“The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill…
If there were no difficulties there would be no success;
if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.”
This past Sunday I took on the Fairfield Half Marathon for the second time… because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time! I am probably the only person who was wishing for rainy weather that day. Last year it was a scorcher, so hot my nail polish melted!
All the hills and sun made for such a brutal experience. I can honestly say that there wasn’t any part of the course that was flat or shaded. Thus, I was almost relieved when the race organizers announced that they had eliminated many of the hills and changed the course to make it more amenable to first time runners. (In reality, I think it may have had to do with all the runners that dropped and crazy ambulance traffic.)
I say ALMOST because I found it very difficult to believe they could make the course much easier given how hilly the area was. I was right to be doubtful! The announcer on race day claimed there were only two hills on the course… I’m still curious which two exactly he was counting. I’m thinking it’s the ones we doubled back on! For the record, I didn’t believe him for one hot second!
Anyway, the race itself was indeed as awful as last year in every respect. It was hotter, more humid, and STILL HILLY! Granted most of the hills were less steep, but the course was NO WHERE close to flat!!! They did, at least, add some more coastal views- which was greatly lacking the first time around. Of course, the main reason I did the race remained the same, and that is the finish AT THE BEACH.
The entire time I ran this year, I was running to that water. It was all I could think about… aside from how miserable I was….I did also think about how badly I wanted to quit...frequently! Of course, then I would just remind myself that if I didn’t feel like dying or quitting then I probably wasn’t running hard enough. lol Once I did finish, it was SO REFRESHING to FINALLY wade in that the water. Conveniently, it worked as icing as well. Despite the heat and hills (which I ate for breakfast btw!), I finished to course in under 2:05, which was several minutes faster than last year. Mostly, though, I was happy just not to have gotten sick… or died of heat stroke.
I think the best part about this race- aside from the beach– was the fact that I went on my own. Being there by myself gave me the opportunity to meet new people and make some awesome new friends. In fact, shortly after I arrived, I bonded with some people parked next to me who happened to all be friends and belong to a running club. Since the racers are basically required to come hours before the start (or risk not finding parking!), we had lots of time to chat.
So I spent my free time before and after chatting with Lee (a triathlete from Philly), Beth (from NY and training for her first marathon), George (CT local and ringer leader), and Lindsey (super mom and total running beast)… all very nice people by my standards! To be honest, I NEVER would have spent the better part of my afternoon on the beach after the race if I hadn’t met these people. It was such a great relaxing experience to chill out with them and just enjoy the moment. We had all conquered this torturous run, and now we were reaping the reward- soaking up the sun AND BREEZE on the beach 🙂
I think I was even more excited about making all these new friends and my time on the beach than my finisher medal… and you know that’s saying something! Spending the day with them reminded me of so many reasons why I love the running community. There was no show boating or one up-ing. Everyone was just happy to be there and genuinely supportive of each other. That is what running is all about… in my opinion anyway. 🙂