Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Meditations Designed by Runners, for Runners

Running is a form of stress-release for many of us.  The therapeutic rhythm of pounding the pavement and the deep focus on each breath has helped clear my mind through the years, and been a form of meditation.  We’ve been learning more recently about how focusing our minds and energy can also help improve our performance before a race or big run.

We want everyone to reap the benefits of this for race day next week and are excited about working with Cloud9 Online, the Official Meditation Partner of the Eversource Hartford Marathon.  This locally-based company developed Runner’s Corner, a feature on the app designed specifically for participants in next week's events.  They've worked with us to make it available to all participants free-of-charge. The Cloud9 app provides this program of meditations specially designed by runners, for runners.

Learn more from Delanea Davis, avid runner and co-founder of Solstice Strategy Partners, creators of Cloud9 Online.  Running is as integral part of her life as meditating and she’s helping to deliver this specialty experience for Eversource Hartford Marathon participants.
 

Genesis of “Runner’s Corner” – Before, Day-of and Post-Race Meditations 
As a career-focused on-the-go entrepreneur, I depend on running to keep my mind clear and my stress in check.  Just like my life in businesses, there are some days as a runner when you simply cannot predict how the run will go.  The weather, work and family demands, sleep patterns and even your emotional state can determine whether you have a great run, or you’re “dogging it” as we runners say.  These are variables outside of your control.  However, there is a key variable that you can control: your mind.
 
If you’re like me, you create a rigorous training plan in preparation for a race and do your best to hit your weekly mileage goal while balancing work life, home life, injury prevention, and if you are lucky, a social life. You may not think about how adopting an 8-week old puppy can throw a monkey wrench into your training plan (true story!). But alas, you’ve made the commitment and you are going to run no matter how your body feels that day.

So here we are, days away from the marathon. I’m excited and looking forward to the race. I’m also a bit anxious wondering how this race will go. How fast will I run? Will I feel as good as I did for the last one? Will I hit my stride easily? Will I be able to finish without injuring myself? All of these thoughts are cycling through my head - exciting, yet also potentially anxiety inducing as I think about my late start to training. It can be tough to sleep – especially on the night prior to the race, and doubly so if you’re traveling to the race.

This is exactly why we’ve designed a three-meditation series called “The Runner’s Corner” so you can better control your mind and get the best possible sleep in preparation for the race.

To begin, check out the Runner’s Corner Meditation #1: Pre-Race Meditation. It’s tailored specifically for runners who want to reach a calm state on the night (or nights) leading up to the race. Sleep is key, and we want to make sure you get it. It will ensure you maximize your rest potential, whether you listen the night prior, or multiple nights before the event. Next, the day-of the event, I start visualizing the race from the moment I open my eyes from sleep. Getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, driving to race parking while playing something to soothe me in the car… I’m purposeful and serious about visualizing in a way that will give me light feet for the race, lungs that can go forever, and both the heart- and mind-space to make this race flow with ease. I trust that my body knows exactly what to do so I can zone out when the race begins.

This is the genesis of Runner’s Corner Meditation #2: Peak Performance. We’ve created a race-day meditation that focuses your awareness on a visualization that includes all the factors we’ve ever found important, impactful, and inspirational on the day we’re running our hearts out! Listen to it when you first wake up, or on your drive into Hartford.

Finally, after we’ve run your race, we know that the marathon isn’t over until we’ve taken adequate time to warm down and recover, which is how we’ve created the third installment of the Runner’s Corner Meditation #3: Race Recovery. You’ll be guided through a deep and healing recuperative meditation where you’ll focus awareness throughout your body to speed recovery and bring your brain’s ability to heal to bear on those parts of your body that need it most after a marathon. 

Meditation That Works 
We hope you avail yourself of Runner’s Corner on our Cloud9 Meditation app, available on iPhone and Android for your best race in Hartford ever!

We founded Cloud9 because research has proven that meditation provides deep and lasting benefit to the mind and body – and so we work with healthcare organizations like Hartford HealthCare to increase healing impact with self-directed health protocols for patients that effectively manage pain without drugs. In fact, on race-day, you’ll also see us at Hartford HealthCare’s booth because we’re partnering with doctors there to create science-powered, clinically designed meditations that simply make life better for patients. As a runner, you’ve been caring for yourself up to, during, and post-marathon for years. This year, let us help you run your best marathon ever!




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Congrats to Challenge finishers in Hartford!

Thousands of runners take on the Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Team 26.2 Relay and Charity 5K as a stand-alone challenge, but many participants will check off the last event in a multi-race Sam Adams Challenge Series on October 12.

