Today's race was great, I loved it! Things went well, I did my best and had a good time.
Since this race was just a little bit over an hour drive away and my parents would be in town, we booked a room and stayed at a nearby hotel, the Alden Beach Resort which had a special deal for runners with late checkout so we could shower afterward. Forecast was initially good but it deteriorated as it got closer to race day. So, it went from high 60's start, to low 70's to finally mid 70's start.
We drove to the park and got there just before 6:00. Fort De Soto is at the entrance to Tampa Bay and has some great beaches and nice scenery. Jenny and I warmed up in the parking lot with me doing just over two and a half and Jenny doing closer to 3 (she was trying to get in a total of 20 miles for the day). We ran into lots of people we knew who were doing the race.
We lined up and I moved up somewhat close to the beginning but not at the very front. The race started and we were off. Beginning was crowded and it took a little while for people to spread out. There were a good amount of people in costumes, some geared towards running and some looking like they were carrying a heavy burden, but it certainly made the atmosphere festive.
Before today (back when the forecast look better), I had some visions of maybe breaking 1:26 today. I had also thought about trying to adjust to running a steady pace and breaking 1:30, maybe getting a few seconds ahead of my PR. Instead, I decided to just do the best I could and see what would happen.
First mile felt tough. I gradually picked up my pace and was pleased to see I would get in the 6:40's for my first mile, so I set that as my goal. The first 5K was on a loop course running part of the way on the road and then into a palm wooded area before heading back to the parking lot. Just after the first mile I was running next to a guy who I talked to for a bit and asked him what his goal was. He said, break 1:30, but we were running a little faster than that so I said ok and hung along side him for a while. Running through the loop course I saw Jenny and also some other people I knew who shouted out cheers of encouragement.
We made it back to the starting line area and I saw my pace slowing down a little bit so I did what I could to bring it back up but didn't want to over do it. The next 10 miles consisted of 5 miles out and then back, mostly along bike trail with some road portions near the turn around point.
As we headed out along this portion, the line was very spread out, there was a breeze in some of the open areas. I found myself get into a decent rhythm. As I neared the half way point I was thinking about how much better I was feeling than when I was at this point in the race at Moab. I also felt better than my previous half marathon before that at the Clearwater Half marathon. Maybe I could hang in there today.
We ran past the actual fort in Fort De Soto and then I kept my eyes on the big flagpole near the park entrance. Running past that I knew it wasn't much farther to the out and back turn around point. As I got closer to the turn around point I saw Eric go flying by as he had already hit the turn around, looking very strong. People were holding up despite the heat, and actually for a short time the air was a little more comfortable just after the sun came up but before it was very high.
I soon hit the turn around point and then shortly after that saw the 8 mile sign. Not too long after that I saw Jenny coming the other way, looking strong. We high-fived each other and I shouted out that I loved her and was rewarded with a feeling that I could keep hanging in there. Reaching the 9 mile point was good but is also a tough distance for me, need to make it to mile 11 before I feel like I can make it. Usually if I'm running at this pace the farthest I go is 8 miles, so I'm moving into unknown territory for distance at this pace.
Finally I see the 11 mile sign and had just managed one of my faster miles for the race. Just two miles left! Hang in there. So, that's what I did, make it to the 12 mile sign then start the under one mile countdown. Did what I could to pick up the pace for the last mile and extra bit past that, focused on the finish line. Glad to see that the clock still started with 1:27.
Went through the chute where Eric was waiting for me and handed me a cold water. Walked around a bit then grabbed the camera to go look for Jenny. Saw Jenny around mile 12 or just after that. She had a very focused look on her face. Today was the day she was determined to finally break 1:50. Cooler weather would have been nicer but that was not provided (everything else was). After mile 12 there is a short out and back before heading into the parking lot, so I waited at the next spot. Saw her again then rushed over to the finish line to snap a picture as she crossed the line. She made it with 1:48:12 on the clock (1:48:03 chip time).
Here are my splits:
6:46, 6:31, 6:23, 6:47, (:24 to sync my Garmin back up), 6:47, 6:36, 6:37, 6:40, 6:47, 6:43, 6:33, 6:40, 6:28, 0:49 (0.13 @ 6:19)
Jenny then headed over to the beach and ran another 4 miles to round out 20 for the day.
We waited around for awards and enjoyed lots of great food and free beer while waiting as well as catching up with friends and race day stories.
I received a nice big plaque for 3rd place masters and Jenny received one of the extra big star fish medals for 2nd in her age group.
Unfortunately, after the race my left leg pain started up again. Not terrible, but enough to worry about, need to figure out what this is before I continue on.