07 December, 2013

Orlando Half Marathon Recap

The Space Coast Half Marathon was just six days ago.  This very same calendar week.  I can't recall what crazy pills I took that made me think I was capable of running 26.2 miles in one week, but I'm so glad I did.  This race turned out to be an amazing experience for a lot of very different reasons.

I woke up this morning in my own bed, early enough to take a shower.  That probably sounds like a silly thing to mention, but it's the first time a) I slept at home the night before a half and b) had a start time late enough to shower in the morning.  I still had to eat my oatmeal in the car on the drive to downtown Orlando, but it was really nice to have a bit of 'normal' in my race morning.  I also got lost trying to find parking and ended up in the most wonderful place - a Catholic school charging $10 to park in their lot about 100 feet from the start/finish line.  A guy walking out of the lot at the same time told me it was the best $10 I'd spend today, and I definitely agree!

Pre-dawn Orlando
and Lake Eola
Pre-race was normal stuff: stretch, wander aimlessly, people watch... a whole lot of hurry up and wait.  The girl who sang the National Anthem ROCKED it, and we were off. The other girl from my building who was registered ran past me pretty much right at the beginning (she's a runner though, so no big surprise there!) and I was glad to have had a chance to yell "HEY!" at her as she passed. From a physical and mental standpoint, I knew right away that this race wasn't going to go as well as the last.  My legs were tight but not sore, but I had no pep in my step.  It was hot as well, and my shirt was bunching in weird places from the start.  I wasn't even a mile in before I started wondering whether I could - or even wanted to - finish.

Another girl struck up a conversation with me about 1.5 miles in, and we leap-frogged each other for a while after that.  After a water stop around mile 3, I asked if she was running set intervals or just doing what felt right.  She said she had been doing 30-30's but her watch had died.  We decided to run together, and kept it up for the whole rest of the race.  She had also just done Space Coast, plus a Thanksgiving race and a whole laundry list of other runs, and we're both doing Celebration and Glass Slipper.  She's also doing the Dopey Challenge.  Crazytown!  Having someone to talk to got me out of my crappy brain space and made the race much more fun than I had expected.

Also on the fun front, the course had musical entertainment at various locations.  We past two bagpipers around mile 4 and a whole troop of Japanese drummers a few miles later.  I'm not generally a fan of either, but they were great diversions.  We also passed a non-official "Beer Stop," which I didn't take advantage of, and a pair of ladies making mimosas and bloody marys to-order.  We did stop for mimosas, and then couldn't resist posing for a terrible selfie.  (what you can barely see behind my shiny red face and the earphone cord dangling in front of the camera is the car of the cop directing traffic.  I'm not sure it's legal to walk down the street drinking booze, but he didn't stop us)

I also made another friend in the weeks leading up to this race, and met him for the first time this morning.  There's an internal social media network at work, with all sorts of sub-groups including one for running.  We've all been chatty recently, with lots of others running the two races I did, and I struck up an unlikely friendship with someone much more of a runner than me.  We texted back and forth, and met and talked for all of three minutes before the race.  And then after he finished the race he came back and ran for a while with me and my other new friend Jackie until he got back to the street where his car was parked.  We even passed a race photographer, so there might be a picture of me and my two new friends together.

The topography of this course was WAY tougher than Space Coast, with a bunch of hills (granted, I know Florida hills aren't really such a big deal) and a large portion of the course on brick roadways, which are sort of tough on the ankles.  And Orlando's neighborhoods weren't quite as breathtaking as Cocoa and Rockledge.  But there was something special about this race I can't put my finger on that I really liked.

I know I was way in the back of the field - by the halfway point, the traffic cops were letting cars cross the road in front of and behind us - and that was a little unsettling, but I really appreciated not having to jostle for position.  (actually, I just looked my results up - I finished 3305 out of 3344.  Doesn't get much closer to DFL than that!)  And there was no one else finishing around me, so for the first time in any of my races, I actually heard the announcer say my name.  I looked over at him and smiled and yelled "hey that's ME!"  And then I crossed the line, got my medal and my water/Gatorade/banana/mini muffin (did I mention the race was sponsored by Publix? mmm...muffin...), and wandered around the post-race party enjoying my chocolate milk and beer (not at the same time).

It's unlikely I'll do distance races two weeks in a row again any time soon, and if the weeks line up the same way next year I will probably choose Space Coast, but I really do want to try this race again when I'm in better physical condition.  Like I said, there was something really special about it that I want to try again.

My Race Stats:
Clock Time: 3:23:25
Chip Time: 3:20:33
Pace: 15:18
Overall Place: 3305/3344
Division Place: 299/303

My Splits (according to RunKeeper):
mile 1: 12:52 min/mi
mile 2: 13:50 min/mi
mile 3: 13:46 min/mi
mile 4: 14:31 min/mi
mile 5: 14:28 min/mi
mile 6: 14:16 min/mi
mile 7: 14:40 min/mi
mile 8: 14:42 min/mi
mile 9: 14:42 min/mi
mile 10: 14:54 min/mi
mile 11: 15:48 min/mi
mile 12: 17:34 min/mi (Mimosa stop included)
mile 13: 16:02 min/mi

...and so I finished my THIRD half-marathon of 2013 with a time halfway between my first and second.  I have a beautiful new medal that I can't wait to show off at work on Monday.  And I have two new friends.  I'm exhausted, I've been alternating ice packs on my ankles all afternoon, and the same blister from last week now has another blister under it.  But I'm good.  I feel happy and strong and really freaking proud.

Next weekend is my last race of the year, a 4k "beer run" I'm doing with Scott. There's some rain in the forecast, but at least it'll be a little cooler than today.  I'm looking forward to a race I won't have to train for, and one I'm likely to not finish 4th from last!

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