The Progressive Series and Connecticut Triple challenges wrap up in Hartford, where participants will earn an additional, well-deserved medal to commemorate months of hard work. If you’re completing one of these challenges, visit the Bling Ring in Bushnell Park after your epic finish! 

We’ve been following along with Katy Bramley, United Bank employee, who took on the Progressive Series in April at the Middletown 3.5 Mile, kept the momentum going through May at the Mystic 10K and will now take on the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. 

We’re grateful to partners like United Bank that encourage their employees to challenge themselves to go further and accomplish physical and mental feats.

Read about Katy’s journey as she works toward her final challenge at the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on October 12. 


Katy Bramley, United Bank 

Mystic 10K to Eversource Hartford Half Marathon, October 12 
Here we are, making our last preparations for the finish- both the end of the year and the end of our training for the big event: the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. I was thinking about this year’s journey while enjoying the fall weather driving along the road last night. This was a particularly hilly road, which made me remember the beginning of my Progressive Series challenge and “hammering the hills” at the Middletown 3.5 Mile. The weather reminded me of the same beautiful breeze on the morning of the Mystic 10K. I’ve been asked if I’m excited for the half marathon coming up. I can say without a doubt that I’m extremely excited. However, in talking to others about my training and the upcoming event, I had a eureka moment. I realized that what excites me even more than the race is DOING IT ALL AGAIN. In the future there will be new goals and accomplishments, and a new set of challenges. I think for most of us, the excitement we find in life is about what comes next. On race day I will be ecstatic and proud to accept my medal in the “Bling Ring” once I cross the finish line. I will be even more enthusiastic to think about what’s to come next year. I want to congratulate all my fellow runners and supporters and all the work we’ve done to get here. Smile, cry, laugh, breathe, or embrace. Whatever you do, be sure to celebrate. You earned it.

Middletown 3.5 Mile, April 7 to Mystic 10K, May 19 Setbacks sounds like steps-back, as in going backward. And running, in general, means moving forward right? Well, that’s the idea, but life doesn’t always work that way. I’ve been athletic all my life, and fortunate enough to only have a few sprained ankles or minor injuries along the way. It’s ironic that now, when I’m most enthusiastic about sharing my story with others, is when strange injuries decide to come along.

For the first time ever, I completed the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon last year. I had never run anything over 6 miles before that. Completing it literally brought tears to my eyes. It was an accomplishment that was unfathomable just 10 months beforehand, 40 lbs heavier and barely able to finish a single mile. The feeling was infectious and I could think about nothing else but how next year I would run the full marathon.

All was going according to plan until a few months ago my running sessions were cut short. Each run was more and more agonizing, to the point I was in crippling pain and getting questions when limping around my co-workers. It would be easy to forget my plans for running the full marathon and go back to my life before running. It took me a few days and some time nursing my emotions to come to a conclusion. I just had to adjust. I had to find a new goal that would make me proud just the same. That’s what lead me to my new mission. My new goal is to complete the Hartford Marathon Foundation's Progressive Challenge series. Just a few weeks ago I completed the Legends 3.5 at the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown 10 Mile, the first race since my injury, and next up is the Mystic 10K. I’m excited to say that I’m on track in my training to be able to run the entire course at my 5K pace!

Along with the training plan I’ve been following, I’ve also been practicing a skill that perhaps plagues some of us now and again. That skill is self control. Naturally, I just want get to running 100% as soon as possible and ignore when I’m in pain. I half convince myself that “it’s fine, it will go away”, as we all do when we don’t necessarily face the fact it might be more serious. Over the past few months I’ve had to take the time to stretch longer than normal, warm up more than I care to, and follow pre- and post-run recovery routines that I never had in the past. I’ve done those tasks, along with physical therapy for those cranky muscles that are causing the pain. I equate it to “paying the bills.” I ran up my credit too high and am paying down what I owe my body. It’s funny, I never would have guessed it turns out those 6 and 7 mile runs on the 10K training plan weren’t the “real work” it takes to be a runner. It’s the tedious little chores I now do to take care of my body long term.
Speaking of the little things, that’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great time when I run with my 11 pound Papillon. He’s got a ton of energy and is a fast little guy, it makes me forget that I’m even running. It’s the tiny butterflies I feel when I get out of bed the morning of a long run. I think about how I enjoy the pounding on the pavement and how exhilarating it feels to be finished.

