The Orlando Xtreme Half Marathon takes place in Christmas. Yep. That’s the name of the town. And yep. They have a Christmas tree year round.
The race starts at the Orlando Wetlands Park, which is only about a half hour from my house.
It’s in the middle of nowhere and takes you down one of those roads where you can imagine your car running out of gas, having no cell reception to call for help, and then some strange dude tying you up and bringing you home to “mama.”
But before I get to the race, I want to mention that it was put on by Epic Sports Marketing. If they want to run with the big boys like RnR and ING someday, they seriously need a new PR person. I got an email the week of the race that was not only terribly written, but it included this sentence:
Our race photographer wants me to remind you all that remember to dress like runners. That will guaranteed much better pictures.
What does that even mean?
Then, four days before the race, they released a newletter saying the race was in two weeks. So yeah, I just get an unprofessional vibe all around.
Anyway, I picked up my packet race morning.
Went back to the car to drop off my t-shirt and hoodie and walked back to wait for the race to start.
I did not put on makeup by the way. I washed my face before I went to bed, when I woke up, and used makeup remover…twice. That gel eyeliner still wanted to stay on my lash line. Also, that headband lasted one mile. Sweaty bands, Bic Bands, Bondi Bands – I have not met one that will stay on my head.
Just before the race started, guess who made an announcement?
Oh, I remembered his name alright. So when someone said that he had an announcement, I was prepared for greatness. And I got it. He told the 10k’ers and the half marathoners to line up…at the wrong flags. Luckily there was another volunteer by the flags that knew what was going on.
While we were waiting to start, this guy was standing in front of me. Are those the new thing in minimalist shoes? I have never seen anything like that before. Thirteen miles in those? No thank you.
This race was my first trail run and I can’t say I loved it. While it is supposed to be easier on the knees, it was definitely harder on the ankles. I spent the entire race trying to dodge tufty pieces of grass and loose patches of sand.
The race was a double loop, which I’ve somehow managed to avoid in all my 17 half marathons until now, and I can say I’m not a fan. We passed the finish line twice – once around mile 2 and again at mile 7. Knowing I had to do that whole loop again was a serious demotivator.
The course itself was beautiful and extremely peaceful.
I was using this race as a training run, but even so I still wanted to do the best I could. So it was a bummer that I just didn’t feel like running. My breathing never felt right and I never got into that groove like I did at 3M.
I stopped to walk at mile 5 and 9 to eat 1/4 of a PB&J and then ended up walking about three times between miles 11 – 12.5.
At one point, I ran by a flock (a gaggle? a murder?) of vultures. A few of them were looking directly at me with their wings spanned. I tried not to look them in the eye. (Does that work with birds?) I have a history with birds and I just wanted to avoid any type of “situation.”
Around mile 11, it was getting hot and we were running directly into the sun so I just wanted the race over with. I turned off my music at that point and literally heard five minutes of continuous echoing gunfire in the distance. What the what? I didn’t know whether I should take cover or look to the sky for holograms of the people that died on course.
I picked it up as much as I could at the end and finished in 2:13:01.
Last month’s race was 10 minutes faster, so that was a little blow to the ego.
If you want to know how to positive split a race, here ya go:
My Garmin had the course at almost 13.5 miles and I’m thinking that’s right because I heard from another person that the course was over 14 miles one year.
I must have looked like hell crossing the finish line because more people than normal were trying to motivate me and a random girl who was walking in the opposite direction, circled back to give me a high-five and tell me good job.
There were some good post race treats – lots of fruit and peanut butter, jelly, and Nutella for the bagels.
Annnnnd mini cupcakes!
Way to win me over, race. Also, include strawberries in the “foods I hated until last year” category.
When I got home, a poof of dust came out of my socks. My shoes and feet were filthy. And of course, just after I got done talking up my Brooks, they gave me a big blister.
Overall it was a really nice, small race although a little too hard on my feet and ankles. I’m not sure I like to pay that much attention to every step I take.
And just for fun, here’s the playlist I used.
I put slow and fast music on my list because I never know what I’m gonna want to hear once I get out there. All I know is that the new Fall Out Boy song got three plays in a row. Can’t get enough of that one.
Next race is the Gasparilla Half in Tampa at the end of the month. It’s likely that will be my last half of the season – PR or no PR.