So here’s the moment I’ve all been waiting for all year………… the completion of my 14th Half Marathon in 2014!! YAY!! I did it! God graced me with the strength and willpower to complete what I set out to do over a year ago when doctors told me I’d never run again.
Granted, I didn’t break any time barriers or even come anywhere remotely near my pre-auto-accident PR (personal record), but I still did it! When I think about the goal and my success, I reflect on Phillippians 4:13 (NLT) that says “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”. I also hope that I was another example of God’s disciple proving my love such as that shown in Hebrews 12:1, where it says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
This success also opens the door for the future too, but I’ll talk about that in another post another day.
Let me tell you about the Starlight Half Marathon. We found this race on the internet when faced with the jackpot situation of finishing 2014 with only 13 half marathons under my belt due to missing a race because of the flu. Since I already had the Frosty 5K scheduled for the same morning as this half marathon, I decided it would be best to walk the 5K to save up my energy.
When we finished the Frosty 5K and came to the car, Jane told me she had gotten a room at the Hilton just a mile from the Starlight Half Marathon so we wouldn’t have to drive an hour and a half after the race to get to my aunt’s house in Ocala as previously planned. I felt bad that I wouldn’t see my aunt that evening, but a part of me was thrilled I wouldn’t have to jump in a car and travel after the race AND I would be able to rest up in between the two races.
I had decided to wear a holiday-themed cotton tee shirt and possibly a long-sleeved shirt underneath. The new Hokas seemed fine while walking the 5K earlier, so I once again violated my own “nothing new on race day” rule once again and wore the new Hokas for the half marathon.
The drawback to a 6pm half marathon as far as I was concerned was not knowing how to eat for the day. Once I finished the 5K, we stopped for a late breakfast at about 10am. I knew better than to eat eggs, but the sausage I ate did give me a little indigestion throughout the day. We checked into the hotel about noon and planned to rest for a while. There was some documentary-type show on ESPN about Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and their unmatched rivalry. I have no idea why I found it so intriguing given the fact that I’m not a tennis fan, but I stayed awake and watched the whole film while Jane slept. I’m guessing it was probably nerves. When Jane woke up, she ran to the store trying to find something that might be appropriate for me to eat before the race without much success.
I changed my shirts, put on my gear (my Garmin, iPod, etc.) and got ready to go. It had warmed up in the afternoon sun but I kept thinking about how it would be dark and possibly it would be cold, so I went ahead and wore the long-sleeved shirt as well.
We drove down a road that seemed kind of like a new development that wasn’t developed until we found the park where the race was to begin. It was a cute little area that had Christmas lights in one section. Down where registration was located they had some tables set up so that people would have somewhere to sit down and eat after the race, which was a nice touch I thought.
They were setting up the finish line, putting lighted pine trees down the sides.
I picked up my personalized bib and shirt, and a nice little touch was that they added a 13.1 sticker in the bag too. I loved the aqua/teal color too! They had long-sleeved tech shirts, gender specific, in adequate sizing – YAY! Two shirts that fit in the same day!!
There was a 5K offered as part of this race, and the 5K was to start at 6:00 p.m. with the half marathon starting at 6:05 p.m. Because this was an evening race, all half marathon participants were required to wear a light or carry a flashlight. I coincidently had a product review to do for my blog on a light with a band to wear it, so I was all set. (Unfortunately, the light came off the band right at the start line and because it was dark I couldn’t figure out how to get it back on the band. Therefore, I carried the light in my hand the entire 13.1 miles! UGH!)
From what I understand, in past years this race was held on the same night as a holiday parade, so participants would run through thousands of parade spectators. I’m not certain why that wasn’t the case this year but it was okay with me. I overheard someone say there were about 600 people total for the half marathon and the 5K. (I checked the results and it looked like there were about 225 people doing the half marathon and about 300 people doing the 5K.)
We started out running behind this Town Center area and then onto the main road’s sidewalk. At mile 2 or so, I realized what a HUGE mistake I had made wearing the long-sleeved shirt underneath the tee shirt because I had already started sweating more than usual. About mile 3 we were directed toward a blacktop paved trail that had glow sticks laying on the ground directing us for the route. I’m really hoping it wasn’t their intent to try and light the path with the glow sticks LOL!
Oh, and did I mention it started raining on and off around mile 4 or so? UGH! We ran on this paved trail for a little over a mile or so and then came out of the trail, turned right on the sidewalk and then another right continuing on the sidewalk. From what I recall, we ended up back on what seemed to be the same paved trail until we got to about mile 7. We were directed out of the trail where we ran out and back on a sidewalk, where we turned around and got right back on the same paved trail.
For the most part, the paved trail was pretty nice. Every now and again there would be an area where tree roots had raised the trail, and I did have to catch myself from falling after I tripped on some roots. I’m not a big fan of running in the dark – I mean seriously, I’m not even a fan of DRIVING in the dark! What I am definitely a fan of now is the Hokas I was wearing.
I used the Galloway method of running for a fixed period and then running for a fixed period. I’ve never been able to be consistent when using this method, but I actually stayed on the run/walk pattern for the first six miles before I had to skip a couple of the sequences. I was able to pick the run/walk pattern back up throughout the remainder of the race on and off. I was even able to pass two women in the last couple miles of the race which never happens to me by that part of a race. Even heading toward Town Center in mile 12, I found that the Hokas felt 200% better when I was running and definitely NOT when I was walking, so I made sure to keep alternating to keep my feet from burning.
When I came near the finish line, I saw a group of people and one of them was holding a sign. I figured they must be there for one of the girls I had passed or something, but as I got closer, I saw that Jane was holding the sign and that my [favorite] Aunt Barbara was standing there.
My Aunt Barbara had her grandson/my cousin, Josh, drive her and my other aunt (Bernice) over from Ocala, which was about an hour and a half away just to be there at the finish line! Josh brought his wife, Emily, and their baby, Josh Jr., too, so I was really feeling the love.♥
I ran through the finish line, through the lighted Christmas Trees and the snow blowing to pick up my medal before turning around to see my family. I never checked out the music, s’mores, beer, hot food or drinks offered – I heard there was a pizza too – but my family wanted to go get something to eat and I completely agreed.
As a side note, because I was sweating so much from wearing two cotton shirts, plus the fact that it rained a bit, plus the fact that I stayed in my wet, sweaty clothes until after we ate and got back to the hotel room, I unfortunately have a case of sport bra chafing turned bacterial infection for which I had to seek medical attention. Guess that lucky sport bra is going in the trash!
The Starlight Half Marathon is advertised as a race “not like any other race around,” and I will say I have to agree with that. I’ve never ran a race in the dark, that’s for sure. Even the medal is different than any of the others on my bling rack in that it glows in the dark. The wording on the shirt glows in the dark too adding to the cool factor!