Half Marathon #15 is DONE.
This race was full of blunders, humidity, and hurt. It was both mentally elating and frustrating, which is also how I would describe running this entire year, so it’s fitting that this would be my last race in 2013.
But, let’s start at the very beginning…
I swear Evan KNOWS when I have to wake up early, because the kid was up a gazillion times that night. The last wakeup was at 4:20, which really sucked because I had my alarm set for 4:45. Good thing he’s so freaking cute.
The morning went as planned. I got up, got dressed (after trying on several shirts – I was still ‘meh’ about my outfit, but it worked), pumped, ate a Clif Bar, and headed out to get Paula. I got to her house around 6:10 and we were downtown and parked by 6:25. Yeah, local races with plenty of free parking right by the race start don’t suck.
After a porta-potty visit, we lined up. Like last year, it was a madhouse and we ended up WAY behind where we wanted to start because we couldn’t push up any further in the lineup. I really wanted to start at the 9:00/mile marker, but we were behind the 10:00+ marker. I feel like if Track Shack wants this half marathon to grow every year (like it has) they are going to have to start assigning corrals.
This was pretty much the same view behind us as well. We were same dab in the middle.
In any case, about 2.5 minutes after the start, I crossed the start line and I was off. And here’s where the blunders began…
Remember how I asked if anyone had a Garmin to borrow? Well, Victoria kindly volunteered one of hers – and I chose the the Forerunner 10 so that I could test it out. I THOUGHT I had figured out how to use it the night before, but it was evident during the race that I did not. It wasn’t until I was about a quarter mile in where I discovered I didn’t start it. Derp. So much for that.
Still, the first 3 miles ticked by. I started out slow thanks to the congestion and the Garmin, but quickly gained some speed. From what I could tell, I was averaging a 8:50-9:00 pace for miles 2 and 3. I kept telling myself not to push too hard, but those miles felt easy so I went with it. I know it’s not always a good half marathon race strategy, but I find if I go out fast I tend to do in the long run. I hit the 5K mark at 28:20 — a 9:07 pace.
By mile 5 I was loving life. That is typically my sweet spot and this race proved no differently. Around that time I started strategically planning when I was going to stop for water (and walk) and take a gel. I had decided NOT to bring my own water and just rely on the water stops — I now kind of regret that decision and it’s a decision I’ve regretted before — so maybe this time I’ll actually learn? The water stops were supposed to be about 1.5 miles apart — and most of the time this was true. Except the 2-3 that were more like 2 miles apart. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I took water at every stop, but I decided to stop at every OTHER stop. Fail.
That said, the miles continued to tick by. I hit the 10K mark at 56:37 (9:06 pace). Despite the fact that it was getting warmer and it was SOOOOO humid I just felt better and better.
My next blunder occurred around mile 7 or 8… my right shoe was untied (despite double knotting my shoes). I quickly pulled off the side of the road to retie it (and tighten the left one as well). Unfortunately, I tied the right one TOO tight and it continued to hurt the rest of the run. FAIl. Again. Also, stopping and squatting down during the middle of race?? Not a great idea for my hip flexors apparently.
Still, I was able to get back into a faster pace and somehow hit the 15K mark at 1:25:34 (still a 9:06 pace). By mile 9.5 I thought that Victoria’s Garmin MIGHT really have magic PR juju (she PR’d the crap out her marathon last week!). I wasn’t on course to PR, but I was on course to sub-2. Which I wasn’t aiming for all (my goal was to knock 10 minutes off my Baldwin Park Half time).
And then things fell apart.
For starters, I missed a water stop. I mean, I didn’t miss seeing it – but for some reason they had Gatorade first and then water. I asked for water and they shouted, “It’s up there!” and so I kept running. And then I realized (after I passed the stop completely) by “up there” they meant “right next to me.” So, I turned around and ran back. For about 2 seconds I thought about just skipping the stop, but I haven’t had water in about 3 miles and I knew I needed it.
And then there were the hills. I know, I know – Orlando is flat! But I swear to you there were lots of mini hills those last three miles and they were brutal. Especially combined with the damn cobblestone we also have to deal with. I felt like around every corner was a hill. At some point I even shouted (probably getting some weird looks) ENOUGH WITH THE HILLS! Needless to say, this was not my favorite OUC Course (they change it every year due to city ordinance – so you never know what you’re going to get!).
So in the end… those last three miles killed me. I even thought “Why wouldn’t I want to run another marathon??” and “Why am I running this race??” It’s funny how quickly positive running endorphins can turn into negative ones. I knew I had missed my opportunity to sub-2 by mile 12, but I was still within my goal of shaving off those 10 minutes. So, I pressed on. I was determined NOT to walk and finish with a smile on my face.
After what felt like an eternity, I turned the corner onto Robinson St. — searching the crowd for Dan and the kids. At first I couldn’t see him and was worried that he didn’t make it in time — until I saw a beaming, chubby face being lifted into the air. There is really nothing better than seeing your very own cheerleading crew at the end of a race. Except perhaps crossing the finish line, which I did in 2:03:33. (9:21 pace)
I walked very, very slowly through the chute (I was hurting!) and finally caught up with my crew.
About 2 minutes later I heard my name — and there was Katy!
She totally rocked her race — and I can’t say I didn’t have little race envy.
We chatted for a little bit, waiting for Paula to finish.
One things was for certain – despite the smiles in this picture we were ALL hurting.
We completely skipped the after party this year. I probably should have grabbed some ice and a beer, but instead, I dropped Paula back home and had breakfast at Keke’s….
We had to wait a little bit to eat,so it was more like lunch — but it was well worth the wait. I kind of forgot that post-race meals are FANTASTIC.
Despite hurting and having somewhat negative feelings towards toward this race there were a lot of race highlights…
- Great parking! This year I parked in the garage behind the race and it was completely stress free and close to the start.
- Amazing National Anthem. I’m not sure who sang, but she did a great job
- Enthusiastic spectators. We ran through primarily residential areas and it’s always great to see people come out and cheer us on! I especially excited to see one of my book club friends out cheering with her three little girls (her husband ran it and came in 4th place! Wow!)
- Great race signs – and the “Beer stop” at mile 11(ish?). I was very, very tempted to grab a red solo cup and chug. The guy next to me did and he managed to manage his pace the rest of the race.
- Beautiful scenery and lots of shade and lakes. I think I said this last year too – Orlando is “The City Beautiful” for a reason.
- Seeing friends during the course and at the finish! I ran into Kristina around mile 8 (literally), saw Katy at the finish, and I tried to meet up with Amanda too – but sadly that didn’t happen. Racing is always better with racing buddies!
While 2013 wasn’t the best year for me in terms of running – I’m happy to be in a place where I feel like I’m “bouncing back” after having Evan. This half marathon proved to me that I have some speed left in me and I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be GREAT year for racing. So in summary…. bring on 2014! I’m ready for some PRs.