Monday, June 24, 2013

Fairfield Half Marathon Race Report - 2013

I know I owe a report on Patriot, but I really wanted to get this one out there!

I just came off of 2 back to back Half Ironman Aquabikes.  Eagleman and Patriot.  I LOVE Half ABs, just LOVE them. I think that is my distance.  Of course Type A, obsessed here, I have to 'finish' and get that damn Ironman off my list.

Week 3 of major races was a Half Marathon in Fairfield, CT.  It is a beautiful race that starts next to Jennings Beach.  Much of the race winds through the beautiful communities around and along the coast. They have several bands playing, including a couple all KID bands.  They were pretty good too!  The weird thing for me is this one band was playing Johnny Cash and I kinda liked running to it!?!

Most of you know, I despise running. But in order to tick an Ironman off my list, I have to get through a Marathon.  Yesterday was my 7th 13.1 and 2nd this year.  I never talk about speed because I am pitiful.  I tend to average 15min mile that puts me at 3:20 or 3:24 with pee stops.  My EDS will never let me run fast so whatever, I'm doing it! I'm covering the exact same 13.1 miles as everyone else.

I am used to the SAG wagon, used to the last station closing up, but I am NOT used to what happened yesterday.

This is my 2nd time doing this race. I thought it was well run and great last time so when it opened I just signed up.  About a week ago, I saw in the email "reminder, there is a 3:15 cutoff for all runners."  - UGH!  Then I noticed that cutoff was GUNTIME not your time.  Race starts at 8:30, cutoff at 11:45.  There are 5,000 runners going through neighborhood streets, so it takes some time to get everyone out of there.

I had a plan on how to make it.  Ali and I would start at the front, much to the dismay of the fast runners.  I set my Garmin to run/walk.  Run 2 min, walk 8 min.  I would run the first mile while the crowd thinned out, then listen to the alarm on the Garmin.  I usually drink at EVERY water stop alternating between Gatorade and Water.  And at every stop a water goes on my head or down my shirt. I usually eat something every hour as well.

We had lots of conversations this past week about the quantity of stuff I carry, and I decided to give being a more minimalist this time a try (never again!)!!!!  I packed my meds and 1 larabar that I ate just before the start.  I knew that I had to keep a 14:40 pace to make the cutoff.  In my mind that should keep the water stops open and get me to the finish line by 11:45.    I figured I would most likely make it to at least mile 10-11 before I passed the 'cutoff' pace.  I scoped out a 7-11 around mile 11 so I figured, no problem, I could buy water / Gatorade there.

Onto the race: We passed mile 1 with a 12:15 pace.  SWEET! (but really it was drafting).  I did a quick portopotty stop and carried on.

There were many supporters lining the street, and this little girl with the best sign "WORST PARADE EVER."

Things were great, and all going to plan until mile 8.  I was a bit concerned that there was no GU / nutrition until this point. I thought mile 8 was kinda late for that.  I would expected it at 6 or 7 if only one station were to have it.   I got to the station and it was mostly closed up.  One woman stood there and she had about 1/4 jug left.  She offered to pour it in my hands.  I asked and just poured it my mouth for a good drink without touching it. I didn't take nearly what I wanted because I knew there were at least 5 others behind me, as I had just passed them.

She apologized, she said they ran out of cups. (ok where's the water though?). She also apologized that they 'ran out of gu a while ago.'  Then I got to the other side of the station, this woman was picking up cups, I mentioned to her about the water and if they had any to keep those jugs filled.  Her response "we had 7,000 gallons; is this the beginning or the end of the  race?"  I didn't really comprehend what she said until I passed her, WHAT? just WHAT? oh and she also had 2 GU's in her shirt pocket, sticking out.  Great thank you lady.  I caught up with another walker who told me she watched someone at that station POUR OUT the Gatorade.

I knew I had to slow down to conserve fluids.  Bummer, there goes my making the cutoff, but I know my body and I like finishing, regardless of the time.   The next station was about 1 mile later, with my slowing I was losing ground on my pace, I was just behind the 'cutoff' pace.

I saw 2 firefighters and I told them to keep an eye on the people behind me because there's no water/ nutrition for those of us left.  One of the guys  said "oh hold on" and the other said "keep going, he'll catch you.  This very awesome fireman went to his truck and got me a bottle of water and ran it to me!  I asked "can I give you a hug?" (sweaty LOL)..  btw, this whole race is manned by the fire departments and they are just fabulous!  They set up sprinklers every couple miles!  And by the way, the sprinklers were still up when water was gone!

The next station had no cups either, but they at least had water in jugs.  Athletes are resourceful - we just drank out of the jug.  I asked those volunteers to not pour it out as cup or no cup, these guys at the end needed it.  These volunteers were very sweet and said "of course." --- Although I did see a few young girls leaving the other side of that station with bags of Gatorade powder.  I'm thinking we could have used that.

