March 1, 2014
I kind of decided to run Best Damn Race-Orlando on a whim. I had wanted to run BDR-Tampa (Safety Harbor) but I missed registration (and thus the two-race challenge). But, it also kind of worked out better for me because I had been sick after Tinker Bell and the race was two weeks after getting back from Tinker Bell. I am still sightly under the weather and I am just getting back in my training routine. Pushing myself through a half just for the sake of doing it wouldn’t be doing me any favors.
I had to come to Orlando on Friday afternoon to pick up my BDR race packet. I am not very familiar with the downtown area and I don’t know how parking will be so I can at least get a little familiar with where I’ll need to be on race morning. Since I’m not staying overnight, I’ll be driving over early and the more I know about where I’m going, the less likely I will be to be late or (gasp) miss the event.
Packet pick up was a breeze. I found the area relatively easily thanks to WAZE (best map/GPS app ever!). I drove around a bit to find parking but found a garage nearby. I was in and out of the garage in 15 minutes (in fact, the lady didn’t even charge me for parking). The attendant did tell me they would be open for the race though and that parking would be $10 for the race as long as you were out by noon (I think she said noon!).
I headed back home and grabbed some dinner on the way. I started some laundry and got all of my gear together before I went to bed. I know I’ll be exhausted when I get home tomorrow afternoon so if I can get a little laundry done now, I won’t be consuming what will be left of my weekend after my race!
The wake up alarm sounds and I jump out of bed. My dogs look at me like I’m insane and Shelby curls up in my spot on the bed so she can go back to sleep. Shane follows me to the bathroom and curls up next to the tub to sleep while I get dressed. I finish getting myself together and then take them outside before I leave. We spend a few minutes outside and then I grab my gear and I’m out the door. They’ll go back to sleep since it’s still dark. Lucky dogs.
I stop to get a soda and my Dunkin Donuts wake up wraps and then make the 50 minute drive to downtown Orlando. I follow several cars into a parking garage near the library. This is just a few blocks from the start line and it should be really easy to get out of later since it’s not on the race course.
Everyone lines up and I see the 2:30 pacer. He says he’s going to run straight splits so I decide I’ll stick with him as long as possible. I usually do intervals and I’m feeling pretty good this morning so I’ll push myself some. I ran Princess last Sunday and my legs feel strong and solid so I’ll just reassess as I go and change if I need to.
The race stats and I fall in line behind the 2:30 pacer. It’s a little fast for me but I’m feeling really good. I’m pushing but not too hard; I’m still very comfortable. We get to the first water station and he runs through grabbing his water and gulping as he runs. This is a no-no for me. I don’t like to run through the water station. I generally don’t get much of the fluid in my mouth much less down the hatch where it needs to be. I did my best with this but I don’t feel like I got as much hydration as I needed. I didn’t want to fall behind though. This could be an issue for me later if I don’t hydrate properly. I make a mental note to manage my water stop better at the next one.
I’m still comfortable and keeping just behind the pacer as we approach a water stop near mile four. I slow to a fast walk, grab water and Gatorade, and drink both easily. I also pull my chews out and eat a couple of those (I don’t like Gu but the chomps or chews are not too bad so I eat those). I pick up the pace to keep up and I easily move back up with the pacer. I’m happy as we run along the bridge walkway towards the mile five mark.
We make the turn by the park at mile five and I slow to walk through the water station. When I started to run again, my legs protested and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to push hard any longer. I switched to 2/1 intervals (run two minutes and walk one minute) since that’s how my Garmin was set and continued on for the next couple of miles. I was still OK and keeping a good pace. I could see the 2:30 pacer and his group just ahead of me (maybe 10-15 seconds ahead of me). I am still on a good pace and the intervals have given my legs a break and they are much happier. I’m pushing through my run segments and the walk segments are giving my a quick break to catch a breath and keep my legs loose.
Around mile eight or nine, there was a Gu stop and water station. I don’t use Gu so I ate the rest of my chews and washed them down with some water. At the next aid station; about a mile later; I ate a few peanut butter stuffed pretzels and washed them down with water and Gatorade. My legs were starting to feel heavy so my walk segments were getting a little slow. I could still see the 2:30 pacer but now they were about 45 seconds or so ahead of me.
The half marathon course intersected with the 5k course somewhere between miles 10 and 11. The course got really crowded here and I got a little ill and frustrated with people. The 5k runners were not always courteous and were taking up a lot of the road (we had one lane for two courses to merge and run). I kept having to weave and bob around people and having to pass walkers on the right in the grass or on curbs. I would politely alert them that I was coming around them and a few times I had them move in front of me when I alerted them. I don’t know what etiquette was mentioned to the 5k runners before their start but they weren’t merging very courteously with the half runners.
I got around many of them and finally the course split again. The half runners made a right turn and this allowed me to get back to a walk for a minute. When we were merging, I kept running so I could try to get around people and through the crowding. When the half runners made the right, the course thinned out for the half runners a lot so I could take a little break and jump back to my intervals. I wasn’t running fast through the merge area but I ran for about half a mile and my legs were starting to protest again.
I couldn’t see the 2:30 pace group anymore but I knew I couldn’t be more than a couple of minutes behind. I didn’t look at my Garmin for fear of getting discouraged but I knew that the merge area had cost me a little time. I took a couple of walk segments to regroup mentally and then pushed through my next few run segments.
When the two courses merged again, it was between miles 12 and 13 so I knew I was close and could really begin to dig deep and push. I still didn’t look at my Garmin but I knew I was going to beat my previous best time. Knocking at the door of a new personal record really drove me over the last mile. I didn’t know how much of a PR it would be but any PR is good in my book so I pushed as hard as I could.
I turned the corner with about a quarter mile to go. I can’t quite see the finish line but I know where I am in relation to it since the parking garage where my car is parked is just prior to where I just turned. I know I can push through my intervals and I’ll be close to the 2:35 mark. As I run, my legs are protesting in pain (just tired; not injury) but I keep pushing. I can see the finish line ahead and I give it all I can. My steam is running low but I am determined to get to the finish line by 2:35. I refuse to look at my Garmin and I know it’s probably very close.
As I approach and my eyes can focus in on the finish line, spectators and other runners are cheering and yelling and it drives me that much more. I make one last dig and give it all I’ve got left for the last 100 yards or so. I am pushing myself and I feel the tears start to well up in my eyes. Knowing I have a PR is a bit emotional and I can’t contain the tears. I cross the finish line with what feels like the biggest, cheesiest smile on my face. I push the button to stop my Garmin but I’m being handed water and a coke and food and a medal so I don’t get to look at it.
I finally make my way through the crowds and find a place I can sit down. I have some food and hydration and I just want to stretch and eat. I find a spot near the PR bell (a cool thing at the Best Damn Races – a bell that you can ring if you PR) and finally stretch out. I start to eat and watch as people ring the bell and pose for pictures. Then I remember to look at my Garmin. PR indeed. My previous best time was 2:40:26 and I just did BDR-Orlando in 2:33:47; almost seven minutes better! I felt the tears of happiness start trickling from my eyes.
After stretching, eating, and watching the line for the PR bell grow, I finally decided to head to my car. I’m tired and I’m ready to get home. And, I’m hungry. I’m so happy with my race today. Even though I didn’t get quite to 2:30, I took nearly seven minutes off my best time and I pushed through mentally and physically. I listened to my body enough to not get injured but I also recognized that I could still push. I won the mental and physical battle of running today and it paid off.
I just can’t stop smiling, even as I type. I’ll smile about this one for awhile.
BDR by the bucks.
Registration: ~$70 (this would’ve been WAY cheaper if I had registered early; BDR has a great pricing structure to give runners incentive to register early!)
Off to run…to sleep.