I signed up for the Fairfield Half on a whim: I figured it would be a good way of staying in shape after the NJ Marathon, and I’d run it for fun. I also went to school at Fairfield University; so the area is familiar to me, and I used to run on some of the same roads the half marathon routed through.
But after doing so well at NJM, my attitude changed, and I thought maybe I’d try to score a PR at Fairfield. I wasn’t entirely happy with my time of 1:38 from the NYC Half in March, and I knew I should at least be able to break 1:35.
Training in between NJM and Fairfield went well—very well—so when Josh told me I’d run a 1:33:30, I thought he was nuts (as per usual) but I went with it.
The night prior to the half, I hosted Sam, one of the Gotham members, at my house. We had a great time getting to know each other, and I think it helped both of us get our minds off the race.
Race morning went smoothly, and we picked up Jackie before heading south on I95 towards Fairfield. Once we arrived, we picked up our bibs and started our warmup. It was quite fun passing familiar landmarks, such as The Dugout (men’s rowing house), The Point, and The Grape (only centrally-located college bar)—and I was excited that the outside of my knee/IT Band weren’t bothering me too badly. Things were looking up!!
I started sweating during warmups, but that’s normal, and I figured the temperatures would stay in the low-70s until at least 11am.
HA. Yeah right.
Let’s get right into this son of a bitch half marathon.
Starting the race with Jackie (next to me, in blue) was great, and I hoped we might be able to run together.
Mile 1 – 6:50.59
Mile 2 – 7:03.69
Normally, I have PAINFULLY SLOW first miles. But for some reason, I was feeling GREAT, so the first fast two miles felt effortless and the speed didn’t really concern me. Josh told me to commit to the fact that I could and would run a 1:33—a 7:08 pace—so going out a little speedy and having it feel effortless gave me the confidence that I definitely could do it.
Mile 3 – 7:25.74
I surged up the first big hill and felt GREAT on the small rollers that followed it. I was fine (and relieved) that I slowed the pace, especially knowing that I had a bit of time in the bank from the first fast two miles.
I also lost Jackie on the hill, and when I turned around to look for her, she was nowhere to be found. 🙁
Mile 4 – 6:56.97
“Is it possible that I could even break 1:30?????” (a sub-7 pace) I thought to myself. I knew I had endurance from NJM…and recent track workouts had definitely improved my turnover and leg speed. At this point, I kept sub-1:30 within the realm of possibility, but I remembered to stay focused on feeling good and running strong.
At some point in here, things started getting hot. REALLY hot. The sun was beating down, there wasn’t much shade, and the humidity was upwards to 80%. Somewhere in between miles 4—5, we ran past one of the elite Ethiopian women—sprawled, spread eagle, passed out on the ground.
(No clue what happened to her…)
Mile 5 – 7:12.12
Mile 6 – 7:00.52
I made sure to stop at all of the water stops, taking a cup of water to drink/pour down my back. There was Gatorade, too, but I was focusing on water at this point. Pace was important, but I was realizing how serious the heat was.
I passed the time during these miles by sticking with a couple of guys, both running around my pace. The heat was definitely starting to affect the people around me too. There was one man who CONTINUOUSLY KEPT GRUNTING, and every time we went up one of the rolling hills, he would exclaim, “COME ON!!” at the top of his lungs. Seriously? Dude. We’re all effing hot. We’re all sweating balls. And none of us want to be doing this right now. SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Mile 7 – 7:05.83
Right on pace…right? –WRONG.
Whoever designed the course did an excellent job of preventing any runner from running the tangents well, because my lap split was going off a solid 10-12 seconds prior to the race’s mile marker. I’m presuming that the same idiotic race-course-designer-person also set up each water stop to be on the OPPOSITE side of the road. Every. Single. Time.
I did some easy addition (that was all I was capable of) and figured I was running 7:15s.
I normally have great pride about the way I run tangents. WHAT WAS GOING ON?!
**Cue the commencement of Marython’s race devastation**
Suddenly, my vision got blurry. I think it was a combination of water from the sprinklers along the course, sweat and dehydration, creating the perfect storm for my eyeballs. I thought about the sprawled-out Ethiopian woman, and seriously considered what would happen if I just sprawled out on the road right then and there. I felt SO tired—like “omg I feel like I want to take a nap” tired—and I continuously kept thinking I was a mile ahead of where I really was. Ugh.
I also knew it would be important to get Gatorade, but at every water stop, THERE WAS NONE TO BE FOUND. The water to Gatorade ratio was literally 20:2, and there wasn’t a clear distinction of which section was water and which section was Gatorade. I think I only managed to get one tiny sip of Gatorade throughout the entire race. Eating my Gu helped, but only temporarily.
Mile 8 – 7:14.21 (but I’m still approximately 10-seconds behind the mile markers, so figure I’m around a 7:25 now)
Then we hit the same hills from the beginning of the race. Only this time, there was no happy surging up the hills. There were no happy thoughts at all. I was in survival mode, and I kept repeating, “Do not walk. Do not walk.” I knew I would not hit 1:33, but I thought I might still be able to PR, if only by a little bit.
I changed the screen on my Garmin so I couldn’t look at the pace anymore. I didn’t care about the pace. I just needed to get through this.
Mile 9 – 7:31.86
Mile 10 – 7:31.97
I’m really glad I wasn’t looking at my watch at this point, because I DEFINITELY would have freaked out about the pace.
I gathered myself during Mile 10, and as we exited the land of rolling hills, I mentally prepared myself for the final 5k.
Mile 11 – 7:09.95
“Wow,” I thought, “I really just got my shit together!!” –I was pumped. With two miles remaining, I realized I not only could PR, but I could definitely break 1:35 if I ran consistent 7-min pace. So I pressed on.
Mile 12 – 7:00.80
This was probably my strongest mile, mentally and physically. Even though I had technically run faster miles earlier on in the race, I pounded out Mile 12 with gusto, and I FINALLY got into the zone. “Just hold on from here,” I told myself.
Mile 13 – 7:04.37
I was spent. Done. Kaput. WHEN WILL THIS RACE END????? Mile 13 was miserable, but the end was near. I passed two girls who looked like they might be in my age group. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d break 1:35, but I’d be damned if I didn’t try.
.24 in 1:29.8 (fucking tangents…)
Gabe captured another finish-line video from this race. Unlike the video from NJM, I literally look like I’m hobbling towards the finish line.
Oh well. Can’t win all the beauty pageants.
FINAL HALF MARATHON – 1:34:38
I crossed the finish line and immediately started dry heaving, prompting the closest fireman to ask if I needed medical attention. I assured him that dry heaving was a normal thing for me, and walked on to meet Sam and Gabe.
I was in disbelief that I actually did it. I had gone through so many emotions in that race, and still managed to PR by 4 minutes. I was definitely disappointed that I didn’t meet Josh’s predicted time (because he’s normally never wrong…), but I knew that no one could have predicted the heat and humidity we were experiencing.
So now—I rest for the next couple of weeks. I’ll let the success of this spring’s races soak in, and prepare to carry the PRs through this fall. …And I’m so excited for then. 🙂