I knew it was out there. This tiny local half marathon in December. My sister ran it last year, and there wasn’t even a medal. I waited while my body recovered from all that was Space Coast, and then, last Thursday, hit the go button. And immediately regretted my decision. But it was too late. I’d already roped Mark and my sister into running the Holiday Half with me.
Saturday morning was beautiful and the three of us hopped into the car and drove the 30 minutes to the race start. This race is so tiny that there is no expo, you just pick up your packet on race morning. Mark likes to be early, so we still had 45 minutes until the start. Or so we thought. See, the race was similar to Space Coast in that its run down a long residential waterfront road, so there is a strict 3 hour course limit. I am no where near 3 hour half marathon shape right now, especially coming off the first real week of training for Gasparilla. We did some investigating and saw that every year there has been finishers over the 3 hour mark, so we decided to do our thing and hope for the best.
While we were getting our packets, they made an announcement that they would do an early start for the half marathon in 8 minutes. Oh my God! Yay I’m gonna finish, but dang I gotta run back to the car with my stuff and look at that port-a-potty line! I did what any good runner would do: panicked and went in the woods. Mercifully my sister brought some TP!
The three of us walked to the start line. There was a small amount of chaos while the volunteers wrote down our bib numbers and figured out what start watch to use. Nothing was really official since they’ed already let at least 2 more people start even earlier. But then, we were off!
courtesy Port City Pacers
Mile 1-4 (14:49, 15:07, 15:54, 15:12)
With all the excitement at the start, it took me a couple of miles to calm my nerves (and my stomach) a little bit. Mark and I planned to use the same 3/1:30 run/walk intervals we’d used a couple of weeks ago at Space Coast. Intervals were a new concept to my sister, who recently PR’ed the half in 2:09, and I figured she’d get bored with us an take off at some point, but she didn’t. She was determined to see me through to the finish.
Mile 5-8 (15:07, 15:33, 15:45, 15:35)
Somewhere around 5ish, my back started to give me some problems, and around 6.5 my IT band started to tighten up again. After the halfway point, I started having to stretch it every time I went from a walk to a run, so that slowed me down a bit. I was also starting to get really hot. I kept thinking that I needed to get the hat off my head, but then I’d remember I was wearing a visor! This part of the course didn’t have any shade so I think that was the issue. I took an extra salt tab and that helped some.
Mile 9 – 12 (16:28, 15:50, 15:44, 15:22)
I think there was a water stop and I refilled my handheld during mile 9, which would explain that split. Somewhere in here my IT band stopped bothering me as bad so I didn’t have to stop to stretch it every time I’d start to run. At mile 10 I really started having a tough time, so my sister and Mark had to play bad cop, telling me no when I’d ask if I could walk extra, and to stop looking at my watch. The goal of the day was to get me a PR, and they were going to help me come hell or high water. I kept the self-talk positive, reminded myself of how little training I was working under, and never doubted I would finish.
Mile 13 and 13.1 (14:45, 13:05)
Annnnnndddd my last mile was my fastest! I am as proud of that as I am anything! I kept my splits fairly even, and when I got to the 12 mile marker, picked it up a little. OK, Mark and my sister picked it up a little and I just hung with them for dear life. But when I saw the cones to turn left to the finish, I got a shot of adrenaline and took off. Mark said he had a tough time keeping up with me! I got an 8 and a half minute PR, and for the first time felt like somebody should feel at the end of a half marathon – exhausted and elated.
I can’t eat much after races, but I did discover that Coke tastes awesome, so I had some of that and a half a banana. I tried desperately to eat some ice cream, because Cammie’s Old Dutch makes the BEST stuff, but I only could really manage a bite or two. At least they didn’t run out of food though.
Oh, and why did we do all of this? Because, this:
Half Fanatic #9964! Proud to be part of the Asylum!
Total time: 3:23:24
Place: 236/ 240
Age: 19/ 19
For such a tiny race, it was pretty good. Last year there was no medal, so I was happy they had them this year. Nothing fancy, but it will do. I mean, the entry fee was $25 and they don’t have any sponsors. I do wish they would’ve let me know when I asked that there would be a 30 minute early start. if we hadn’t happen to get there extremely early, we would’ve missed out.
Pretty super duper flat. A long out and back with 3-4 out and back miles on the way back on the main road. Its not as nice as Space Coast because the houses are on the water side so you can’t really see it. But still nice in some places.
My sister told us in 2013 there was one water stop at the confluence of the two out and backs, so you go by 4 times, and that they ran out of water, so Mark and I brought our handhelds, expecting to provide for ourselves. But the organizers did much better this year. There were stations every 2 or so miles on the main road with both water and Gatorade, and port-a-potties at 6.5 and the out and back corner. They could probably use one more station on the smaller out and back, but still a huge improvement.
Well, there was none. I mean, literally none. But the volunteers at the water stations were great, and the ones at the finish were probably some of the best I’ve had at any race. And the other runners were super supportive too, so that helped.
Would I do it again? Probably not. Am I sorry I did it? Not a bit!
I’m going to take a couple of weeks off for the holidays. I’ll see you all in the new year.