Fairfield Half Recap- Or How the Heat Made My Nail Polish Melt

“The good Lord made us all out of iron.

Then he turns up the heat to forge some of us into steel.”

-Marie Osmond

If it looks like I am about to die in the photo above, it’s because I felt I was. ūüôā

When I signed up for the Fairfield Half Marathon, I thought it would be a scenic coastal run with great views and possibly even a cool ocean breeze. ¬†It actually turns out, the views of the water were minimal. ¬†What they offered in exchange was a whole of HEAT, HILLS, and MORE HILLS. ¬†¬†The finish may have been at a beach, but the rest of the race was (deceptively I might add) held on the streets (the hilliest they could find I’m sure!). ¬†Despite the repeated mentions over the PA system about what a great day it was for a race, it was clear even early on that it would be a scorcher. ¬†(In other words, we could have used the ocean breeze ūüėČ )I have no idea what the temperature actually reached, but I can tell you it was 1) hot enough to melt my toe nail polish and make it stick to my socks (not newly painted either!) ¬†2) hot enough to prompt me to run without a shirt– ( a racing first for me) ¬†3) hot enough that I might have been tempted to run in even less if it wasn’t illegal.

As far as the course, we fortunate to have quite a few aid stations and numerous volunteers with hoses and  sprinklers to help us fend off heat exhaustion.  There was also a fair amount of shade in the early part of the race.  Despite this, however, there were still several ambulances that passed by throughout the duration- definitely not a sight any runner is ever happy to see!!!

I found myself uncomfortable almost as soon as I started… in addition to slightly¬†anxious about being separated from my male comrades¬†due to gender based starts. ¬†I had done the P90X leg workout the day before and had not tapered at all on the grounds that I was using the half as a training run. ¬†I had no idea there would be so many hills, or I would have seriously reconsidered that decision!

As a result of my poor planning, my IT bands were screaming and my fatigued legs just did not want to cooperate- AT ALL. ¬†The hills and heat didn’t help. ¬†It was like running the Hartford Marathon after my first 1000 rep workout- only worse! (minus the distance being double… ok maybe it was a toss up between the two)¬† I spent the first 4-6 miles wanting to quit, but reminded myself it was a long walk back. ¬†I set a goal to finish 6 miles, then 8, then 9, then 11, and then just to finish. ¬†By the time I hit miles 8 and 9 I was actually feeling better than I had at the first (at least in terms of pain, not so much the heat and fatigue).

Toward the end of the course I passed by a girl lying on the curb with the medics at her side and noted that she was an awful shade of gray and did not look well at all.  I was grateful at that point to only be miserable and not in any real trouble!  I felt horrible that she had pushed past her physical limit only to arrive barely a mile short of the finish.  Had she looked even remotely better, I might have offered to help carry her the rest of the way. However she was clearly in need of immediate medical attention.

Smiling through the pain

I thought about her the rest of the way and tried to forget about how exhausted and uncomfortable I was. ¬†Clearly, I could have been a lot worse off! ¬† Plus, I was grateful that my body- despite the generalized pain– was still cooperating. ¬†Unlike my past several half marathons, I hadn’t had any real signs of getting sick (aside from occasional nausea or cramps)- a cause in itself worth celebrating!

That last mile seemed to stretch forever; and when I finally did see the finish I sprinted like my legs were going to fall off. ¬†I never have wanted to be finished with a race so badly! ¬†I was over heated and exhausted. ¬† More than anything, I just wanted to pack my whole body in ice!!!! ¬†As luck would have it, I got the next best thing: ¬†the ocean was only steps away from the bag pickup. ¬†The water felt amazing!!!! It was so nice and cold- exactly what my poor, battered legs needed. ¬†I was so thrilled¬†it was over that I didn’t even care that it was probably my worst half time ever- with the only exception being the second half of the marathon.

The truth is, I’m not actually sure of my finish time. ¬†I know the clock was at 2:11 when I crossed, but never checked the official result (based on chip, not gun time). ¬†It doesn’t matter to me what the number was because I know I pushed as hard as I could on that day, on that course, with that set of conditions. ¬†I did the best I could , and I didn’t quit or even walk. ¬†That’s good enough for me. ¬†After all, if you give it your absolute all, does anything else really matter?


  1. Congratulations on finishing! I can’t even fathom what it would have been like to run a half in July. It’s so hot everywhere right now. You are a beast for sticking it out, and I’d say your time is pretty good considering those conditions.

  2. If I look like you when I am about to die I will be happy. It is never good when people collapse in a race. It makes me wonder what I am doing and if it is worth it! I cannot imagine running in the heat you describe (we don’t get many days like that and when we do I do not go running!) As always I am in awe!

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