The Honeymoon is over…

…and I got my first DNF.  Sigh.  

But, because I am who I am, I’m looking for that silver lining.  My glass is always half full.  You know, I think my glass is actually always brimming over.  

In the same vein, though, I am who I am, so I’ll be be brutally honest and give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Lots of ugly out there today.  

  
First off, the race directors did a great job.  Packet pick-up was a breeze (and I’ve been to races where it was more painful than the race itself), logistics getting 1000+ people onto the island went smoothly, signage and crowd support were awesome (especially for a small race), and our starts were more or less on time, depending on your watch.  That’s the good (well, some of it).  

What the race directors couldn’t foresee during their planning phase was the weather.  Today’s forecast was sunny and clear, high of 88, 100% humidity.  Yikes!  I realize I’m in sunny central Florida, but Lord VoldeSun was truly in his element.  And, therein lies the rub.  While we started and finished on beautiful Honeymoon Island State Park, most of the race was run across Dunedin Causeway, in the Broiling.  Hot.  Sun.  

The course was set as an out and back loop, half marathoners completing the loop twice, 10k’ers once.  For the majority of the race, there was NO shade, and Lord VoldeSun was relentless.  

Now, I’m used to hot, muggy weather.  I live in South Mississippi, for pity’s sake, we’re positively swampy for most of the year.  But, when I train, I do it on shady trail; very, very early in the morning.  

Which brings us to the bad. This race should have started an hour before it did.  Half marathon runners started at 7:20, a full hour after there was light enough to hit it.  

  This image was made before 7 am, plenty of light on the roadways.  

I’m not a race director, and I know there were huge logistical headaches for this race in particular, as we were on an island which is also a state park.  But, if you’re opening the park to racers at 5 am, why not move it back to  4 am?  I mean, we are runners, most of us are used to obscenely early alarms when we train in hot weather.  They could have opened the causeway and park up to others an hour earlier, which would have alleviated many of the complaints I heard from non runners who wanted to enjoy their day on the beach.  This may have been a weather anomaly for this area, but somehow, I don’t think it was.  

My only other complaint was that most of this race was run outside the park, across the causeway (pretty enough; but, still – it’s a bridge) and through a neighborhood.  The park itself is beautiful, and I would have loved to wind my way through and around the trails there (shade?).  I think that past participants may have complained about the sandy trails, which are tough, but the ones I saw were pretty hard packed.  I also realize there may be environmental concerns about moving 1000 people through a trail system, so I get it.  Still, it felt like a wasted opportunity.  

Now I get to the ugly.  

I knew going into this race weekend that I wasn’t ready for it. Indeed, I considered not coming at all, then I realized I would have three days at the beach alone with my man after the busiest October I can remember us having in, well…, ever; and I decided to just go for it.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?  A DNF?  Who really cares?  So, we did it.  

Miles 1-3 were easy and uneventful.  Then, we went out of the park.  It was still pretty early, but Lord VoldeSun was already beaming down on us.  The trip across the bridge wasn’t awful, the wind was in our faces, so we were relatively cool.  We circled into a neighborhood, and I realized I wasn’t doing well.  We headed back to the bridge, and when we got to the highest point, with sun bearing down on us without mercy, I knew I could not do another loop through that.  We ran on, me struggling with the decision to DNF, my man just “protecting his investment”.  He’s so awesome.  Did I mention his longest training run for this was a 30 minute extravaganza earlier this week?  But, I know he would have hung with me to the end, matching me step for step and encouraging, badgering, or pulling me along, as needed.  Love that man.  He has that mind/body/ninja thing down cold.  He, more than almost anyone, inspires me to be better.  

  
We got back into the park, and the decision was made.  I told him we were stopping at the halfway point, there was no way I could go back across that causeway with Voldy blasting his rays at me.  So, we ran to the halfway point (along the best path of the race), headed to the finish line (while staying far enough away so that our chips wouldn’t be recognized and give a false finish time), and had a volunteer cut off our chips.  We were done.  We made it roughly seven miles.  

Yes, I’m disappointed.  But, after seeing the third ambulance come onto the island to pick up runners in heat distress, I know I made the right decision.  There’s always another race, one we’ll be better prepared for and eager to run.   Of course, we were stuck on the island until they re-opened the roads.  I know, boo hoo, right?

 There were compensations, though.  

  
That’s what I call an ice bath.  😉

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that inspire and encourage me:

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.  Colin Powell

  

We may or may not come back to Dunedin (pronounced done-eden, btw).  We really like this area, it’s beachy and artsy and filled with stuff we love (running trails and places to SUP and kayak.  AND, great restaurants.)  But, I’m not sure about this race.  The course missed the mark by quite a lot, so we’ll have to see if we want to try it again sometime.  

There’s always a lesson, isn’t there?  Wonder why they have to hurt so much?

Today’s lesson for me:  Listen to your body.  Live to race another day.  

 

All in my mind

Well, we’re here.  Dunedin, Florida.  For the Honeymoon Island Half Marathon which starts tomorrow at 7:30 am in warm, muggy central Florida.  Good thing I’m close friends with warm and muggy, I guess.  I hope to post again tomorrow with a race report, but my mind was whirling today, so I had to get a few thoughts down in black in white.  It helps settle my nerves.  

Love our little rented condo.  It’s a quad plex, and we’re in the upper northwest corner.  Our downstairs neighbors drove a hearse here from Indiana.  Hmmm…   Our other neighbors have just arrived, so all I know about them is there are a lot of them.  They’re young and athletic, so they may be here for the race, too, for all I know.  We’ll see. 

Gary and I drove to the park where the race will be held tomorrow to do a little reconnaissance.  We started down a hiking trail, then were besieged by mosquitos, so we retreated to our car and headed back to the condo.  Packet pick up is in a few hours, reservations for a pasta meal have been made at an Italian restaurant in lovely downtown Dunedin, Gary is taking a nap, and I’m having a glass of wine (or two) to calm my pre-race jitters.  

I haven’t raced in two years.  The wheels fell off my training bus about a month ago, after a 10 mile run.  Enter a strep infection, an antibiotic, then, of course, the subsequent yeast infection, and you can imagine how my body felt about running.  Still, I ran.  Not fast, not far (missed my 11 miler), but steadily and with intention.  Then, I was able to get a 12 miler in on a trail, which was exquisite, but sloooooooooooooooow.   Truly breathtaking, though.  

  
I realized something on that long, lonely 12 miler.  The ability to accomplish anything, whether it’s to run 12 miles on trails or something even more challenging, really resides in my mind, not my feet.  

If I believe I can do it, I really can. A few weeks ago,  I was unsure if I could complete a 9 miler, then I put my mind to it, and I did it.  The next week, my 10 miler felt easy.  Yes, I was felled by angry microbes afterward, but I got it done.  Then, after all the misery of a strep infection and a yeast infection, Twelve.  Miles.  Done.  Wow.  

There’s a lot to be said for making a plan and sticking to it, even when you get temporarily derailed.  Tell yourself you can, and you’re more than halfway there.  

I have a long list of Bible verses and literary quotes that I refer to for inspiration when I need it, and this one seems appropriate today:

It is our choices that show what we really are; far more than our abilities.  Albus Dumbledore                                                                                            

I choose to believe that I can.