A little over a week ago, we were in Florida getting ready to run the Naples Half Marathon. It was about 65 degrees, 100% humidity, and sunny. At home in Chicago now, it’s about 25 degrees and snow is falling. What a difference a week makes.
Our Naples Runcation was a success! We arrived on Saturday morning, got picked up by our gracious hostess with the mostest, Holly, then headed to pick up our race packets at Naples of the Run. We then settled into our fantastic hotel, The Cove Inn, and went for a little shakeout run to get ready for the big day.
Brandi | finish time: 1:49:32 (8:24 pace)
Race morning, I didn’t feel great. Turns out I can drink wine with dinner the night before a race; craft beer, on the other hand, does not agree with me. Cardinal rule of running: Don’t try anything new or different! Oh well. We got dressed and jogged over to the starting line. The Star Spangled Banner was one of the best renditions I’ve heard live. It was an a cappella group – I thought it was a recording! Halfway through the song, the speakers went out. Without missing a beat, all of the runners raised their voices and finished the song. It was so moving, I had tears in my eyes! It may have been a gimmick to pump us up, and if it was, it worked! It was an amazing way to start the race.
Now I’m not super religious, but about halfway through the race, we passed a large church. Outside, there was a reverend sprinkling holy water on racers and encouraging them to ‘keep up the great work’. I really needed that inspiration at that very moment, and I appreciate that it wasn’t overly preachy.
Lara | finish time: 1:41:30 (7:41 pace)
I’m not sure who I was kidding, but I was not expecting it to be so humid in Naples! I also remember the reverend sprinkling holy water and thinking, “Man, I really need this right now.” After going out in a 6:48 first mile and 7:00 second mile, I immediately knew there was no way I was going to be able to sustain anything close to that pace with the humidity. I abandoned my sub-1:34 goal by mile 3 and honestly just hoped I could finish. My legs felt like jello and I was gasping for air and I still had 10 miles to go. Yikes.
Well, I DID finish and managed to run my second fastest half marathon time! I’ve only run 3 half marathons so you could technically say it was my second slowest, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive instead =) I got fourth in my age group, mostly because Naples seems to be more competitive amongst more, uh… seasoned athletes (they had awards for masters, grand masters AND senior grand masters winners). Even though I didn’t run the time I had hoped for, I can’t complain: the race motivated me to get ready for my next half (March 16!), and I spent the afternoon on the beach in the middle of January. I love Florida!
Amanda | finish time: 2:28:42 (11:25 pace)
I loved Naples, and the race organization was great, but this was the worst half marathon I have ever experienced! The warmer weather meant I was sweating before we even started, while all the Floridians stood coolly around me at the start line. The humidity was killer. By mile 3, I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be a real challenge, physically and mentally!” I took in as much Gatorade and water as I could, and there were plenty of stops along the race course, but my body was just not used to the weather. By mile 9, I really wasn’t sure I would make it to the end. I was getting dizzy, felt simply out of it, and realized I had barely taken in the scenery around me or enjoyed the run.
Those last 4 miles were a bit of a blur. A sloooow blur. I started feeling really dizzy, so I stopped once or twice every mile to walk; except then I would realize that walking felt worse because I could feel how truly awful I felt. It was just a countdown of miles and time in my mind, trying to find people ahead of me to stay pace with so I could just FINISH. And finally, finally…I crossed the line. It may not be a PR, but I am pretty sure any race I ever run will never feel as hard as that…so the toughest part is over! That’s a positive, right?