Happy Tuesday! On Saturday I ran my 37th half marathon – the SoNo Half Marathon. I ran this race back in 2016 as part of my 20 mile training run for the NYC Marathon. I was happy that this year I could just enjoy the race and not add on miles before or after.
Last week was very stressful for me between giving a few presentations and traveling for work. I think that these factors, mixed in with not eating like I normally do, lead to some issues. I started to have stomach issues on Thursday and they didn’t get any better by race day. This is the first race that a DNF was a definite option but I’m glad that I pushed through to finish. This was my slowest half marathon by far, but it’s true what they say “You never know what you’ll get on race day.” Yes, it was a hard race but I’m glad that I had enough grit (or was stubborn enough) to finish. Here’s my recap!
Communication leading up to the race was excellent! The organization sent out weekly emails and updated their Facebook page often. It was nice to know exactly what to expect on race day.
My mom and my friend, Vanessa, signed up for the 5K and my friend Shirley and I were signed up for the half marathon. We found parking easily and after a 10 minute walk, arrived at the start of the race. The race offered bib pickup on Friday but I took advantage of the race day bib pick up. Everything was SUPER well organized and it took all of 2 minutes to get my bib, race shirt, swag and gear check bah. It was a little cold that morning so I decided to check a zip up jacket as well as the race day goodies.
While waiting for the race to start, the wind really started to pick up. It wasn’t horrible but definitely enough that you felt a little chill in your bones! We found a bench and sat down to wait until the race start. Luckily there were a ton of porta potties and a real bathroom to use before the race start. I wish I could have taken advantage of this but my stomach was not having it. Before we knew it, it was 9am and time for the race to start!
The race started and ended in Veteran’s Park. For the first 3 miles we ran along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Drive. This part of the race had some inclines but nothing too horrible. After mile 3 we ran pass Roton Middle School and Brien McMahon High School. When passing Flax Hill Park I believe we hit a pretty big hill. I tried to run/walk this section but ended up walking most of it. During this time my stomach was really starting to bother me. It pretty much felt like someone was punching me and I had bad cramping.
Between miles 5-7 I stopped twice at the porta potties. Now if you know me, you know I avoid these things as much as I can. The inside often looks like a CSI crime scene. But desperate times call for desperate measures. There were porta potties every other mile, but only one. This made for lines (about 3-5 people) so I lost a lot of time waiting to use them. Also I couldn’t even use one of them because…well see my previous comment about the CSI crime scene.
Between miles 6-7 I was about 90% sure I was going to DNF. I actually turned around and was making my way back to the start, but then I turned back around on the course and called my mom. By that time she finished the 5K (and got 2nd in her AG might I add) and I was telling her what was going on so she knew it would take me way longer than usual to finish. After that call I changed my strategy to alternating between a power walk and a light jog. Every time I tried to jog, I felt so much pressure in my stomach. It was just such an awful feeling. I made a few more bathroom stops and just took my time (luckily the course time limit was 3 hours and 15 minutes).
Okay so back to the race. Miles 6-7 were pretty cool. I didn’t like running on gravel, but this part of the race took us by the Maritime Aquarium and it was really, really pretty! We then ran in and around Oyster Shell Park and Lockwood Mathews Park. Mile 7-9 were along West and East Avenues. These miles were a little lonely because by this point I was pretty much running solo. Due to all the potty breaks, I lost the group that was running just ahead of me. The last part of the the course was near a Golf Course and Calf Pasture Beach. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally finished. I was never so thankful to see a finish line.
After the race I showered and pretty much laid in my bed for the rest of the night. I ate a little bit but I was just so mentally and physically exhausted. The race pretty much took everything I had. Because of my stomach issues, I couldn’t really eat before the race (I ate a handful of crackers) and I couldn’t take in any water or fuel on the course. I was pretty much running on fumes.
As with all my race recaps, here are my pros and cons:
Aid Stations – There was plenty of water and Generation UCAN on the course (basically every other mile).
Charity – This race really likes to give back to the community. They donated any leftover food, beverages and discarded clothing to a local organization called The Open Door Shelter. They also asked runners to bring food donations (canned goods, etc) to give to that same organization as well. There were two ways to give back at the post race party. You could enter a charity raffle to benefit Norwalk Pal Boxing. Spectators could also purchase beer for $5 with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Communication – There was such great communication from the race organization in the weeks leading up to the race. They literally answered any questions that you may have about race day logistics.
Post-Race Food – Even though I was one of the last runners, the post race area was still mostly intact and food was available. I was able to grab bottles of water, a slice of pizza and a Truly Spiked Sparkling Water. I LOVE this brand and I was able to grab a new flavor – ROSÉ. I’m planning on trying it later on this week! The only thing that was gone was the ice cream but that’s fine because my stomach couldn’t handle that anyway.
Race Date – I love that this race was on a Saturday! It’s nice to have an extra day after the race to recover before going back to work.
Swag – Let’s take a moment to admire all the race swag, shall we? The medal is beyond cute and for once, I love the race shirt (I’ll actually wear it)! I also love the mason jar and the Buff will be perfect for Fall/winter running/training.
Volunteers/Staff – I could probably write an entire post about this but I’ll try keep it to just one paragraph. Mentally and physically I was exhausted for the last half of the race, but every time I passed a volunteer or staff member, they made me feel so much love. From all the high-fives to the “You’re doing great!” moments, it was really an amazing experience. Also all of the water stations were still fully functioning when I ran by them which was nice. Nothing is more defeating than seeing things getting broken down as you’re running by. Also the staff tracks every single runner out on the course. They knew when I was close to finishing and screamed my name as I approached the finish line. I’m just so appreciative that they wanted to make sure that every runner had the same race experience, no matter if they finished first or last (the last runner received a bottle of champagne when crossing the finish line). I’m not an emotional person at all, but that REALLY warmed my heart!
Late Race Start – I’m a super early bird so I wasn’t a fan of the 9:00am race start. I’m usually done with my long runs by that time on the weekend, lol. Because the roads were only partially closed to traffic, I think starting at an earlier time would have been better as there would have been less traffic.
Course – The course was way different than when I ran it in 2016. It had way more inclines and hills so that surprised me! Also the course wasn’t completely closed off to traffic. For instance, for a two lane road, only one lane was closed off so we were still pretty close to cars. And of course you have the asshole cars that feel the need to speed by instead of slowing down and driving at a normal speed (so obnoxious)! Luckily there were a good amount of cops out on the course so they tried to make sure that the cars all adhered to the rules. There were also a lot of volunteers out at intersections to direct traffic to make sure that we felt safe. I was thankful for that but I still don’t like running on courses that aren’t completely closed off.
Overall I was really pleased with the organization of this race. If you are looking for a race to do in Connecticut, I would highly recommend this one!
Have you ever had a horrible race experience or been close to a DNF?