February 15, 2014
Run Around the Pines is another Track Shack race in Winter Park. I’ve really enjoyed the previous races that I’ve done in Winter Park, and I’m trying to fit as many races in my calendar as I can so I can get to 52 total races for the year, so I decided this to go ahead with this one. I also had a weekend without races last weekend so I kind of feel the need to get one in!
I registered online during “early” registration. The entry fee was $25 and it included a t-shirt (just your regular, standard issue, cotton tee). The course for this race runs through Winter Park Pines and along the Cady Way trail (a very popular running trail in Winter Park).
As with the other WP races, I have about an hour drive and I have to pickup my packet on race day so I build in some extra time. I lay out all my gear the night before so I don’t have to think too much in the early morning. All I have to do is get up and get moving. I dress and go through my morning routine. Then I head to my go-to breakfast stop, Dunkin Donuts.
I have directions to the starting area since I’m not familiar with all of Winter Park. I find my way pretty easily and manage to get a parking spot not too far from the start/finish area. I have plenty of time this morning! I check-in and get my packet and then head back to my car to drop off my shirt and packet. I actually doze off too (I set my alarm on my phone just in case!). The paranoia I have for missing a race is very real; I don’t take any chances.
It is a cool morning, brisk and a bit breezy, so I chose to wear a long-sleeved shirt. I actually pulled out my Goofy shirt from 2013 (my first full marathon was part of Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge). It’s comfortable albeit rather big on me. But, it will work for today.
The race starts in front of a local elementary school and runs through shaded neighborhoods. It’s a very scenic run and very flat. I feel pretty good during the run but I’m not pushing myself hard. I’m running all three races at the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend next weekend and I don’t want to risk an injury. I also like looking at houses in this area; there are so many pretty ones.
As we wind through the neighborhood and pass a local golf course, we turn for the final stretch onto a section of the Cady Way trail. I’ve never gone for a run on the trail but I’ve heard it’s very nice and that it is very popular among locals. It runs for several miles from beginning to end so it can be used for a mid-distance run or long distance run if you went from one end to the other and back.
We only run on the trail for about a quarter mile or so. Then we head back towards where packet pickup was. There is a high school football field there with a track around it. We turn towards the field and our last 20 yards or so are along the track.
The neat twist with this race is “Finish before the pineapples”. There is a group of runners that dress in pineapple costumes that run the race. If you finish before them, you get a coupon for a free smoothie from Tropical Smoothie. I saw the pineapples at the beginning and was in front of them for much of the first mile. They passed me and I would pass them. Soon into the second mile, they passed me and stayed ahead of me. I was a bit bummed knowing I wouldn’t beat the pineapples.
Imagine my surprise as I ran the last 20 yards and about 20 feet in front of the finish line were the pineapples. They were giving high fives as runners approached the finish line. I gave a big high five to one of them and finished my race. As I crossed, one of the volunteers gave me my coupon for a free smoothie. Basically, everyone gets a coupon but trying to beat the pineapples just adds a fun twist.
The weather was nice for the race and I was disappointed I didn’t run better. I’m still not 100% but I’m much better than I was a few weeks ago. I finished in 35:37; a great time but not a PR for me. Even so, I enjoyed this race a lot and I would definitely do it again.
Run Around the Pines by dollars…
Breakfast: ~$5Total: ~$45
Until next time…happy running.