May 17, 2014
My gym friend, Leon, is going to run this race with me. He has done a couple of 5k’s and wants to work his way into a 10k. He had signed up to run the Citrus Classic with me as well, but, he had an injury that prevented him from running so he walked that one since he had already registered.
This is a local-ish race for us. Lakeland is about a 20 minute drive and this race actually takes place where the Detroit Tigers spring train in Lakeland. The start is just in front of the stadium and the finish is between third base and home plate. We’ll be running the warning track of the field so we won’t actually get to cross home plate. Still, it’s always neat to be able to run in the stadiums. It’s such a cool feeling.
Leon and I met at Panera Bread this morning so we could ride together. I don’t know my way around Lakeland as well as he does. On our way, we chat about the race and such and Leon asks about my plans for the race. I hope to be in the 36 minute range and will run 1/1 intervals. It’s very warm out and I don’t know the course at all. I will push myself a little but not too hard in this heat and humidity. Leon says he”ll run with me. I won’t push too hard since I’ll be pacing him.
We park and head to check in to get our bibs and race shirts. After we put our extra stuff back in the car and pin our bibs on, we hang out and listen to the DJ. I am the lively one in our party so I dance and act silly (aka act like my normal self) while we’re hanging out.
It’s finally time so we head across the parking lot to the start line; which wasn’t really marked. I remind Leon that we’ll be doing 1/1 intervals and that I will signal him when it’s time for a walk and run. I let him know that we’ll stay to the right of the path as much as possible so we won’t impede other runners.
We’re sent on our way. I start my Garmin is I pass over the start line. I move to the outside of the path as much as possible. But, since it is a parking lot, people are kind of everywhere. Once it thins out a little, it is much better. (Course map for the race)
We cross the street beside the stadium and head onto a sidewalk and ultimately into a park. The paved path through the park is a very nice running trail. Every so often it even has exercises that you can stop and do (like pull up bars and such). The path is also nicely shaded. While there is plenty of sunshine peeking through, the trees keep the sun from beating down so harshly on me. It may be a nice morning for May but it is still hot.
At the split, there is a water stop. We will pass this water stop going out and coming back. We each grab a drink as we stay to the right. The course leads us around the outskirt of this park. We go by a lake and continue around the park beside some (soccer) fields. As we come around the field, we are approaching the water stop again. I peek over my shoulder looking for Leon and don’t see him immediately. He had been there a few intervals ago, just over my left shoulder. As I turn further, I catch him several yards behind me. He gives me a little wave but I can tell he is tired.
After the water stop, we head back up the sidewalk along the street than runs beside the stadium. We cross the street and are behind the stadium. I stop quickly to tie my shoe before making the turn to head into the stadium. We enter near first base and then run the warning track around to the finish line just between third base and home plate. As I enter the stadium, I begin my walk interval and start walking backwards so I can give Leon some words of encouragement. He is a few yards behind me and pushing to catch up. I walk until my Garmin sounds and then run until I cross the finish line. I turn and wait for him until he crosses.
My finish time was 36:56 and Leon was just about 30 seconds more than me. He’s breathing heavy as we walk to get some refreshments. We head back out of the stadium and go around to the courtyard where there are tables and benches. We sit and eat a bit while we chat.
Leon said he tried very hard to keep up with me. He mentioned that, towards the end, he was running longer, past the end of the interval, to try to make up some ground. Ultimately, he was giving himself less walk time because he was trying to decrease the gap between us. I took it easier because I was pacing him and I knew he is still building back from his injury.
We both really liked this race. While it was hot, the course was great because so much of it was so shaded. The course was well supported at the water stop and at the finish line. And, the spectators sitting in the stands were great because they were cheering for everyone. I would very likely do this race again if only because I liked the course so much.
Tiger Trot costs:
Food: ~$27 (I bought Leon breakfast since he drove)