Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ocala Race Report: Takin it Easy(ish)

Whew!  Made it back from Florida early this morning, and so, with some sleep under my belt, a nice sunburn to prove I went somewhere (and am too idiot to wear sunblock…oops), and a mug of green tea and a cat on my lap to help the 60 degree swing in temp from yesterday on the beach to the snowy Western New York belt….it seems about time to do that race recap, no?  Here goes!
Prefacing the report, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  This was not meant to be a PR or any sort of time goal race.  I signed up back in October, thinking I would try to crack that sub 4.  Well, as we all know the story, mid November my goals changed a bit.  And I couldn’t be happier.  Since Greg and I have been dying to start a family…I think I can push that sub 4 off another year, gladly!  I spoke with my OB, who is awesome and supports my running insanity.  She gave me a clean bill to run, as long as I kept my heart rate below 140, didn’t overheat, and replaced all the calories I burned.  No prob-o. Time to have some half marathon fun!!
Then, the first trimester nausea hit.  It was a struggle to keep food down, the bathroom was my new friend, and I was exhausted all the time.  I kept active, but running took a backseat….and I ran once, maybe twice a week.  Last weekend, I realized that I hadn’t done a double digit run since November.  Yikes.  So I set out to do an 11 miler, which was slow, but done well.  Based off my pace, I guessed about a 2:15 for this race, about 20-25 minutes slower than my normal half pace.  Doable.  I was implementing a pretty consistent 5:1 run walk strategy, which kept my HR down, my legs happy, and the run enjoyable.
My biggest fear?  Nutrition.  I kept throwing up gels, and knew I couldn’t do a 2 hour run without food, so I tried dried fruit,  Worked well.   Onward.
The morning of the race, Greg and I headed to Ocala at 5am, getting there about 6:30.  There were about 500 people for the entire race series (marathon, half and 5k), which was awesome.  The shirts were personalized to your race, and the bibs had our names on them.  There were plenty of area for parking and bag drop,  Pre race, the RD gave us instructions, and we corralled with our races-marathon going off at 7, half marathon at 7:15, and 5k at 7:30.  Since Greg was running the 5k, we parted ways and I headed toward my start.  The start was ridiculous.  There were about 250 of us, and I had no idea how to seed, so I started about a third of the way back, directly behind a woman with 80s headphones, a sun glass beaded chain, and a 3 sizes too big jersey with gels crammed in.  Next to her were two 60 year old dudes (hey, I’ve gotten grandpa’d so many times I don’t care) but I should have been clued in when they talked about their 5k PRs….35 and 37 minutes, respectively.  Seeding fail.  Whatever, it was amusing.  Right at 7:15, we were off.
The first 3 miles were awesome.  I hit the 3 mile mark at 26 minutes on the nose, and realized I needed to majorly back off the gas.  I took in some nutrition (there were 10 aid stations on the half, each complete with water, Gatorade, fig newtons, bananas, gels, and oranges…I think I ate an entire orange on the course…yum!).  I started to walk every 5 minutes, or tried to time for the major hills.  (Note-Florida is flat, but Ocala is horse country, and hilly.  Not Placid hilly, but easily Mendon hilly).  I started to average about a 9:15-9:30 mile, and hit the 5 mile mark at 45 and change. 
The course was a big box, with a tail out and back halfway through.  It was a big half mile downhill, and then…of course…a big half mile uphill.  I did this part of the course on the treadmill, and it tops out at about a 10% grade.  Yikes,  Since my heart rate was going a bit high, I ran the downhill, then popped out my dried fruit and walked most of the uphill, doing a few stretches as I went.  Mile 7:  1:07.  Not too bad.  I realized that if I pushed it, I could come in under 2:05, then remembered….heart rate.  Baby G.  You are not racing this alone.
So I turned off my race music and enjoyed the scene.  No one can chill out to Pitbull (did I just admit that??).  About mile 10 (1:39), we turned back to head toward the finish line, and the course opened up to some beautiful horse farms.  I hooked up with a girl running about my speed who was training for a 50k next month, and we paced each other according to her pace and my run/walk, stopping to eve snap a few horse pics.  We stopped at every aid station, chatted about life, and enjoyed the Florida sunshine together for the last 3 miles.  About mile 12 (2:01), we picked up another friend who was running her 10th half marathon (mine, too!) and her first in Ocala.  She was blown away by the hills, and I Chuckled and told her to come to NY.  We all swapped war stories, and then looked up as the turn into the mall signaled the last quarter mile.  My new friend Yolanda looked at me and said, ok girls, it’s on.  Lets sprint. 
Well, you can take the race outta the pregnant girl….but….not entirely.  Game on.  I sprinted toward the finish, leaving both in my dust.  I can sense a challenge when I see one!  Crossed the line at 2:10, just shy of a 10 minute mile pace.  I grabbed my medal, a water bottle….and a garbage can.  Yeah, not too smart to sprint.  I immediately heaved my nutrition into the garbage, and cursed my stupid 1 minute sprint.  Ahh well, live and learn.
Feeling a zillion percent better, I grabbed some pizza and water (yeah, I’m obsessed) and posed for some picture love to commemorate my first race with baby g!  (Oh yeah, you bet I’m rockin’ the “Running for Two” shirt….and people thought it was awesome on the course, too!)  It’s a bit big, but I guess that means I just have to do a few more runs in the next 6 months, right J
After a refuel and a quick stretch, we were off to enjoy the rest of the day in the sunshine…perfect race recovery!  I came in smack in the middle of my AG (12/24) and smack in the middle of the pack of runners for this race….which isn’t too darn bad for a preggo lady in her 2nd trimester J  Go baby G!
As far as the race?  A big fat 2 thumbs up.  Organization was impeccable, the price was right ($45 for the half), the medals were sweet, aid stations perfect, course challenging but not too much, good scenery, attention to detail, and the tee’s were pretty sweet (tech short sleeved, different for each race).  Post race feast included pizza, subs, cookies, bagels, melon, berries and bananas. Seriously, what more cold you ask for?  If you're ever escaping the cold in Central Florida in January and want a small, low cost, awesome race...Ocala's got all the bells and whistles that won't break the bank :-)


  1. Ah! Pitbull is 100% my running music too! Pitbull station on Pandora gets me all sorts of moving haha. You are not alone in that and don't be ashamed ;-)

    Also, amazing job on this race! I'm glad that your "taking it easy, I'm pregnant" race time is my "push yourself as hard as possible" ideal race time, haha ;-)

    1. Ugh, I never meant to imply that I was a fastie...I hate people that do that. Its all relative, right? Which means that we need to run together after baby :-)

    2. You ARE a fastie, girl! Wear it proud! And yes, we do need to run with our little ones! :-)))