Race Report: Fairfield Half Marathon

Hills, humidity and horror.

This race was a disaster. I went in hoping to run somewhere around 1:33:00 and ended up with a time of 1:44:43. That’s 10 minutes slower than my half marathon time in May (and I’m in better shape then I was then.) I managed a pace of between 7:00-7:10 for the first couple of miles, then hit the first of several horrendous hills, over the course of which my performance steadily but surely cratered.

I wouldn’t call the last few miles a death march, but suffice it to say that I went from an average pace of 7:35 for the first 9 miles to around 8:35 for the last 4.1. My goal had been to run an average of 7:05 or so.

Between this and the Mini 10K a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided that summer races are not for me. I race shorter races primarily for one of three reasons: a) to stand in for a marathon training run (tempo or marathon pace, usually); b) to assess my current fitness; c) to have fun.

Running in heat and high humidity accomplishes none of those things. The primary training effect is learning to run in high heat and humidity, which isn’t a goal; it’s a waste as a training run because I can’t get anywhere near the paces I need to in order for it to be productive; it’s only fun if you’re a masochist.

I will mention that it’s a good event, if you’re looking for a challenging summer half and can cope with the possibility of the weather being against you. The course is beautiful, winding through neighborhoods full of beautiful homes and gardens. It’s well-supported, with enthusiastic volunteers and decent post-race food (although I didn’t dare try the pizza, since my stomach was doing flipflops).

I wouldn’t call this race a total loss, since it has confirmed that I should take my hard training indoors when it’s very hot and humid. And save the racing for the other three seasons.