile 8.5 at St. Mary’s House (275 Steele Road, West Hartford).  With the overwhelming support from St. Mary’s Home, we have moved the Cheer Zone to their campus!  There is plenty of parking on the side streets off of Steele Road.

You can catch them again around Half Marathon Mile 10 in Elizabeth Park off Asylum Avenue. Cheer on your runner amidst the flowers in the spectacular Rose Garden and surrounding formal gardens.

Everybody needs to head back to Bushnell Park to watch their runner cross the finish under the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch.  They will cross the finish and then be routed around the corner onto Elm Street to enter the Finish Line Expo in Bushnell Park.

If you lose your loved one, catch up at the Family Reunion area in the Park.  Grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks lined up on Elm Street or check with the Info tent for recommendations on local restaurants and coffee spots. 

Have fun - and we will see you on the starting line next year (we promise you'll want in on this once you experience NU Hartford as a spectator!).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A little something extra


The NU Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon is our baby, it’s where it all began 20 years ago. Each year, we try to improve or add a little something extra to take care of you, the loyal runners. Some things you might notice right away, some are behind the scenes – but all efforts are made to live up to our motto: 
You run – we’ll take care of the rest. 

We’re working full speed to make it all come together as smoothly as possible for the 15,000 or so we expect to cross the finish in a few days.  Whether you’ve run Hartford before or this is your first, we want you to enjoy everything we have to offer, here are some highlights!

Psyching Team - If you have any concern about your mental game, let the Springfield College Running Psychology Team help.  They will be wearing blue team hats at the Expo, on the course and post-race. The team is available to provide performance enhancement strategies for goal-setting, positive self-talk, energy management, relaxation techniques and positive affirmations to help you feel your best and ready to race!

Freedom Point, presented by Bank of America - Offers special services for active military, reservists, National Guard, veterans and their families. Just show military ID to get in and enjoy some pampering

Chapter 126 Challenged Athletes Zone - This gathering place for disabled athletes and their guides is wheelchair accessible, allowing athletes to store regular wheelchairs and stage their racing chairs.  We will have handicapped accessible portalets, baggage service as well as refreshments for athletes.

Pace teams - Pace leaders are offered for the NU Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon to help you achieve your goal time, 3:20 to 5:45 for the full and 1:30 to 3:00 for the half.  They will wear yellow pace shirt and be holding their pace signs for the start.  You can see photos of pace leaders and learn a little more about their pacing style and race day strategy through the pace team program link.

HMF FitKids - Children aged 2-11 can get in on race action! Distances are offered from 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile and mile and each child gets this cool Super Kid cape!  Race starts at 9:30 am!



Gear Check - We've also got the bag check at the Bushnell to drop your stuff in the clear bags provided with your packet.  Please do NOT leave any bags unattended or carry baggage with you!

Technology tools - Don’t forget to plug in and stay connected with the new NUhartford app.  This will direct you on everything you need to know for race week.  You can also sign up for Athlete Tracking services , when you cross the start, points on the course and finish updates will automatically be sent to your designated social networks or via Text message.




Monday, October 6, 2014

NU Hartford race week festivities begin!

Ahh..race week!  Just as everyone in our office is sleep deprived and running on caffeine, we are happy to feed off the excitement of everyone around us.  T-minus 5 days and there's a lot going on! We're making the NU Hartford Marathon celebration last longer with events to participate in for days.

We've got Girls Night on Thursday at 7 pm.  An open discussion with the legendary Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run.  These women have empowered generations of women to become runners, let them inspire you.

The Health & Fitness Expo at the XL Center on Thursday and Friday is the last opportunity for registration and packet pick-up.  We know you know, but we have to tell you again - you CANNOT come down on race day and run if you haven't registered or picked up your race bib by Friday at 9:00 pm.


The Expo will feature about 70 booths with the latest in running technology, sports apparel, training tips, lots of free samples, and health and nutrition products.  We also have the Great Swag Giveaway, gift certificates and prizes being raffled throughout the day.

People can come down to learn more about the race courses and get tips from the experts - we have a free Health & Performance Symposium with Hartford Hospital.  

On Friday, we will have Yoga in the Park for Runners at Bushnell Park at noon.  A great drop-in yoga class hosted by Downtown Yoga. 

New this year we have One Mile Friday, presented by Stanley Black & Decker.  This evening shake-out run will help prep you for race day.  If you're not running Saturday, you can catch a little of the NU Hartford excitement Friday night running through downtown.  You have to register, and all participants receive a fluorescent hoorag and a cold brew from the Harpoon Beer Garden, which is open from 6-8pm. 

