On the 14th of July Steve and I flew home from our holiday in Florida, but not before fitting in one last 5K race before we left!
Just under a week after the Run Thru Hell (hellishly hot!) we signed up for a race named for the opposite end of the temperature spectrum, although I have to say “cool” is a relative term when it comes to Florida! Ok, so at 7:30am it’s not as swelteringly hot as later in the day, but it’s still considerably warmer weather than we Scots are used to running in – let’s face it, we’re more used to pouring rain, gale-force winds and the odd blizzard, than blistering sunshine and humidity you could swim through! Not exactly my idea of “cool”!
Like the previous two races we took part in, this one was also well organised. We signed up online a few days beforehand and were joined this time by both my parents as this event was suitable for walkers so mum could take part, unlike the Run thru Hell. When we arrived there was plenty of parking space and packet pick-up was straightforward. Again, we received our race t-shirts at registration, but this time we also got a goody bag consisting of a drawstring gym sack with some leaflets, vouchers and other odds ‘n’ ends in it. We returned all of this to the car until after the race then got on with the usual business of queueing for the toilets and waiting for the race briefing.
This race was the 2nd in a series and there was actually a triathlon taking place alongside it so there were a lot of people milling about. Despite this, it was relatively easy to work out what was going on as the 5K start line was separate from the triathlon start/transition and our race began slightly earlier. The race briefing took place at the start line and then we were off.
I had heard rumour that this was a hilly course, but having never yet come across a hill in central Florida, I hadn’t put much stock in this. I was wrong. It seems all the hills of central Florida are in the Clermont area, where this race was taking place! The start and finish were by the waterfront, but there was a reasonably steep hill rising away from the waterfront and the route was such that we zigzagged up and down it more than once before running the last mile by the water. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, I actually enjoyed this race the most of the three we took part in during the course of our holiday. Yes, it was still eyeball-sweatingly hot and yes, I was still struggling to complete the distance in my out-of-condition state, but running up and down hills is what I’m used to and I felt much more “at home” on this course.
The only minor issue in this race was a slight mix-up with the finish line which affected the first few runners, including Steve, but this had been resolved by the time I was finishing and race organisers acted quickly to sort out the results with the frontrunners using Garmin splits and the runners’ descriptions of their race positions, so everything was alright in the end.
After the finish line there was the usual array of food and drinks so prevalent at US races. I had lots of water, fruit juice and watermelon, but I could have had doughnuts, pretzels and, of course, bananas among other things. Organisers were also staging the American Gladiator Challenge where participants could test themselves across a number of activities including sit-ups, shuttle runs and press-ups. Steve couldn’t resist the challenge and after a fast 5K headed off to exhaust himself further!
Yet again, dad and Steve both won prizes. This time dad won his age category and Steve won the masters prize so we waited for the prize giving (plaques again) and the opportunity for them to stand on the podium! Although I didn’t win a prize, I was again struck by how close winning times in my age category were to the sort of time I would ordinarily run so it is now my ambition to take part in one of these races fully fit and prove to myself that I CAN win a prize.
After all this, sadly it was time to head home and pack our suitcases for the flight back to the UK. We had enjoyed 2 weeks of sunshine, 3 races and a long-awaited return to running for me. Now that’s what I call a successful summer holiday!