After running last year’s Orlando Half Marathon with a good friend and seeing what a great race it would be to get a PR, I was determined to try and do so this year. But then life happened and I ended up having to train for a half marathon in one month. My goal quickly morphed from ‘get a PR’ to ‘just finish and around 2:30 would be nice.’ Last Saturday morning, I set out to do just that.
My morning started off with a mad dash to the red pagoda by Lake Eola. What did I tell you? I’m either a hot mess on race mornings, or calm and zen. On this morning I started off calm and became a hot mess when I realized I was leaving my house late. I had zero cash on me, so I knew I was going to have to find a free parking spot on the street.
Luckily, I found a spot where me and D used to park for Magic games. As I pulled up to one of the last available spots on the street a fellow runner directed me to park as close to his car as possible, leaving space for one more car behind me. Ah… runners… always helping each other out.
When I stepped out of my car, he asked me if I was ready. This man was a complete stranger and I’ve never talked to him in my life before. But I knew exactly what this fellow runner was asking: Was I ready to do a warm-up run to the start line? I nodded and took off behind him. I had a red pagoda to reach soon or feared losing my ladies that were patiently waiting for me.
I arrived at the pagoda to find my friends smirking.
Oh! Look who’s here!
I never imagined you would be late.
Hemarie? No, she’s never late.
Clearly, their sarcasm reinstated my reputation for running on Puerto Rican time.
As we walked to the start of the race, my friends asked me if I was cold because I was wearing my favorite Lululemon No Limits Tank. It was around 60 degrees. I laughed and pointed out that I was hot already… I had just run. I heat up pretty easily and rarely ever wear long sleeves to a race. The closest I came was at the Disney Marathon when I had to wear arm warmers at the start (and later removed).
Here was the view as we made our way to the start:
Walking to the start.
We had a few minutes before the race started so I snapped this photo of the ladies:
The ladies: Beth, Emily, me and Kim
Emily (second from left in photo) just ran the Space Coast Marathon Thanksgiving weekend. To her, this was just a shakeout run.
Beth and I both knew we weren’t going to PR, but wanted to push our pace with this race. When I heard Em mention our fast past in the first mile, I figured the inevitable would happen… we were going to split up. Shortly after, I was thrilled to see Beth keep her pace with me when the others dropped back.
It was a gorgeous morning to take a 13.1 mile run:
We started running at an 11:27/mile pace, and slowly settled into an 11:00/mile pace. We ran 5 and 1′s (run 5 minutes, walk one minute, repeat) and felt great. We settled into our conversations about life and the miles seemed to pass us by.
The Orlando Half Marathon course tends to change almost every year, and I noticed that this year’s course was very different from last year’s. I couldn’t help but think that some of these roads weren’t exactly the nicest roads to showcase Orlando for any out-of-town runners.
When we hit mile 8 of our run, I saw that we were running in pace to come close to my PR of 2:27. We did a mini celebration, knowing we were only 5 miles short of finishing.
Along the way we saw familiar faces both on the course and off. I made sure to smack our former running group member, Sammie, in the tush every time we snuck up on her. I made sure to duck afterwards in case she turned around swinging.
Somewhere in the middle of mile 10 I started to feel drained of energy and stopped talking. Beth must’ve felt similar because she stopped talking as well and suddenly we were running in silence. Our pace started to creep up between 11:30 and 11:47 in our intervals and I forced myself to eat my vanilla stinger waffle. It almost made me gag. It’s funny how being tired can turn the tastiest of treats to a turd.
Speaking of which, these port-o-potties made me laugh:
Think D and I can get some of these for our wedding?
Around mile 12, I started to feel a pull in my left IT band. Since I didn’t run longer than 9 miles in my one month training program, I forgot that this happens. Damn you IT band! I started to focus on picking up my feet.
As we hit the final mile, we started to pick up our pace again and dropped back down to an average of 11:00/mile. I broke our silence:
Me: Only one more mile to go. We can do this, right?
Beth: Yes! We can do this.
Yes, there was doubt in there. And while Beth replied optimistically, she later admitted that she too was dying inside.
The end of the course had us rounding the corner of Lake Eola and finishing with a straight shot. I told Beth I wanted to take a quick 30-second unsanctioned walk break to the corner so we could run out the rest of the race. I got no objection from her.
As we rounded the corner and picked up to a run again, we saw the finish line in sight. I waited patiently for that point where I knew I could sprint out the rest of the race
without dying and tried to focus on my breathing. It is often at this point of the race that I start to pray that I don’t pass out right there in front of the finish line. Because that would be really embarrassing. I certainly don’t want a YouTube video of me going viral.
I also must’ve been super delirious, because this picture at the end captures me smiling:
I was happy to catch a glimpse of my love just before I crossed the finish line. It helped me get those last couple of steps in.
And just like that (or two hours and thirty-six minutes later) I finished my fifth half marathon. It wasn’t my best time, but it wasn’t my worst either. I’ll take it!
- Distance: 13.1 miles
- Time: 2:36
- Avg Pace: 11:47/mi
- Local half marathon
- Get to sleep in my own bed the night before
- Easy for your friends and family to come cheer you on
- Easy, flat course
- Nice, long-sleeved tech shirts
- Track Shack always puts on a good race
- With all the road closures, your spectators have to get around by foot or bicycle
- There are stretches of shared roads with vehicles
- The middle of the course is not the most scenic of routes
After the race I headed to get my post-race refreshments:
Not pictures: chocolate milk
And as always, it was nice having my number one supporter waiting for me at the end. I can’t wait for this man to become my husband:
The future Mr. and Mrs.
I will definitely run this local half again in the future!
Did you run this year’s Orlando Half? How was it?