169 Towns #81: Salem

October 1st, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #81: Salem

#81 Salem

This was a bit of a last-minute decision, and I arrived at the site with just a few minutes to spare. The race took place on a farm, with horses around, and a bit of a hike between parking and the start. It as mostly meadow-running, with one mile of the race a pure trail race in the woods. As a result of the recent rainstorms, the race was slightly shortened due to mud, but it still felt long enough. I ran hard and felt good, coming in 13th, and was happy to walk away with a really nice t-shirt, especially for a debut race. Thanks, race organizers!

Salem Run in the Woods | 5K (2.5m) | 9/30/18 | 19:36 | 81/169

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169 Towns #80: Enfield

September 23rd, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #80: Enfield

>#80 Enfield: LEGO Systems Inc. 5K

The LEGO 5K at the company’s US headquarters in Enfield is notorious for selling out very quickly, because it’s also known for having some of the best race swag around, if you’re into toys featuring DC Comics and Ninjago characters. I knew I wanted to do it once, and it finally worked out this year. When we actually ended up there, among the crowds, the bags of swag, and the fancy t-shirts, the race seemed almost incidental.

The whole family came for the race, and Grace was excited to run with me. She had just done a 5K in Woodbridge less than a week before, which went well, but involved quite a few breaks, walking, negotiating how long we were going to run before resting, and so on. This race was a different scene altogether: she was amazing. We ran a nice, steady pace, and ran 1.7 miles before even talking about a break, which ended up lasting about 5 seconds. She was really strong throughout. We took three small walk pauses, none longer than ten seconds. She made a great strong finish over the last two tenths, and a set a new PR again. I was so proud of her consistency, her drive, and her fortitude. She did great.

LEGO Systems Inc. 5K | 5K | 9/22/18 | 32:02 | 80/169

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169 Towns #79: Colchester

September 21st, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #79: Colchester

#79 Colchester: Race to End Hunger in Our Community

A nice little race in Colchester, up the coast and inland. It featured a flat course that quickly got out into farm country, past what looked like tobacco barns, perhaps? I pressed the whole time, and came in 8th, finally managing to win my age group. I was pretty beat at the end, and the post-race goodies featured lots of…pies. They looked great, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Oh well.

Colchester Race to End Hunger | 5K | 9/15/18 | 22:55 | 78/169

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169 Towns #78: Suffield

September 10th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #78: Suffield

#78 Suffield: Parks and Recreation 5K

This race took me up north of Hartford, past the Bradley airport terminal, past the airport runways, and the air museum. All of the sudden, things got quiet, and I came into Suffield, a nice little town, and to its high school. Farm country. Hilly. The 10K runners left a half hour before on a loop, which we went out in the reverse, so we saw the fastest finishers coming toward us us as we went out the loop the other way. I managed 6th place in a small field, but as is my curse, that only qualified for fifth (!) in my age group. What do I have to do?

Suffield Parks and Recreation 5K | 5K | 9/8/18 | 23:08 | 78/169

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169 Towns #77: Stamford

September 5th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #77: Stamford

#77 Stamford: Give a Child a Jump Start 5K

At this point, I’ve take taken care of nearly everything between New Haven in the New York line, but Stamford and Greenwich, my old stomping grounds, remain. Today’s Labor Day race, at the JCC of Stamford, was very well attended and obviously a big community event. It was a warm day; I’d have preferred it start at 8:00, because by the time I got there at 8:30 for the 9:00 am start, it was definitely starting to get steamy. For the first time in many races I’ve run, the organizers had us grab a chip separate from the bib to strap on our ankle. That used to be the norm, but I haven’t seen it in ages. It’s funny how you forget about these things. A nice race, and it always feels good to run the 5K while there’s also a 10K going on that you don’t have to run.

Give a Child a Jump Start | 5K | 9/3/18 | 25:05 | 75/169

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169 Towns #76 Newtown

August 21st, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #76 Newtown

#76 Newtown: Newtown Road Race

This was an interesting one: as I drove up to park, I came across a car in a ditch, with a police car directing drivers around it. By the time the race started, it became clear that the removal of the car, which had been driven off the road early in the morning by a teenage driver who thankfully was uninjured, would alter the race course, so we had to do some extra loops and avoid the area while the crane dragged it out.

On another note, it was bound to happen eventually: I finally got bib #169. There weren’t any trumpets to fanfare the moment, but it was nice. The start was located at a beautiful park, with a nice playground, though the race was too early in the day to bring the kids this time. Also, the ice cream place we’d wanted to try wouldn’t be open by the time the race was done, so another day, perhaps.

