Fontana Half

A few months ago my sister and I heard through some friends about this awesome course (with great PR potential) and nice desirable running temps!  #famouslastwords

This was the 61st annual race for the Fontana Days Half and our first time ever running this course, and at a mere $50 entry fee, it was also the cheapest 13.1 I’ve ever run!

Expo:  On Friday I headed down to the City Hall where the expo takes place.  I was picking up race packets for my sister and I, and with good planning, I arrived right when it opened at 4 p.m.  Because the expo was outdoors and it was a scorching 103 degrees, I grabbed our bibs and bags, then managed to stop and smile for this (sweaty) picture.

{For those of you who asked in my social media posts where my shirt was from – I had stumbled on that gem here a while back}.

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The expo was relatively small, not a whole lot to get-my-shop-on, and with the temp so hot, I hurried back to my car, happily passing by the hundreds of runners now in line with no shade relief to get their bibs.  That definitely could have been a little better planned.

 The freebie bags they handed out had some good samples in them, and even a free running belt.  It doesn’t appear it would hold an iPhone 6+, but it really does!

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Race shirts:  I love the navy blue and neon green color of these, but I think the shirts run in men’s sizes, because I got a small and it’s pretty big on me.  To be honest though, I rarely wear the free shirts they give out.  I toss them into the tech-shirt graveyard in my closet and almost never give them another thought.

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I got back to my sister’s house, laid out #flatmelissa and got to bed early, which somehow always ends up being 11 p.m.  Ugh.  There was a 4:30 a.m. wake up call on deck!

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For those who asked about my Run Always tank – you can find Run Always gear here. Be sure to follow @run.always on IG, too.  It’s a great place for runners to connect and share their running stories.

On race morning, we planned on being back at City Hall by 6 a.m. because you had to meet there to shuttle to the start line.  Busses were running from 5:00 – 6:30 a.m.  Parking was free and not an issue on race day at all, a super big plus.

All naive smiles from my Sis and I in our photo below as we shuttled up to the start line. She loves when I take our selfies, so that my head is the one that looks bigger up front, though she’ll never admit it!

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The race starts up at the Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek, just north of the city.I would say my first actual complaint was probably the bathroom situation.  They had what appeared to be 11 Porta-Potties lined up for the never-ending line of nervous runners, who looked as though they were anticipating quicker access to a toilet.  And I mean quicker!

The campground next to the start line had bathrooms also, and the women’s line for that had probably 30 people in it when my sister and I lined up, but there were only 2 toilets.  Oh, and a few minutes after we got in line, one of those toilets stopped working and flushing – nice work, ladies!  We were down to one toilet and waited there nearly an hour. Then we had only 10-ish minutes to walk back over before the race was starting!

Waiting for our start, I finally got to pose for a quick pic with Smitha – @runningwithsd. We had missed our photo-op at the Carlsbad 5000 earlier this year. so we snagged a quick one.  It’s always fun getting to meet up with the running community and friends at these events.

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My sister and I — we’re easy to spot at the races cause we’re usually twinning in our Miles & Pace trucker hats!

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The course:  Once the race started you begin working your way down a beautiful canyon of mountains.  The first 6-miles of the course, is a paved and welcomed downhill through the Lytle Creek community, which runs through the San Bernardino National Forest.  The views were amazing, reminded me of camping.  Once the race spread out a bit, which probably only took ½ mile — the scenery made for such a relaxed and almost tranquil feel.  There was an extremely peaceful vibe to the first 4 miles or so of this course. My first 5 miles were at a sub-7 pace and I was feeling strong!

 Around 5.5 miles, the course leveled out some and the shade was gone.  GONE. The summer sun was out in full force.  There were no water/aid stations from miles 5-7 and later after the race, I heard other runners talking about how awful that was.  I was carrying a little bottle with some Nuun electrolytes,so I was still okay getting through that part.

 There were some guys near mile 6 in the back of a pick up truck with ice chests full of wash cloths they were handing out.  I remember yelling “You are the BEST” to the guy that handed me one!  It saved me – no lie!  At that point, the sun was starting to burn against my skin and I could tell things were about to get rough.

Mile 9 left me with a bit more of a calorie deficit than I had intended for this race when dehydration was setting in and gravity had zero effect on my GU that came back up.  I drank more fluid than I ever usually do during a race, but the heat was a force to be reckoned with!

 I ran the last few miles of this race overheated and sad.  Sad because a course that had so much PR potential turned out to be my worst half marathon of this year so far.  I was disappointed with myself although it was out of my control.  I know I’m capable of so much more than the way that played out.  I gave up on hopes of a new PR at mile 10 (when I was still actually on track to PR), and I listened to my body and knew I had to run smart, not hard.  The last 3 miles I ran SO slow, I might as well have just walked, but I’m stubborn as hell.

  I spent the whole last 3 miles staggering along in those escalating temps towards what I thought would be the gates of hell.  I only sprinted that last ¼ mile in, when I could see the end (but also because I had some guy trying to pass me).   Haha.  That finish line was the most welcome damn sight EVER!   I had now completed 24 half-marathons and that was the hottest one I’d ever ran.

 The finish-line corral had water, Gatorade and snacks, but I went straight for laying against this stack of ice bags, which quickly became the popular hang out!

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Once my sister and I met up, we found some shade to kick off our shoes and lay in the grass for a bit.  And I just had to pose with the wash cloth that saved me out there!

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My time for this race was 1:52 and my 13.1 PR (on a more difficult course) is 1:39 if that gives you any indication of how bad I am at hot weather running.  You can read about my 1:39 race in my Hollywood Recap.

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The medal was smaller than they typically are these days for half-marathons, but again that’s probably one way they keep the entry fee at $50…along with the lack of enough Porta-Potties.

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I would say (if we could subtract the heat & lack of pre-race bathroom access) this was a great race.  It has amazing PR potential, with the significant elevation drop of 2,125 ft and  flat finish.  We’ll likely do this again next year (and pray for better weather), as I feel a need for course redemption.  This year’s lessons will serve as next years triumph.

 Who else ran the Fontana Half this year, or in years past?  I’d love to hear your experience!

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