Over spring break last month, I finally finished the Florida Halfathon Challenge. Ever since I heard about this amazing and affordable local half marathon challenge, I wanted to do it and through a Run DMT and Florida Road Races partnership, I was offered a chance to participate.
The challenge kicked off last October with the Halloween Halfathon at Fort DeSoto Park and five months later, the challenge wrapped up in the same spot it began. In March, I returned to beautiful Ft. DeSoto Park for the final half marathon in the challenge series.
The weather had been unusually warm this March and by 6:30, we were already seeing temps in the low 70s. I had hoped the gulf breeze would help keep me cool since there isn’t much in the way of shade along the beach side course.
I hitched a ride with my friend, Suzan and we arrived with plenty of time for a potty break and to pick up our race packets. However, other runners weren’t quite as fortunate as us. Despite the race director sending out “a no toll or parking fees” email, someone didn’t inform the toll booth operator, which caused a delay at the entrance and sadly some runners couldn’t make it to the start line on time. That mishap caused the race to start 40 minutes behind schedule. Obviously, a lot of runners began complaining, but if you were a runner at the toll booth, you would have been grateful for the delayed start.
I refrained from complaining and took the opportunity to snap some start line selfies with my Suncoast Strider friends.
As the minutes slowly ticked by, the temperature quickly rose and the warm Florida morning climbed closer to 80 degree at the start.
For this race, the plan was once again to just finish and not worry about time. With all my heart rate monitor training, I’ve had to let go of my ego speed and focus on keeping my heart rate in the right zone for my targeted heart rate, although I did not wear my monitor because I didn’t want my Garmin beeping at me the whole time. While I am not even close to the speed I once ran, I have become quite familiar with intervals of running and walking. Given that, I decided to run a 4:1 interval – run four minutes, walk one – which would allow my heart to recover.
Within the first mile, the humidity was already bothering me, but I was thankful for the one minute recovery. Mile two and three weaved us through the Arrowhead Picnic Area on the north end of the island and a tiny bit of shade offered some relief.
Exiting the park, I came upon the first water station just before mile 3. Around the bend and we were back at the beginning ready to face the long stretch of the trail.
Honestly, I really struggled with the first half. I don’t know if I was tired, hot or hot and tired, but I just wasn’t feeling it.
Even thought of having a drink with Captain Jack Sparrow couldn’t lift my spirits.
About the mile 6 water station (now approximately 8:45), some clouds moved in but I found some sunny smiles from my friends, Lauren and Amber.
Their smiles and cheers helped make the race more bearable. A few pats on the back from them and I picked up the pace.
Then, around mile 7, as I passed the Skyway Bridge off in the distance something clicked in my head. It seemed like my body knew I was over halfway finished and decided to cooperate.
Completely mental obvious, but I also think it had something to do with the run/walk intervals. I hadn’t tired myself out, which of course, is the whole foundation to the Galloway method. You have some energy in the reserves due to walking intervals and built in recovery.
It was truly a testament to the madness of run/walk intervals. I kept on trotting along and soon I passed other runners who just lost steam. Mind you, I was not moving at any record speed or pace, but I was steadily moving along and at this point in the game, that’s all that matters.
Despite all the heat and the sun beating down on me from the lack of shade, I still felt pretty good and nothing ached. I continued to stop at water stations and stuck to my 4:1 intervals.
At mile 12, a few of us cheered for the last mile. It’s funny how elated runners become when we know there is only one mile left, even though sometimes it can be the toughest mile.
But not this time! I had this! And I ran the last mile in without stopping. No more intervals! Just finish! Once I saw the finish line, I pulled out that sprint in the reserves. Oh yeah!
Florida Beach Half Marathon
Gun Time 2:43:42
Chip Time 2:42:41
Garmin Time 2:42:44
Overall Place 823/1179
Div Place 85/133
Ave Pace 12:30
Overall Series Time 7:32:58
Series 1 – 2:32:48.99
Series 2 – 2:27:38.01
Series 3 – 2:21:37
Series 4 – 2:43:42
As another testament to the run/walk intervals, I wasn’t completely shattered, exhausted and I could walk after I crossed the finish line. There have been times when I’ve finished a half marathon where I could barely walk due to being in so much pain and agony.
But for this race, I truly believe the intervals saved me. Or maybe I just didn’t push myself too hard for once. Who knows? All I can really say is I earned another Florida Road Races Halfathon medal and the challenge halfathon medal with it and it was truly an honor to be given the opportunity to blog about it all.
Learn more about the upcoming 2015 – 2016 Florida Halfathon Challenge dates and details by visiting www.floridaroadraces.com.
Disclosure: In exchange for my honest review, I received a Florida Beach Halfathon race entry and three other Florida Road Race entries (Halloween Halfathon, Holiday Halfathon and the Clearwater Distance Classic Halfathon) as part of the Florida Halfathon Challenge. All opinions, photos, sweat, tears, race experiences and earned medals are my own.