Last year’s Fairfield Half recaps were all about running on the surface of the sun. Well, the headline for this year’s Fairfield half is “We Didn’t Melt!” As Colby reported, it was the coolest weather this race has had. EVAH! Yippee! The race was good – amazing crowds, great course, incredibly well organized by JB Sports. I had a good, though not mind-blowing, time, and felt strong throughout. It was a fun and drama-free race, so I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow recap. But I will share a few thoughts…
- You can run the same race every year and yet run a different race every year. This is the only race I have run 3 times, and it has never felt like the same race. At all. The first year, I had just gotten over Fifth’s Disease (given to me by one of my resident vectors) and thought I was going to need medical attention. I probably should have stopped and sought medical attention. But it was only my second half marathon, so I just figured that it was not uncommon to feel like you were dying while running a half. I now know that I was wrong and probably on the verge of heatstroke. Oh, well. Live and learn. Last year, I was healthy, but it was so freaking hot out, I kept thinking I had slipped onto the Badwater course by accident. This year, the temps were great (for June), the humidity low (for June), and I was free of childhood viruses. The race wasn’t a cakewalk -it was still 13.1 miles – but it was fun. Same race, yet a totally different race each time.
- There is a fine line between running on air and running lightheaded. Around mile 9, I truly felt like I was running on air. It felt great. I’m in the clouds! I could run forever! Then I realized I was running on air but not in a good way – in a dizzy, time-warping kind of way. Turns out my happy buzz was the product of dehydration and a desperate need for an energy boost. Grabbed 2 Gatorades at the next water stop and came back down to earth. Kind of reluctantly, but I knew it was for my own good.
- I have to start races closer to the front, because no one else seems to line up based on pace. I thought that the unwritten rule of racing is that that people are supposed to line up generally by their pace, even when there aren’t markers. Maybe the rule needs to be written and repeated, because I started in the front third, and had to work my way around some walkers within the first half mile. I am not kidding. Walkers. At the front. And yes, they were walking three across. Yes, they were. I don’t even care about my time as much as not ending up in some kind of 5-runner collision. And yeah, I do care about my time a little, too. Yes, I do.
- Almost a year into our relationship, my Garmin and I are still frenemies. I think my Garmin is embarrassed of me because I don’t know how to use it. I’m the worst Garmin user ever. I forgot to hit start when I crossed the starting line, and turned it on a few blocks later. Then I realized that was stupid, since I had no idea where I turned it on so couldn’t keep track of distance anyway, so I turned it off and then turned it on again at mile 2. For the remainder of the race, I had to do math every time I looked at my Garmin. I hate math. And yes, after running 8 miles in the sun, even counting by 2’s can be hard. Next time I think I’m leaving it at home. This is the 3rd race where I have forgotten to turn it on at the right time and I don’t think I have ever remembered to hit stop when I crossed the finish. And I swear I’m not usually a dingbat.
- Running on hot pavement for 13 miles is killer on the feet. Dogs were seriously barking by the end.
- Whether it’s your first race or fiftieth, a great race or a difficult one, long, short, hot, cold, there is nothing like the thrill and relief of crossing a finish line. Nothing!
Shout out to Spartan Shawna, who ran the Fairfield Half for her first half-marathon! In kids’ Nike Frees with no socks! And not much training!. Amazingly, Spartan Shawna finished with a good time and no injuries. Though she be but little, she is fierce!
(We will, of course, get her set up a little better before she tackles the Hartford Marathon in October A little training, here, grown up sneakers and socks, there – it’s all good. Fear not, Spartan Shawna, we’ll hook you up!)
And of course I have to give a shout out to the songs that motivated me most during the race:
1. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Yes it is overplayed. Seriously overplayed. And yes, we are all kind of over it and its bazillion memes. But it came on and of course, I thought about how happy I was. Happy that it was not too hot and humid. Happy that I am healthy and can run a half-marathon. Even happier that I was running a race on a gorgeous course with friends – old and new – and that we were all gathering afterward to hang out, share war stories, and bask in the thrill of the done. A wonderful way to spend a summer Sunday.
2. Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” At mile 9, it was time to get the Led out, and this is one of my favorite Led Zep songs. Given its psychedelic lyrics, it fit in nicely with my lightheadedness- I certainly was enjoying my own groovy trip along with the crowds of people in the song sitting there with flowers in their hair…. at least until I realized I needed a Gatorade and a Gu. Cue the end of the happy half marathon trip. So sad to see it go.
3. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Because I will never get sick of hearing it. Ever. And Dave Grohl’s drumbeat is awesome and perfect for a run.
Tomorrow, “Where in the World is Colby?” heads to NYC and I’ll get to take Colby running in one of my favorite running spots in the world….Central Park!!!! Stay tuned…