The weather was cooperative: it was the first cool day in awhile after a week of unseasonably hot days. The race was good, and I felt like I was pushing it the whole time. With a big pack ahead of me, I reeled a number of people in, and didn’t get passed by too many, but still, there were a lot of fast people out there today. I came in 30th overall, naturally fourth in my age group.

Newtown Road Race | 5K | 8/19/18 | 22:56 | 76/169

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169 Towns #75: Shelton

August 19th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #75: Shelton

#75 Shelton: Sunset Run For The Warriors

This race was a little different in a few ways—first, it was part of a nationally-organized event, and the registration table took credit cards, which almost never happens. And second, it was an evening run, the first one of those I’ve done in a long time. My body didn’t quite feel up for it, but I eventually got warmed up. I felt like I was moving pretty well, and managed to re-pass the younger guys who passed me around mile 1.5—that never happens—but still, when I finished, I was a little dismayed to see my time. Turns out there was a good explanation for it: the course was about more like 3.33 miles, which I’m using to justify the extra two minutes or so in my time. I’d never been to Shelton before, though it isn’t very far away, and it was nice to see the little town green where the festivities took place.

Sunset Run For The Warriors | 5K (3.33m) | 8/19/18 | 25:05 | 75/169

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169 Towns #74: Clinton

August 18th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #74: Clinton

#74 Clinton: Bluefish 5K

This race wins the award, so far, for most complicated and well-organized offsite parking scheme. I parked my car in a school parking lot and was driven to the race start, in another school parking lot, by school bus. I was the only passenger on the bus when I rode over, so I got the entire explanation of where the money went, who was running bag check (very trustworthy, mind you) and a rundown of the race course. Of course, I decided to walk my stuff back and just leave it in the car, and then catch another shuttle back to the start again. The race had a nice course, and the weather was great, though I was on the slow side.

Steward’s Ace Hardware Bluefish 5K | 5K | 8/18/18 | 24:27 | 74/169

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169 Towns #73: Oxford

August 12th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #73: Oxford

#73 Oxford: Belly of the Hog 5K

I’ve run races in most nearby towns, but a few still remain, and it’s nice to be able to travel just up the way a bit to knock one out. Oxford is one of them, and I was excited to run a race put on by Black Hog, the great brewery somewhat incongruously located in a business park in the middle of nowhere. It had been awhile since I’d been to the brewery, and they’d changed the layout, moved things around inside, and, if I’m recalling correctly, built a bathroom, which was a useful addition, especially on race day.

The field was made up mostly by 169ers, it seemed, and apparently this was actually the third date the race had had. The first was postponed due to weather, and the second cancelled because it wasn’t approved by the town, or so I heard. We weren’t able to run the race on the trail route that had been planned, thanks to the trees that were still down from the hurricane earlier this year. It stayed dry during the race, and we all gathered at the brewery for a complimentary pint afterward, which was a nice treat.

Belly of the Hog | 5K | 8/12/18 | 26:48 | 73/169

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169 Towns #72: Andover

August 5th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #72: Andover

#72 Andover: Hop River 5K

I don’t think I’d heard of Andover before deciding (last night) to run here—yet another town I associated with Massachusetts, rather than Connecticut. It’s been raining off and on for the past week, a little every day, and it rained on the way to the race. Things cleared up once I got into Andover, and I found street parking on a little switchback in front of the town senior center, where the race started.

Of course, it started raining again about a half hour before race time. As we lined up to start, it really started coming down. At that point, you just have to embrace it. Once you’re completely and utterly wet, it doesn’t really matter, and you no longer bother avoiding puddles or getting splashed. It ended up being pretty pleasant, with temperatures in the mid-70s, with a nice, cool rain. While about probably wasn’t the fastest race, I give it a good effort and finished in seventh, in a somewhat limited field.

Hop River 5K | 5K | 8/4/18 | 23:43 | 72/169

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169 Towns #71: West Haven

July 16th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #71: West Haven

#71 West Haven: Savin Rock 5K

The whole family came out for this one, and Grace joined me on the course for the 5K. We had a good time, and she did a great job, taking just a few short walk breaks along the course, and really giving it her all. We used every technique in the book—”run to that fence, then walk for ten seconds,” “catch up to that guying the blue shirt, then slow down”—and she stuck with it. By the end, she had enough in the tank to really run for it, and out-sprinted me to the finish line. She ended up coming in first in her age group (2-9!), and sheepishly picked up a pint glass prize afterwards.

