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Florida 10 Series Lakeland Race Recap

This past weekend, I ran in the inaugural Florida 10 Series race here in Lakeland. The Florida 10 Series is a new series of 10 mile races within the state of Florida where cumulative times over the course of the entire series determines overall winners.

While I’m not running the entire series, I ran the race in Lakeland, which was my first ever 10 miler.

Nothing like a guaranteed PR, eh?

Race Day

Florida 10 Series, Lakeland,

Sunrise Before the Race

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Gotta Love a Solid PR!

On Sunday, I ran in the inaugural running of the Celebration Marathon. This race was, in a word, fantastic, and I’d highly recommend that you consider running it next year.

For an inaugural event, the organizers did a tremendous job keeping things together and running smoothly. Were there some things that they might want to do differently next year? No question. But all in all, I didn’t see anything major that you could really complain about regarding this race.

I came closer to running a perfect race than ever before, only missing the mark by .06 miles. I also managed to PR by 21 minutes, so I was pretty stoked with my performance. I really wanted to end up under 4 hours, (official time was 4:08:34) so I could have done better, but a 21 minute PR will have to be good enough.

Photo by The Wife

Photo by The Wife

In my humble opinion, there were a lot more pros than cons with this race. And in truth, I almost had to reach to find any cons.

The Pros

  • Flat–If you are afraid of hills, this race is for you. There weren’t even any “Florida Hills”, aka overpasses, on this course. If you want flat and fast, come to Celebration in 2015.
  • Small Field–I know size is relative (that’s what she said), and for some bigger is better(and she said it again), but if you don’t want to have to dodge other runners for 26.2 miles, this race is for you. Granted the first half of the race is a bit crowded until those running the half split off, there’s nothing like having a little elbow room for the vast majority of the race.
  • Great Expo–Again, this is a bit relative, but I thought the expo was fantastic. I’m not a big expo fan to begin with. I’m more of a get my packet and get out of here kind of guy, but for a race with only 2000 people in it, I was really impressed. While there were fewer venders than at some big races, there were lots of samples to be given out and lots of products to try. And the cool thing about small race expos is that often the big companies shy away, but the small companies come to try and expand their customer base. So it’s cool to see some newer products from some newer companies.
  • Awesome Weather–I know there is no guarantee that the weather will be perfect again next year, but let’s be honest. The likelihood of good weather in Central Florida as opposed to the rest of the country at this time of year (polar vortex, anyone?) is pretty high. I’ll take mid-50s for the race, thank you very much.

The Cons

  • Two Laps–For the full, we basically ran the same loop twice. This isn’t a huge con, but the first lap we ran with those running the half so the course was a bit crowded. For most of it, there wasn’t much of a problem. But there was one stretch of about a mile, where it got really crowded during the first lap.
  • The Post Race Party–All in all, the post race party wasn’t bad. When we finished, we picked up a card to take to a variety of vendor in order to try samples of their food and drinks. The problem was that it wasn’t completely clear where to go to get the card after crossing the finish line, and some vendors ran out of items early. I know the vendors running out of food early isn’t the race organizers fault, but it was still a bit of a downer.

Overall, this was a fantastic race and I’d absolutely consider running it again. The only reason I’m not quite ready to commit to it again for next year is that I need to start running in more states than just Florida. But for the price, and for the fact that late January isn’t the greatest time to run a race in most other parts of the country, I’ll go out on a limb and say that at some point I’ll definitely run this race again.

If you’re thinking about running Celebration in 2015, do it. You won’t be disappointed!

The Red Ribbon Half Marathon

This past weekend, Lakeland hosted the first half marathon to take place in Polk County.

The Inaugural Red Ribbon Half Marathon was put on by the InnerAct Alliance, a non-profit group dedicated to preventing substance abuse, particularly with kids.

As a resident of Lakeland, it was awesome to be able to run a half marathon in town. But to be able to do so while supporting a local organization that provides a great service to our community made the race even more special.

The Course

When rumors started to swirl last spring about a half marathon being run in Lakeland, course layout possibilities were flying all over the place.

The problem that most people seemed to agree upon was finding an enjoyable 13.1 mile course that wouldn’t create too many problems with closing some of the major roads in town. The organizers settled on a course that ran through some of downtown and the neighborhoods south of Lake Hollingsworth.

