Homegrown, local races are the absolute best! There is a race series here in Tampa Bay called the Florida Gulf Beaches Road Races. They hold 4 race weekends a year, ranging from 5k’s all the way up to 50k’s. I have been able to participate in their races for the past couple of years. Last year, I ran in the 5k when I was 23 weeks pregnant. Needless to say, that race was a wee bit different in exerted effort. This past weekend, I participated in the Florida Halloween Halfathon as my first race since Grant was born. It was fantastic!
I woke up nice and early and made the 35 minute drive to Fort Desoto where the race was being held. Its always good to get there a bit early because it is on an island – one way on and one way off. The traffic can be a bit backed up getting to the parking lot, but once you are there, parking is a cinch!
Since the race is in a state park, there are no porto potties – just regular bathrooms that surround the parking lot. That is a big win in my book! After using the facilities and getting in a mile and a half warm up, I got to the start just in time for the national anthem. As soon as the clock struck 7:05, we were off!
The very beginning of the course takes the runner around a nice picnic area, which winds around a few parking lot back in the trees. I feel like the first 3 miles always fly by, which is wonderful! After getting out of the first 5k or so, the course is a straight out and back on the island. This never bothers me, because it is very calculated and you know exactly what you have coming up. I know some people don’t like this type of course, but it definitely is great for me! The only bad part is it it’s a windy day. Luckily, we didn’t have this issue this past weekend.
I started out with a pretty quick pace, settling in around the 7:50 mark. Since it has been a long time since I ran that pace (I’ve been doing no speed work!) I decided to just go with how I felt. If I completely bonked further into the race – oh well. I would learn my lesson. I kept looking ahead and different female runners, seeing who I could pick off in the pack. After getting to about mile 5, I wasn’t passed by a single female runner. I pretty much made it a game – who can I pass from now until the end?! The course is lined with seat oats and is right on the water. There are so many great views to take in, especially with the sunrise!
I settled into my pace a bit more, and ended up at a pretty comfortable 7:30 for a majority of the race. I was able to pass a few more women, so I could add a few check marks to my game. With an out and back course, keeping your mind off of the monotony is key – little games like this works perfect for me.
Before I knew it, I was back to the fort area, where 700 boyscouts happened to be camping out for the night. Their cheers and support was really great. It is usually a very desolate course when it comes to spectators, so seeing all of the boys out there supporting us was great. A lot of them had never seen a road race, so I think a lot of them enjoyed it to.The fort is about a 5k away from the finish, so with only 3 miles to go, I tried to pick it up a bit more. It only lasted for about a mile though, and I slowed down just a bit from miles 11-12. As soon as I got to mile 12 with only 1 mile to go, I dug really deep and pretty much told myself to suck it up. I wasn’t blowing a great race on the last mile.
I ended up finishing in 1:40:03 per my chip time, which earned me 3rd place in my age group and the 12 female overall, holding a 7:39 average pace. I’m still trying to figure out why the results list the gun time as the result, instead of the chip time, which is listed on another results page. Oh well, no big deal there!
Regardless, I felt extremely happy with the race and my time. It definitely wasn’t a PR, but for my first race after having Grant, I thought I killed it.
With the absence of speedwork in my training plan, holding a 7:40 pace for 13 miles is a big win in my book. Oh, and this great medal doesn’t hurt either!
This race always has the best medals! Grant thinks so too!