What I love about this sport is how amazing and unifying it is that everyone can have a different goal, but running towards the same goal all at once. It’s the same course and same finish line, but a completely different journey for everyone. It reminds me, I once had a t-shirt given to me that read “Success is a journey, not a destination.” In my case, it’s never felt more appropriate than now.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Welcoming military families on race day

We are honored to have so many active duty members of the military, Reserve, National Guard, veterans and their families join us on race day at the Eversource Hartford Marathon. Thanks to the continued support of Bank of America, we are again opening up the Freedom Point military hospitality venue in Bushnell Park to offer seating areas, refreshments, private port-o-lets and personal service as a way to honor our past and present military members and their families on October 12.

Bank of America has a deep commitment to the men and women who serve our country. They have an active Military Support and Assistance Group (MSAG) with over 100 chapters across the United States. The Connecticut chapter has 165 members, and many of them will rally together on race day to run, walk or volunteer. Meet one of their employees, Pavel Aragon, and hear his inspiring story for running his first half marathon in Hartford. 

Pavel Aragon, Air Force Veteran

Pavel served in the United States Air Force from 2010 – 2014. His service included law enforcement and security around the bases where he was stationed, including in San Antonio, in Missouri and in South Korea. Now that he’s back home in Connecticut, he continues his commitment to community service by taking on volunteer opportunities through Bank of America.

Pavel will take on his first half marathon in Hartford after being introduced to the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon while volunteering with Bank of America colleagues. He was encouraged by the support that Bank of America offers veterans and active duty participants in the race through the Freedom Point military hospitality venue and set his goal to complete the half.

Pavel has never before run 13.1 miles. He says, “I wanted to challenge myself. We run all the time in the military but this is definitely something you have to train for.”

He runs shorter distances throughout the week and designates every Saturday to take on one extra mile: “It’s not all butterflies and rainbows, but it’s easier on the body to gradually increase how much I run.”

“Being part of this group makes race day more meaningful to me. It’s an experience that connects the employees at Bank of America and our veteran community.”


Please join us in wishing Pavel a great race! For more information on Freedom Point, presented by Bank of America, visit our site.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Eversource Hartford Marathon menu & post-race nutrition tips


Thanks to everyone who provided feedback about post-race menu options for this year’s Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon on October 12. We’ve been working on a race day menu with nutritional value that satisfies varying tastes and dietary restrictions within all of the limitations to cook, hold and serve in Bushnell Park.

Your responses have been heard - Autumn Harvest Rice Bowls will be the warm entree, packed with seasonal veggies and edamame. Flander’s Bake Shop apple cider donuts were the clear winner of sweet treat options and PopCorners snack food will satisfy the salty craving. We will also provide bananas, gluten-free Bakery on Main granola, Dole fruit bowls, bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese and Mountain Dairy chocolate milk.

In the hours and days following your race, it’s important to continue to keep your nutrition in mind. Dan Torres, nutrition consultant for the Connecticut Sports Medicine Institute at Saint Francis Hospital, shares 3 tips to keep in mind during race recovery to restore muscle fuel stores, replace fluid & electrolyte losses and promote muscle repair.

1) Because your appetite might be reduced after the race, liquid meals may prove to be the best option. Consume a mix of protein and carbohydrate preferably within 1hr after the race. A 4 to 1 ratio seems to work best for the initial recovery meal or snack (example: 80 grams of carbohydrate with 20 grams of protein).

2) To restore hydration status after the run, it’s necessary to ingest 24 fl oz of fluid per pound of body weight lost. Consuming plain water might not be the optimal way to rehydrate after a long race, try an electrolyte powder to help you better retain some of the fluid.

3) Spreading your intake of protein throughout the next meals (1-3 days after the race) will help to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day for the 3 days after the race.


Dan Torres LDN, CSCS is a nutrition consultant for the Connecticut Sports Medicine Institute at Saint Francis Hospital. Dan specializes in sports nutrition, weight management and fitness training, he can be contacted at torrezi@comcast.net.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Raise funds while you run in Hartford!

Fundraising for other non-profit organizations has been a cornerstone of the annual Eversource Hartford Marathon since its inception in 1994. We developed the Official Charity program to foster this charitable giving and represent the generous spirit of race day.

The 2019 Official Charity program at the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon encourages participants to run, walk or volunteer for a cause to make this special day even more meaningful. The Crowdrise fundraising platform allows Official Charities and other non-profit organizations to accept donations and rally their own team to track their progress. 

Please check out the variety of worthwhile causes and organizations involved in the Official Charity program through the link below. Consider joining their team as a runner, fundraiser or volunteer:


$500 for your fundraising efforts 

In 2017, we created the “David Polk Perpetual Award” to give everyone who fundraises the opportunity to earn an additional $500 toward their charity. 