Next station was completely gone, no table, volunteers, but  we were about 5 min past the cutoff pace at this point so I had expected them to leave, I just expected to be further along.

There were some amazing people out there, some cyclists from Team in Training offered some of their water,  and there were families giving out water.  These little girls came screeching across the street about mile 11 with cold bottles of water.  Bless them!  There was also these cute kids with a 'free lemonaid' stand about 12.5 miles in!

I knew I was done when mile 8 had no nutrition and I was forced to just conserving water from that point.  I was on pace to do a 3:10-3:15 but I ended up with a disastrous 3:42, but I did finish!  I crossed the finish line and got a medal. I walked down to the beach where food was and took an orange, all that was left.  Again that's expected due to my time.   I asked around to find the Race director and he happened to come up to the food tent.   I told him what happened, and he said "when did you finish" I said 3:40..he said "yes but volunteers need to go home at some point." I hope I made it clear to him that YES I totally get that and it should be that way, but they should NOT leave before the 3:15 pacing passes that station.   I tried to reiterate that I was pacing to the 3:10 when I arrived at the first no aid station.   It was the first he heard of this.  In my mind that's breakdown #1.  He should have known, the lead volunteer there should have called in and said "hey we're running low on GU/ Water / Cups." ESPECIALLY if it was still within the cutoffs.

I discovered later that they ran out for some pacing to the 2:45-2:50 mark.

The RD was very polite, listened to me and I heard him radio someone.  They both seemed stunned. Ok peace said.  I then tried to find Ali.  I went to her car, of course she was at mine!  As soon as I sat down and took my shoes off, I knew I was in trouble. I tried to sip down some Gatorade (from my car).  Then I felt the nausea.  AWESOME.  I decided I would drive my car over to the med tent so it was RIGHT THERE.  I went in, and told the nurse I needed to cool down and hydrate. She put these awesome towels on my legs and neck.   Then as I sat in the chair I got the tunnel vision- I knew I was going to throw up or pass out (or both).  Puke it was!  She got an EMT for me, so I was with the rest of the people in the tent, ON A COT.  Good for Ali for not taking a picture, I certainly would have taken one of her LOL!!!

My BP was fine but they were worried about hydration due to the throwing up and how hot I was.  In the course of being there, I got to be super nosy. There were a few athletes with IVs, one sprain and I heard them say that 5 went to the hospital (I saw one go).  When I told the EMT about the water situation he said "oh that explains the number of people in here today."  This poor guy next to me with very chafed nipples and an IV finally pipped up and said "YEA I SAW NO WATER at many stations."

I knew I needed a banana, for some reason when I get hot and dehydrated  a banana helps.  Ali sees a half peeled banana on the table.  Yea I broke off the end and ate the thing.  Yup, basically ate out of the trash.  That did it, I was starting to feel ok between that and the Gatorade.

They released me and I ventured back to my car.  I opened the back and wondered who set the tornado off in my car!?! Ali said it looked like 5 people were in there.. hahahaha!

Then I had to drive 2 hrs home!  Again why do we do this??

I really want to thank most of the volunteers (all except the lady that stole the gu from an athlete in need), and the Firemen.  They were just incredible!  Especially the one that gave me the water bottle!   With a little communication I think it could be more successful for the end of the pack.  I do not expect them to stay open past the cutoff pace, but each station should stay open until the pacing of the cutoff. They should also have someone to call if they run out early.

I feel like total crap today. I don't recommend dehydration to anyone. My muscles were sucked dry!  Last weekend I did a half iron aquabike on Sat and a 10 mile run on Sunday, and I felt fine.  Difference was nutrition and hydration.  I also don't care what I look like in the future, I'm carrying my fuel belt, and several items of nutrition, including a banana.

Lesson learned, and at least it wasn't during Ironman Florida!

**I know I've been  slacking on the actual blog posts, I do frequently update my facebook page : facebook !


  1. Wow! That's not fun! I can sympathize. I'm often DFL, and I carry an iFitness belt with a couple 6-oz bottles for just that reason. That stinks that they ran out of water during the required pace! Just as a heads-up, (since I was in the last few seconds of IMFL) there was only one manned water station in the last 2 hours, and they were closing up fast. Maybe consider carrying empty bottles and fill 'em up around 9:30? (If you think you're going to be comin' in hot around midnight). Good for you for knowing what you need to recover!

    1. Wow crazy. I wonder if you're allowed to break the rules and take something from spectators if they don't provide water!

  2. I felt so-so at the end of the race, but when I got home, I was pretty uncomfortable. Wasn't able to keep anything down, cramping real bad. felt like crap this morning, and then at work; apparently the vitreus in my right eye started detaching. So now I feel tired, beat up, and I have a nice brown spot blocking a portion of my vision in my right eye. hopefully that will go away soon. it's always something. Ali


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