I have to admit…running has changed for me since my “Four Marathons in Five Weeks” adventure earlier this year. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but it seems as if I have totally lost my mojo. I’ve been training just as hard, but it’s been more of a chore than something I enjoy. I don’t know if the five marathons I did this past running season burned me out, but I definitely have not embraced my running since the last marathon in February. The obvious exceptions are the times I run with Jen, Pam and Elaine. Once football season started, I’ve had the opportunity to run with them on the weekends. Elaine and Pam had been in training for the New York City Marathon, and I joined them for a “casual” 20-mile training run a few weeks ago. I’ve even run through the “mean streets” of Belleview with Jen at 4am, which was both exciting and scary at the same time. It became obvious what was missing…I needed to start racing again!
It’s been a long layoff between races, with the only motivation during the dog days of summer is to keep you in race condition. That only carries so much weight, as you drag yourself out of bed at 4am to bang out 15 miles in 85-degree heat (even before the sun comes up). As Jen, Elaine, Pam and I planned out our race schedules, it seemed as if December would be the target month for me. I really wanted something sooner, and Jen made a couple of great suggestions. The first was obvious: The Tom Walker Half Marathon. This run takes place in Micanopy, which is on the outskirts of Gainesville. The second was even more intriguing: The Blue Moon Half Marathon.
The Blue Moon Half Marathon takes place in Palm Harbor, which is in the general vicinity of Clearwater. Since the race was on the same weekend as a Gators football game against Missouri, we could drive from Jen’s house early Sunday morning, which would only be two hours away. Jen had participated in this race before, and the entry fee was very reasonable. My only sacrifice to enter this race and the Tom Walker Half Marathon (from a financial standpoint) was to give up the Florida/Georgia game in Jacksonville, which turned out to be a good decision. Since I run at least 13.1 miles every weekend, I’m always trained for a half marathon; all systems were a go!
This would turn out to be a weekend that everything seemed to fall into place. For starters, the Gators game started at noon (thanks to a loss to Georgia the week before). This combined with Daylight Savings Time ending (spring forward; fall back), we would at least be guaranteed a decent amount of sleep. We started tailgating around 8am on Saturday morning, and after enduring another poor performance by the orange and blue, we hung out at Lindsey’s apartment for a little while. We got back to Jen’s house around 7:30, and I was asleep by 10.
My alarm was set for 3am, but I was already awake when it went off. We were out the door by 4am and on our way to Palm Harbor. I woke up with a really bad tension headache, which was probably due to sitting in the sun during a noon football game without a hat (the Ibuprofen and coffee didn’t seem to help). The fog was really thick the whole drive to Palm Harbor and it seemed as if we were the only car on the highway. We arrived around 6am in one piece, without a single deer crossing the road.
Since we could not pick up our race packets until 6:30, we stood in line and watched the race volunteers set up their tables. There were a total of 641 participants (293 for the half marathon and 348 for the 5K), but you would have thought they were preparing for the Boston Marathon. Can you say overkill? When we finally got our race packets, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was arguably the nicest race shirt I’ve ever received. After some pre-race photos, it was now time to start the half marathon.
Jen’s back had been bothering her to the point of having to see a doctor earlier in the week. I tried to slow down my pace to stay with her, but she told me not to worry and just take off. The course was very pretty, as we ran through some very nice neighborhoods. We also ran on a running/bicycle trail, but apparently no one told the bikers that there was a race that day…awkward! The course also took us along the water a little bit, which always makes it that much more scenic. I was really feeling it, and my pace was very strong and consistent. I started getting a little tired around the nine-mile mark, but I refused to let myself slow down. I caught a second-wind after that, and I was impressed on just how many runners I passed in the last three miles. In fact, I passed two runners in the last one-tenth of the race.
As I crossed the finish line, I was really proud of my performance. I did not PR the race, but I did have a negative split. As I waited for Jen to “bring it on home,” I realized that my mojo was now back. Nine months without any kind of race (even a 5K) was way too long. I’ve also decided that I may concentrate more on half marathons instead of full marathons, as the training is not as intense. My next marathon is Mt. Dora, but I may downgrade the race to the half. That being said, I’ve been known to change my mind, especially when the adrenaline is flowing.
Racing season has officially started!
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON