Wednesday, December 21, 2016


One of the great things about living in Florida is the weather.  When it’s in single digits around the country and piled up with snow, we are rocking temperatures around 80 degrees.  One of the bad things about living in Florida is also the weather.  It never gets cold.  Not even in December.

I love going to Mount Dora this time of year.  The town reminds me of Stars Hollow (I didn’t see Taylor or Kirk), and the holiday lights are amazing.  In the four previous years, the temperature had dipped into the 50s and 60s.  This year, we strolled (and raced) in a winter wonderland of temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

The whole family went up on Friday afternoon, as Lindsey had signed up for the 5K.  We stayed at the Mount Dora Historic Inn, since we had such a positive experience last year.  As we walked around before dinner, one thing stuck out like a sore thumb…very few people in town.  Maybe the warmer temperatures kept visitors away, but we had never seen the town so empty.  In previous years, you could not get into a restaurant without reservations; this year, we were able to walk right in.

After sleeping in on Saturday morning, Lindsey and I went to pick up our race packets.  The tee shirts were nice (as always) and the race bib was very festive.  This was the fifth anniversary of the race, and I was getting a commemorative jacket for participating all five years.  There were only 23 of us receiving this prize, but we would have to wait until we finished the race to get our hands on the goods.  We walked around town most of the day, and sat by the lake for a few hours.  I took some photos of the Christmas tree and the holiday lights before dinner, but it just seemed so strange doing it in shorts.


The half marathon started at 7am, with the 5K starting at 7:15.  Lindsey had been suffering from an LCL sprain, and was hoping for a pain-free run.  1,077 participants made their way to the starting line, which was an increase of 427 from 2015 (463 runners entered the 5K).  With the temperature around 73 degrees, it was 25 degrees warmer than last year.  I remembered running this race injured last year (see previous post), and was happy the patella injury was now a thing of the past.  As we were on our merry way, I caught up with fellow Turtles Marlo and Amy.  I noticed they were doing intervals, and Amy convinced me to do the same (great decision).  Training with Mary and Lindsey has shown me the advantages of interval running, especially if you are starting out, or looking to increase your distance.  Since this race is so hilly (especially compared to South Florida), this was a good opportunity to see how it would work out.  I did 4x1 intervals (run four minutes; walk one minute), which actually made the race more enjoyable.  As I navigated my way through the course, I noticed a large amount of runners doing intervals as well.  As warm as it was, the sky was totally overcast, and the humidity was not that high.  Lindsey text me after she finished her 5K to give me the unfortunate news that her LCL was hurting big-time.  Oh the life of a runner!


My finishing time was not the best, but certainly not the worst.  Rachel got some great photos of me, and the medal was very nice.  I was then able to get my hot little hands on my five-year jacket, but of course Dunkin’ Donuts ran out food once again (they should get a jacket for not having enough food for all of the finishers for the fifth year in a row).  We met up with Lisa, Chuck, Angela, Marlo and Amy after the race, who invited us grab a bite to eat with them.  Jen was driving in from Belleview to meet us for lunch, so we had to politely decline.  After a quick shower, we packed up the car and walked over the Lakeside Inn for some well-earned grub

This race continues to deliver, and I’m sure I’ll be back next year.  Next up, Clearwater (and a milestone).


Tuesday, December 13, 2016


With the summer officially over, I was very excited to get back to racing.  I was also excited to grab that early registration special for $25!

Just to give a brief recap, the knee has felt great.  I managed the mileage very judiciously over the summer by running more days with shorter distances.  I usually kept my long runs between 8 and 11 miles, with the exception of one special 16-mile run with Mary (as she was training for the Marine Corps Marathon).  The biggest surprise of the summer (and fall) was the addition of my new running buddy.

My daughter Lindsey decided she now enjoyed running.  Lindsey had been going to Zumba a few days a week for quite some time, and was in phenomenal shape.  In past years, she had participated in the Tamarac Turkey Trot, but had to walk part of the time.  Her mission this year was to run the entire race, and I became her personal trainer.  Needless to say, it did not take long, and she actually finished about one-minute ahead of me.  Her next race was the Flanigan's Rockin' Rib Run 10K, which took place on November 20th at Vista View Park.  I did not run the race, as I was “working” the event for Runner’s Depot. I did capture her crossing the finish line, and her pace was excellent.  She has already signed up for the Miami Half Marathon and the Gasparilla Amber Challenge.  Needless to say, I’m a proud papa.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the Weston Run for Tomorrow Half Marathon is not one of my favorite races.  It’s not terrible, but it is on the low-budget side.  I had to skip this race last year because of my patella, and was looking forward to the event.  The course changed slightly this year, as the start and finish took place in front of Cypress Bay High School.  The course is an out-and-back on major roads, but the scenery is very pretty.  One major improvement this year was the shirts and the medals.  In previous years, the race shirt was cotton, and was exactly the same every year.  This year, the race entered the polyester era.  Still nothing to write home about, but improvement nevertheless.  The medal was a spinner and die cast, which was a big improvement.

This race started at 6:20am, which is earlier than most half marathons.  534 participants made their way to the starting line, with the temperature right around 73 degrees.  There was rain in the forecast for the entire day, but it never came down hard enough to make it difficult to run.  On a positive note, the precipitation kept the sun under wraps the entire time.

I felt very good during the entire race, considering I was at the tail end of one of my infamous four-week colds.  I started getting a little tired around the 11-mile mark, but caught a second-wind and finished very strong.  My only negative was the Mayor’s One-Mile Challenge, which had started a few minutes before I would cross the finish line.  As I came down the stretch, I had to dodge a group of kids sprinting towards the finish line with their parents.  I also felt the crowd at the end of the race were there more for the kids, as opposed to the half-marathoners.  That being said, this would not have been an issue if I were a wee bit faster.

All-in-all, a very positive experience, with a major milestone coming up soon.  Keep reading to find out.