Savin Rock 5K | 5K | 7/15/18 | 33:57 | 71/169

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169 Towns #70: Redding

June 30th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #70: Redding

#70 Redding: Rock 'N Roots 9k

Redding isn’t that far from here, but my maps app took me what seemed like a fairly out-of-the way route to get there, along lots of great little roads with no other cars. After a half hour of this, all of a sudden I turned a corner and there was a police car, a line of runners cars waiting to get into a parking lot, two guys in Revolutionary War costume, a portable smoker, and a giant barn full of T-shirts, trophies, and people picking up their bibs. This qualifies as one of the bigger races I’ve run, and was really well organized, with people directing parking, personalized bibs if you registered early enough, and lots of familiar faces from some of the previous 69 races I have run. Plus a half dozen of the aforementioned reenactors.

As we milled around waiting for the start, I heard lots of people talking about the terrain, and the difficulty of the race, so was feeling forewarned. I ended up spotting a guy wearing an Amherst hat, and caught up with him and his classmates afterward, including a fellow DQ member. I had no illusions that I was going to overcome their 20-year advantage, but I It was indeed a tough race, with a few killer hills, plus it was 4km longer than anything I’ve run in the last year, so my body wasn’t too prepared for it.

Redding Rock ‘N Roots 9k | 9K | 6/30/18 | 44:54 | 70/169

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169 Towns #69: Glastonbury

June 25th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #69: Glastonbury

#69 Glastonbury: Glastonbury River Runners Firecracker 5K

I’d always wanted to visit Glastonbury, but was more interested in the festival in Somerset, rather than a town south of Hartford. Nevertheless, I head here, parked along a narrow country road, and found the race start in a little park. The course took us along small town streets, in a sort of loop, with a little variety and some small. I worked to slowly catch up with people, while also keeping those behind me at bay, and ended up running pretty consistently and managed to come in twelfth, placing second in my group. The atmosphere was nice, but the organization was a little lacking—over the course of the post-race period, people gradually took most of the prizes, because they weren’t marked as prizes and no one was watching. There ended up being such a delay between the end of the race and the awards that most people weren’t around to accept theirs, but oh well. I’m sure they’ll get it together next time.

Glastonbury River Runners Firecracker 5K | 5K | 6/24/18 | 22:35 | 69/169

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169 Towns #68: Mansfield

June 9th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #68: Mansfield

169 Towns #68: Mansfield

I’m never quite sure how these town designations work; I showed up for this race in Mansfield, but as I pulled into the high school parking lot, right next to the University of Connecticut, Storrs, it seemed to me that I was in Storrs. I figured if it was listed on the club site, it would count somewhere, and I hadn’t run there yet, so I was OK. Then when there was no starting line, and no starting gun, and just a guy yelling, rather quietly, “Run!” I was slightly concerned. We all looked at each other, and then agreed that he must have been trying to start the race, so we took off.

I felt good, and kept in the top ten, even passing some people in mile 2,, but at a certain point, the group stretched out, no one was in front of me, and there was absolutely no course marking as we ran through the construction zone that is the University. I ran vaguely in the same direction as we’d been going, but was definitely not on the course anymore. I ended up running down some great big hill toward the main street I came in on just to get my bearings. A 5k turned into a 3.5 mile race, and I lost two or three minutes, which was a bummer, seeing how good I felt about the first 2/3rds. I somehow still ended up first in my age group, which was a nice surprise.

Friends of E. O. Smith Crew 5K | 5K (3.5m) | 6/9/18 | 26:48 | 68/169

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169 Towns #67: Norfolk

May 29th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #67: Norfolk

169 Towns #67: Norfolk

I’d been to Norfolk for work before, and knew it was a beautiful little town up in the northwest corner of the state. The race was obviously a big event for the town, and it had a great feel, a nice sense of community around it. It was a really nice course, on the challenging side, with uphills following every downhill, as we wound through the woods on paved roads. I felt like I kept a good pace, and then pushed it at the end to get in under 40 minutes. As I finished, the last guy I passed near the end immediately asked my age, and at that moment, I recognized him, because the exact same thing had happened before, and he gleefully informed me he was fifteen years older than me. Whatever does it for you…

Norfolk VFD Memorial Day Race | 5M | 5/28/18 | 39:57 | 67/169

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