And we have to get everyone carb loaded for race day.  The Pasta Supper at The Hartford Club.  Come on down, seatings starts at 6:30.  There's a great menu with several pasta dishes, including a gluten-free and veggie option, fresh salad, artisan breads, delectable dessert and beverages.


Ready yet?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Meet Team HMF at Surftown

You've seen them out and about all season - the inaugural Team HMF is a great crew! We're excited to be bringing together many members of the team on Sunday at the Surftown Half Marathon and 5K.    Learn a little more about Team HMF members you'll see out on the course, and we'll introduce you to the rest of the crew at the NU Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon.

Sarah Bourdeau      
Hometown: East Haven, CT           
Occupation: Dental Assistant & full time Mom
What is your favorite HMF race and why? Surftown. It is absolutely beautiful and is at the right time of year. Early fall so it is not to cold and not to hot....just the way I like it. I also love all the post race fun!          
What was your single most memorable race day experience? My most memorable race day experience will be the NJ marathon May of 2013. I had planned early on in making the BQ attempt at NJ. As everyone is aware 2013 brought us the most horrific Boston Marathon to date. These events just fueled my fire for the BQ even more. I can still remember race day in NJ and how everything just felt perfect...my legs, the weather, my mind. I had an amazing race that day absolutely nothing went wrong and I can still remember approaching the finish and seeing the clock and realizing my dream was really going to come true and I would have the BQ. This moment is even more memorable to me then running Boston 2014 as it just proved hard work and determination would give me my dream come true!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Dream big and have fun! Don't get discouraged...everyone has bad training days and just bad days in general but if you can just keep pushing forward running can be your exercise, your therapy and your fun!


Matthew Cieslowski
Hometown: Manchester CT
Occupation: High School social studies teacher
What is your favorite HMF race and why? I love the Surftown Half because it is held at the perfect time of year for a half, the course is breathtaking, and when it is over you can put your feet right into the ocean.
Why do you run? I enjoy the sport because during the solo training runs and races I can feel totally alone and independent yet there is such a wonderfully supportive community of folks in the running world. The festive atmosphere before and after races is one of camaraderie that I enjoy immensely. Many races are held to support great causes and it feels good to do something for others while doing something for my fitness and myself.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Remember to relax and enjoy the experience, even though it is a competition you are ultimately out there in competition with yourself.


Stacey Clark
Hometown: East Berlin, CT
Occupation: High School Spanish Teacher
What is your favorite HMF race and why? The Red Dress Run for Women (5K).  The camaraderie, comfort and connection of running with all females is incredible. Plus, what better way to support women's heart health?  
What was your single most memorable race day experience? The home stretch of the Middletown Half.  Everyone was cheering and I could see the balloon arc not even a block away.  I hit my wall just then and thought I would trip and fall down.  I didn't, and I finished the race just fine.  This was my first race ever and it taught me to keep fighting and run through the pain and fatigue of future races. 


John Coppola
Hometown: Middletown, CT
Occupation: Account Manager
What is your favorite HMF race and why? I really liked the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half Marathon. The course was challenging and fun. It was fun to race on the same roads I train on          
What was your single most memorable race day experience? My first 5k. A friend had suggested I try running a race with him. I mostly ran on a treadmill and had just transitioned to the road. I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group. I was hooked on racing after that day.           
What was the lowest moment in a race you experienced? My last marathon. It was cold and windy. The conditions were awful. I wanted to quit so badly at around mile 18. My legs got so stiff, they would barely move. Somehow I stuck it out and finished 6 minutes behind my PR.  I could barely walk to my car after the race.  I told myself I would never run a marathon distance again. 2 weeks later I ran a 50k trail race.


