Tuesday, April 15, 2014

See you in Boston

Each year, there are three experiences that I can always count on to lift my spirits in a highly exciting yet deeply humbling manner.  These experiences make me so happy to be alive and doing what I do each and every day. 

The first – standing at the start of the Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon as 15,000 runners pass in front of me, knowing that I played a small part in bringing together this sea of humanity.  

The second – turning onto Main Street in Manchester on Thanksgiving morning as one of thousands in the Manchester Road Race.  
100th running of the Boston Marathon (nice outfit!!)

The third is being part of the Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day.

Like so many I was hurt to my core by the bombings at Boston.  Seeing that iconic finish line devastated brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart.  No one should mess with the Boston Marathon - period.  And yet, two evil knuckleheads did just that, causing life-altering pain and sadness for so many.  Their acts forever changed the way we do things in the road race business.  I took this very personally, although I was miles away.  My heart broke for the victims and for the man I most admire in the business, Dave McGillivray, the Race Director of the Boston Marathon.

Through this horrible darkness of evil came great light.  Runners united and became a family.  Boston showed its strength and resilience as a community. The world exhibited great compassion with their words and their actions. Donations poured into One Fund Boston, with nearly $61 million in donations for victims raised in the first 90 days. By the end of the year, there was over $12 million in new donations added to that.

I will be at the finish line at Boston this year.  I crossed it as a runner six times, and participated in some form or another for 20 years.  I will witness the joy of those finishing what they couldn’t finish last year.  I will show my support for Dave McGillivray and the rest of the BAA. I will contribute to Dave’s chosen charity, the Martin Richard Charitable Foundation (http://teammr8.org).  And I will cheer for Shalane Flanagan, the hometown girl, to win it all.  The icing on the cake of a true celebration.

Friday, April 11, 2014

National Volunteer Week is every week at HMF!

Volunteers are truly at the heart of our events.  The spirit of camaraderie is contagious when people get involved simply for the enjoyment of helping others. We’d petition for National Volunteer Week to be yearlong to recognize volunteer efforts - considering in 2013 alone, 2,500 HMF volunteers dedicated 11,600 hours, we have much to be thankful for…not sure a week will do it justice!

To show our appreciation, all volunteers receive shirts and refreshments at every event. We also hope the volunteer incentive program, which provides earned credits off HMF events for registered volunteers, helps show our appreciation. 

You recognize some of the groups at annual events, our invaluable Collar Crew at the Hartford Marathon or Boy Scout Troop # 175 at the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon and the West Hartford Exchange Club at the Blue Back Mitten Run.  It’s inspiring to get so many school groups to join with us too - East Lyme High School Lacrosse, Glastonbury High School, Capital Prep Magnet School and Montessori Parent Teacher Community at Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet have been incredible supporters through the years.  The invaluable massage therapists from the CT Sports Massage Team have taken care of countless runners. There are more individuals than we could possibly name, but we hope they each feel the gratitude and appreciation we have for them. 

Our volunteer program is led by Jess Hallet, who started as a volunteer with us about 10 years ago and has excelled in corralling all that incredible volunteer man-power!  You’ll see Jess at events signing in and directing volunteers, she’s also available to help groups coordinate community service initiatives or company volunteer programs.  Learn more about Jess in her own words below, and please remember to thank the volunteers you meet or pass on race day!

HMF Spotlight: Jess Hallet, Volunteer Program Manager

Role at HMF:

  • Recruiting Volunteers: Reaching out to local communities before each race to recruit individual volunteers, groups, teams, clubs, and organizations for HMF Events.
  • Managing Volunteers: Manage all online volunteer registration through a software system. Make sure there are enough volunteers for each aspect of every event.
  • Communication: Communicate all instructions to volunteers ahead of time in addition to instructions on race day.
  • Coordinate: Coordinate large volunteer groups for larger events.
Role on race day:
Set up and manage volunteer area/tent/food, manage volunteer check-in to ensure that volunteers receive the correct instructions for their volunteer activity and provide all volunteers with a volunteer shirt. My goal is to make volunteering with HMF a fun and easy activity to participate in to show volunteers how much we truly appreciate their help and support.

