Sunday, June 22, 2008

pam's fairfield half marathon race report: guest post

i'm so happy to post my friend pam's race report from the fairfield half marathon. we were the only two members of our 9 person team who didn't get to run our legs of the "need for speed" relay 2 weeks ago! it seemed like the weather conditions which led to the cancellation of the relay some managed to follow us, albeit in a less severe version, to fairfield! but a little heat and humidity didn't stop us from finishing today :D

Today I had the pleasure of running in a race that was so incredibly well managed - - - a refreshing change from two weeks ago when my wonderful team (Trying to Catch the Wind) attempted to finish the Need for Speed Relay. Every aspect of this race (the Fairfield ½ Marathon) was well managed - - - from easy check in, to very frequent water/GU2O stations (every 1.5 – 2 miles), numerous misting hoses along the course, several bands playing to cheer us on (although I could have done without the bagpipes J), many port-o-johns along the way, tons of water at the finish, an amazing display of food at the finish (pizza, bagels, yogurt, juice, watermelon, bananas, and so on) and the ultimate cool off zone (the Long Island Sound) right at the finish. I couldn’t have asked for more in the management of this race … Runner’s World magazine was right on in naming this race as Race of the Month for June, 2008.

All that said, what a HARD day it was. This was my third half marathon and I knew it wasn’t going to be a strong day very early on. By mile three I was already questioning whether I could finish, forget about setting a PR. I seriously was factoring in how disappointed I’d be in myself if I dropped out and walked back to my car. But, knowing that Emmy and Frank (and friends who live in Fairfield) were going to be at the finish helped me power on (along with lots of Shot Blocks, GU, etc.).

I think of this race as the race of the H's - - - hazy, hot, humid, hilly, hard, hydration, and so on. I finished the Gatorade in my waist belt by mile 3. Since I have never mastered drinking from a cup on the run, I was reduced to walking at the hydration stations so I can keep hydrated - - - not a good thing for cramping of the calves but I managed through it.

The hill starting around mile 4 was tremendous, the elevation map doesn’t do it justice. It seemed like it was never going to end. I kept looking for that long recovery down hill to start and it was some time before it hit. But, my husband taught me to power up the hills (he was a cross country runner in high school) so I kept that notion in mind and got through the hills, walking only at one which was right after a water station. By the end of this hill I was thinking “won’t it be nice just to finish, forget about a PR, forget about 2 hours, just FINISH!”

Once we got to about mile 8 the rest of the race was relatively flat with just a few short hills to get through and lots of down hill time (was able to make up some good time here). But, the one round about mile 10 was killer because the legs were quite tired at that point. Everyone really seemed to struggle up that hill.

Not only was the race well managed, but it was nicely attended by the people living in the area. There were plenty of small children smiling up at you as they waited for you to slap them five as you were running by. I even got tossed a Munchkin (and caught it!) by a cutie pie around mile 9.

So, my only constructive criticism is the last 1/10 of a mile was on a gravel road leading to the parking lot. I found that very tough on the tired feet.

In the end I finished just two minutes off my PR for a half marathon (1:56:43), something I was very happy with given how out of the “game” I was mentally and physically during the race. I really didn’t think I’d finish. I placed well too for me - - - in the top ¼ of women and women in my age group. But, the best part of the whole day - - - seeing my friend Joanna and her boys at the finish cheering me on and bumping into Frank and Emmy on the beach.

So, my hat is off to the Fairfield Fire Department for managing a race so well. I look forward to coming back and running it again next year.


CTmarathoner said...

Pam ---congratulations and great report. Admittingly, the course is beautiful and lots of spectators do cheer along the course and they do a good job with the hoses, and the food and amentities. When the conditions are that bad, though, it is mentally tough at mile 4-5 to keep going, knowing that you have 8 miles to go!!! and one needs lots of water/electrolate beverages -so you did the right thing by stopping for fluids. BTW, when I am not having good race, I DO NOT look at the clock and just try and relax and forget about my time (split times don't mean anything when you don't feel good). The last stretch on the dirt road is difficult, also. You should be proud of yourself for placing so well, and glad that you turned your race into a positive experience (runners have short memories so am sure you'll be back to that race):)

Laura said...

Great job on a tough day for running!

Pam said...

Thanks Emmy. I am still new at this racing thing (yesterday was my 10th race in total) so each time out I learn something new about my body, mental toughness, strategy, etc. It was disappointing to me to have to walk at the water stations but I eventually figured that was better than having to give up completely. And, at some point I was no longer looking at my watch ... just hoping to finish while still running. Hopefully the weather Gods will be nice to us on July 4th. You have any pull with "them"?