I’d say they chose well.

The course, in my opinion, was very fair. There were 4 or 5 legitimate (for central Florida) climbs that tested your strength and your mental toughness. Though it was labeled by many as a tough and hilly course, there were lots of people that PR’d in the race. So to me, if you did the training you were rewarded. If you didn’t train, you struggled. If that’s not a fair course, I don’t know what is.

How I Did

In short, I ran this race exactly how I hoped I would.

Since this was the first race of my double, I knew I couldn’t go all out to keep up with my fellow pack runners. Instead, I had to focus on running my race and giving myself a chance for two half marathon PRs in one day, which was the goal.

Coming into the Red Ribbon Half, my current PR was 1:53:18. If I could average an 8:37 mile for the entire race, I’d be able to just undercut my PR without wearing myself out during this first race.

I targeted an 8:35 overall pace, so I’d have a little wiggle room if needed.

When the gun went off, I tried to just settle in and enjoy the beginning of the race. I really didn’t do any type of warm up before the race, so that’s all I was using the first mile for. I glanced at my watch a couple of times, but really wasn’t worried about my speed. I was getting passed by a good number of runners during that first mile, but I just tried to stay relaxed and concentrated on settling into a rhythm.

After the first mile, I picked the pace up a little bit and tried to stay around 8:40 or so. My plan for the race was to not worry too much about my overall pace until I made the turn onto Hallam. Instead, I’d keep an eye on my current pace, which I knew would bounce around between 8:15 and 8:45. At Hallam (about 4.5 mile mark) I was planning on checking my average pace on my Garmin and adjusting the pace as needed.

I made the turn onto Hallam with an overall average pace of 8:43, which was about what I was shooting for, really. With a little less than 9 miles to go, I knew I had plenty of time to make up for the controlled start of the race, but if I waited until I only had a few miles left it would tough to make up the required time.

It was go time.

From this point on, I didn’t get passed by another runner for the rest of the race, except for when I stopped at water stations. I just dug in, trusted in my training, and kept chugging along. By the time I got to mile 9, I was back down to an 8:35 pace which put me right where I wanted to be. As long as I could maintain it for the last 4 miles, which included two legitimate (for Lakeland) hills, I’d secure my first PR of the day.

With a mile to go, I knew I was good. I still had one hill to climb, but I stopped to get a drink of water at the last water station. After finishing my water, I started up the hill and passed more than a few fellow runners that were starting to fade. From the top of the hill, there was about 1/4 of a mile left, that was all slightly downhill. I dialed back my pace, as I knew I was able to, and coasted to the finish line.

Almost to the Finish Line--Photo by Dave Q.

Almost to the Finish Line–Photo by Dave Q.

1:52:58 on the clock. PR, no question.

Chip time ended up being 1:52:52. I’ll take it. Average pace, 8:33.

Race one of the day-completed in a new PR, albeit only slightly.

But that was by design.

If I had any hope of keeping my half marathon PR streak alive, I knew I needed to take this first race a little bit easy and hope I’d have something left for the night race at Disney.

Before I get ahead of myself though, I want to give a shout out to my beautiful wife for running her first half ever. She took a little longer than she had hoped, but she toughed it out like a champ and finished strong.

Me and Bek--Photo by Nina W.

Me and Bek–Photo by Nina W.

She’s a baller. Love you, babe!

My First Night Race–Guest Post from Samantha Angelino Who Is Preparing for the 2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Welcome to Sam, who is my newest blog partner in my Run Bloggers Unite! project. If you’d like to partner with me, please let me know!

I hope you enjoy reading Sam’s take on getting ready to run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon for the first time, and click over to her blog to read my perspective as a Wine and Dine Veteran!

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Did I Screw Up My Marathon Training?

As someone who absolutely hates using marathon training plans, I’m pretty willy nilly when it comes to my running schedule while preparing for a race.

I know I need to get in a certain amount of miles per week, and that I need to do some regular long runs to get ready for a marathon. I’ve also learned from experience that I HAVE to get in a run of at least 22 miles prior to running my race. I’m not at all sure how people can be ready for a full 26.2 miles when the longest you’ve run to date is only 20 miles?!?!

Oh, it’s because your training plan said to only do a 20 miler. Have fun on race day, bud.

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