While Rhonda continued to take some necessary time off, I headed out for a double the last weekend in February. I approached this one pretty relaxed because of the short travel distances. My husband and I left our GA home mid-morning Friday and within a couple hours had arrived in Valdosta, the area where Saturday’s race was scheduled. After a little shopping and checking into our hotel, we made the 20 minute drive to Dasher for packet pickup for the Hospice Half, which is a fundraiser for Hospice of South Georgia. This was clearly going to be a very small race with a table set up in the parking lot of the local church/school. I later learned there were 56 runners in the half marathon, but there was also a 5K color run that followed it with many more participants. Packet pickup took all of a couple minutes and I was super pleased to receive both a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a pullover hoodie sweatshirt for the small registration price of $40.
On the return trip, we stopped for a burger and shake at Steak and Shake, making my tummy quite happy. Back at the hotel, we settled in and I began my routine of getting my clothes and gear ready for the morning. Suddenly my husband asked where his phone was. Ummm, it’s your phone…..after a rather frantic search and continued attempts to call it, we decided to go back to the restaurant and yes, luckily, they had found it and put it in the back. WHEW!!!! First Rhonda a few months ago, then Bud; I sure hope I’m not next.
I slept really well that evening and was refreshed and ready to go on Saturday morning. It was a warm morning and I was already down to a tank top by the 7:00 am race start. That is very uncharacteristic of me as I usually have multiple layers. This did not bode well for the next couple hours. We were lucky enough, though, to have cloud cover for almost the entire race. Therefore, it wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been. But it was rather humid. The weather definitely slowed me down some, but not significantly. This was “just another race” – although I tried to keep up a good pace, I was not pushing every single minute. In fact, at one of the water stations, I stopped and washed of my hands from carrying a sticky gel packet. The volunteers were rushing around trying to help me and I told them not to worry, “I’m in no hurry.” The strange looks I got! I clarified, “Sure I’m in a race, but I’m not really racing; just running it.” LOL. It was an out and back course and I was able to enjoy the views of the Georgia countryside. Traffic control, law enforcement, and volunteers were plentiful and I realized again how much more enjoyable small races are for me. Crossing the finish line, I was pleased to see 2:17:43 on the clock. One of my best times over the past few years.
Hot, sweaty, and tired I filled out my card, collected my medal, drank some water, ate a banana, and grabbed a pack of cookies and headed back to my car for the 20 minute drive back to the hotel, where I showered, changed and we hit the road again for another two hours on our way to Gainesville, FL. We went directly to the expo for the Five Points of Life Marathon/Half, another race with a worthy beneficiary. Here we had to fill out a medical information form before we could get our bibs validated. No problem, but a small section made me chuckle.
“How many races of this distance have you completed?” Ummm, not sure, sixty-something .
When was the last one? Six hours ago.
It was then on our way to find the hotel. OooEeee! Traffic, confused GPS, and other issues made for a long and trying trip of only a couple miles. I was starving and starting to get a nasty headache, so we had to stop along the way. After finally making it to the hotel, checking in, and getting a little rest and regroup, we went back out and found a much shorter/easier route to the race location (same as expo) and an abundance of shopping. The only store we went into was Trader Joe’s – one of my favorites and I seldom get to visit. CiCi’s Pizza for dinner (mistake) and we were back in for the night with no phone mishaps.
This race was definitely larger than the day before (pretty much had to be, huh?), but still not a large race. I believe there was somewhere between 500-750 total runners between the half, full, and relay. It was still a comfortable size race. However, the temps were quite a bit cooler than the day before, making it quite comfortable for running. Only about a mile into the race, I spotted a 2:15 pacer who was running intervals and asked his ratio, to which he replied 3/1 – running 3 minutes/walking 1 minute. Hmmm, maybe I could do that. Whoa, it’s amazing how changing up a ratio can be so different (I normally run 2:30/:30). He walked at a quite leisurely pace, but when he ran; HE RAN! We did jackrabbit for most of the race, but I slowed and lost him over the last few miles. Throughout most of the race, I was feeling good, so decided to keep up a good pace as long as I could. That was probably not a smart decision. Running a race the day before and the hills on this course took more out of me than I thought it would. It was not really a hilly course, but there definitely were more hills than I anticipated. There aren’t supposed to be hills in Florida! When I finished the race only 20 seconds longer than the day before, I was still feeling relatively good considering what I’d put my body through the past couple days. However within only a few hours the knee pain started to sit in and has not completely subsided yet. Yes, hills are my downfall. Hills and my periodic bad decisions.
This, too, was an enjoyable race and geographically very easy to complete as a double. I would definitely recommend both to anyone who enjoys smaller races and is looking for a simple way to execute a pair of races in two different states in one weekend. I had a good time running both, but missed my Sole Sister by my side. I can’t wait to be back by her side for our first race together in March.