How long you've been with the Foundation:
I have volunteered with HMF for many years, maybe since 2003? I maintained a relationship with the HMF ever since. I began working as the Volunteer Program Manager in early August of 2013 - crazy time to start with the Hartford Marathon right around the corner, but I absolutely loved it!

Are you a runner?
Everyone always asks me that, just because I work for a  running organization doesn’t automatically mean I run…. I definitely don’t run, however, I do love to cheer runners on at the events!

Favorite HMF race you've worked and why:
Sandy Hook Run For The Families. It was an amazing event, truly inspirational. For such a small distance, it was so incredible to see how many people came out to run that day to support the families and people affected by Sandy Hook. The participants, volunteers, staff, sponsors, and spectators were so generous and supportive. This race was unlike any other and truly amazing to be a part of.

All-time best race experiences (participating and/or working):
Volunteering at the finish line of the Hartford Marathon. So much emotion and inspiration is generated by each participate that finishes. It is such a great accomplishment in life, the athletes are truly motivational.

Night before or race day prep ritual:
Sending out any last minute communications to volunteers, updating my volunteer sign in sheet, making sure the volunteer food order is placed and ready for the next morning, and making sure I have everything I need. Lack of sleep is probably the most consistent “night before race day ritual.”

Most challenging race day moments:
When there is a shortage of volunteers for a specific area. Thankfully we have an amazing crew that is able to react quickly and make it work for that day.    

Most inspiring race day moments:
Seeing the same volunteers at multiple HMF Events, who are always willing to help and contribute to their community. I feel so lucky to be able to interact with such great spirited and devoted individuals each and every day.

Oddest thing on your race day check list:
USE THE BATHROOM. I tend to forget in the midst of all the action.

What most people don’t know about to make an event successful:
VOLUNTEERS make our events happen. Our foundation is a volunteer-driven organization; we would not be here without the countless hours and dedication each volunteer contributes to the HMF events.

If money was no object, what would be your ideal vacation:
Australia or Africa!

Skiing, swimming, hiking, wakeboarding, dirt biking, and of course EATING!

Favorite post-workout snack:
A big juicy burger or basically anything filling and unhealthy.

All-time favorite food indulgence:
I love spicy, bold flavors and love trying new things.

What makes you get up in the morning:
The list of things I have to do for that day that continuously play in my head.

Friday, April 4, 2014

We proudly present Team HMF!

So many of you answered our call for runners who love our sport and want to shout it from the rooftops.  We were overwhelmed with enthusiasm at the strength of the running community and willingness of so many to join in our mission.

Credit must be given to every one of you who applied. Each submission showed individual strengths and told unique stories.  Narrowing down a team of 25 was a gigantic feat.  We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know so many of you.  And now, we want everyone to get to know the inaugural Team HMF!

This group of 15 women and 10 men represent fast and not-so-fast runners from diverse backgrounds and age groups.  They come from throughout CT and southern MA.  We will be telling their stories in more detail in the coming weeks so you too can get to know Team HMF better.  From coaches and personal trainers to youth running supporters and a teacher, their paths are different but their passion is shared.  Whether life-long runners or just starting to run recently, the members of Team HMF are excited to inspire and encourage.  Many have been motivated by personal challenges to live healthier, be stronger and help others.

Activities of Team HMF will be shared through the blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  They will be accessible to the HMF community via social media, so runners can not only follow their progress but also ask them questions and learn from the Team’s experiences to help improve their own running.

