…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.
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.
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.