Friday, March 7, 2014


Considering I have lived in Florida almost my entire life (I was born in New York and moved to the Sunshine State when I was nine), it always amazes me when we decide to do a race in “parts unknown.”  First it was De Leon Springs; now it was DeBary.  Pam and Mary had participated in this race last year, and had nothing but good things to say about it.  For me, it was one look at the finisher’s medal, and I was all in.

Since Pam, Jen and Mary were all doing the race with me this year, the game plan was to take two cars to DeBary, which was less than two hours from Jen’s house.  This way, I could drive home right after the race, and Jen could get a lift home from Pam.  I left my house later than usual on Saturday morning, in an effort to get as much sleep as I could.  After watching the Gators pummel LSU on the hardwood, Jen, Dan and I met Mary for dinner.  One of the weirdest things for me is how early I go to sleep the night before a race.  Since I was planning on getting up at 3:15am, it was lights out around 9pm.  I don’t think I went to bed that early when I was a kid!

We were out the door before 4:30am, and the drive was pretty much straightforward.  We met up with Pam and Mary as soon as we parked, and picked up our race packets.  It was around 52 degrees, so we hung out in the car until we had to make our way to the starting line.  There were 823 runners taking on the half marathon, with another 386 participants in the 5K.  I think the race promoters did a fantastic job of getting the word out about this race.  They even had a presence at the Miami Marathon expo, as well as at the De Leon Springs Half Marathon.  This was Mary’s first half marathon since her knee surgery last year, so Jen promised she would stay with her, even if it meant a good amount of walking.  That is the very essence of why I enjoy running so much.  It’s about hanging out with good friends and taking lots of pictures.  Pam and I would stick together, in the hopes of running a faster pace than usual.

This was the first race Pam and I had run together this season, so we blabbed the entire time.  I took my one and only potty break within the first two miles, and it was all good after that.  The course wasn’t particularly scenic, but it wasn’t ugly by any means.  It did seem to get prettier during the last five miles of the race.  We were talking so much, I didn’t even notice that I was running my fastest half marathon since the Coral Springs Half Marathon last March.  As we got to the water station at mile 12, there was a special guest beverage to go along with the water and the Gatorade…Beer!  Talk about a pick-me-up; it was a refreshing energy shot that propelled us to the finish line. During the last half mile of the race, I told Pam that I wanted to pass this dude in front of us.  As I kicked it into high gear, this hippie looking spectator on the side of the road was shouting at me “now that’s how it’s done.”  I was laughing so hard, tears were running down my cheeks.  After Pam and I crossed the finish line, Mary sent us a text about a half mile before she and Jen finished and asked us to find some ice for her knee.  It swelled up a little bit, but thankfully nothing serious.

The after party was very picturesque, but very crowded.  Not in the same league as the Clearwater Half Marathon, but lots of fun nevertheless.  We then made our way to the Swamp House Grill & Tiki Bar for a well-deserved lunch with our fellow runners.  As we relaxed by the water, I was sorry that this racing season was drawing towards a conclusion.