Sunday, November 09, 2008

RR: Orange Blossom Half Marathon

November 9, 2008. Tavares, Florida.

Reader's Digest version: 2:31:02, about 13-1/2 minutes off my previous half PR from back in January. I heard separately from two guys with Garmins that the course was about 1/2 mile long, which Linae and I both figured since mile 3 seemed really really LONG.

Saturday afternoon: After driving the two hours from Hudson to Tavares, we pretty much wandered around this little town looking for City Hall. The only directions given to us was, "It's by the lake." What they failed to mention was that were TWO lakes. Apparently, they just assumed everyone knew which lake they were talking about. No address. No cross streets. Nothing. And the website was no help, either. So finally, after driving around the wrong lake, going the wrong way, Linae with her GPS and me with my TomTom (neither of which was much help,) we finally stumbled upon packet pickup. Right across the street from O'Keefe's Irish Pub. Guess where we wound up :)

After a glass of cider (above,) we drove into Clermont to Dave's Tri Homestay. Dave is a pretty fun guy. We made friends with his conures Frick and Frack, and I scratched the ears of a cat or two he had running around outside his house. He had some pro triathletes staying there, which was cool. Dave, Linae, and I headed over to Olive Garden for some cheesy, starchy goodness, then we came back, watched a program on Lance Armstrong that Dave pretty much insisted we see (I think I may have nodded off--Linae referred to it as the Lance Infomercial,) then cleaned up a bit and hit the rack.

Sunday morning: It was kind of chilly, and Linae had the foresight to bring a couple of trash bags to keep us warm. We tossed them right before the horn, and then we were off. I hung with Linae for just under 4 miles (or it might have actually *been* 4 miles, since mile 3 was long,) and then I dropped back a bit. I was feeling pretty good through about 7 miles, and then I started to hurt a bit, so I slowed down and eventually walked a little. My "A" goal was 2:35, and I had a bit of a cushion thanks to Linae's pacing, so I figured it wouldn't hurt. What I forgot was what it does to me mentally once I start walking--I tend to not feel like *running* because walking feels so much better. And that was my undoing for the next couple of miles :-P I started playing mind games with myself: "Okay, I'll run to the cone, which is mile 9." I'd then get to the cone, forgetting that there was also a cone for mile 8. "F*&k!! All right, second cone is mile 9. Next f*&king cone, next f*&king cone, I can walk a bit when I hit the next f*&king cone...." So that went on until about mile 11 :)

When I hit mile 10 and realized that I could pretty much walk the rest of the way and make 2:35, I settled into a comfortable, sustainable pace. Right before I hit mile 11, I saw a pink top and striped pink skirt walking a bit ahead of me. I figure I'm hallucinating--No way is that Linae. So I sped up a bit, and sure enough, it's her. And she's limping pretty badly. I pull up to her, ask her if she's all right, which I don't know why I asked because she obviously wasn't, but you know....She says she's in excruciating pain and tears up, which makes me tear up (because if I'm in the room, nobody cries alone,) then she gave me the car key since I'll get to the finish line before her. I take the key and keep walking next to her. She looks at me and says, "Why are you walking?? RUN!!" So I did. As I'm pulling away, I hear her call out, "If they have any beer, save me one!"

Right at mile 13, I reeled in this dude I had been leapfrogging all morning, looked at my watch, which read exactly 2:30, and told him how I had wanted to go sub 2:30. He looked at his Garmin and said, "If it makes you feel any better, we're actually at 13.5 miles." Huh. Yeah, it does a little. We crossed the finish line, I got my medal and a bottle of water, went to the car to get our long-sleeve race tshirts, went back to the post-race party, and pulled two beers out of the cooler. The guy behind me laughs and says, "9:30 on a Sunday morning and you're double-fisting it! My kinda girl!" I said, "Yeah, I earned these bad boys!" He said, "Especially since the course was long," and showed me his Garmin (sounds dirty, but isn't.)

I met Linae at the 13 mile mark, gave her her beer, we ate donuts (suddenly we're Homer Simpson with the beer and donuts,) hung out a bit, I went and got the car because she could barely walk at all at that point, and we headed back to Dave's to clean up. We headed back home and stopped for cheeseburgers along the way (heaven...)

Next month's half: sub-2:30 on an accurate course ;)

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