This was my 7th time running Hartford and my 6th time pacing. This year I paced the 4-hour pace group.
I had volunteered Thursday night in
the park with my friend Carolynn from Minnesota that I persuaded to run our CT race. The next morning, we got up and volunteered again, but our tasks changed from hanging signs to now decorating the park with bails of hay and corn stalks.
It was pretty cool to see it all come together. When we left, I discovered I must be allergic to the hay or something in the corn stalks as my wrists were itchy and bright red. I was glad that it cleared up by the time I got home.
we got our race gear together and went to bed early excited to see what the 26th Hartford marathon would bring!
Race morning was cool, and the rain had finally left. It was looking like a picture-perfect day for a marathon! We
found our Fleet Feet friends and took a group photo and dedicated it to our friend Kathikeyan who was injured and couldn’t run. He had provided our Fleet Feet marathon training group with his “Usain Bolt” pose that he became famous
for in many of our training runs! After the group photo we parted ways, hugging and wishing our friends to have a great race.
We got our pace signs and stood out side the Bushnell meeting runners with the same time goal. I met Michelle who
wanted to run with our 4 hours group. She was my age, so we shared a lot of “seasoned” runners’ struggles. We stuck together chatting until the last few miles where she was running strong and pulled ahead. We had a pretty good
size group and we all kept together for the majority of distance, some pulled ahead, and some fell behind.
The miles flew by in a blink! It’s a comforting feeling going by certain sections that I’ve run so many times during lunch or
even at the Hartford Scrambles. I kept looking at my watch making sure that we weren’t going too fast and to keep us in check. We noticed that the mile markers were not aligned with our watches, so we had to base our pace against the mile
markers and not our watches otherwise we'd finish over the 4 hour time. My legs were still tired from the Twin Cities marathon and my left calf was already feeling tired, so I started taking salt early in the miles. Having a purpose and knowing
that I had runners that were counting on Kim and I to get to the finish kept me running strong. Before we knew it, we were on our way back to Hartford. At this point our runners were starting to pull away from us and we were getting new runners that
wanted to finish around 4 hours. We also had one guy that saw us and said “Oh no! I have been trying to keep a head of your pace group”! That is the worst feeling!
We started running down to the finish and saw so many people
cheering us on! The cheering was non-stop! I looked ahead, and I saw Kim putting his hand out for me to grab. I grabbed his hand and looked up at the clock. 3:59:57. Kim said, “Come on Jeanne, we got this” and we crossed
the finish line 4:00:00. We nailed it! It was pretty incredible. We had so many runners high-fiving us and thanking us. I got a bunch of sweaty hugs! The feeling that I had was something that I wish I could bottle up and save: joy,
relief, bliss, trill, satisfaction, gratefulness, and truly blessed. That’s why we volunteer to pace. We got our medals, got massages and headed to the VIP tent to cheer runners. This is my favorite part! We did the same thing last
year. We were able to see #TEAMKASSI come in that brought me to tears as this team was very near and dear to my heart. We had 2 runners in our Fleet Feet marathon group that lost their daughter/niece to leukemia at the young age of 12. We wore
a bib on our back in her honor. I got to see Ralph Blanchette cross running his 100th marathon. I ran my first marathon with him! Next was Pete Hawley crossing who has run all 26 Hartford Marathons. Pretty incredible. We waited
until Amy (from team HMF) who crossed running the 6:00 hour pace group.
I was saying goodbye to my friends and looked up and saw Beth Schluger, the HMF race director. I looked at her and thought to myself, This incredible woman, I wonder
what she’s thinking right now as she’s watching so many runners hugging and smiling. The feeling of fulfillments and being proud and realized that she did it again. She pulled off another top-notch event. It’s got to be
somewhat surreal. What she has brought to our community by encouraging and letting people know that dreams really do come true; never give up on what you believe in and if you have a dream or a vision, that anything is possible if you follow your heart.
Thank you, Beth, for giving me and so many runners memories that will last a lifetime!