2014 Team HMF members:

  • Sarah Bourdeau, Milford, CT
  • Allie Burdick, Ellington, CT
  • Matt Cieslowski, Manchester, CT
  • Stacey Clark, Berlin, CT
  • John Coppola, Middletown, CT
  • Joseph DiMuccio, West Hartford, CT
  • Nichole Donzella, Windsor, CT
  • Anthony Douaihy, Barkhamsted, CT
  • Katie Edwards, South Glastonbury, CT
  • Susan Hayes, Newington, CT
  • Megan Jaswell, New Britain, CT
  • Dani Kennedy, Bolton, CT
  • Wendy Ku, Farmington, CT
  • Tony Labriola, Southbury, CT
  • Marty Maldonado, Unionville, CT
  • Kimberly Markey, Kensington, CT
  • Lanham Marks-Hamilton, Glastonbury, CT
  • Susan McDowell, Woodstock, CT
  • Kristina Miner, Newington, CT
  • Eric Pouliot, Southbridge, MA
  • Ari Steinberg, West Hartford, CT
  • Caitlin Thayer, Hartford, CT
  • Christopher Trotta, Longmeadow, MA
  • Kevin Vallez, Ellington, CT
  • Jesse Wanzer, Newington, CT

Please join us in wishing them the best and keep an eye out for Team HMF where you run!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Manchester race to support Parkinson's research

A great new race in one of our favorite places!  The favorite running place of thousands of local runners – Manchester!  

I grew up in Manchester and like many, have a deep appreciation for the historic Manchester Road Race, a milestone event each November.  In fact, I have run the race more consecutive years than any other woman – 40 and counting!  So what could be better than bringing an HMF race to my hometown, the streets of Manchester this August?  Partnering with famed Corey’s Catsup & Mustard eatery for a post-race block party on Main Street and most importantly, benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Corey's Catsup & Mustard 5K Run & Charity Walk will take place August 16th.  Enjoy a Saturday evening with a timed 5K run from downtown Manchester’s Main Street through a portion of the East Coast Greenway with views of historic town buildings.  Bring the whole family, a non-competitive half mile walk will take place in conjunction with the 5K for those not interested in running but wanting to support the cause. 

This race is really not about the run.  It is about adding our support to fight a disease that has personally affected so many of us – Parkinson’s.  We stand with our partners at Corey’s to help the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Won’t you join us?  

We're offering our Facebook friends and Twitter followers $5 off for a limited time, just enter here today and tomorrow and you'll be emailed a $5 off promo to use at registration online between March 28-31.

To learn more about the Michael J. Fox Foundation and their core values, click here.  Thanks for your continued support!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bonking (and training well to avoid it!)

Transitioning to longer distances is both a physical and a mental process.  I’ve seen plenty of good, bad and ugly ways to do it. 

I’ve bonked a few times and it’s not pretty.  I have found the secret to not bonking again is good nutrition - a good balance of carbs and protein.  When during a long run, at about mile 18, you start to see little green men or feel like you are running in clown shoes, grab a good candy bar quick.  Or drink down a glass of orange juice.  You need carbohydrates pronto!

In the mid-18th century when I began running, I found the 3-mile mark to be my first threshold to conquer.  Once beyond 3 miles, I focused on 5 miles. After I accomplished that distance, it became easier to add mileage.  I think it was the psychological barriers more than physical efforts.  Once I conquered 5 miles, I was a runner in my own mind.  So, more distance became a function of training.  Adding 10% to my weekly long run got me to the 12 mile distance.  After that, I added 10% every two weeks in order to give my muscles a chance to recover and repair.

Training for longer distances is all about endurance, not speed.   Your pace should be easy enough to hold a conversation, and you want to make sure you’re not adding too much distance too soon. Going too fast, or adding too much distance too soon, sets you up for a far greater risk of injury.  Don’t overdo!! Keeping your heart rate at about 70% of its maximum will actually increase your overall fitness by burning fat as your primary source of energy. By training your body to burn fat you’re also training it to save other energy sources it needs during harder workouts and races.  

It’s funny.  When you go out for an 8 mile run, it feels like a long run. And it is!  But when you are running a marathon and you get to the 18 mile mark, you think “only 8 more to go.  Piece of cake!”  That is mind over matter.

