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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169 Towns #66: Stafford

May 21st, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #66: Stafford

169 Towns #66: Stafford

It had been awhile since I’d had a chance to do a trail race, and with perfect weather—cool with a nice mist in the air—this was a great opportunity to get back into it. With all of the announcements about the markings on the course, I was worred this might be another poorly marked fiasco, but it turns out they really did know what they were doing, and it was very well marked. Lots of single-track, some dirt roads, and even a hand-over-hand ascent up a sand hill, made for an interesting race, and it was a fun day. There’s something special about the combination of mental and physical test you’re put through in a trail race. The tasty chili at the end was a plus, too.

Soapstone Mountain Race 6K Sampler | 6K | 5/20/18 | 34:59 | 66/169

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169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

May 7th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

With the long-awaited turn to nice weather, it was time to get back out with Grace and do another 5K. The course was pretty flat, and we did a good combination of walking and running. This time around, though, there was more wondering aloud and bargaining about how long the race was, how long it would be until we could walk again, and so on. Maybe the novelty is gone, and now it’s just the not particularly fun activity of running for 30+ minutes, who knows. She did a great job, though, and still seemed up for the idea of another one afterwards, which is good. Lucy did the very brief fun run, and the girls both enjoyed some crafts courtesy of the volunteers.

Seaside Shuffle | 5K | 5/6/18 | 34:38 | 65/169

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169 Towns #64: Waterford

April 8th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #64: Waterford

169 Towns #64: Waterford

I’m at the point (about a third of the way through the towns) where I’m sometimes not completely certain whether I’ve run a race in any given town. If you’d told me I’d run in Waterford before, I’d probably believed you, but apparently I hadn’t.

40° is about my lower limit for shorts and t-shirt, and it was supposed to be about there today, but by the time I got to the race location, the wind was blowing, and I discovered that the course was along the coast, which turned out, unsurprisingly, to be pretty cold. I kept up, and felt pretty good, but as I got near the finish and was only at 2 miles by my watch, I was a little confused. We were directed to run a loop near the end one more time, but even that didn’t bring us up to 3.1m. So, everyone had a nice little treat, and we ran a 2.3m 5K.

Run to Recovery | 5K (2.3m) | 4/7/18 | 18:42 | 64/169

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169 Towns #63: Litchfield

February 18th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #63: Litchfield

169 Towns #63: Litchfield

It had been two months to the day since I’d run a race, and while a 5 miler wasn’t perhaps the best way to come back from some time off, it fit into the schedule. My time off had been due a combination of the busy holiday season and weather-related lack of races, and also because I’d pulled something in my left hip while pushing too hard after a week off over Christmas in Alaska.

I felt well enough to get back into things, and as always, today’s race was the one on the calendar that took place in a town I hadn’t run in before, that was early enough in the day to not be too disruptive, and close enough that I wouldn’t be gone all morning. The race was well organized and an obviously popular annual event. I tried to pace myself, but having been out of it for a few months, combined with my general inability to pace myself on races over 5K, I flagged near the end, but still felt like I put in a decent time. It was a little chilly, but could have been worse.

Sweetheart Run | 5M | 2/17/18 | 41:38 | 63/169

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169 Towns #62: Fairfield

December 17th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #62: Fairfield

169 Towns #62: Fairfield

I arrived at the Scandinavian Club just a few minutes before the start, with just enough time to register, drop off my donated toy, head back to my car to drop my wallet and keys, and run back to the starting line. I can tell you there is not a lot of parking down in that particular neck of Fairfield… We started the race running through the back alleys down by the water, which would have been fun to do the whole race, but wasn’t to be. I managed to pick off a few folks I was running with, though the cold temperatures today were not conducive to a speedy race. I somehow managed my fastest 5K since June, but I have a feeling the course was little short. It felt good to get one more race in before the end of the year, and the soup, chips, and salsa after the finish was a first. The race was nicely organized and friendly, with some good costumes going on.

I ended my second full year of the 169 Towns challenge with 25 more in my belt over the course of the year. Overall, I ran 27 races in the year, so I’ve been sticking pretty closely to the new towns, with only the annual Leatherman’s Loop and Bagel Race as returning races. We’ll see what the new year brings!

Holiday Run for Toys | 5K | 12/17/17 | 22:25 | 62/169

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169 Towns #61: Killingly

December 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #61: Killingly

169 Towns #61: Killingly

Killingly may not technically be the farthest away as the crow flies, but it’s close when it comes to how long it takes to actually get there, a combination of sheer distance and also removal from either I-84 or I-395. It was about an hour and a half to get out to this corner of the state, on a quiet morning after our first snow of the season, a decent snowfall that actually covered everything and looked great.

The race was at Ellis Tech High School, perhaps the first high school I’ve been to that backs into a small plane airstrip. We were informed that if we managed to beat the race organizer, who referred to himself as “Jingles Tinseltoes” and was dressed as an elf and gave us all a one-minute head start, we’d be presented with a certificate attesting to that fact. Not many managed to—just six—and I wasn’t one of them… But thanks to his status as a pacer, he didn’t end up counting in our age group, so hey, I managed a second place finish. I tried hard to stay ahead of him, and then catch up with him, which helped push me to what felt like a pretty fast finish.

Reindeer Dash | 2.5M | 12/10/17 | 19:45 | 61/169

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169 Towns #60: Weston

October 29th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #60: Weston

169 Towns #60: Weston

This was not the greatest day for a race, but I’ve been pretty lucky over the year, so I didn’t mind. It was a rainy day, and I misjudged when and where the 5K would start, not realizing the half marathon would start a good five minutes before our race. We all stood around waiting for the half runners to run by us before we, the few 5Kers, got to start. We were all going to get wet anyway, but it wasn’t a great way to start. It was a fine, if uneventful race. I didn’t feel particularly fast today, and wasn’t. 60 feels like a pretty big number, but 109 left to go also sounds pretty daunting.

Reservoir Run | 5K | 10/29/17 | 23:44 | 60/169

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169 Towns #59: Portland

October 14th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #59: Portland

#59 Portland: Zombie Run

It didn’t turn out to have too much of a zombie element to it, but I really enjoyed the setting of this race, which ran in part along the old Portland Brownstone Quarries, a National Historic Landmark. The course passed the quarries and then meandered through a few neighborhoods before ending up back at the park where it began.

Portland Zombie Run | 5K | 10/14/17 | 23:26 | 59/169

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169 Towns #58: Seymour

October 7th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #58: Seymour

#58 Seymour: Pounding the Pavement for Pink 5K

While my dad ended up injuring himself before the race, meaning we didn’t have three generations of runners represented, I was happy to have the chance to run with Grace again, in her second 5K. She did great, though the course was tougher than the previous race we ran together, and the hills took their toll on us early. There was quite a crowd, the biggest race I’d run since the Manchester Road Race last year, and we enjoyed watching the crazy costumes and enthusiastic cheering sections. Grace ran and walked in half and half proportions, I’d say, and had a great finishing kick that surprised us both, I think.

Pounding the Pavement for Pink | 5K | 10/7/17 | 37:39 | 58/169

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