A founding board member of the Hartford Marathon Foundation, David Polk dedicated 23 years of leadership, stewardship and generosity. In his honor, the "Perpetual Award" will award the individual who raises the most pledges for charity with another $500 donation from HMF to their charity. Note this is open to everyone participating on behalf of a certified non-profit charity organization, it is not limited to Official Charities. The winner will be recognized publicly at the Finish Line ceremony of the Eversource Hartford Marathon and have their name inscribed on the perpetual trophy. 

For consideration of this award, individuals MUST submit their information through THIS FORM by noon on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. The top fundraiser will be contacted by email on October 10 to coordinate the finish line presentation on race day. 

Please contact registration@hartfordmarathon.com with questions prior to October 9. 

2019 Official Charities
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation 
Hospital for Special Care 
Achilles International-Connecticut Chapter 
Connecticut Children's Medical Center 
empowerHER
Girl Scouts of Connecticut
Healing Meals Community Project
A Foundation Building Strength
Abby’s Helping Hand
American Cancer Society
American Red Cross
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters
Connecticut Education Foundation
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Donate Life Connecticut
Girls on the Run Greater Hartford
Independence Unlimited
Jordan Porco Foundation
Journey Home
Mental Health Connecticut
Oak Hill
Ron Foley Foundation, Inc.
Susan G. Komen New England
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Training check-in: 6 weeks to race day!


As training miles add up and runners are hitting their longest long runs in prep for 26.2 or 13.1 at the Eversource Hartford Marathon on October 12, it’s more important than ever to stay attuned to your body.  Tired legs are to be expected, but take precautions when aches, pains or soreness feels more intense or lasts longer than normal.

INJURY-FREE TRAINING 
Talk to other runners about their experiences – everyone is happy to share what they can to help others make it to their starting line.  Ask questions or follow conversations on Facebook through the League of Injured Runners.  This group is supported by the Connecticut Sports Medicine Institute (CSMI) at Saint Francis Hospital.  You can also tap expert advice in the group from the CSMI physicians who generously give of their time to help you keep running strong and injury free through training and after your race.

NUTRITION
Remember to keep up with your hydration through the week while training and fuel your body with balanced nutrition for energy and to re-fuel.  Some resources we like that offer useful ideas and tips: 
Runner’s World: 6 Simple Rules For Eating a Healthy, Whole-Foods Runner’s Diet 
New York Times: How to Feed a Runner 
Active.com: Nutrition Tips for New Runners 

ALTERNATE THERAPIES
Consider taking care of your tired and achy muscles with therapies designed to help you relax and recover.  Launched by two members of the HMF running community, Imagine Float is a new facility in Avon that offers 4 different alternate therapies: 
Floatation Therapy, Whole Body Cryotherapy, Infrared Sauna and Compression therapy. Through October 14, all participants who book a service at Imagine Float as part of their training plan for the Eversource Hartford Marathon or Half Marathon distance, $5 will be donated to the HMF FitKids program! DETAILS 

Learn more below about the experiences of three athletes training for the Eversource Hartford Marathon.  

Tom Zukowski, runner and fitness instructor 
I am a 44 time marathoner and currently training for the 2019 Hartford Marathon. To date, I have logged over 1000 miles of running this year, and I teach 2 group fitness classes a week. 
I discovered Imagine Float over the summer. I originally tried cryotherapy, it was an interesting experience, but for me personally, I get an enormous benefit from compression therapy.
My legs had felt fatigued with the high mileage and humidity the past month, so I went in for a session last Sunday, and it definitely helped my legs “bounce back”.  It’s a 30 minute session, the staff will assist you in setting up the compression sleeves, and all you have to do is adjust the intensity.  You feel the compression rise through each zone, it gets to the top, then starts all over again.
The facility is clean and beautiful, and Michele and her staff are very accommodating. I have a monthly membership, totally worth the long drive for me to get out there! 

Lisa Wawrzynowski, marathon runner and CrossFit athlete 
I sometimes struggle with low back pain/stiffness because I do a lot of intense workouts that involve heavy lifting and then go at work a desk job for 8 hours.
I went to Imagine Float on a day my back was hurting more than normal. I also had a lot going on at work so was feeling very stressed and anxious. 
I had heard of floating therapy before but was not entirely sure what it was so I didn’t know what exactly to expect. Since I was floating in water, there was no pressure on my back, my body was able to relax and rest at its natural state. When I was done, I felt energized yet relaxed and all my tight muscles from my workouts that week felt so loose! I was able to go home and stretch it out and felt great the rest of the week.
On top of my back feeling better, my mood was also significantly better. It was like I left my stress and anxiety in the room. The float was so relaxing that I pretty much fell asleep and got the rest I needed. I was able to meditate a bit and get into that right mindset to ease my anxieties and focus on positives. It was a great experience! 

