I knew last week that I was going to run another 13 miler as my long run over the weekend. I figured since I was running a half marathon in distance, I might as well find an actual half marathon to run. After all, I love a race shirt and bling. I googled around and found a race in sorta-nearby-ish Clermont, FL, The Florida Half Marathon
Fortunately, I was picking up a friend from Orlando who was in town for the weekend from Cali and it gave me even more incentive to do this race. Clermont is basically in the middle of Tampa and Orlando. Clermont is also the location of the frakin hilly arse tri that almost killed me before I learned how to gear properly on my bike. 
The race took place at Lake Louisa State Park and was noted to be partial trail and partial road. It started at 8 AM and that gave me time to get out there, register, and then be in Orlando by noonish to pick up my visiting pal, Dr. S. This is probably the first race I’ve ever headed to completely by myself with no friends spectating or waiting for me at the finish. I just considered it a long run with a bonus and brought my iPod along for company.
Stolen from the interwebs.
As I drove into the entrance of the park I noticed the a few hills and just told myself it would be good for training. I got to the registration table and was pleasantly surprised by great quality long sleeved t-shirts and a nice goodie bag. I paid and made my way to the start.
It was pretty small group doing the half. There was a 10K and 5K option too. I chatted with a woman who said she too was training for Ragnar and we discussed how we were both a little nervous about the trails. As a self-professed non trail runner I have no idea what possessed me to run this race.
The race started on time and off we went. I started out faster than I probably should have but I didn’t want to end up in the back and get lost on some trail. Again, I’m not a trail runner so I wasn’t too sure how well the course would be marked. I ran fairly hard the first 5K and tried to reel it in around mile five. It worked out perfectly at the time because I fell in step with a man name Frances and we chatted about how we both just randomly found this race and needed to slow it down some. Frances wasn’t a trail runner either so we periodically took turns saying “Oof” and “Whoa” and “This is hard!” Heh.
Florida trails are essentially different from other trails. Or so I’ve heard. There are stretches of sand and dirt. And clay. Then there are stretches of grass. This was how this race went. The sand and dirt parts totally sucked because my feet would slip behind me as I ran. I certainly used some different muscles for this race. We ran on trail for a few of these miles and then back on the road for a couple of miles. Then trail again. (In true road runner fashion, I cheered whenever we hit the small spots of pavement.)
As we approached mile eight we caught a runner who appeared to be in my age group and I got a boost and wanted to pick up the pace. Frances told me to go ahead and good luck. I sped up and put the iPod back on full blast.
I saw another woman in front of me who was moving fast and I didn’t know if I could catch her. She had on a camel back water thingy (technical term) and looked like a true trail runner.
Here’s the thing with races and me. If I am left to my own devices, I will try to catch people if I think they are in my age group. I can’t help it. I knew it was a small race and if I didn’t try to catch her I may end up at the end of the race, as I have at others, wishing I would have picked it up. If I didn’t feel good, I may not have bothered, but I was actually having some fun out there and decided to push it.
As I continued to pick it up, I got closer and closer to her. I finally passed her thinking that if she had any left in the tank toward the end I was screwed. Heh.
By this point it was mile ten or so and the the trail brought us nearer to the road. I wasn’t sure how far behind me the trail woman was so I just listened to my music and tried to keep up the pace. At a big right turn I looked behind me and didn’t see her. That was a relief because we exited the trail around mile eleven and had a hill to run up. We ran up on a fork in the road and I wasn’t sure which way to go because it wasn’t marked. I looked behind me and didn’t see anyone. I stopped running and sort of stood there for a minute deciding what to do. I finally saw trail woman coming up. I yelled out, “Which way?” She yelled back, “To the left!” And off I went.
I was definitely tired by mile twelve and so ready to see that mile marker for 13. I made it to the finish line and was pleased with my time and the fact that I had completed an actual trail race. Go me.
I grabbed my medal and a water and waited to see them post the results. As I waited trail woman came up and told me great job and I told her the same. She said she was sorry for yelling so loudly and I told her I was glad she did. I would have stood there for longer had she not helped me. I saw Frances come in about three minutes after I did so I cheered him in.
Probably my most favorite part of the day was meeting Pati. Pati came up to me after the race and asked if I wrote a blog. I  told her yes and she said she was a lurker. She also said she’d been reading my blog for a couple of years. I cannot tell you how cool that felt! It was even cooler because she was super sweet and fun to chat with. Pati got first in her age group for the 10K. You go Pati!
My new BFF Pati and me.
I chatted with Pati for a while and we waited for the awards. She had to hit the road after she got hers and we saw that I got first in mine as they put up the 1/2 marathon results. At first I thought there were only two in my age group but then the third lady came in. Apparently neither of these ladies cared about the award as much as I did so when they called me up I was on the podium all by myself. Lookin’ like a jackass. As per usual. Heh.
I asked some random people to stand up there. They said no.
The official times aren’t up yet. or at least I can’t fine them, but Garmin time was 1:55 something. I’m super happy I did this race. I loved meeting Pati and the change in pace on the trail was a breath of fresh air. I’d definitely do this race again.
Happy Tuesday peeps! I’m still on track for the December Challenge. How are the rest of you doing?