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The final race of the 4 Florida Gulf Beaches Road Races half marathon series is complete! This was my 6th half marathon of the season and while it isn’t my last (Flying Pirate next month), it was the last one I would be running competitively. I was planning on this race being the 1:50 breaker but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

The morning started like any other race morning with an early wake-up, coffee, oatmeal and water. Unbeknownst to Jena and I (she stayed the night) when we left my house we were about to experience Murphy’s Law. It started with a giant rock that competed for space with my front driver’s side tire less than a mile from my house. Luckily Jena was following me in her car so we ditched mine (with a flat tire) on the side of the road and headed to the race.

Since we arrived very early (as advised by the race director) we got through the pay booth and parked quickly without any problems. After picking up our chips and our series finisher shirts (it’s aawweessoommeee) we headed back to the car to wait. Since I’m a giant clutz, my foot found the only exposed electrical wire, tripped and nearly face planted into the parking lot. It was then that Jena sealed her fate by saying, ‘you better be careful, it comes in 3s.’

Several port-o-pottie trips later (stupid digestive system) we headed out for our warm-up jog. It was still dark out and when we crossed the parking lot to one of the beach restrooms Jena tripped over a parking curb and ate pavement. She did a pretty amazing tuck and roll that almost made it look like she meant to do it.

After all that crazyness we squeezed into the starting pack near the front and were off. I started off at goal pace and it was anything but easy. My legs felt strong but the rest of my body was fighting it. My plan was to stay in the 8:25-8:35min/mile range for the first 10 miles, then I would pick it up to an 8 flat for the final 5K.

This is early in the race when I was still feeling good.

Unfortunately my entire right side seized up into a horrific cramp right around mile 6 that at first I tried breathing deeply through it, then slowing down and then finally walking. I must have looked a sight because one very kind lady slowed down to ask if I was ok.

Once I got started again I decided that a sub 1:50 was out of reach and that I might as well slow down and not kill myself. Coming around the final bend I saw Jena jogging towards me.

Now we look happy here but I assure you there was a lot of whining going on!

I crossed the finish fast and strong at Jena’s urging and collected both of my medals, the one for the Beach Halfathon and the one for finishing the entire series.

There was a lot of self-reflection in those final miles and that included the fact that I’ve had an amazing season. Obviously I’m disappointed I didn’t hit my goal of breaking 1:50 but I’ve accomplished so much more than I thought I was capable of so I’m fine with it. My official competitive (with myself) race season is over and it’s now time to regroup. I have some other races on the calendar still but they carry no pressure, only fun and contribution to good causes. The plan now is to recover a bit. Through early June the training I have planned will be a bit more relaxed, more of an emphasis on CrossFit. With the incredibly successful completion of this season I have set some pretty big goals for myself for the next one.

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