13th Annual Holiday Halfathon (Recap)

Exactly two weeks after the Space Coast Marathon, I attempted to run the Holiday Halfathon. In between the marathon and the half marathon, I only ran once, which was a very slow four miles over the Upper Tampa Bay Trail overpass to prepare me for the Pinellas Trial overpasses.

The morning of the Holiday Halfathon I felt really rundown and tired. Although we were only half way into December, bad eating habits combined with a poor sleeping patterns had already started to take a toll on me. I was ready for a long winter’s nap.

I really wanted to do well at this half marathon. With multiple bridge runs, Space Coast’s Marathon “hills” and NYC Marathon bridges, I should have been physically ready. As much as I wanted to PR, I knew I just didn’t have it in me for this race. My goal was just to finish around 2:30.

Thankfully, I arrived in time to find a great parking spot near the packet pick-up and close to the start in Madeira Beach. I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, use the potty and pack a bag for the baggage claim. Since the finish was in a different location, I would need to take a shuttle back to my car and dry clothes would be so nice to have at the finish line.

I found my Suncoast Striders friends at the start line and of course, we took some start line selfies.

Once the start was underway, I joked with Amber, “Is it too late to turn around?”  It was going to be a very long 13.1 miles. At least the weather was in my favor, a little overcast with cool temps in the low 50s.

I promised myself not to take too many photos and just focus on the race. I honestly did all right for the first four miles along Gulf Boulevard. I had a few friends around me to take my sleepy, sluggish mind off what I was doing. I laughed and attempted to pace with Leah, Lauren and Amber for a while and I pinky-promised not to take photos of their backsides.

I tried chasing after Tracey when David snapped a photo of me and teased me about blogging during the race. I swear I didn’t! However, that exchange caught the attention of a Run DMT fan and fellow runner blogger, Marissa of Sass ‘N Dash. It was so great to meet her and I wish I had snapped a photo of our chance meeting. (Next time, Marissa!)

Photo by David Griner

I stopped for my first water-walking break at the four mile water station just below the Park Boulevard overpass because I needed a moment before scaling the bridge.

And I took that bridge on like nobody’s business! Piece of cake!

As I trotted along Park Boulevard, I still felt pretty good. As tired as I was, I tried to maintain a 10:30 pace. When I spotted the MB cheer squad (Kim, Josh and Rachel), they definitely lifted my spirits as I approached the five mile mark.

I moseyed along on Oakhurst Rd, I completely forgot about the incline in the road and it caught me by surprise. I told myself that it was preparing me for the overpasses that I would face soon enough. Thank goodness for shade and water stations for walking breaks!

At the end of Oakhurst Rd, we were greeted by Seminole Park, the most scenic part of the course. I enjoyed the brief lakeside view before heading onto the Pinellas Trail.

A little after mile 7, I encountered my first Pinellas Trail overpass amd I trudged up that overpass like a beast. Well a slow motion beast, but at least I had trained for it. I was really proud of myself for running and not walking up it. I promised myself to run it and I did. And I did it again and again.

Once over the first overpass, I found the MB Cheer Squad again and this time I snapped a photo of their smiles. It was so good seeing them out there and it really helped break up the long trail run.

Just after mile 10, I faced my second Pinellas Trail overpass and I proudly pushed myself to run it again. Even if my finish time wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I am really proud of myself for my perseverance of overpasses.

With only 3 miles left to go, I had to hang in there. It was all downhill from here.

Photo by Dave Baker

Eventually, I caught up to David and Jenni and paced each other to keep each other motivated. It was Jenni’s first half marathon and she was ahead of her finish time goal. She was doing great!

As I entered Taylor Park, I had a little over a mile left. Just on the outside of the park, I bumped into Jenny of Metamorfit and I tossed her a packet of gummy bears which I promised I the day before the race. At the same time, I almost missed Marcia cheering for me! “C’mon D!”

I turned the corner and faced the last stretch to the finish line which is also the hardest for me. I always dread the uneven terrain of the last half mile around the lake in Taylor Park. It really does a number on my plantar fasciitis heels. I slowed my pace way down until I reached the paved path and enjoyed the view, especially of Jenni and her son finishing the race together. What a great way to finish her first half marathon! That warmed my heart!

With only a tenth of mile left to go, I smiled when I heard my fellow Striders cheering for me and I realized I would finish under 2:30.

Photo by Leah Coffin

Photo by ChessiePhoto

Photo by ChessiePhoto

Gun Time 2:27:39
Chip Time 2:27:16
Garmin Time 2:27:18
Age Group 89/172
Overall 849/1354
Ave Pace 11:16

Although I finished a minute slower than two years ago, I’m still proud of pushing myself to run the overpasses. All of the Striders did so great and it was wonderful to witness their PRs.

Photo by Dave Baker

I also love that I have all these cool photos of me crossing the finish line which were an early Christmas gift from the race director to all the participants at this year’s race.

Photo by ChessiePhoto

Since I was so shattered and tired, I didn’t stick around for the post-race festivities or food. This jolly elf was ready for that long winter’s nap. So I hopped the sleigh shuttle to begin the trek back to my car in Madiera Beach.

Photo by Run Jodi

By finishing this race and the Halloween Halfathon, I only have two races left to complete the Florida Road Races Halfathon Challenge Series. Next up: Clearwater Distance Classic Halfathon on January 18 and I’m hoping to do better at that race. I’ve faced a lot of bridges this year and it would to be such a shame to not PR with all my bridge training.

Disclosure: I received a race entry to the Holiday Halfathon as part of my promotion and partnership with the Florida Road Races Halfathon Challenge Series. All opinions shared are my own.


  1. genna says:

    nice job! especially just coming off a marathon! my coach told me it takes 28 days to recover, I’m inly on week 2 and can’t imagine running a half! I tried that before and that was a mistake 🙂

    • Denise says:

      That makes sense. Mind you, I’m actually coming off three marathons in seven weeks. Yeah, that could explain the burned out feeling. 😀

  2. Marissa says:

    You did amazing! Not every race can go perfectly… That’s why we have to appreciate the good ones. Easier said than done I know.

    I’m so happy that I was able to meet you in person, hopefully we can run some races together in the future!

      • Marissa says:

        Well I have the Disney Marathon coming up quickly on January 11th. After that I know I am doing the best damn race – safety harbor.. I’m considering doing one of the shorter races for gasparilla maybe the 8k or 15k.. 🙂

Comments are closed.