Sunday, April 23, 2017

Look for the helpers - HMF Volunteers

We are constantly asking people to step up and volunteer, each event takes so many hours of so many people to coordinate.  Instead of us just saying why we need you to volunteer, we want to let volunteers and runners tell you how important these roles are, why it’s rewarding and how you can help.  Learn more about HMF’s volunteer program here, but let the story below inspire you a little too.

Jeanne Corey, HMF Volunteer
My favorite volunteer position is being a course monitor.  As a runner, I can vividly remember certain course monitors that encouraged me to keep going when I had nothing left or the ones that were so energetic and motivating that made me smile.  They have stayed in my memory bank forever – sort of like my favorite 1st grade teacher.   

When I am volunteering, my #1 goal is to make sure people are safe. My #2 goal is to be able to encourage and motivate runners and give someone a memory that they can cherish forever.  A “feel good” memory that they can look back and smile.  Building positive lifelong memories is what running is all about to me.

When I was the course monitor for the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half this month,  I was fortunate enough to be able to help a woman when she was struggling to keep going. She was one of the last runners so I was able to leave my course monitor location and reach out to her.  We walked, we laughed, we talked, we ran a little and she crossed that finish line and got her medal.  We also hugged after and I made a friend for life.  I hope that I helped contribute a lifelong memory so she’ll continue to run because at the end of the day, she had a good experience.


And in her own words, the runner that Jeanne met in Middletown:


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tip time: eye protection

This time of year in the Northeast, everyday is a surprise when it comes to weather.  Runners have to shift between winter and spring apparel and break out rain gear in the blink of an eye.  Our friends at soundRUNNER in Glastonbury have some important all-weather tips that many of us aren't thinking about until summer - eye protection.

Eyewear essentials from soundRUNNER:
One thing that many people forget about this time of year is the importance of eye protection. While we're still gaining hours of daylight, when you manage to get out before the sun is gone for the day, your eyes can actually take more damage than during your average summer time run. This surprising fact is due to the extra water glistening on the roads that seem to perpetually be flowing. 

That is why it's important to always have sunglasses at the ready during all seasons. On top of being sure to wear sunglasses, Polarized options are especially helpful when you have excessive light coming at you from multiple angles, as shown below.



The downside of Polarized is that these types of lenses do poorly with depth perception, making them slightly worse for trails or places with treacherous terrain.

Some companies, like Tifosi, make options with interchangeable lenses or different levels of light transmission to try to help accommodate any situation you could find yourself in. They even have lenses that automatically adjust to how bright it is out.

Take care of your eyes at all times of the year. Even through winter it is very important to have eye wear in mind!


(photos: Tifosioptics.com)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tip Time: See and Be Seen

We've got lots of experts just around the corner to help the local HMF community be well and find just what they need to support training and race goals. We're happy to deliver useful tips from the experts at Fleet Feet West Hartford and soundRUNNNER on a regular basis to support your running needs. 

First up - See and Be Seen tips from Fleet Feet:
While the days are getting longer, many of us are still running in the dark. As fun as it may be to channel your inner running ninja and blend in with the darkness, the wise runner dresses more like a Christmas tree so they can SEE and BE SEEN.

This means bringing along a light source like a flashlight or headlamp so you can SEE those bumps in the road/sidewalk and wearing reflective gear and flashing lights so you can BE SEEN by drivers. Bright colors are helpful in low light conditions, but always make sure that your top and bottom have reflective taping or details & wear a flashing light (or three!). Even a small reflective element can produce a significant "flash" to get a driver's attention when their headlights shine on you.


Here are a few of our favorite products: 
Amphipod Xinglet (reflective vest) & Flashing LED Reflectors 
Nathan Strobe Light 
Knuckle Lights 
Reflective FlipBelt 
Nike Flash Jacket


Running stores around the country have pledged to bring attention to the issue in an effort to reduce the number of pedestrians who are killed each year because drivers didn't see them. Don't become a statistic. Switch on your run or walk and be safe.  You too dog walkers! 





Friday, March 17, 2017

Run Middletown! Free group runs & course preview guest post

You likely heard we’ve changed up the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half course.  If you haven’t viewed the aerial mile-by-mile video, check it out here. We’re also giving you two opportunities to check it out with free group runs led by Team HMF coaches!   Preview the course on Saturday, March 25 (8:00 am) in a 10-mile run, or Thursday, March 30 (5:30 pm) in a 6-mile run. Sign up here for details.

We think you’re going to welcome the course changes but don’t just take our word for it – we also have a Middletown resident runner to offer expert opinion!  

Salena Chatman is a new member of Team HMF and prolific local runner who recently hit her 100th town on her quest to reach Run 169 status.  She ran the half course start to finish a couple weeks ago and offers her own insights and (unfiltered!) opinions below. 