Joe DiMuccio
Hometown: Cumberland, RI
Occupation: Business Consultant at The Hartford
What is your favorite HMF race and why? My favorite race is the Amica Iron Horse Half in Simsbury, CT. My parents come visit me in CT for the weekend each year and my mom will run the 10k while I do the half.      
What was your single most memorable race day experience? 2014 Boston Run to Remember Half. The night before the race, sleeping on my friend's couch, I told myself to go in with no expectations, and for good reason. I was three weeks removed from a marathon, spent the day watching movies and drinking soda, wearing barely broken-in shoes, had a giant burrito for dinner, and hadn't come close to my personal best in almost 9 months. Three miles in, I feel slow. I look at the timer, and it says 18:15. Suddenly I am 5 miles in, and the clock had just hit 32 minutes. I was cruising! The next 8.1 miles, I was on cloud nine. I took 3 minutes off of my personal best, running a 1:26! For years I have watched athletes on camera with puzzled faces after winning the big games, that look where you don't know if he or she is in shock, on the verge of tears or simply going to laugh in disbelief. After that race, I finally knew what that emotion felt like.    
What was the lowest moment in a race you experienced? Lake T Olympic Triathlon 2013. I had experienced my first bike fall about a month prior, and had yet to regain confidence. Riding up a hill about halfway through the bike portion, I fell while putting back my water bottle and my chain fell off. After putting the chain back on, I resumed riding, only to watch the back wheel come apart and my chain snap off the bike. I had to carry my bike back to the start, then received my first ever disqualification. It took almost a year to get back on the bike.                     
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Don't focus on the other runners. Focus on you and take in the entire experience. Set a goal time and have fun working towards it. Say thank you to all the volunteers and smile as much as possible. Most of all have fun and take tons of pictures!


Katie Edwards
Hometown: South Glastonbury, CT
Occupation: Stay at home mom and owner/operator of sweetFrog frozen yogurt in Guilford, CT
What is your favorite HMF race and why? A tie between Amica Iron Horse and NU Hartford Marathon. I love the energy at both of these races, the race courses are awesome and it's fun for the family.    
What was your single most memorable race day experience? Running Hartford Marathon in 2013 was pretty memorable. I had the privilege of running as part of the New England's Finest program and it was a phenomenal experience. I set a huge marathon PR and came well under my goal of 2:50. That was icing on the cake. It was a great day.            
What was the lowest moment in a race you experienced? Hitting the wall hard at Gansett marathon in 2012. As rough as it was, I finished and I wouldn't trade that horrible experience for anything. That race helped develop me as a runner just as much, of not more, than any PR setting, spectacular race.                 
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Have fun, more than anything. Thank the volunteers and encourage other runners. That will give you strength. You are changed once you cross your first finish line, so be prepared :)  


Megan Jaswell
Hometown: Johnston, Rhode Island
Occupation: Retail Sales
What is your favorite HMF race and why? I competed in the Litchfield Hills Triathlon, the triathlon is new to me so it was so much fun to challenge myself. The course was also absolutely beautiful which made the race even better!    
What was your single most memorable race day experience? April 21, 2014 was my fourth year running the Boston Marathon and with the tragic events of 2013 it was an honor to come back and run. The runners and spectators made the day one that is hard to put into words and it meant so much to run for those who suffered from the cruel events the year before. The Boston Marathon is like Christmas morning for me and this year was just magical to be part of.    
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Start off slow and relaxed! My college coach used to tell us "You cannot win a race in the first mile, but you can lose it" (obviously as long as the race is longer than a mile) It's easy to get caught up in the excitement at the start of the race but there is no worse feeling than starting off too hard and then struggling to finish the race.


Tony Labriola
Hometown: Highland, NY
Occupation: I've been working in PR and Social Influence for Mullen, a Boston-based communications agency for 20 years.
What is your favorite HMF race and why? Hands down, the Surftown half in Misquamicut, RI is my favorite race. I could say it was about the course, flat, great views of the ocean around every turn, lots of cheering fans. Or the time of year, late summer on the shore with crystal clear, cool mornings turning to warm afternoons. The pre and post-race festivities. But the real reason is that Surftown is my annual homecoming. My family spent summers on the RI shore. Running through Misquamicut Beach and Watch Hill is like running back in time for me. Every step is full of memories. 
What was your single most memorable race day experience? My most memorable race day experience is from my first half marathon in 2010. I found out that my brother-in-law had registered for the race and having run a few 5Ks, I had been considering moving up to a more challenging distance. About 8 weeks before the race, I decided to register too and start training. Training went well and I set a personal goal of finishing in under 2 hours: a goal that I didn't really share with anyone. 
Fast forward to race day, my brother-in-law and father-in-law and I set out at a moderate pace. I was feeling great. About mile 9 my brother-in-law starts to slow down (his knee started hurting). I kept my pace and fell in with a small group of runners. As I pass the timer at mile 10, I do some quick math and figure that I might just make my 2-hour goal. As I make the turn into the home stretch (down a long hill), I can see the finish line clock just turn over to 1:59 and I start into an all out sprint. I run past my cheering family - intent on reaching the finish and cross at 1:59:59. Mission accomplished.      
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Soak it all in. A lot of my friends have started running later in life. I tell them that they aren't out to break any records, only set new personal ones. Relax. Enjoy the atmosphere. Meet new people. Run your own race. If you feel good, push your pace. If you don't...save your legs for another day and another race. Enjoy a cold beer at the finish and then look forward to your next race or your next distance. At this point in our lives, we should be running and racing because we love it and doing everything we can to keep that love-affair going.  


