Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Run Wild

Run Wild this summer! We're loving the great weather we’re (finally) experiencing in Connecticut.  All that spring mud is giving way – it’s time to hit the trails for peaceful runs and explore some new territory.  

If you don’t know about the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Seriesyou should!  Our Summer Solstice Trail Run on June 16 in Hebron is part of this year's series. Emma Palmacci organizes the series and is sharing the inside scoop on the 90 year history of local trails (don’t forget about our free fun run on June 5 – hit the trails with HMF!).

Emma Palmacci- Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series 
The Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System turns 90 this year.  Spanning 96 towns and 825 miles, this expansive network of trails is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA), the state’s oldest non-profit conservation organization.  The Blue Trails are some of the best outdoor options the state has to offer - steep, ragged ledges, smooth river walks, vistas at Soapstone Mountain and Talcott Mountain, lush pine forests, and gorgeous waterfalls. 

The Shenipsit Striders have been using, and racing on, the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails for the last four decades.  The Striders have forged a strong relationship with CFPA, donating a significant percentage of their race proceeds to the non-profit.  We appreciate that there is a natural, symbiotic relationship between trail running and trail stewardship organizations.  Runners are a passionate bunch!  When we learn what goes into building and maintaining the trail systems, we become fervent supporters of those who work to protect our shared outdoor spaces.

We saw the opportunity to strengthen this relationship and to bring greater awareness to the running community about how important groups like the CFPA are to our sport.   And so the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series was born.

The original idea was simple - bring together trail races that utilize the Blue Trails to reach a greater audience across the state.  The power in numbers would increase awareness for CFPA’s efforts and bring more people out to Blue Trail races to compete for the running series trophy.  The races in the series would donate some percentage of the proceeds to trail maintenance groups.  Win-win-win.

This year the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is celebrating its fifth anniversary.  Last year was one of the biggest series yet, with 838 individuals competing in at least one race – making for ~18,000 miles raced on Blue Trails over the course of the series.  While the Shenipsit Striders and CFPA still take on much of the grass roots effort, it’s become a group effort across volunteers and race directors - with CT Trailmixers, Bimbler’s Bluff, and Steep Endurance all helping spread the word and promoting the series.  Three new races were added to the series for 2019, the Macedonia Trail Race in Kent and the HMF Summer Solstice in Hebron and the Tunxis Ultramarathon added an 8K option.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Hit the trails on June 5

Help us leave it better than we found it on the trails this Global Running Day!  Join a free fun run and help pick up a section of our region’s great trail system in Manchester – easy parking, 2 or 4 mile group run routes and a little good deed done for Mother Earth!   

The family-friendly fun run celebrates Connecticut’s trail system and welcomes all ages and abilities.  Bring the kids to run or walk with you, the out-and-back trail section will be open for all paces (and shorter distance if that’s better for you!). As a thank you for helping to clean up the trail, we’ll be doing some giveaways too.  Details and sign-up (with link to mandatory waiver) below.

Run Wild Fun Run

WHEN: Global Running Day, Wednesday June 5, 5:30 pm

WHERE: Charter Oak Park, Manchester

PARKING: Next to the tennis courts

DETAILS: Two route options (in opposite directions) along the East Coast Greenway (which covers part of the RiMaConn Relay race course!). Pick up trash on the return of the out and back run.

DISTANCE: 2 or 4 mile options

AMENITIES: Run leaders, water, Nuun, Bakery on Main, gloves, trash bags, giveaways

Run Wild with HMF this summer – upcoming trail race events:
June 16: Summer Solstice Trail Run, Hebron, CT 
August 24: RiMaConn Relay, Lincoln, RI to Hartford, CT

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

CT Nutleggers top 5 RiMaConn Relay tips

We're so excited about the new RiMaConn Relay adventure and love seeing the creative names you've come up with - there will be "Best Team Name" in the 3-member and 6-member team categories awarded at the post-race party on Saturday, August 24!

We're going to keep in touch weekly with everything from tips, course details, runner must-haves and gear recommends to help you successfully tackle the uniquely fun challenge of an endurance relay. As you're getting your RiMaConn Relay team together, we want to hear about you (and may brag on how awesome your team is!) - please feel free to give us the scoop and interesting info about your team HERE.

Experienced endurance runners are willing to share their tricks of the trade to help you prepare.  This top 5 tips lists is one you want to remember!

Beth Taylor - Team Captain, CT Nutleggers
It almost sounds too good to be true. Endless flat trails with no cars. Three different states on foot. Beer at the end. Indeed, when I saw the new HMF RiMaConn relay, I was pumped! There are so many fantastic rail trails and access points to the East Coast Greenway, and it’s impossible to fully explore them in one run. But, an ultra race that does it all (and more) in a day? Perfect solution!

