Well, I came in with a goal of just finishing before the clock ran down to 0. I succeeded! My calves and shins behaved surprisingly well, but it wasn’t a cake walk by any stretch. My finish time was 2:19 with a pace of 10:25. Not bad all things considered.

The long version

I woke up at 5:45. All of my gear was setup the night before, so it was just a matter of going through the motions. My wife, sister-in-law, and I had our breakfasts. Mine was a ham omelet, a banana, and coffee. My mom arrived at around 6:20 to watch the kids while we raced. All the ruckus of getting ready to go and last minute instructions for my mom was enough to wake the two oldest boys up. They came staggering out of the bedroom. It was actually great to be able to give them hugs and kisses before we left. We arrived in Hartford by 7:10 or so. Stopped at my office to use the facilities, and jogged over to Bushnell park to prep for the race. One of the cool amenities of the race was that UPS left trucks out to store the athlete’s gear. We were able to check a bag at the truck and have our gear right there when the race was over. Every race should be like this. By 7:50 or so we were in line and ready to go. I didn’t feel that nervous, but my heart rate monitor told me otherwise. Just standing there my heart rate was at 130. Yikes. The national anthem was sung, the gun went off, and we were off. I kissed my wife, wished her luck, and ran my race.

The First Half
As I started out I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the mass of humanity in front of me. 13,000 people filling the road, all with different goals but all moving in the same direction. I glanced up and saw a man doing the half marathon on crutches, he was missing a leg, it was incredible and made me realize how insignificant my little pains were.

My plan was to continue my run 4 walk 1 process. It worked well in training, so I wanted to continue it to help my IT bands and my shins. Unfortunately, with so many people all around, stopping was not an option. I continued my run for about 30 minutes before stopping. My pace was slow, a little less than 11 minute miles, but I was plugging along. I took a little of my homemade energy gel and I walked the minute. Then I continued my run.

I hadn’t made out where the mile markers were so I was running blind for a while. After running what I was sure was 5 miles I came across a DJ at Parkville School on Park Street and he was yelling out, “OK you’ve already done 3.5 miles, keep going.” I looked at the guy next to me and said “that’s it?” I wasn’t hurting at all, but it sure felt like I had made more progress than that. The one bright note was that I had no shin or calf pain, I think the rest and the calf sleeves really helped. I knew that if I hadn’t gotten any tightness by now, I was probably going to be ok.

After one of my walks, I looked up and saw my wife just ahead, I ran up to her and said hi. She was surprised to be in front of me, but I wasn’t. She was doing great. She later said she was struggling with her heart rate, but I couldn’t tell.

The race continued more or less uneventfully until mile 5. Just as I approached the mile marker, I finally figured out where they were, I felt a twinge in my left knee. When I run for long distances I get two kinds of pains. A small twinge below my knee cap, and a light burning on the outside of my knee. The twinge usually goes away in no time, the burning usually turns into horrible IT band pain. After another quarter mile or so I came to the awful realization that the twinge was a burn, and that I was starting to get that IT band pain once more. Eight miles left, how on earth was I going to make it?

The Second Half
I had a huge range of emotions at this point. I was mad that I was hurting already. I was confused since I have never had IT band pains while wearing knee braces, and I was concerned, I have never been able to run more than a mile or two after my IT bands start to hurt. Right then and there I started to doubt the finish. I decided to just tough it out and see how it went.

I crossed the half way point at about 1:06. I told myself I just had to get to mile 10, then, if I had to, I could walk it the rest of the way. I broke the race into 4 minute chunks. I would tell myself, ok, just run for 4 minutes and you can have a walk break. The walks were thankfully pain free so they were a bit of a welcome relief and when I started running again it didn’t hurt right away.

I used the pain as a barometer of how I was doing. I looked at the watch during the run when the pain started up to see if things were getting better or worse. Sometimes I could run 3 minutes before the pain got bad. Sometimes I would be limp running within 2 minutes of starting to run. It wasn’t consistent, so I really couldn’t tell if things were getting better or worse. Downhills hurt a lot, uphills hurt a little, and flats were bearable.

Even through all that, I was aware of my surroundings, and I ran over to any kid on any side of the street with their hand out for a high five. It was so nice of everyone to be out there watching us and cheering us on, the kids were great, and although my kids weren’t able to be there, the kids in the street were a small stand in that reminded me of my kids and kept me going.

As I entered Elizabeth Park I started to pep up. Joe, a friend of ours from the YMCA tri club, said he was going to be in the park to cheer us on. I scanned the sides of the street, and suddenly he was right there in front of me. It was a sight for sore eyes (ok maybe sore knees). I didn’t say a word, I was in too much pain, but I gave him a huge high five and a big grin. From that moment on, the pain was gone. I felt pep in my step, and I knew that I could do it. Before long I was at the 10 mile mark, the home stretch, I’ve got this.

The Home Stretch
As I turned onto Farmington Avenue I started to pour it on. I ran through the group and made some headway. The pain in my knees had gone numb, and I just wanted to see the finish. I saw the last mile marker, this was it, there was no way I wasn’t going to make it now.

As I made my final approach, I saw the Soldier’s and Sailor’s arch in the distance and I knew I just had to make it under there and I was done. As I turned the corner the crowd got thick and I could hear a roar from everyone as the runners streamed through the finish. As I looked out at the crowd, and the cheers washed over me, I was overcome with emotion. My eyes welled up, I did it, all this training, this moment is what it’s for. As I ran through the finish I pumped my fists in the air. I made it.

Time: 2:16:26
Pace: 10:25
Place: 3135 / 4623 A/G 267/322

Post Race
After the race I grabbed my medal and had something to eat. When I got home my IT bands were on fire. I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It took some Ibuprofen and sat with my kids. It was a perfect ending to an amazing day.

Lessons Learned
Well, there were a few. I need to seriously strengthen my knees and legs. This IT band issue will be the death of me if I can’t get it figured out. I am building a slide board, and am starting a P90X regiment next week. I’m getting back to spin and swim as well. Time to prepare to finish strong next year.

Another lesson I learned, you can push through the pain. Eventually your body will stop hurting. Of course there is a fine line there. Ignoring the wrong pain can cause serious injuries. I will listen to my body as I push, and hopefully that will let me know when I should stop.

Also, I learned that my endurance is pretty good. I came in at pretty close to my training pace, and I felt fantastic in terms of energy and endurance. In fact, other than my IT bands I wasn’t hurting at all. I’m sure I could have pushed the pace by quite a bit had I not had the IT band issues. (Yet another reason to get those IT bands under control.)

Finally, I think that my IT bands hurt so much because of all the dodging I did to get around people. I don’t do that in training at all, so doing it in this race just put me over the edge.

So, for now, a week or two off, and then back to training and planning my race card next year. Maybe even a full marathon, who knows.


I want to congratulate my wife and sister-in-law for running a great race, it was great to experience that with them.

I want to thank my mom for watching the kids so that we could do this race. It was barely more than a year ago that I sat in a hospital room for a month watching her in a medically induced coma, not knowing if she was going to survive her aneurysm, today she is recovered and doing really well. Thanks for being there for us.

I also wanted to thank Joe for helping me finish the race, it is indescribable how good it is to see a familiar face in a crowd and know that there is someone there rooting for you.

Finally, I want to thank everyone that came out to cheer us on. What an amazing feeling to have this unity and support, I’ll never forget this moment, and the great crowd made it all the better.