Marty Maldonado
Hometown: Unionville, CT
Occupation: Stay Home Dad/Running Coach
What is your favorite HMF race and why? The NU Hartford Marathon. You always remember your first! Running a marathon went on my bucket list when I was16. I didn't get around to accomplishing that goal for 35 years.  I have run other marathons in other towns.  HMF does a great job.  Well organized, great volunteers, beautiful course." 
What was your single most memorable race day experience? Everything about my first marathon.  It took me 35 years to get around to running one.  Training was hard and the whole experience was exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. My first marathon wasn't particularly fast or pretty but I finished and I was hooked.         
Why do you run? Running has been my close friend for more than 40 years.  I run for many reasons- for health, for fitness, to think, to celebrate, to mourn...I became a certified running coach so that I could share what running has given to me with others
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? There are two races in every competition.  The race to the starting line and The Race.  Most new runners never make it to the starting line due to injury.  Train smart, get help and listen to your body.
And, FINISHING IS WINNING!


Lanham Marks Hamilton
Hometown: Glastonbury, CT
Occupation: Program Manager
What is your favorite HMF race and why? The Hartford Half Marathon! I love how much hype and pride the marathon produces for the city of Hartford. The organization of the event and crowd support throughout the course is unbelievably awesome. This year will be the 8th year that I've run the half marathon and being a Team HMF athlete has given me a boost of confidence that I can train hard and shoot for a PR! That is what makes me love HMF events so much; the spirit of these races is contagious and thrilling.   
What was the lowest moment in a race you experienced? This is hard. I think my lowest moment has always been seeing someone in pain and cannot complete the race. It's just a blow and disappointing.        
Why do you run? Running is my therapy. I have yet to find something that is so freeing, exciting and instantly gratifying.       
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? You're going to be nervous. Being nervous before a race is GOLD! My experience has been that my heart races, my throat gets a little tight, and my body just can't wait to get moving (and moving fast). Once the race starts, just take it all in, embrace the jitters and enjoy the ride. A race is something you CHOSE to do, so have fun doing it.


Susan McDowell
Hometown: Woodstock, CT
Occupation: Membership Director Greater Hartford YMCA
What is your favorite HMF race and why? My favorite HMF race is the Hartford Marathon because it's local, which means I get to race with a lot of people I know, easy to get in and out if and is always do fantastically organized.         
What was your single most memorable race day experience? I think my most memorable race day experience was running the Hartford Half Marathon with my girl’s youth running team. I have been training these girls since they were in 5th grade and now they are in high school. They were only 12 when they ran the race and they all finished in less than 2 hours! They were so proud of what they had accomplished, it was better than any race I had ever run alone.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? My one piece of advice to anyone running any race for the first time is to enjoy it. Don't take it too seriously. Take it all in, the whole experience. I ran the New York Marathon last November and even though it was my 7th marathon I was overwhelmed by the whole experience, as I was entering Manhattan during the race I was so taken aback by the crowds and the excitement that I became very emotional. I told myself to take it all in because most people never get to experience something like this and this is the coolest thing ever. I often think that someday when I'm old and I have grandchildren, and I show them all the medals and share with them the stories of all these fantastic races that they will think  "my grandmother was one cool chick!"


Eric Pouliot
Hometown: Sturbridge, MA
Occupation: Outdoor Sports retailer
What is your favorite HMF race and why? It's hard to choose since all there HMF events venues each have fantastic organization and unique venues, but favorite would be the Surftown Half Marathon. It's coastal location and fast course just makes it a must do race!   
What was your single most memorable race day experience? One of my most memorable experiences during a race was where my stomach was just not cooperating. Several miles into the race I was in a real bad spot but then at a water stop I had beautiful conversation with a blind runner. His enjoyment of running and the pure joy of just being out there that day was inspiring to me and it pulled out of the funk I was in and opened up my perspective on how lucky I am to be out there running!  
What's your "Go to" pre race meal? I wish this wasn't true but strawberry pop tarts with some additional raw honey on top are usually my good luck charms!    
Why do you run?  The main reason I run is the fulfillment I get by covering distances with my own two feet! Running has enabled me to enjoy meeting new friends and traveling to new places all while taking in the beautiful scenery. Running also enables me to escape the ability to just slap on some shoes and just go gives me a feeling of freedom that I don't get from any other sport!


