I did it! Half Marathon #12 is in the books.
I have to say that yesterday’s race, the OUC Orlando Half Marathon, was definitely one of my favorites. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and company was top notch.
After a night of sleeping in my own bed (quite possibly the best part of racing in your hometown!), I got up at 5am, got my coffee on (and my clothes – don’t worry, there wasn’t any naked running) and then headed over to my friend Tracy’s house. I’m still trying to convince Tracy that she can and needs to run a half marathon, but yesterday she ran the 5K with her school’s Girls on The Run team (she’s a 1st grade teacher!). We then picked up Paula on the way downtown. We quickly parked about 5 blocks from the start of the race (at parking meters – where I later got a parking tickets, but whatever) and walked towards the loud and clear voice of Carissa. Seriously, I could hear her from a half mile away!
It was a little bit of a cluster when we got there. Paula had to redo my bib because it was getting all bunched up with my fuel belt and my bump — and then we discovered that from where we were there was no way to easily get into the lineup. Doh! So we ended up at in the back in the walkers section. Paula pointed out to me that I DID want a slow start. True, true. It was actually for the best. Plus, we got to pass a lot of people.
During our wait, I realized that DadJovi was directly in front of us. Kinda funny because Jackie Jovi and I had joked the night before that because he was planning on wearing black and white he would be REALLY easy to spot in a crowd of 5,000. Well, it turns out she was not wrong. Also with him was Jeannie – a friend of Jackie’s that I’ve been talking to on twitter for the past few months! It nice to put a face to a name (and lots of tweets). I was hoping to run into a few other blog/twitter friends – but sadly that did happen. It was just too busy!
Finally the race started and we slowly made our way up to the start. It took about 3 minutes and then we were off!
Miles 1 – 5
I felt fine running the first few miles, but of course I didn’t have a chance to use the bathroom one last time before we started and by mile 1.5 I really had to pee. We saw porta potties around that time and I was tempted to stop, but the line was long so I decided to wait. What Track Shack said about the porta potties was MOSTLY true. They were EVERYWHERE on the course – except at the water stop at mile 3.
Paula did a great job of keeping my mind off of it for the most part, but I couldn’t help but think – where are the effing porta potties – every chance I had. At one point I contemplated stopping into a Chevron gas station, but I just kept going. Finally, at mile 4.5 I saw it. THE GLORIOUS PORTA POTTIES. It was like a beacon of light was shining down on them calling us home. Paula decided to make a stop too. It was the world’s longest wait to use the bathroom (we lost about 5 minutes!), but it was worth every second. Especially because didn’t have to go again after that!! We finished up the first 5 miles in 57:09 minutes – which was an 11:26 pace.
Miles 5 – 10
We hit Mile 5 and slowed down to “eat.” Paula had a PB&J and I took a Gu and then we were off again. I don’t really remember much about miles 5-7, except that I no longer felt like I was going to pee myself and that I decided that walking every 2 miles would become my new “race strategy.” I knew the porta potty wait set us back, but I was still feeling like we could come in under 2:26.
During our walk break during mile 7 I remember thinking – holy jeez this race is taking forever — and then 2 minutes later Paula said it. Running faster definitely has it advantages! We also kept passing the same people over and over again and I have to admit that was driving me NUTS. We saw this girl wearing a palm tree costume at least 5 times.
Up until mile 7.5-8 I felt really good. Nothing hurt and when we weren’t walking/waiting in line we were averaging a 10:00-10:15 pace. Not bad! Around mile 7.5-8 my left ankle started hurting and that was kind of the being of the end of feeling good. The fact that I made it to 7.5 before the pain started was actually awesome. In previous training runs it pretty much started right away. I thank my KT Tape…
Still, the miles were just ticking by and if something would really bother me I’d just start rambling to Paula (It was obviously not any kind of baby-related pain. In that case, I definitely would have stopped!).
Prior to mile 10, Paula had mentioned that she might break away and pick up the pace if it didn’t look like we were going to come in under 2:29 (her personal worst that she really didn’t feel like breaking). Obviously, I understood this! We had never finished a race together before — partially because it’s hard to run a slower race when you have it in you to do more (<– selfish runner). Luckily, we hit Mile 10 at 1:50:21 and had PLENTY of time to make it to 2:30, so she ended up sticking with me. *So thankful*
At Mile 10 we slowed to eat again and then just kept on. A little before mile 11, Paula suddenly sped up and I was all — WTF Girl?? — until I realized she saw someone she knew! It was her friend Shannon, who she runs with on Saturday mornings with Marathonfest. Shannon was in the middle of her walk break so we slowed and talked/walked for a little while. It wasn’t part of the walking “schedule” but it was a really nice break from running and I think is what helped me get through to the end (we didn’t walk anymore after that!).
We started up again before mile 11 and that it when the torture started. And by torture, I mean brick. Now, the advertisement for this race said “1.9 miles of brick!” Ummm – I’m pretty sure there was more than 1.9 miles of brick. My ankles beg to differ.
Finally, FINALLY the brick ended and the finish was near! Unlike in 2010, I knew where I was when I came into the finish (in 2010 I was SOOO confused and had no idea I was so close to the finish. If I had know, I would have kicked it up a little in the end and probably sub-2′d!). We rounded the corner onto Robinson, with the sound of Japanese drums sending us home (it was really cool!) and saw the finish line. I was going to finish AND I was going to finish under 2:26!! As we creeped closer to the finish I saw the kids, and Dan, and Tracy cheering us on.
Paula and I had made this plan that if we actually finished together we would hold hands across the finish line (we were also supposed to look at each other for the awesome race photo ever – I failed at that). So, as Carissa announced our names, we clasped hands and took the worst race photo ever (we’re assuming – Paula was looking at me, while I was looking ahead).
And then, just like that — what felt like the longest race ever — was over! Official time: 2:25:28.
After the race we met up with our posse and walked around the after party madness..
I grabbed some chocolate milk (the beer line was too long — and, no, I wasn’t planning on drinking beer) and then posed for some pictures. Including a recreation of a favorite..
And possibly my new favorite of Paula.
We then hightailed it out of there and drove over to First Watch for breaskfast.
Eggs and potatoes never tasted so good!
All in all — this was the perfect race. With the exception of the missing porta potty at Mile 3, Track Shack did an AMAZING job with water stops and amenities (they also had a gel station at Mile 8ish). There were random spectators throughout the course (it helps that we were running through neighborhoods!) and besides the brick, the course was awesome. It was flat (with the exception of maybe 2 hills) and scenic. They don’t call Orlando “The City Beautiful” because it’s ugly, after all!
The best part of the race, of course, was the company. I am really SOOOO lucky to have a running buddy like Paula! She didn’t have to stick with me, but she did and it was awesome. I am so happy that after 12 races together – we can finally say that we actually finished a race TOGETHER. I guess in our case, the 12th time is the charm!!
Soooo — who’s running this race with me next year??