Each year my Mom bribes me to come visit my parents in Florida by buying my tickets. It's hard to say no to a free trip to Florida and with this winter being one of the coldest and snowiest, I've been looking forward to some sunshine and above freezing temperatures. My flight was booked for Saturday afternoon and while not ideal, since my half marathon was Sunday morning, I was meant to land by 9:30pm ensuring that I had some time to shake out my legs and go to bed at a reasonable time. I already had a long layover, so I walked the course the the airport a few times before settling in for some dinner.
The plane was mildly delayed, we boarded about 45 minutes late to then continued to sit on the airplane for 2 hours. A snow storm had strolled in, and we were stuck until they could clear the runway and de-ice the plane. I am all for being safe and getting there safely but the 8 year old in my row certainly expressed his displeasure in a way I wish it was socially acceptable for 30 year olds to do as well.
We did make it safely and landed in Fort Myers Florida at 11:35pm, once I collected my luggage and arrived at my parents house, it was midnight. I laid out my running stuff and forced myself to sleep as quickly as possible since my 5am wake up call would come soon. The alarm sounded and I just stared at it for 20 seconds trying to decide why it was on, once I made the connection, I put all of my running stuff on and hit snooze and crawled back into bed.
I was able to guilt my Dad into coming with me, so we were on the road at 5:30 to make our way towards Naples, we had a very long stop at Starbucks since my Dad wanted a decaf coffee (which they don't normally bother brewing that early in the morning) but made it to the race start with no problem.
My Dad dropped me off as I went to grab my bib/tshirt and use the porta john. By Florida standards, it was cold out. By NY standards, I was glad that I had shorts and a thin long sleeve on for the start. I lined up in the way back, the lack of sleep and excessive sitting from Saturday left me feeling sluggest and eye drooping tired. I could barely hear the national anthem especially with a chatty man telling me all about his favorite running temperatures and was relieved to run away from him once we started off.
The first three miles went by quickly, I fell into a comfortable pace and was enjoying the route, despite not having any idea of where I was or where I was headed (seems like a bit of a life metaphor) I chatted with a Dad and his eleven year old daughter. They had music playing from their phone, and since I failed to get my act together on music, I was at their mercy. They were doing a 3 mile run 1 mile walk, so when we turned and hit mile 4, we said our goodbyes and off I went.
This leg of the course was directly into the sun. I hadn't thought to bring a ballcap and I haven't figured out how to wear sunglasses while running, so I kept my head down as I carried on. At some point I saw a neighborhood called Saratoga. Being amused, I decided to take a photo of it. In this process I managed to take a picture of my hand (i think) and post it to instagram (without knowing I had the app open) and also called 911. A few minutes later, I heard my phone ringing but I ignored it, and saw the voice mail later.
At mile 7 I decided to surge, this proved to be too early, but at the time I was cruising along and passed a handful of people during an out and back section of the run. At mile 10, I sent a quick text to my dad to let him know that I was roughly 30 minutes away. And then the wheels began to fall off. My brain felt for sure that I could power through miles 7-13 but my legs and lungs felt differently. I slowed down, walked for about a minute and then continued trotting along to make it to the finish.
The race looped around the start and ended inside the swampbuggy stadium. I am unclear as to my "official" finish time. My watch stated 2:22:39 and the clock had said something closer to 2:20. I am not ever one to start my watch early, but will have to wait and see because presently according to the results page, I didn't even run the race.
Post race my dad and I walked around, took my free beer (even though it was barely 9:30 in the morning) and attempted to touch my toes a few times. After cooling off a bit, we headed back home to shower and take a nap before venturing out again for food and more beer.
Overall a great race day and first day back in Southwest Florida. The course was flat, well marked, plenty of police directing traffic, and lots of well stocked water stations. The only negative I have about the race would be the lack of bathrooms. Around the halfway point, there was a public restroom you could run to - off course by about a minute/two minute run, but nothing else. Luckily I didn't have to go, but it would have been even more time consuming if I had.