Fresh off the disappointment known as De Leon Springs, I was really stoked to run the Clearwater Half Marathon. I don’t often venture out to the west coast of Florida, but I’ve never had anything but positive experiences when I do. Jen is a frequent visitor to that area, and assured me that the course would be truly picturesque. The race was the same day as the Ocala Marathon, so it was a great excuse to venture out of our comfort zone. When they released the course map (and the medal), I just had this gut feeling that this race was going to be a blast!
The added bonus of doing this race was that we were FINALLY going to get some cold weather. The question was just how cold was it going to get. Having learned a major lesson the last time I ran 26.2 With Donna (see 2/12/12 post), I literally spent as much time selecting outfits as Cher from Clueless. It was in the mid fifties when I drove up to Jen on Saturday, but there was no way I was going to take a chance of an artic blast. We drove to Gainesville to do some shopping on campus, only to stumble into a Cosplay convention going on inside the Union. Was this my lucky day or what?
Clearwater is about two hours from Jen’s house. Since the race was scheduled to start at 7am, we planned to be out the door by 4am. I went to sleep at 9pm, which has to be a personal record for me. When my alarm went off, it was 30 degrees outside; race temperatures were expected to be around 45-48 degrees. I decided to sport the long pants, long sleeve shirt, and running jacket ensemble for the run. It was easy to find Coachman Park, and after getting out of the car, we picked up our race shirt and bib. We had the choice of either a long-sleeve cotton or a short-sleeve tech race shirt, and the race chips needed to be laced in our running shoes (kickin’ it old school).
As we stood at the starting line, there were 1,502 runners participating in this event (357 for the 5 mile run, 679 for the half marathon, and 466 for the marathon). When the sun came up, we instantly realized that we were probably overdressed for the occasion. Once the gun sounded, we took off our jackets within the first two miles of the race. The lesson here is throwaway clothes!
The course was beautiful. We ran on the beach for the first two miles, then over a couple of bridges with water on both sides. Around mile five, we did a lap through Sand Key Park. This was no ordinary out-and-back course; we had so much to take in aesthetically, my eyes were figuratively bulging out of my head! The race was mostly flat (except for the bridges), and the adrenaline was definitely pumping. The cooler temperature made it delightful, even with a long sleeve shirt and running pants. The race ended by going down a spiral ramp, similar the ones you see in football stadiums. We did have a chuckle discussing the possibility of there being no medals for us at the end (see my last post), but we knew that this race was way too organized for that to happen.
The post-race activities were outstanding. There was a stage at Coachman Park with a dude singing and playing guitar for the crowd. The food, which included pancakes and vegetable pasta, was exceptional; they even served beer and chocolate milk. This was so first class, we did not want to leave. If I were to do this race again (I’m sure I will), bringing chairs and hanging out at the park would be a definite must.
I can honestly say this was the most enjoyable race I have participated in in quite some time, and would highly recommend to all my running friends. Now the attention shifts towards Miami.
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON