Happy Saturday! I wasn’t brave (or crazy) enough to battle the crowds for deals yesterday but more power to you if you were! Looked like there were some great deals to be had. My mom and brother are here until today, so we had a few fun outings on the menu yesterday, including a trip to Devil’s Hopyard and Gillette Castle. In addition, we’re went to the Meshantucket Pequot Museum out by Foxwoods. I am planning to do my inaugural “Exploring CT/RI” post on these three places tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that!
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We kicked off the morning with the 34th Annual Soundrunner Madison Turkey Trot, held at Hammonasset State Park. This was our second time doing this 5 mile race – the first was in 2010, the year we moved to Connecticut. Last year, we did the Manchester Road Race and decided to try the Madison race again, given the chaos and crowds of Manchester. From what I remember, the Madison race is great because its a) relatively well-organized, b) on a flat-as-a-pancake course, and c) attracts a pretty competitive crowd of runners. You won’t see the elaborate costumes and get-ups, nor will you get stuck behind strollers and walkers like at Manchester. As you can tell, Manchester was not a race I’d like to do again (unless I had a seed card).
Starting Line, 2012 Madison Turkey Trot (photo courtesy of my brother)
started is supposed to start at 10 AM, so we got to Hammonasset around 9:15 AM. Madison is about 25 minutes from Groton and is a straight shot down 95 South. We had some issues getting out of the parking in 2010, so we made sure to stay away from the main parking lot by the start/finish area and park closer to the entrance on a side road. This made getting out much easier.
We had my mom and brother wait in the bathroom line for us as we made our way over to collect our bibs and shirts. We waited 20 + minutes before for the bathroom, so I figured we’d kill 2 birds with 1 stone. The early entry fee is $20 and we got a bib, a B-Tag and a long sleeved cotton shirt. This is what we received in 2010 as well. I’m not sure why the race organizers are still choosing cotton shirts over tech tees. The cotton shirt has at least 8 to 10 separate colors on it, so it can’t be cheap to screen print. You’d likely spend the same amount on a basic technical shirt with 1-2 colors in it. Regardless, the design on the front of the shirt was cute and the volunteers in the Registration tent made getting our stuff easy. We were able to re-join my mom and brother within 3-4 minutes. The bathroom line moved a lot faster this year (they must have added more toilets since 2010) and we were able to get situated and warmed up with 15 minutes to spare.
This year’s shirt and bib
I was surprised to see how many people at turned out for the race. The results show that 2472 people completed the 5 mile race. There was also a 2 mile walk on a separate course that was dog and stroller friendly that seemed to attract a good amount of people.
We made our way into the starting line chute around 9:50 AM. It was a great day to run – sunny, around 50 degrees and light winds. I wore my short-sleeved Brooks tech shirt that I got from the Providence Rock n’ Roll race, my Lucy capris, my Darn Tough socks and my Adidas Boston 3′s. I also wore sunglasses and one of my trusty Sweaty Bands. I probably could have worn shorts and been fine. I saw a lot of people wearing fleece hats and gloves and long-sleeves and I’d imagine they got pretty hot out there with the sun beating down. Remember, always dress for a run outside as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. You might be a little cold at first but it’s better than over-heating and having to spend precious seconds removing layers within the first few miles of a race.
Pre-race, getting ready to run
The 5 mile course is supposed to start at 10 AM but didn’t start until 10:10 AM. This happened in 2010 as well. I’m not sure why the race organizers don’t just change the official start time to 10:10 AM but it’s a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of well-run event. Dave and I started towards the front as to avoid a lot of the dodging and weaving that comes along with larger races. After the National Anthem and a few opening remarks, the gun sounded and we were off.
A guy always runs in a full turkey costume – must have been boiling in there!
The 5 mile course loops around Hammonasset State Park, with three out and back sections. It’s great for spectators, as you can easily navigate the course and see your runner a few times, if you wanted. The first two miles takes you away from the beach area along the main road going into the park. You come out of the starting line and hang a left around the rotary. The runners around me went out pretty fast but there is still the normal jostling for position for the first 1/2 mile or so. I had to run on the grass to get around some joggers but it wasn’t anything like Manchester, where I spent the entire 4 miles trying to get around people. I thought I had synced my Garmin up before the start but realized that it had gone into Power Save mode right before the gun, so I wasn’t able to start my watch until 0.4 miles in. I was able to get into a comfortable position after the rotary and fell into a 6:50 pace. Dave was somewhere behind me but I never got to see him until the end.
Course Map Source
I felt good throughout the first 2 miles. I’m not sure of my first mile split (likely around 7:00 even). The 2nd mile brought us back towards the starting line, which is where the bulk of the spectators were hanging out. My 2nd mile split clocked in at 6:54. It was nice getting to see the runners on the other side of the road at all the turn around’s. This helps distract me, as I like to look at what other people are wearing. We headed back towards the rotary and went out to the longest of the three loops. I was starting to slow down a bit, as I usually do during this point of a 5 or 6 miler.
A view from the third loop
As I came up to the the 3rd mile marker, I saw the front pack come through the 4 mile marker. It looked like they were duking it out and it inspired me to push a little faster. My 3rd mile split was 7:10. The third out-and-back was the most scenic, as it runs towards the shoreline, and there were great views of the sound and the beach. I went through the turn around point (roughly 3.5 miles) and decided to pick it up to the finish. I tried to pin point some other females ahead of me and close the gap, which usually helps me increase my pace. I think some other males did the same, because I got passed by 5 or 6 men in as many minutes as we came closer to the finish. My 4th mile split was 7:03.
The final mile takes you around the rotary again and back towards the start. This was the hardest part of the race for me, as it’s a long stretch where you can see the starting and finish line structure but it seems like it’s incredibly far away. A guy who I had been going back and forth with the whole race came up next to me and we battled it until the end. I sprinted it out, but he got me. My last mile came in at 6:58, for a final time of 35:40 (7:04 average). I was 170th overall and 6th out of 164 in my division (25-29).
Sprint to the finish
Dave came in right behind me at 35:55 (7:13 average) for 182 overall and 14th in his division.
There was plenty of bananas, oranges and bottled water at the finish, plus clam chowder. We took some fruit for the road and left pretty quickly after we met up with my family. I figured I hadn’t placed in my age group and we had a thanksgiving dinner to get cooking.
Overall, I thought the race was well-organized and well-executed given the size of the turn-out. I’d like to see a tech shirt instead of cotton and have the race start at the time they advertise, but other than that, I have no complaints. If you’re looking for a great, less crowded alternative to Manchester where you can really stretch your legs and get a great time, this race is a good bet. We’ll be back next year!
Side note: Both Dave and I are doing the 2012 Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak, where you run at least a mile a day from now until New Year’s Day. We did the summer run streak and it was a great way to stay accountable and get moving. Follow my progress via my Twitter feed.