26.2 miles of Celebration
|2014 Inaugural Celebration Marathon & Half|
Many runners know the anxiety and/or excitement that flows through our bodies during the week before our races. The last week of "training" (a.k.a. running happy) I took it easy and limited my running to short, easy runs - for me. My Aunt Karen flew down from frigid New York to warm, sunny Florida to be here for my marathon, bringing positive vibes for my journey. I even had the chance to run with her on Saturday for an easy 4 miles to make sure my legs were not stiff at the start. The remainder of the day we spent at my sister's house. She is an awesome athlete and understands the necessity for healthy foods before race day and provided a wonderful vegetarian pot pie soup with loads of veggies sided with homemade yeast rolls. I was not shy and devoured at least 10 of those delicious rolls and a huge bowl of soup. Having ingested as much as I could, I sat down to chat with family about life and running over a glass of red wine.
The night before a race is always a fidgety one and I thought I'd never slip into la la land, but the wine at Rachel's certainly helped my mind and body relax to sleep. However, before turning in for the night I checked my facebook and found numerous posts of encouragement and motivation from Strider friends and family. I laid out my Suncoast Strider long sleeve shirt, shorts, gloves, beanie, sports bra, socks, and my oldest Pure Flow I own and packed a change of clothes for our visit to Nana's. I packed my gu, salt tablets, immodium for the tummy, gum, and Mr. Garmin. As with any race, you can be assured that I will represent my Suncoast Striders - THE best running group ever!
|Pinning on the bib|
I must have slept well because my 4:40 a.m. alarm startled me. I was ready in a flash and hyper-excited! Brewed my favorite coffee, ate my cheese grits and a slice of french toast before grabbing a banana and rushing out the door. Arriving in Celebration, FL in only an hour, I felt the urge to..well, you know and rushed to the port-o-potty while my Aunt Karen procured the race packet/bib. Feeling flushed out, I pinned on bib #134 just moments before handing everything over to my aunt, giving her a dry hug, and hearing the national anthem being sung. I was blessed to find and hug my cheery friend Jodi, all lit up for her half marathon, but was a little bummed I could not find anyone else from our running group.
|Ready to celebrate running|
The sun was slowly beginning to awaken as I made my way out of the heart of Celebration, heading onto the double loop course. Beautiful houses lined the streets in the residential areas, the grand Celebration Heath facility lay on the north edge of the loop, and after the Celebration Blvd. straight-away a boardwalk led through the "Alligator petting zone" woods. Signs such as the one about the alligators lined the 2-3 mile north part of the loop, for what other reason but to entertain us. I must say that I smiled and even chuckled a bit at many of them. I know I forgot some, but here are a few (paraphrased): Chuck Norris almost ran this marathon. We know this is not Disney, but we did not wake you up at 2 a.m. either. What does the fox say?!
A few more things about the course :
I felt that the water stops were perfectly placed, not too close nor too far apart. I never felt any sloshing or a terrible thirst along the course. However, I was not able to drink the gatorade since it was red, which makes my tummy yucky. There were people cheering, in residential areas and the town center, along the course, with only a few empty spots. It seemed I was being followed by a few spectators, as a lady on a bike was traveling throughout the course cheering on her husband. It just so happens that I was ahead of him by a couple minutes each time she stopped and she always cheered for me. I thanked her every time I saw her and asked if she was following me. It made me think of riding my bike along the Clearwater Marathon course cheering on my friends and from that I continued to be motivated and encouraged.
A few more things about the course :
|Mile 13 - ready for some gloves and a GU|
If you own a Garmin you have heard the bleep as you accomplish each mile. I made sure to note my pace and adjust it according to my promise. I knew the pace would fluctuate depending on where the water stops were located. Many of my miles were within the 9:15-9:25 pace until I passed mile 20, when I slowed to around a 10 min/mile pace until my last .26 miles. The course (according to Mr Garmin) was 26.26 and ended into the heart of Celebration with hundreds and hundreds of people cheering.
|Mile 15 - still happy|
|Happiest run EVER!|
|Final result and awesome bling|
My final chip time was 4:14:41 - an average pace of 9:43.
I finished #199 out of 500+ runners and #21 out of 52 runners in my age group.
PR by 21:04
ME = HAPPY!!
ME = HAPPY!!
The ONLY complaint I have is that the post-race food ran out before I finished. We had to acquire a "food card" to be punched by each station, but out of the twelve places I was only able to get Michelob Ultra, a Mimosa, a couple garlic breads, and a water. There were no bananas and minimal bottled water, along with a serious lack of volunteers around to assist runners after the finish. Other than these issues I have NO complaint and seriously enjoyed my mimosa and two Mic ultras before making my way to the car.
If I mentioned things about the race to you that may not be on this blog, please feel free to add in the comments. I feel as if I just traveled the same 26.26 miles and think I will eat lunch and have more coffee!!