A few weeks ago I ran the Echo Half Marathon with my friend Allison. I was looking forward to this race for a few reasons: (1) a night away, (2) redemption ( I was supposed to run last year but broke my toe right before), and (3) it was my first half since being injured in February.
Considering I was just 8 weeks out from an injury my only goal was to run this race in under 2:15, meaning 2:14:59. I ran the Key West Half in January and I use the term ran loosely, because I actually ran/walked the last 4 miles or so. I finished a in 2:30 and change. I wanted to do better during this race.
The Echo Half is located in Dubary, which is about 2 hours from Wesley Chapel. Allison and I stayed in one of their sponsor hotels in Sanford. The hotel offered a great deal, plus a bagged breakfast pre-race, plus a shuttle to and from the race…what more could you ask for??!!!
We left around 11am so that we would have time to check into the hotel, pick up our race bibs, eat lunch/dinner and explore.
We checked into the hotel at around 1:30 and then we headed out to the ranch where we needed to pick up our race numbers.
Pick up was quick and easy. One bib actually needed to be transferred from another friend to Allison and despite the fact that Echo’s website states no transfers, they did transfer the bib without an issue!!!!!
After we grabbed our bibs we headed to downtown Sanford for some food. We ended up eating at Zorbas, which was a delicious Greek restaurant located in the middle of downtown historic Sanford. Sanford was actually an awesome little town. I wasn’t expecting much from what I had been told by other people, but I was pleasantly surprised. We ate, we window shopped and we walked along the Sanford Riverwalk. It was an awesome afternoon.
After we explored downtown we headed to the mall near our hotel for some more window shopping and running supplies…….Allison needed NUUN. Around 6 we headed back to our hotel with one quick stop at WAWA for some snacks.
With a 4 am wake up call we needed to get our beauty sleep. Allison was out by 8 and me 9:30.
We had to be on the shuttle by 5:10 which left us an hour to eat and get ready. The worst part of getting ready was spraying sun tan lotion on our body. That spray sh** is frighteningly cold at 4 am. We picked up our breakfast bag (water, banana, protein bar) and hit the shuttle at about 5:15. We arrived around 5:35, hit the porta potties and then lined up for the race.
The race started promptly at 6:15. Allison and I started together, but quickly said our goodbyes as I took off. I was feeling awesome. I caught up with the 2:10 pace group and stuck with them for a few minutes, but quickly realized they were moving too slow for me so I passed them and just fell into a pace that seemed fairly easy. I ended up running behind the 9:10/mile pace group. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant for my goal at the time, but it was a good group and I felt good running with them.
At around mile 4 the pacer announced we were on target for a 1:59:30 half, which was her goal. I can safely say that I got f-ing excited. I hadn’t run an under 2 half in over 6 years and I could now taste it. I had not trained for speed, but I felt good, so I decided to stick with the pace group.
The miles ticked away and up until mile 9 I felt pretty awesome. Although it was hot, the sun wasn’t blaring down on us, which definitely helped. At mile 9 I started to fall behind, but I pushed myself and caught back up with the pace group. At this point I knew I had two huge blisters under both big toes. Each step hurt, but I knew I was soooooo close to that under 2 half that I just pushed through the pain.
By mile 11 the pace group had dwindled from about 8 people to 4 and then I fell behind, leaving them with only 3. At this point my goal was to keep them in my sight. I knew I had a cushion because I crossed the mat about 30 seconds to a minute after the pacer. Miles 11-13.1 hurt, but I pushed. That last tenth of a mile I sprinted. I usually try to get a good finisher photo, but I wanted to stop my watch as soon as I hit the mat and it showed in the picture.
I did it!!! I fu*&ing did it!!!! My pace group was waiting for me!!!!
They were so proud and so was I!!!! This was my first time with a pace group and I could not have made it without them!!!! It was an awesome experience all around. Check out my splits:
I got redemption and the confidence that I can actually run fast again, it is an awesome feeling. Maybe my future goals aren’t big enough?!?!
Post race I celebrated with free beer! Why not right? I was followed by a butterfly, which I would like to think is my grandfather watching over me, it seems since he died during special moments there is always a butterfly around me. We hung out at the post race “party” for awhile, took some pictures and then shuttled back to the hotel.
Allison and I packed up and headed to breakfast in Lake Mary at The Broken Egg Café, I celebrated with eggs Benedict, my fave!!!
We headed back to Tampa after breakfast. Best race night ever! I had a great time and achieved a goal I did not even know I wanted, what more could I ask for??
Have you ever created a goal during a race?