Having never participated in the Florida Road Races’ Halloween Halfathon, I was DEAD excited when Florida Road Races generously offered me an entry to run this flat fast course in Ft. Desoto Park. I was even more excited to get my freak on and run in costume, especially since I chose a super easy, perfect for running costume – Flo from Progressive.
I found the apron, nametag, badges and headband on Etsy. The white running skirt was a find at Marshalls and picked up a white running performance tee from Target. Some red lipstick and waterproof winged eyeline finished my Flo persona.
Although the apron completed the pre-race look, I didn’t run it for fear of over-heating. Even minus the apron and just the badges pinned to my running shirt, an unbelievable number of runners, volunteers and spectators asked me if I could give them a quote on some insurance!
According to Google, the estimated travel time to the park would take approximately 60 minutes. Since I still needed to pick up my race packet and bib, I left a bit earlier to give myself time for that. Sadly, I could not have predicted the traffic into the park and how far I would need to park away from the start. My parking spot was a good ten minute walk to packet pick-up; ten minutes there and ten minutes to drop off my stuff at my car including my Progressive apron left little time to pee. In my rush, I failed to tie up my hair.
After dropping my stuff off and a nature call by SUV bumper, I started to jog to the start. The gun fired just as I ran up and I dodged into the start corral.
For the start of the course, we ran through the parking lot and followed a path into the south end of the park, the Arrowhead Picnic Area. About two miles into the race, I realized I forgot to tie up my hair and the heat was already getting to me which seemed odd considering how cool the morning air felt.
Mile 3 led us back to the start and through the parking lots again. The morning sun began to rise when I reached the recreational trail.
A gorgeous view of the bay paced alongside me as I ran that long stretch of trail. Soon the famous Ft. Desoto appeared. Several Boy Scouts Troops had set up camp near the fort and as we ran through their campground, we had spectators on either side of the path cheering us on. My friend, Mike and his son, Jared, were there with their troop and they gave me a high-five as I ran past them.
As I exited the campground, I passed my friend Jolene looking super fast and strong on her return trip. I still had over half way to go and the heat was really getting to me.
Around mile 7, the famous Skyway Bridge glistened in the distance and then, the course looped around for me to begin my return trip back to the start.
I found myself walking more the second half. With little shade along the course, the heat was taking its toll on me. Although I went into this race with no expectations and no finish time in my head, I began to hope to finish around 2:30 with all my walking breaks.
Eventually, I found myself between the Boy Scouts again and this time I stopped for a photo with Mike and Jared and continued walking until I reached the fort a second time.
Only three miles to go and I needed to pick up the pace, so I ran until I reached the next water stop. After hydrating myself, I decided to run until the finish.
With less than a mile to go, both the heat and my plantar fasciitis began bothering me. I stopped one last time to stretch and followed some solid wise advice on the side of the road. “Run like hell and get the agony over with.”
Gun Time 2:32:49
Chip Time 2:31:42
Ave Pace 11:40
Age Group 60/103
I found my friends, Nancy and Karen when I hobbled over to the post-race party. Sipping on chocolate milk and catching up with friends while stretching out my sore Achilles and heels was the best recovery.
This half marathon also gave me some good insight as to what to expect for the Florida Road Races Gulf Beaches Halfathon in March, which will follow the same flat course but hopefully cooler.
Despite my lack-luster performance, this race was another stellar effort by Chris Lauber and the Florida Road Race team. His local affordable races offer as much loot and more (including a tech shirt, medal, food AND beer) as the large overpriced franchise races but for a fraction of the price and the bling ain’t too shabby either!
It’s not too late to join the Florida Road Race Florida Halfathon Challenge! Complete three of the remaining halfathons and/or marathon to earn your challenge medal. There’s even a virtual option for all you crazy out of state challenge lovers. Register today to run with locally or virtually with me.
Disclaimer: Florida Road Races provided me with a Florida Halfathon Challenge registration in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.