The most enjoyable way to increase distance is to do it with a group or with a training buddy.  The miles go by quickly and you make great friends.

And finally, drink lots of water.  Hydrate!

For more information about Hartford Marathon Foundation training groups, please visit http://www.hartfordmarathon.com/Training/Training_Programs.htm . Training programs for the Shamrock 3.3 and the Amica Iron Horse 10k start this weekend!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Team HMF

Love to run?  Love to talk about running to everyone you know?  We’d love to hear from you!

We are creating the first-ever Team HMF, a group of 20 women and men that frequent the regional race scene while encouraging and inspiring those around them.  Team HMF members will train and race their planned 2014 schedules.  They will be provided perks and benefits for helping spread awareness about their experiences at events as well as the programs and services HMF offers to support runners.  We want the team to be accessible to the HMF community via social media, so runners can not only follow their progress but also ask them questions and learn from the team’s experiences to help improve their running.

Team HMF members will be selected based on past participation in Hartford Marathon Foundation events, social media activity and influence, community involvement and geographic location around the region including CT, MA, NJ, NYC and PA.

Applications are being accepted online through March 20, perks for the 20-member Team HMF include:
  • Team HMF running uniform (race singlet, technical shirt and shorts)
  • Running shoes
  • Timex watches
  • Free entry to five Hartford Marathon Foundation events in 2014

Applications will be reviewed and the roster of Team HMF members will be announced by March 28. Activities of the team include:
  • Training and racing in Hartford Marathon Foundation apparel
  • High level of social media activity and interaction to include regular updates and photo posts
  • Hosting a fun run, shakeout run or other group activity (HMF will support logistics and promotion of activity)
  • Competing in races throughout the region

To be considered for Team HMF, please fill out on the online application form between today and March 20. Please contact HMF via Facebook.com/HMFevents or Twitter @runHMF with questions or for more information.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Giving Back

The mission of HMF is two-fold.  We work to empower local citizens to be healthy and fit through participation in athletic events and training programs.  Our races promote and motivate people of all ages and with different interests – trail runs, triathlons, long races, short races, HMF FitKids races and many more.  

The other component of our mission focuses on giving back to our communities. We’re excited to announce that the Amazing Grace Food Pantry will be the official charity for our new Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half Marathon & Legends 4-mile! The Amazing Grace Food Pantry serves 1,000 underprivileged families per month. We’re asking runners to bring non-perishable food items to donate to this worthy cause, such as mac & cheese, canned soup and peanut butter.

Almost every race we hold benefits charity or a cause, whether for the Connecticut community at large or smaller organizations tied to local race host towns or services.

2013 Sandy Hook Run for the Families
Last year, we were humbled to facilitate donations of nearly $450,000 for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund at the Sandy Hook Run for the Families in March 2013.  The generosity of the HMF running community is incredible and we are happy to provide vehicles for people to give back.

For the 2013 ING Hartford Marathon, our biggest event of the year, we expanded the Official Charity program making it easier for runners to raise funds for local causes. On race day, we designate a section of Bushnell Park for each official charity’s runners and volunteers, known as “Charity Village,” where their participants have a special place to relax. They even have their own private portalets (a coveted perk!).  A record 21 official charities joined us on race day, some with huge teams of runners and others providing much-needed volunteers. Whether the organization’s goal was to raise funds or recruit supporters, our Official Charity program facilitated an opportunity to have a great positive impact for their causes.

Participants in our last race of the 2013 season, the Blue Back Mitten Run presented by UnitedHealthcare, donated 3,500 new, warm mittens and raised $350 for The Town That Cares Fund, a program of the Town of West Hartford’s Department of Human and Leisure Services.  

This year, we plan to strengthen existing relationships with our charity partners and expand the network for giving, thanks to all the hard work and efforts of you, the HMF community.  Because of your dedication, many charity groups and great causes will continue to benefit from the many miles you log in the 2014 race season.