December 6, 2014
It’s my last half marathon of the year; officially number 15 towards my goal of 14 races of half marathon distance or better (13 half marathons and 2 full marathons). So what better way to kick it off than by oversleeping? This is my worst nightmare coming true. I set two alarms on my phone and I still managed to oversleep. Not. Good.
I scrambled around to get ready but I made it out the door in 20 minutes. This included ten minutes of dog walking time. I think they must think I am crazy. Especially with the way I was running around this morning.
I have to drive to downtown Orlando and it will take me about an hour to get there. I am pressed for time even more because I have to get my bib once I arrive. The more the minutes tick by during my drive, the more nervous I get.
I arrive in downtown and proceed to the normal parking garage that I’ve used during other races that are in this area. But, after waiting ten minutes and not moving more than a foot, I decide I need to pick somewhere else. I make a u-turn and head back to a previous garage. I am able to park here without an issue. Then, I haul ass to find where I need to go to get my bib.
It takes me about ten minutes to walk (jog) to Lake Eola park. I get my bib and they inform me that they are out of my size shirt in the women’s cut. Seriously, I registered for this race months ago and I can’t even get the size shirt I registered for? I opt for the men’s cut since I am planning to make a blanket out of all my race shirts from the year anyhow. I didn’t plan on wearing it so it doesn’t particularly matter to me, especially right now.
There is a bag check area so I am able to check the race shirt. After that, I head over to the corral area. I’d like to go to the bathroom but the lines are extremely long and there is about three minutes until the race starts by the time I am standing in the start corral. At least I made it.
Once we’re off, I make it to the first mile and I can’t wait until the next stop to go to the bathroom. There are two porta potties and about ten people in line. I didn’t think the line would be so slow but I waited almost ten minutes to go to the bathroom. In fact, the last person and the police escort that was bringing up the end of the race passed me while I was waiting. And, by the time I came back out of the potty, they were about 300 yards ahead of me.
I didn’t sprint to catch up to them. I took it at a comfortable pace so that I wouldn’t burn myself out. It is only mile two and I have a lot of race left. I catch up to them though and pass them before I make it to mile two. In fact, by the time I got to mile two, I could barely see them behind me. This probably isn’t really saying a lot since I have terrible vision.
The course for OUC weaves through some downtown commercial areas; like the milk district where the milk plants area; and then through a bunch of really pretty residential areas. Unfortunately, there is a good bit of brick/cobblestone roads. The race guide said there was about two miles of this but I believe there was at least 20 miles of it. That’s sarcasm speak for there was A LOT of it.
I started out doing intervals and trying to take my time over the brick roads. But, the brick roads are so uneven. I felt like I needed to keep looking down so I wouldn’t step wrong. The last thing I need or want is to injure myself with Dopey weekend being only a few weeks away. Rather than risk it, I begin to walk some sections of the brick roads. When I could run, I did. But, when the road was uneven, I walked.
I stayed on a fairly comfortable pace when I was running. I had no intentions of setting a personal best today. I just wanted to have a good race. The heat, however, is not helping. By the time I got to the halfway point, I was drenched. And, when I got to one of the water stops, the stop was out of Gatorade because they had not made anymore. Awesome. This race day just isn’t going my way.
I finally made my way back to the park. I’m in the last quarter mile or so and there are runners that have finished walking around and cheering as we’re making our way to the finish. I’m coming up to the final turn and there is an ambulance to the far right that I’ll have to go around. As I get closer, I see that there is a runner down. I say a silent prayer for her; no one wants to see another runner down and being loaded into an ambulance. As they are adjusting the stretcher to get her into the ambulance, the runner vomits and it hits one of the EMT’s square in the mid-chest area and it splatters all over him. I say a silent prayer for him as well because, well, that’s just gross and I think I heard him say it got in his eye.
I finished the race in just under three hours; officially, 2:57:11. I am handed some water, a medal, and a plastic cup as I walk through the finish chute. There is also some fruit so I grab a couple of orange slices. Apparently, there was supposed to be towels for finishers as well, but, guess what; they were out. I’ve lost count of how many strikes that is.
I make my way over to collect my check bag with my race shirt and to turn in my ticket for my chocolate milk. As I a walking up to the chocolate milk truck, the lady at the truck tells the runner in front of me that they are out of chocolate milk. And I’m done. How can you know how many people registered ahead of time and not have enough to go round especially when runners have to turn in a ticket off their bib to get the chocolate milk? This means they either didn’t have enough to begin with or they weren’t taking tickets and they were giving people more than one. Either way, the folks who came in later; and there was still a lot of people behind me; are just tough out of luck and won’t get anything. That sucks either way you slice it.
I have a ticket on my bib for a free beer. For a moment, I contemplate cashing that in. But, the line is about 800 runners deep and I’m just not interested in waiting. Especially now because I’m pissed off. I’m hot, I want some chocolate milk, I have to go to the bathroom, and I want to go home. I ended up giving my ticket to another runner.
I find a place to sit down for a few minutes. I stretch out and eat what little bit of food I grabbed while I was walking; basically a couple of pieces of orange and a bagel. I finish eating and then head towards the car. I stop by the bathroom any by a 7-eleven on my way. I had to get some chocolate milk!
I’d like to say that this was a great race. But, I didn’t enjoy it much at all. A lot of that is on me. I was stressed from the beginning because I overslept. I rushed to get to the race and then stupid things just seemed to keep going wrong; no race shirts in my size, out of Gatorade at the water stop, no towels or chocolate milk at the finish. I can accept being out of Gatorade because the water stop wasn’t staffed that well. But, not having enough finisher’s items and refreshments for the runners just isn’t cool in my book. It shouldn’t matter if you’re first or last. Every runner should be able to have the same amenities. We all paid the same amount.
Some positives. The course was very pretty and shaded in a lot of places. This was great given the high temperature and humidity we had today. I think Mother Nature forgot that it’s December. For the most part, the course was also really well supported with volunteers. There was also a couple of places where residents were handing out drinks and such. There was a lot of places where people were out cheering. I personally love when people are cheering for random strangers. It makes me feel like the world isn’t just full of crap.
While this wasn’t the greatest experience, it’s hard to be completely mad about everything. After all, I’ve accomplished my goals for the year. Besides, every race isn’t going to be your best race ever. I’ll take this one as a learning experience and move along to whatever will come up next.