I know that Colby is writing a recap of the FFH (the second F and H stand for Fairfield Half – I’ll let you decide what the first F stands for), but since we’re pretty sure that this was our last Fairfield Half, I think we can write 2 recaps. Right?
Here’s what my recap would read if I were allowed only 3 lines:
It was hot.
It was humid.
I think it was my last Fairfield Half.
But of course, there was so much more than that…
Like Vermont Covered Bridges, the course is beautiful, winding through great beach neighborhoods and along the Long Island Sound coastline. Whereas Vermont Covered Bridges showcases the quaint, small-town rural beauty of New England, the Fairfield Half highlights another beautiful side to New England. We got beaches, baby!
But both were hot, and alas, I did not fully get to enjoy the beauty of either course. I was instead focused on how to finish without avoiding medical attention.
6:45 AM. Colby arrives. Door opens and a blast of already hot & humid air follows her into my house. We have a philosophical discussion regarding why we are even doing this. Do not come up with an answer. Just laugh. Nervously.
7:15. Out the door. My son and his band are playing on the race route between miles 4-5, so we get him ready, chat a minute with the parent of one of his bandmates who is taking them to set up, and we are off.
7:30. Park the car and take a hot, steamy 1-mile walk to the race area, which is on the beach. Get bibs, check bags, hit porta-potties a million times. Start to overheat in the relentless sun. Instantly reminded of the fact that there is NO SHADE at the beach.
8:20. Line up for the start on a road with NO SHADE. Wait for start under a relentless sun. Sensing a theme?
8:30 – and we’re off. Excited to start so I can finish. Not the best attitude for a long race.
Miles 1-3. Horrible. Trying to shake off the overheated feeling from standing in the sun for an hour. Course is not easy. Hills, lots of crowding, barely any shade. Cannot get a good rhythm. Hope I at least make it to mile 4.5 so I can see my son’s band. Contemplate dropping out there and pretending that I just thought they needed support. Contemplate how much easier my life might be if I was someone who would ever do that.
Mile 3 – hear sirens, see fire truck making its way through the runners. As I get closer to mile 3.5, I see a very fit looking woman down by the side of the road getting oxygen. Scares the bejeezus out of me. Stop and take a drink of water from my water bottle (as if it will help). Wonder why I run – not just this race, but ever. Yes, it was that miserable.
Miles 3.5-5. Meh. Still don’t feel great about this race. Hot, feel like I am running through hot molasses. At mile 4.5, I see my son’s band and they are KILLING IT!! The runners all love them, and seeing them up there boosts my spirits for sure. As I am waving my hands wildly toward them, my water bottle holder loosens and my hands are so sweaty that I cannot get back on tightly. Stop by side of the road just before mile 5 and adjust. Mother of one of my son’s bandmates comes running up to take my picture, notices me by the side of the road and looks scared. Reassure her that it is a “wardrobe malfunction,” not a medical event, complain briefly about heat and move on.
Miles 5-9. Better!! Running crowd has thinned out a lot. Course is flat at this point and there are some (though not enough!!) pockets of shade. Seem to have shaken off of the heat from standing in the sun and at least the movement of running has generated a hint of breeze for me. Start to feel like I am in a groove. A hot, miserable groove, but a groove nonetheless.
Mile 9 – see another extremely fit person – this time a man – receiving medical attention by the side of the road. Get a little bit ascared again. Stop and drink from my water bottle (as if it will help). Pop a few jellybeans into my mouth (as if it will help).
Mile 9-10. Feel like hell. Check to see if I’m still sweating. I am. Profusely. Arms look like I have baby oiled them up 1980’s-style. This is good. I keep going. Two huge hills in this part of the course. Want to cry but don’t want to waste any of the minute amounts of hydration left in my body. Think about the people who run Badwater and wonder how they do it. Hallucinate a bit and wonder whether I am in fact running Badwater at this very moment and look for a white line to run on so my sneakers don’t melt.
Mile 10. Relief. I am going to finish this race soon. Rest of course is flat. Now I start noticing time. Decide I want to finish in under 2 hours (which I decided on the spot is my new goal for miserable hot half-marathons). Push a little.
Miles 10-12.5. Feel pretty good, considering. Think about how I always feel so much better in the last half of a race than the first half. Wonder if this will help when I run a marathon. Hope and pray that it will. Decide that I actually do like running after all. Just not in the heat.
Mile 12.5. Almost there. See the big “Fairfield Half Marathon” banner across the road. Remember from last year that the banner is NOT the finish line. Finish line is around ¼ mile past it, where there is a humongous American Flag hanging. See people start running hard toward the banner and wonder if they will regret it as much as I did last year.
Finish. Hello, Giant American Flag! Never been so happy to see you. Kick it up a notch and finish strong at 1:57 and change. Am oh, so happy to stop. Head directly to water table and raid it. Commiserate with fellow runners. Keep walking to avoid cramps. Find Colby and shake our heads at why we just did what we did. Make a pact to remind each other not to sign up next year.
Because I HATE being a Debbie Downer, I feel I have to write down a few things that I like about this race. The crowds are AWESOME. There are tons of people lining the race route and lots of enthusiastic kids. There a million sprinkler stations, courtesy of the fire department and friendly neighbors. The race is well run –especially with water stations, which are frequent and well organized. I should know – I stopped at almost every one of them. The bands were fabulous, especially the Boomslangs at mile 4.5. The course truly is beautiful. Much of it actually is on one of my long running routes, and it is spectacular in cool weather, when you can breathe enough to take note of the beautiful neighborhoods and Long Island Sound. Even the killer hills aren’t so bad when you can take a full breath.
But the weather. THE WEATHER! Ugh.