Salena Chatman
First, I have to say....The new course is great! It's not as hilly - that's a huge plus! Ok, ok that's not the only reason though…

If you disliked the uphill Court Street start as much as I did, I'm happy to report it's GONE! Want more good news?? It's still there for the downhill finish...how can that get better?? Remove an uphill and still get the downhill?? Win, win! 

Another hill that I won't miss is Church Street, on the previous course it was around mile 1-1.5.  You still get to see the main campus of Wesleyan University though, which is a plus.  Even better than the uphill being gone is that you get it as a downhill.  Seriously, two of the worst hills gone and that's before mile 5 - I know I'm happy about it. You'll also get to see various sections of the Wesleyan campus on the half course. 


Since, I'm already talking about hills being gone let's just stay on that topic...did you HATE the long hill on Randolph?  Going by the cows was nice but I know I will NOT miss that.  It's not completely gone, but what's left is the crest of the hill - short and steep and over before you know it.  Even better, you get to go down the hill and pass by Mercy High School.  Welcome to mile 7! 

Long Hill Road (7.5-8 miles)…the street name says all you need to know! One long hill but it's not crazy. 
Then on to Brush Hill (mile 9), it's not huge but you'll notice it. That's the last one in the back half that's worth a mention though - look over the horizon and see if Powder Ridge still has visible snow on its trails.

Time to head into the final stretch of the course. You'll find a gradual downhill on the course around 9.5 as you start to head back toward Wesleyan University.  The unpaved Laurel Grove section is back...I love this section, I find it very peaceful.  But, it's a short section of the course so if you hate the concept of a non-paved road don't fret, it's not long! Take it in, admire the historic homes on this section of road and if the trees haven't bloomed yet you can catch a glimpse of the Wadsworth Mansion on the right. 

Then on to the final few miles...Wadsworth Street has a small incline but the good news is you’re almost at mile 11. Turn left onto Long Lane, you'll know you’re there as you start to see Wesleyan's 4,000+ solar panels on the right. It's a pretty cool sight! 

Wind your way back to downtown. Remember that downhill I mentioned earlier on Court Street?  Enjoy it, you're almost done. A right on Main Street will showcase our amazing downtown area and maybe you'll see a local restaurant to eat at after you've enjoyed the post-race food. Keep your eyes peeled as you should see the finish line!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I promise

I hate running.  Today.  You too? 

Today is a day to hunker down, settle in and watch the snow fall.  But we’re runners, we have race goals and training mile obligations.

If you’re training for Boston, you should be doing an 18-20 miler this week.  When I was training for Boston, my 20-mile run was due in the middle of a blizzard, just like today.  Tough stuff.  I did it on a treadmill indoors.  It’s all about determination and commitment to the goal.

HMF started its 24th season last weekend with two back-to-back O’races.  It was brutally cold.  You probably thought our staff indulged in a few too many holiday cookies and put on 10 pounds of winter weight.  But no, that was layers of clothing we were wearing to work through the single digits.

Runners are hearty souls, as evident by the thousands who ran with us at O’Shenanigans and the Courthouse O’Putnam (and were exceptionally joyful, I might add).  While you all deserve high fives for running, we are truly inspired and amazed by the incredible volunteers who came to work and support you.  How can we ever thank them enough?

And guess what?  We all get to do it again this weekend!  O’Niantic and O’Hartford promise to test the staff, chill the runners and challenge the volunteers.  But hey – bring it on!  My 10 pounds of ski gear are cleaned and ready for another weekend.


I promise, sunny, warm days are ahead...don’t complain to me about the heat this summer.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Team HMF 2017

We know the running community is full of amazing and inspiring athletes, but you continue to wow us year after year!   

Thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to apply to Team HMF 2017, it was quite an incredible field.  We're excited to share the roster of team members.  Please join us in congratulating these athletes as they work to encourage and support local running and runners this year.

Team HMF 2017:

Aimee Bouchard, Springfield, MA
Salena Chatman, Middletown, CT
Amie Conner, Wethersfield, CT
Jeanne Corey, Winsted, CT
Hannah Hayes, Springfield, MA
Robyn Hollister, Glastonbury, CT
Katie Kowalski, Guilford, CT
Peter Lee, Avon, CT
Brad Magyar, Enfield, CT
Kim Marchand, Winsted, CT
Katie Martin, Middlebury, CT
Ryan Morgan, Wethersfield, CT
Tulsi Patel, Berlin/Storrs, CT
Carlos Quiles, New Britain, CT
Mayra Rivera, Hartford, CT
Mena Shehata, Rocky Hill, CT 
Tracey Sondik, Bolton, CT
Lisa Wawrzynowski, Newington, CT
Tom Zukowski, Enfield, CT
Elise Kennedy, Middletown, CT – HMF FitKids ambassador

Team HMF 2017 Co-Captains:

Marty Maldonado, Unionville, CT
Susan Rubenstein, Simsbury, CT
Chris Trotta, Longmeadow, MA

The new members will join a growing group of active Team HMF ambassadors in their involvement at HMF events and throughout the running community.  We thank them for their continued support:


Sarah Bourdeau, East Haven, CT
Marc Cerrone, Pomfret Center, CT 
Stacey Clark, East Berlin, CT 
John Coppola, Middletown, CT 
Alberto Cortes, West Hartford, CT 
Nichole Donzella, Windsor, CT 
Stephanie Gagliardi, East Hartford, CT 
Sue Hayes, Newington, CT 
Scott Hollister, Glastonbury, CT 
Wendy Ku, Farmington, CT 
Tony Labriola, Southbury, CT
Adam Lippencott, Hartford, CT 
Kimberly Markey, Kensington, CT 
Elizabeth Mashiak, Middletown, CT 
Kristina Miner, Newington, CT 
Katie Ouellette, Barkhamsted, CT 
Diane Perry, Bloomfield, CT 
Eric Pouliot, Fiskdale, MA 
Elanna Rubenstein, West Hartford, CT 
Kevin Vallez, Ellington, CT 
Jesse Wanzer, Glastonbury, CT




Thursday, February 16, 2017

O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub



Beer – so refreshing after a great run!  We’re kicking up our beer game at the O’Hartford this year with help from our friends at Small State Great Beer.

A new post-race experience, the O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub in Bushnell Park will feature four Connecticut breweries offering on-tap selections.  Huge IPA fan?  Love a dark beer?  You get to choose!  Each runner can select their free beer of choice included with registration, beer tickets also available for purchase on site by spectators/runners for $5 (21+ with ID only).

If you’re interested in a real taproom beer tasting experience, order a pass to the exclusive Flight Deck!  Choose four beers for sampling and take home the four commemorative 4 oz glasses and the custom-made beer paddle they’re served on.  The Flight Deck is a heated tent limited to 125 people only, order in advance to secure your spot, $20 each.

Learn more about the brews and breweries making the first-ever O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub a post-race experience not to miss:

O’Hartford 5K & Wee Mile is all about the Irish party: beer - see above!  Festive music. Great food - race participants get authentic, delicious Irish Beef & Guinness Stew with vegetarian/Gluten-free Potato & Cheddar Soup option.

Hungry spectators can also nosh in the park, a selection of food truck vendors will be on site, including Frankie’s (hot dogs, fries, onion rings) and more!

Race start is 12:30 pm for the kids and 1:00 p.m for the 5K.  We’ll open the Craft Brew Pub at noon for those who want to carbo-load before the race.  It stays open until 2:30 pm.

Bring a friend – they’ll thank you!




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

O'Shenanigans in Southington kicks off O'race challenges

We’re excited for March – not only because it signals the end of winter but because HMF will be back in full swing with four O’races, including a brand new one in Southington! There are also two challenges to choose from that will up your ante on bringing the big bling home.  In 8 short weeks, we’ll be ready to make your winter training worth every see-your-breath, don’t-feel-your-toes-until-mile 2 moment.  

Lucky Challenge medal
The NEW O’Shenanigans race in Southington and Cheshire won’t disappoint.  A serene flat and fast 5K along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and surrounding roads will be topped off with a brewery party at the hip new Kinsmen Brewing Company.  Celebrate your finish with handcrafted beer, munchies and a sparkly medal.

Each O’race will feature different swag, with event medals that will join together to form a glittery green three-or four-leaf clover if you join the Trinity or Lucky Challenges, respectively.  Just register for your choice of O’races by February 27 and we’ll reward you with the magic middle piece to connect your clover medals together (provided at the last of your 3 or 4 races in Niantic or Hartford).  If you take the 4-race Lucky Challenge, you’ll also earn a custom series pint glass, pick it up in Hartford after the race.

Note - register for each event individually. 
Earn your first O’race medal and a festive and versatile seamless bandana, great for a face-warmer, neck gaiter, headband or hoorag. Get in on the inaugural race from Southington through Cheshire with a kickin’ post-race party at the brand new Kinsmen Brewing Company with food by Sauced.

The beautiful northeast corner of the state is the backdrop for the 2nd race in the series.  Earn a newly designed, signature Irish O’beanie hat and your second chance at a sparkly medal.  Enjoy a mouth-watering corned beef sandwich on a pretzel roll from Courthouse Bar & Grille – washed down with an ice cold brew.

Head down to this quaint shoreline community for another flat and fast course.  You’ll earn a pair of screaming Irish green knit running gloves and the third opportunity for a clover medal.  Note, if O’Niantic is your third and final race of the Trinity series, you’ll pick up the middle piece for your clover after the race. 

With start and finish in Bushnell Park, the biggest O’race is better than ever.  We’re in the works on creating a craft beer event post-race party to cap off the St. Paddy’s Day race festivities.  Earn the last of the glittery green medals and custom knit running socks covered in green shamrocks.  Pick up the middle piece for your clover after the race along with the custom Lucky Challenge pint glass (for those that ran all four O’races only).

Slainte!