Jeanne Corey Marchand - avid runner, coach and pacer for the Eversource Hartford Marathon 
First, I tried the “float” therapy and I loved it!  I went into the session opened minded as I am a bit claustrophobic.  The room where I floated was much larger than I anticipated and I was in complete control all the settings at all times.  I never thought an hour of floating would go back so quickly.  I was given a “noodle” for behind my legs and a small floatation device for under my head.  I never needed them.  The Epsom salt that they put in the water acts as your own personal life jacket.  I drifted to a complete relaxed state of mind.  When I left the room I was greeted by Michele, the owner, to see how I liked it.  It’s hard to explain the euphoric feeling with my mind so clear and cleansed. I haven’t had a good night sleep in years and this was the most refreshed I’ve felt in a long time.
I went back into Imagine Float to try the Compression therapy.  I run a lot of miles and want to continue for as long as I can. I feel that’s a goal for a lot of women as we get older!
The first time I tried Compression therapy was after one of my long runs leading up to the San Francisco marathon.  The typical soreness I experience the day after long runs was minimal, so I scheduled more sessions until my marathon.  The benefits of compression for runners is phenomenal.  I’ve tried so many recovery tools and I feel the compression is something every runner should do.  I not only had a fantastic race, I was able to bounce back quickly and continue with my training for my Eversource Hartford Marathon this fall. 
I highly recommend Imagine float for athletes for recovery, injury prevention and for a clear mind for those long runs!  Happy training everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Help us choose the post-race marathon menu

Let’s pretend you’ve invited 10,000 people over for lunch. You have no running water, no stovetop or grill, a tight budget and you can’t order delivery because of some significant local road closures.

What would you make that has nutritional value (assume all of your guests just ran between 3.1 and 26.2 miles) and can satisfy varying tastes? Also, please be sure to accommodate gluten-free, vegan or dairy-free guests. Oh, and don’t forget to follow specific guidelines from your city’s health department and make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold for the duration of 4-6 hours. Did we mention your lunch party is outside too? It could rain, or be pretty warm, or kind of chilly – you won’t know for sure though when you plan your menu or grocery shop. 

So - what’s on your menu? 

Every year, we collect feedback from Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon event participants about what we cooked up on race day. Opinions vary, of course, but our number one goal is to provide the best overall race experience possible for each and every one of you. And we've got great insights and advice to share with you from an expert - Nancy Clark is a registered dietitian (RD) and board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD), and author of multiple books, including "Food Guide for Marathoners".

So this year, we want your help to make some choices within the confines of what’s possible when it comes to post-race nosh. Generally, we make sure to provide a warm option, cold option, salty item and sweet item. 

Keeping all of the limitations in mind, please take a minute to respond to THIS SURVEY

We’ve had great success serving chili and soups, met with some enthusiasm and some criticism. We used to have access to oven space to cook 10,000 baked potatoes – that was a big hit but no longer an option to access, unfortunately. Likewise with mac and cheese – a local culinary school had the resources to cook, hold and help serve but without their resources, it’s impossible for us to provide. Apple Crisp, homemade donuts, bagels, bananas, Dole fruit cups and yogurt have all been met with pretty positive response. 

With successes have come some challenges too. The master plan to serve grilled cheese was unsuccessful because of the difficulty in ensuring consistent quality for the duration of the event. Pasta needs adequate commercial equipment and doesn’t hold well for a long time. The amount of people needed to cook, transport, hold and serve is a huge factor in feasibility. 

We’re always willing to go back to the drawing board though. We know you’re going to work hard to cross that finish line, we assure you we will work hard to provide a post-race spread worth running for! 


Keep in mind tips from Nancy Clark, RD, on the goals of the post-marathon menu:
  • Provide easy-to-digest foods that will settle well such as rice, pasta, sweet potato, etc
  • Refuel muscles with carbohydrate, either sugar or starch from grains, fruits and/or vegetables 
  • Rehydrate with fluids 
  • Replenish sodium as well as other electrolytes lost in sweat 
  • Start the healing process with protein to repair muscles
  • Offer flavor changes from the sugary-sweet sport drinks and gels consumed during the marathon
  • Provide sweets that will help boost blood glucose to feed the brain and promote mental clarity  
  • Offer gluten-free carbohydrates that suit the dietary needs of the majority of runners
  • Introduce runners to anti-inflammatory foods that, when eaten on a daily basis, can help fight inflammation and enhance recovery 

TAKE THE 1-MINUTE SURVEY HERE

We appreciate your feedback and will announce the final menu next month!