6th Annual Florida Halloween Halfathon – October 26, 2014

This race marks the one year anniversary of the first half marathon I completed after I began following my near-fatal car accident when doctors told me I’d probably never run again. I am very proud of my accomplishments this year and very grateful for the courage, willingness and strength God has showered in my life, both in my day to day life and as it relates to running. I’m also grateful for all of the amazing people that God has put in my life who have inspired me, pushed me and helped me and continue to do so as I follow this journey .

At the same time I am grateful, I am also acutely aware of the things I have taken for granted this year, and the training I have failed to do and the successes I let slip through my fingers, and I am a little discouraged with myself too. I just took a deferral due to lack of training for a Disney full marathon I was scheduled to do in January, 2015. Now it’s on the books for 2016 and I can only be hopeful that I will get my act together by then. In the meantime, it is possible that if I begin training properly, I could do the Cleveland event in May, 2015 as a full marathon instead of the half I am scheduled to do right now.

Anyway, back to this race.

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The night before the race, as always, I selected my race gear and put it all out as is my routine/habit/obsession. My “flat Debi” photo was taken and all electronic devices and other necessities were gathered.  I knew we were going to have to get up about 3:15am to leave at 4am just to get up to Fort DeSoto Park near St. Petersburg.  The last time we went up to this park for a race, we were backed up in traffic so we were a little anxious about getting there since we had to pick up our race packets right before the race. I recall turning the television off right around midnight trying to force myself to sleep.  (This not being a good thing.)

My friend from work, MJ, arrived at our house right on time and Jane, MJ and I headed up to the race.  As it turned out, there was no back up of traffic this year and we arrived right on time – actually a little on the “too early” side.  We went ahead and got our race packets, took a couple trips to the “loo” and went back to the car for a little while.  When the time got near, we went over to the start area and found our spots.

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I left MJ in the faster runner section and headed toward the back of the race.  I was looking for Ashley, the daughter of a friend of mine, who was planning to do this race as her first half marathon.  She belongs to a local group that trains regularly using the Galloway method, and after comparing notes, I had told her I would do the race with her.  She had heard my story when I shared at the group’s banquet last year.

Michele, the other trainer with the running group was also going to run with Ashley for the duration of the race. Early on it was clear that Ashley was really going to have to pull everything she had in order to finish this race.  Michele continued to offer very encouraging “trainer” kinds of inspiration and motivation.  I, on the other hand, offered useless mathematical calculations that I use myself to keep preoccupied while doing half marathons. When we got to the four mile marker, I mentioned that we were a third of way done – sort of.  Then, at the five mile marker, I pointed out that we were exactly halfway through plus a 5k.  When we got to six and a half miles, I cheered that we were halfway finished.

Miles 1 through 7 were as usual in this race. Since the entire race is inside Fort DeSoto Park, we followed the paved sidewalk in mostly shaded areas.  An added perk this year was the fact that the Boy Scouts had tents up and they were lined up on near the sidewalk and actually cheered us on as we passed.  Bunches of them had their hands up offering “high fives” for motivation.  I always love that. As we headed toward the turnaround, I mentioned how last year it was so windy it was nearly unbearable.  For this year’s race, there was no wind.  There was, however, TONS of sunshine beating down on us.  Ugh.

Michele had adjusted the tempo of the Galloway pattern a couple different times just to try and keep us moving more consistently. There were several cycles that had passed where we just continued to walk because Ashley just needed a break. As we headed back through the park, Ashley mentioned she was out of water so I yelled out asking if any of the boy scouts had any water and suddenly we had water.  Gotta love those Boy Scouts!

As an aside, during the course of this race there were probably four or five people that yelled out “hey Debi”; some of them I recognized in time, one I recognized after the fact, and a couple I have no idea who they were. If  you are reading this and I didn’t acknowledge you, I’m sorry I missed you.  To Tia, April and Vicky, I’m glad I saw you guys! Sorry we didn’t have time to catch up afterwards.

Anyway, the Florida sun was beating down on my neck and I could feel it burning. In all honesty, the walking was taking a toll on my hip. I could never be one of those power walkers, that’s for sure. Ashley was nearly spent, I was aching, and Michele was doing her best trying to get us back into the run/walk routine.  Finally, near the 11 or 12 mile marker, we got back into the routine a bit, which took a little of the pain out of my hip.

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At the beginning of this race I had it in my head that my goal was to beat last year’s time. During the entirety of this race, Ashley, Michele and I stayed together regardless of what we might have been able to do or not – we were a team. We earned this medal together and were better friends because of it. Staying with my team and pressing on was way more important than any finish time. We proudly crossed that finish line – as the team we had become – and we were all proud of each other!

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Race #11 of 14 is in the books for this girl! YAY! 

Another fantastic race by Florida Road Races (aka Chris and Rya Lauber).  Everything ran as smooth as always, no glitches, everyone seemed happy, and fun was had by all! I’m sure Ashley will always remember her first star fish medal – I know I do♥

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