Friday, December 19, 2014

Hillsborough River Half Marathon

Hillsborough River Trail half marathon, December 13, 2014

Gina, Carolyn, Wendy and I headed up to the Tampa area around 6 am race morning. We got to the race site, picked up our bags and then waited in the car until we needed to head to the start. It was a cold morning! Temp was low 40s. We all were trying to decide if we needed to wear a top layer or not. About 10 minutes to race start, we got out of the warm car and walked down the road to the start line. I found Brenda and Vanessa there. Got a quick photo, while we listened to the course directions. Just before we got started, the lead marathoners (who had started about 10 minutes before us) came running through. We had a little loop at the start of the race, before heading out to the trail. One runner had brought her dog. He/she wasn't on a leash and for some reason decided to run across the road, right in front of the lead female runner, tripping her! She recovered quickly, smiled and waved and continued on. We all gave her a big cheer. We then got lined up and got ready to go.

Giant puddle covering the road.
I lost Gina and Carolyn right away, even though it was a small group of runners. The dog and it's owner came up on the left side of me, then cut across and stopped. The woman was yelling at the dog, telling him to stop acting crazy. Not sure why the dog was allowed to run the race, specially without a leash! As we finished off the first little loop, the dog stopped, squatted and pooped on the road! I pulled ahead of them and thankfully didn't encounter these two again on the course. Hope they didn't trip up anyone else. Just before mile one, we made the turn to the right, off the paved road. I drop my zip up hoodie here, as I'm starting to warm up. We soon encountered the large puddle, that covered the entire dirt road. There was one little area to get around it, but it was pretty muddy. I managed to get though without getting my feet wet. The course changed from wide dirt road, to hard packed dirt road and then to single track trial, with lots of roots. This section wasn't very long. Less than two miles maybe. My favorite part of the run, even though it slows me down a bit because I've got to change my gait to avoid tripping. One guy, who had been running behind me for a while and was breathing very heavy, passed me and then soon tripped on a root! I made sure he was of, before continuing on. Slightly happy to not have his crazy breathing behind me anymore. :) The next section of the trail is high grass trail. My least favorite section. Not much traction on my older Hoka shoes I was wearing. Finally we hit an aid station, made the turn to the right to start the second loop, back on the dirt road. Splits for miles 1 through 7 - 9:00, 8:29, 8:50, 9:04, 8:55, 9:15, 9:08

Hard packed dirt road.
Started to slow down during the second loop. My hips were feeling pretty tight. I knew it was going to be a tough run just two weeks after Space Coast Marathon. Plus, I ran a total of 20 miles already during the week, so no kind of taper leading up to this run. My only goal was to try and beat last year's time of 2:05. By the time I hit the single track trail section, I was feeling pretty stiff, but kept up running. This section is right next to the river, but I can't really enjoy the view, because I'm afraid to take my eyes off of the trail in front of me! I don't want to fall and get hurt. As I hit the grassy trail section, which is full sun, it is finally warm enough to push down the arm sleeves I'm wearing. I plod away, finally reaching the aid station. I get to turn left this time, heading back to the main road. I manage to make my way through the big puddle again, without getting my feet wet. When I his the main road, I pick up some speed. We do get off the paved road, toward the end, running the trail next to the river again, up to the finish line. Splits for miles 8 through 13.1 - 9:11, 9:28, 10:04, 10:24, 9:44, 9:37, 1:01
Finish - 2:02 (three minutes faster than last year!)

Half marathon finishers medal

Before leaving, we enjoy a nice hot breakfast in the restaurant of the park. It's free for runners. They had pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit, coffee and orange juice.

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