Survived the Challenge

A bit worried about my shins, I rested most of the week for Saturday’s Chasco Challenge/Rally to Remember.

 

Lori and arrived at Starkey Park around 7:20 with enough time to grab our chip, visit the restroom and stretch.  While waiting in line for our chips, we found our other running partner, Jackie, and also bumped into Becelisa and her friend, Beth.

 

We giggled and chatted in line until I realized the gentleman at the chip table waited patiently for me to finish my foolishness.  I apologized to the gentleman distributing chips for being rude and ignoring him. 

 

“This one always causes trouble”, he told the gentleman sitting next to him at the chip table. 

 

“Wow!  I have quite a reputation!” I replied.

 

“I’m just glad you’re sober this time,” he said jokingly.  This man knew me all too well. 

 

After a quick visit to the restroom, we headed to the start line to stretch.  Fortunately, the half mile walk from the parking to the start line gave us a good warm up.  I gobbled down a GU (which was tucked inside my Gracie’s Gear Power Pouch along with a ZipLoc bag full of Vaseline- Just in case!) and took a few swigs of water to wash it down before the race. 

 

While at stretching at the start line, I recognized a face in the crowd.  The Why Even Tri Girl stood a few feet in front of me.  I called her name to say hello and introduce her to my friends.  After all, I’ve known her for years and she is practically family.  We chatted for a bit until the cyclists for the race took off and the crowd moved forward.

 

Before we crossed the start line, I assured Jackie and Lori, “I am so kicking Why Even Tri Girl’s ass!”  Then, the fog horn blew and I found Holla Back Girl on my iPod for inspiration and motivation.

 

Uh huh, this is my shit
All the girls stomp your feet like this 

A few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
Because I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl

 

At the start of the race, I forced myself to keep my pace at 9:00, because my tendency, like every runner is to start hard and fast.  But even at a 9:00 pace, I still had to maneuver through a crowd.  I decided to run along the path in the grass to pass the other runners

 

For this event, all the races (1 mile, 5K, 10K and the half marathon) all start at the same time.  Signs at specific points told runners when to turn around for their distance.  To prepare for the race, I had studied the map and knew the turn around points and water stations.  I had all my rest stops strategically planned.  At mile 1.5, I passed first the water station.  I wanted to run at least 3 miles before I stopped.

 

Gray clouds covered the sky. Although at the start there was no sun, the humidity was thick and I felt the heat starting to smother me. At mile 3 (the 10K turn around), I stopped for my first water walk.

 

For miles after that, I paced with two other runners: Jim and Charity.  They helped me keep a 9:00 pace.  About an hour into the race, the sun began to blaze through the clouds and the temperature began to rise quickly.  Fortunately, strong winds brought some relief.

 

 

The trail at Starkey Park offers a beautiful view.  You get the whole trail run experience even though you are running a bike path.  We ran over river basins and tree canopies provided welcomed shade.

 

 

Another water station at Mile 5 was a joyful sight as the heat was beginning to get to many runners.  Just after the water stop, I spotted the first runners heading back to the finish line, who would finish the race just under an hour and a half.

 

The race path led us to the Suncoast Trail and at mile 6.6, Jim and I turned around to head home.  At my mile 7, I passed Why Even Tri Girl.  “You’re looking great she hollered out to me.”  I smiled and thought to myself, Girl, please!  Don’t I know it!  Don’t hate!

 

I stopped at the same water station on my return, which now made mile 8.  I also downed a Cliff Shot (tucked inside my Gracie’s Gear Power Pouch) to keep my energy levels high.

 

The second hour had to be the hardest.  The heat caused many runners to lose steam.  Although I never overheat, I felt my face become flush.  I needed more water.  My pace dropped down to 10:00-10:30.

 

Like an oasis in the desert, I spotted the next water station at about Mile 9, however, the volunteers ran out of water and their drink cooler was full of ice.  I grabbed a cup of ice and dumped it down the front and back of my top and rubbed some ice on my head.  I needed to cool down.  The volunteers managed to squeeze some water out of the drink cooler and I grabbed the cup like a hungry beggar.

 

Not knowing if there was any more water for the remainder of the race, I decided to keep my pace at 10:00 for a few miles.

 

Fortunately, more water was available at mile 10.5.  I gulped down two more cups of water and felt ready to finish.  The last few miles I pulled my pace back up to 9:00. 

 

With the finish line in my line of sight, a gust of wind hit me, like a bad flashback of Gasparilla.  I reminded my knees and shins to hold on a little bit longer and I finished strong with friends and my whole family cheering for me.

 

2:09:34

Overall: 69/121

Female Place: 27/63

Average Pace: 9:54

Female Age Group (35-39): 3/7


Not quite under two hours like I had hoped, but still a PB for me and I came in third place for my division.  Of course, Becelisa came in first.

 

Lori and Jackie did great, too.  Lori finished the 10K first in her division and Jackie finished second for her division.  Even Becelisa’s friend, Beth, placed first in her division for the half marathon.

 

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I would love to run the race again next year, provided they increase the water stations.  I intend to send an e-mail to Alzheimer’s Family Organization (who organized the race) to suggest adding more water stations for the half-marathon and offering Powerade or Gatorade at the end of the race.  I may even suggest they offer wet sponges at the 10 mile mark.

 

Despite an abundance of all-you-can-eat pancakes, this year’s event seemed to be lacking in volunteers and its usual support from the community.  Unfortunately, with the state of the economy, people and local businesses may not have the time or the money to give. 

 

When my parents heard AFO needed volunteers for their events, they jumped up to help for next year’s race.  My mom and dad are ready to rehydrate runners at next year’s Rally!

 

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***Pictures of J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park taken from BikingFlorida.com.***

Denise

From start to finish, Denise is Run DMT, a Tampa Bay marathon mom on the run trying to maintain an easy pace through it all between races and raising three beautiful, brilliant children (ages 13, 9, 4). In 2007, I discovered a passion for running and in February 2015, I completed my tenth marathon, however, I continue to train for a variety of races and triathlons. In my spare time, I founded Tampa Bay Bloggers, a hyperlocal blogging network.

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9 comments

  1. the Ringmaster says:

    How do you always look so good?

    Good job on the race. I’m planning a 7-mile race on April 7 out by Lake Okeechobee and I admit, I’m a little worried about the heat. The good thing is, I’ve never run this distance before, so it’s a guaranteed PR.

    K (formerly the Ringmaster)

  2. Donna says:

    Great race report! Don’t you just love the half-marathon distance? Congrats on your PR!

    I would have seriously panicked if I had gotten to a water stop (on a hot day!) and they were out. That should never happen.

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