Race Report – Fairfield Half Marathon, June 24

I always say I love the Fairfield Half Marathon but I’m not entirely certain that is accurate. The race is in Fairfield CT where my mom grew up and it’s just a couple of towns away from Shelton where we lived most of my life and I still call ‘home’.  It’s always a really nice weekend to relax at my parents place and have their support during the race.  On Saturday, I was treated to an amazing pasta dinner on Saturday night by my Cousin David who just recently graduated from culinary school.  The meal was fantastic and we had some time to relax outside at my Aunt Addie’s house and enjoy a beautiful evening.   
 
Sunday morning I got up early and after a quick breakfast the family piled into the car including Dad, Mom, Me and my dog Brittany.  This is one of the only races she comes to since she is rather “excitable” in crowds and my parents don’t mind keeping an eye on her while I’m running.  The race started at 8:30 but the sun was already strong so I lathered on the sunblock, waited patiently in the port-o-potty line and got ready for a 13.1.  The course is beautiful with pretty views and lots of gorgeous homes to look at but it’s also quite hilly and  includes many roads with names like Sasco Hill Rd, Mill Hill Rd and the meanest of them all Rose Hill Rd.  It’s also historically very warm it being the last weekend in June so I had to adjust my expectations based on those challenges.
After the Run to Remember in May I felt confident that I would have opportunities to run more hills and work on speed so I could be well prepared for this race and possibly earn a course PR which is currently 1:49:56 from 2009, the year I ran all my best times.  Unfortunately, due to a busy schedule and a pesky cough, I did not get in all the training I had planned for.  I decided to replicate my race plan from Run to Remember and try to stay around an 8:30 pace.  It didn’t take long for the hills and the heat to slow me down and I spent the majority of the race ‘chasing the pace’.  I would slow down on the hills and then find my way back to 8:35 on the way down but I grew very tired the second half of the race and just focused on staying strong and keeping cool.  The last few miles I struggled a lot with the heat but finally found the gas pedal for the last mile and finished strong.  I caught a glimpse of my Dad cheering for me as I raced down the finish shoot and was relieved to see him as I stumbled around the finishing area.  I got my medal and found some water, I drank a little bit and then poured 4 or 5 cups over my head to cool down.  We found my Mom who was keeping Brittany company in the shade and I sat down to catch my breath and recover. 

Lululemon Girls
being awesome

Challenges aside, there are several things that I do really enjoy about this race.  1) The town of Fairfield is incredible and the crowd support rivals most local races that I’ve done.  There are families cheering, handing out water and oranges and most importantly using their sprinklers and hoses to help keep the runners cool.  I could not have completed the race without them.  So, THANK YOU to the town of Fairfield for being awesome while we tied up your traffic and closed your roads.  2) There are several really great bands along the course that I really enjoy listening too, I love a change of pace in music during a run and will happily pause Pitbull to hear a local band rockin out to Mustang Sally.  3) Just like you can count on the heat and hills you can also count on the staff from Lululemon in Westport and Greenwich to be cheering their little butts off blaring music and holding adorable inspirational signs.  I feel especially connected to this cheering section since I’m usually racing in lulu.  They were handing out oranges too which was exactly what I needed.  You see them twice on the course and the second time is right before the aforementioned Rose Hill Drive so the girls gave me an extra push for an especially tough part of the course. 

 
So each time I say ‘I LOVE that race’ when referring to Fairfield, I must not be referring to the roads, the miles, the start or the finish.  It’s the whole weekend spent with family and friends, the comfort of my parents home, the home cooked meals pre and post race, the support from each person who stood on the course to entertain, cool us down, cheer, hand out water.  What I really LOVE about the Fairfield half, is all the love.  So see you next year, even you Rose Hill Rd.  

Britt and I after the Fairfield Half

If nothing else, this race is a great training course for NYC which will be right around the corner as soon as the summer flies by.  I am almost halfway to my goal of $3500!  Thank you to everyone who has already contributed!  Please consider making a donation to my ALF fundraising campaign.  Visit my fundraising page to learn how: http://go.liverfoundation.org/goto/LauraNYC

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