Ari Steinberg
Hometown: West Hartford, CT
Occupation: Personal Trainer
What is your favorite HMF race and why? My absolutely favorite HMF race is the Hartford Half Marathon, especially since it was rerouted through West Hartford.  It's such an amazing experience to run a race in your "home" town...the streets are filled with friends and family cheering you on, so much of the course includes parts of my training runs, and the after race celebration in Bushnell is great!
What was your single most memorable race day experience? I would have to say that my most memorable race day experience was when I completed my very first Marathon in 2011.  I had NEVER imagined that I would run a marathon.  I had never really even wanted to run a marathon.  It was never a "bucket list" item by any means.  I had actually resigned to the fact that I would NEVER run a full marathon. I had completed about 10 half marathons within a few years time and decided to see if I could run longer than 13 miles one Sunday.  I ran my first 15 miles on that day and thought "all I need to do is be able to run 11 more miles" and I decided to start training for my first full marathon with a lot of doubt, hesitation, and fear.  The minute I crossed the finish line in Philadelphia I thought, "I can't wait to sign up for the next one!"                                                     
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? The BEST piece of advice I could offer to someone running their first race this year is...DON'T put a finish time in your head. Think of your first race as your opportunity to set a baseline for yourself...something to measure future performances by.


Caitlin Thayer
Hometown: Kittery, ME
Occupation: Program Director for Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs
What is your favorite HMF race and why? I love running Iron Horse because the course is so beautiful. I don't get out to Simsbury very often, and it's a great chance to see a beautiful spot in Connecticut.   
What was your single most memorable race day experience? My dad ran the inaugural Surftown Half Marathon with me, which was amazing. He hadn't run in 25 years, and trained for it and we ran the whole race together. It was a great experience!              
Why do you run? It took me about 3 years to actually like running, and I'm finally there, and now I run because I can't not run. After a week of not running I can feel my body itching to get out there. It's become a part of me, of my personality, and a core piece of who I am.


Christopher Trotta
Hometown: Longmeadow, MA
Occupation: Renewal Energy Sales
What is your favorite HMF race and why? Niantic Bay Triathlon. It was my first HMF race and the course and community are beautiful.    
What was your single most memorable race day experience? Crossing the finish line of the 2011 Mohawk Hudson marathon with my daughter.                  
Why do you run? I want to inspire my children and others to live a full, fit, and healthy life. People say life is short. I disagree, life is long, enjoy it, embrace it.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone running his or her first race this year? Enjoy every second of it. Don't get discouraged if you need to take a walk break or stop at every water station. You are doing something that may have scared the pants off of you when you signed up. Then, after the race, go find another. You now have a PR to lower!


Jesse Wanzer
Hometown: Newington, CT
Occupation: 5th Grade Teacher in Hartford
What is your favorite HMF race and why? My favorite HMF race in undoubtedly the Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon. I've only run the half marathon one time, but it was a beautiful run through Hartford and West Hartford. Now I mostly volunteer for Marathon weekend and it has been a lot of fun. I just think it is amazing how many people make their way into Hartford to experience the event. It's really fun to cheer on runners along the race route. I'm mostly amazed at how all the moving parts come together to make it a memorable experience for runners and volunteers alike. And I love that they are adding a mile race the Friday night before!           
What was your single most memorable race day experience? Racing through high school, college, and beyond has brought about many memorable experiences. I've had some really great performances that I have been proud of during my track and field career. However, I think I will always remember my experience at Ragnar Cape Cod 2014. I was a member of an Ultra team, which means that we had to run a distance of 192 miles between 6 of us. It was the single biggest challenge I have ever undertaken in my race experience. I ended up running just over 40 miles over the 23-hour experience without any sleep. I was absolutely exhausted after finishing, but I am really proud of our team performance. That is a race that I will always remember.          
Why do you run? I've run competitively for almost 14 years now. In high school and college, I ran track and field where I was a sprinter/middle distance/hurdler. I love to compete and to try and put my best effort to see how I stack up against other runners. Now being several years removed from track, I have moved up a bit in distance, but still run to compete. It feels good to run a PR but then know that there is still more work to do to improve even more. That's what is great about running, you can set attainable goals and when you reach them you can push the bar even higher. There is no end point in running.