Sunday, March 18, 2012

Swamp House Half Marathon Race Report



For our second race in the 40@40 project, the Swamp House Half Marathon was a perfect choice. Less than an hour from our hotel, decent start and finish time, good after party, and (for the most part) a nice route.

The organizers were very organized, with good, helpful emails before the race, and they secured a large parking area. We were all instructed to arrive before 6:30 when the roads would be closed for the start of the race.

We got to the area easily and quickly -- and then at 5:58 joined a long line of cars stretching for over a mile on the 2-lane access road. It took us over 30 minutes to inch forward to the parking area, and we were by no means the last people in the line. Once we got to the parking area, it was clear why it was taking so long to park -- clueless runners just walking in the road. Now, really, you also drove in on that road. Didn't it occur to you that it would be faster if you got out of the traffic flow and let everyone get parked?

But we got parked, picked up our shirts (white, sigh) and numbers, and headed to the start area. We had just "sprung forward" so it was very, very dark. We decided to take our jackets this time -- just in case. Plus, we'd be happy to have them before the start.

We joined a line at a clump of porta-potties (the line for the plumbed bathrooms was too long to bear), chattered with the other runners a bit, fretted about whether the race had started or not, and essentially passed some time. We made our way to the starting area, not knowing if we were with 5K runners or half marathoners -- the 7am start time had passed, but that wasn't surprising given the number of cars on the road.

It was too dark to take a starting line photo... really really dark in the swamps. But then, all of a sudden, the national anthem, an air horn blast, and we were off!

We first ran out along the access road -- a few rolling hills, nothing major. But about midway through the race we noticed that while the race was "flat", it was rarely actually flat -- we always seemed to be going up or down a slight hill. Not that that's a bad thing, but it was sorta funny.

We ran through a residential area, and then joined a big 4-lane highway for a few miles. This was the least pleasant part of the course. But we amused ourselves by watching the pushup guy (every so often he would drop and do a set of pushups).

Very exciting to turn off the highway around mile 8.5 -- because then we were back in an area that felt very rural. Some of the road had gorgeous, arching trees -- super pretty.

For his birthday, I had made Wil a "40" shirt to wear to the races, with 40 @ 40 on the back. It attracts a lot of attention -- people asking how many he's done so far, etc. (This will be better as we get later in the year -- but the first two races we had to point out that the birthday was March 1...) So we talked a lot to our fellow runners. People were very excited and supportive. I've decided to come up with something he can pin on the back -- showing how many he's done -- but I haven't quite figured out the format yet. Work in progress!

somewhere on the road, showing Wil's 40@40 top
The morning was hot, and super humid. I just felt damp the whole time. Then I would feel a little surge in temperature -- extra warm -- and a few seconds later it would start to drizzle. Perhaps that's a dew point thing? Who knows. But the cycle repeated throughout the race. Warm, warmer, hot, drizzle. 

I started feeling very rough around mile 11 -- felt like I was dragging my feet and having a lot of pain in my left hip. So I needed to walk a bit, which was okay. Then, suddenly, we reached the last corner and could see the finish line. We joined hands and "sprinted" to the finish -- getting a lot of "aww, how cute!" as we approached the finish line. Yay us!
awwwww

We collected our super cute, bottle opener medals and made our way to the finish line party... which wasn't a super great party, sadly. The line for beer was loooooooong, so we settled for bagels and bananas. The weather wasn't the best, and I certainly didn't feel much of a "party" vibe, sadly. Perhaps it was the beer line that bummed people out? Also... isn't this place a bar? Shouldn't it have been really, really easy to serve beer quickly? One guy pulling beer isn't going to do very well for a race with 1000 people, I"m afraid... And, yes, I know that bottled beer is much more expensive than keg beer... but you did just give your runners a bottle opener medal... maybe everyone should have been offered one bottle of beer as they entered the party?

post run -- he really is holding the medal, it's just so shiny!

Anyway, we stretched and left, hoping that the weather would be brighter back in Orlando (it wasn't). But we went back to the hotel, had a quick dip in the pool in the pouring rain, and then showered and headed to the airport. Still, a fun way to end our trip to Orlando (even if we wished that the race had been the day before!)

2012 Swamp House Half Marathon Medal

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