I immediately recruited my coworker Amanda, who is working on getting the 50 marathons/50 states off her bucket list. And then I brought in a hired gun- my college roommate Meredith, who lives in Maine but is always looking for an excuse to jaunt down to southern New England. Meredith and I did a similar two-person 50 mile race in Pennsylvania, and I knew she’d accept the challenge. Since then, we’ve occupied ourselves with addressing some of the fundamentals we’ve learned from previous races. 
These include:

1.     Recruit a driver. Yes, it’s not a necessity, since those not running can easily drive. But, having a driver (especially for three person teams), gives you the opportunity to really kick back and focus on enjoying yourself and recovering/hydrating/eating/stretching between legs.  Meredith and I learned this the hard way in our previous endeavor, when the person finishing a leg had to jump in the car and drive frantically to the next hand-off zone. Bonus points if the driver is not a runner, since he/she will be so impressed with your endeavor that you’ll feel like a superhero. However, make sure that you choose wisely, avoiding a driver that a) is directionally challenged, b) eats smelly fastfood in the car, and c) makes annoying comments like “couldn’t you run faster so we can get to the postrace party?”

2.      Choose a team name. This is huge, because your team name will define you. People will know you as THE BUNIONS or SIX STUDLY SPRINTERS or whatever you call yourselves. It’ll be shouted at you all day long as you pass and get passed by other team cars, and congregate at handoff zones. So, choose wisely. After much debate and soulsearching, we settled on the CT Nutleggers. Our mascot? The Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story. After all, it’s a MAJOR AWARD 

3.     Start to think about the whole eating/drinking issue (AKA the 10 Fuel Commandments).  Do you usually run in the morning on an empty stomach? Or in the afternoon after a regular series of meals? This race will turn that all upside down. You’ll be running either 95/3 or 95/6 miles, separated by an hour or two, repeatedly. Figuring out what to consume, how much to consume, and most importantly, what won’t make you sick, is an art. It takes some practice and whatever you do, don’t plan to “wing it” on race day. Consider a wide variety of options for food and drink, and do some practice runs prior to race day. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 different options for food/drink.   Trust me, 17 hours later, green olives may actually look good.

4.     Start to ramp up the training! Signing up for a race and actually participating in it are two totally different things and somehow they don’t always occur sequentially for us runners. Don’t let the summer get away in a haze of graduation parties, sunset cruises, and vacations without scheduling some long runs. Two-a-days (two longer runs, morning and afternoon) can really boost confidence for running multiple legs. And my personal favorite- run part of the race course! I love the segment of the Hop River State Park Trail that takes you through the Bolton Notch Tunnel. 

5.     And of course, start trash talking your teammates. After all, it’s not a team sport if you don’t get a little dirty 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fun Run in Simsbury, May 23

The annual road races on Iron Horse Blvd in Simsbury are back for a 17th year with a great new partner, UConn Health. The UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K on June 2 offers a distance for everyone and a great family fun day for spectators too. Join a free course preview fun run with Team HMF on Thursday, May 23, at 6:00 pm. Sign-up form and details below!

The 4-mile fun run will cover a portion of the course along the trail. Team HMF co-captain Susan Rubenstein will lead. Following the run, all are welcome to join the group at Iron Horse Pub for happy hour. 

Meet Susan 
Susan Rubenstein has been a resident of Simsbury for over 30 years and is a co-captain of Team HMF. She fell in love with Simsbury at first sight, decided to raise her family there and finds its scenic roads, flowered bridge, farms and beautiful trails have only added to her love of running. After many years, many miles and many races, Susan still enjoys weekly runs with friends and loves how Simsbury has kept its beauty and charm as it has grown into a thriving community. 

Susan enjoys working and teaching in Simsbury at one of the local gyms and has made a career in health and fitness with her business, Yoga Be Fit. She coaches runners, volunteers for Girls on the Run, teaches town employees and local residents in various fitness classes and supports runners’ training. 

As the first Mother/Daughter team for the Team HMF ambassador program 4 years ago, Susan shares her love of running with her daughter, Elanna. Together they are seen at many HMF races running, volunteering and sharing time together. When Susan's daughter Mindy visits from NYC, the three of them always find a race they can enjoy together. Susan lives in Simsbury with her husband, Kenny, and two dogs, Rudy and Delilah. 

“Nothing is better than bonding with your kids through the love of running.” 

Course Preview Fun Run 
Sign-up HERE (please fill out in advance)
Date: Thursday, May 23
Time: 6 PM
Location: Simsbury Meadows, meet by the playground area (near the start line for the UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K, 5K)
Distance: 4 miles on the trail at Iron Horse
Parking: Public parking is available off Iron Horse Blvd
Water and cups will be available for runners, no other amenities provided.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A progressive journey

One of our favorite things about race day is watching runners’ faces as they cross the finish line. Each face tells a different story about months of tough training, overcoming hardship, working toward a goal or beating a personal best.

The Progressive Series challenge has supported participants to run distances they never thought possible and achieve their goals under the Arch at the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. Participants in the series gradually increase their race mileage with the help of our free training guides, which help show that 13.1 miles is closer than you think. We’re grateful to partners like United Bank that encourage their employees to challenge themselves to go further and accomplish physical and mental feats.

Katy Bramley, United Bank employee, took on the Progressive Series and is sharing her journey with us - crushing goals and crushing defeats, follow along with her story as she works through the next challenge at the Mystic 10K on May 19 to reach the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon finish line on October 12. 

Katy Bramley, United Bank

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.