There are two mottos that I tend to live by in life:
- Peer pressure is no fun until you give in.
- If it’s free, it’s for me!
So when the world allows itself to become aligned such that I’m being peer pressured into something that’s free, it’s nearly impossible for me to resist.
Especially if it involves racing.
When the opportunity arose to run the 2015 ECHO Half Marathon for free, I simply could not resist the temptation.
So I signed up for a half marathon in Central Florida in June.
What could go wrong, eh?
2015 ECHO Half Marathon: The Good
There were lots of things to like about this race.
- Local-Obviously what is local for one may not be local for another, but the ability to sleep in my own bed, eat breakfast at home, and then drive to the race is a big draw for me. That’s probably why I end up running so many Disney races; convenience is king!
- Flat-You don’t need to know much about the geography of Central Florida to know that a half marathon here is going to be pretty flat, which allows it to be pretty fast. There was one “big hill”, which was simply a pedestrian walkway over a busy road that we had to go over. Other than that, it was pretty much perfectly flat except for a slight downhill grade for most of the last quarter mile, which was much appreciated by me at least.
- Small-ish-I’m not sure of the exact number of runners for this race, but I feel like I heard 1000 thrown around a few times. In any event, the race was far from crowded, which I absolutely like. A few more people may have helped push me to run a bit faster, but the small crowd did help me to place 3rd in my age group. More on that later…
- Aid Stations-One thing that frustrates me is when the gatorade (or whatever sports drink) that is available at races is so watered down you can barely taste it. At this race, there was no question that you were getting some sugar into your system every time you wanted some. So kudos to whoever had the foresight of making some potent gatorade! And overall, the aid/water stations were well organized and the volunteers were fantastic!
- Post-Race-It’s amazing to me how much better the post race events are at some of these smaller races than they are at the bigger races I tend to run i.e. Disney races. This event, had pulled pork sandwiches available (and I’m still kicking myself for not getting one), Dunkin Donuts coffee/donut holes, local bakeries with cookies, fresh strawberries, free beer, games for the kids, music, and the whole nine yards. Well done y’all!
2015 ECHO Half Marathon: The Bad
There are two sides to every coin, and while I definitely enjoyed this race, there were some things that could have been much better.
- Parking-Maybe we didn’t get there early enough (about 45 minutes before the race stated) but the parking situation was a cluster. From what I saw, I’m not sure of a better way to do it, I just know it was a mess!
- Weather-Not that it’s anyone’s fault that it was a wee bit warm, and running a June race in Florida means you’re expecting the heat, but I know there were some runners that didn’t do as well as they’d hoped in part because of the heat. Honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad, but there’s no question it was plenty warm out.
2015 ECHO Half Marathon: The Heartbreak
Maybe I’m being a touch dramatic here, but there was a touch of disappointment on my end after the race.
- 6 Fricking Seconds-My “A” goal coming into the race was to run a sub-1:45. I honestly questioned whether or not I could keep that type of pace for the entire race, but figured that if everything went perfectly it COULD happen. My “B” goal was to run sub-1:50, and I was confident I could make that happen. My plan was to start a little cautiously to get a good warm up, and then run hard and see what would happen. Long story short, I was right on pace for the whole race, but because of the many turns in the race, I forgot that I needed to be just a little faster than the pace I needed because it would be nearly impossible to run a perfect race. I ended up crossing the finish line at 1:45:05, and my Garmin read 13.17. If I ran a perfect 13.1, I would have been under 1:45, but because I failed to factor in the many turns, I missed my “A” goal by 6 seconds. I’m obviously still happy with a big PR, but those 6 seconds do irk me a little bit.
- Age Group Place-I honestly had no clue I’d be anywhere near placing in my age group. I was happy with my race, I ran about as well as I could have expected I’d run, but I still figured I’d struggle to be top 10 or so in my AG. Well, due to the fact that the race was small and apparently there weren’t many really fast runners in the 30-34 AG, I ended up finishing 3rd. How is that a heartbreak? I didn’t stick around to see results or to listen to the awards because I knew I wasn’t going to get one. So I left my award (picture frame, I think) behind. And that’s a bit of a bummer.
When all is said and done, I thought this was a great race. I’d definitely run it again, if the right opportunity presents itself, and would encourage anyone here in the Central Florida area to give it a shot.
It’s going to be hot, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t need to be an issue if you don’t make it into one. Be plenty hydrated before the race, take in some water throughout, and you’ll be fine.
And if you have to slow the pace a little bit, that’s fine too!
What Do You Feel About Running in the Summer Heat? Florida or Not, Plenty of Places are Warm this Time of Year. Do You Like Running in the Heat or Do You Prefer the Cold? Why?