Running Crazy: Mount Dora Half Marathon Race Review

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I’ve decided that for the sake of my own sanity, I need to start writing about the races I am doing. There are two reasons behind this: the first is that I want to be able to share with others my experience so they can get an idea of what to expect when looking for a new race to run. The second being more selfish, I need to remember certain aspects of a race so if I run it again I can jog my memory about what went on that I can improve on.

The Mt. Dora Half Marathon was my last race of 2016 and it apparently decided that it needed to kick mine and everyone’s butt.

I got very little sleep the night before the race. I went to bed around 9:30 and my body decided that 2am was my wake up time and that I would be wide-awake until my alarm went off at 5am. This was enough to put me in a rough mood.

For the life of me, I could not remember what time Erica and I left for this race last year.

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Erica and I upon finishing last year. Sadly I was running solo this year.

With a 45-minute drive time, I figured that leaving at 5:30 would not be an issue. Turns out it was.

Parking in Mount Dora for 2,000 runners is pretty much non-existent. I initially went to the place we had parked last year and found every spot taken. I ended up driving around looking for a spot so long that I was so frustrated, I just wanted to go home and give up.

Between lack of sleep and parking, I was in a foul mood. I recommend getting there early and please carpool if you are running with friends.

I can’t really fault the race organizers for this one though I would hope that they would reduce the runner field of consider running the 5k a different day rather than at the same time. This would decrease the headache of parking significantly.

I eventually found a decent spot and made my way to the finish line with ten minutes to spare. Because of my now-late arrival and the large number of people running both races, there was no time for a bathroom visit before the gun went off.

I ended up suffering through a full bladder for the first three miles before waiting in line for a lone port-a-john along the course.

My only real complaint about the race that was in control of the organizers was the water stops. Given the unseasonable warmth, it would have been nice to increase the number of stops from one every other mile beginning at mile 1 to one every mile period. Given the lack of volunteers at the already established spots I can understand why there wasn’t but this was a hot race and really tough to go around 20 minutes without water.

For this race, unlike the Florida Holiday Halfathon, I went in with no real goals or expectations. Remembering the hills from last year and keeping in mind the high temperature and humidity, this wasn’t going to be a race for personal record. I figured I’d be content finishing under 2:30 and hopefully faster than last year’s time. For the sake of my sanity, I didn’t look up last year’s time until after I finished so as not to get into my own head about beating it.

Here is my mile-by-mile breakdown of what to expect during the race.

Miles 1 through 5

Hills. Hills everywhere! I went out at my typical half pace of around 9:30/mile and worked hard to maintain it. This was a mistake on my part. If I could go back and do it again, I would have started a lot slower. Maintaining that pace up all those hills was enough to kill my energy stores and make for a slower back half of the race.

I live in a relatively flat area and so I am not properly trained for these types of inclines. For first time half marathoners I can see how this part of the race can be heart breaking if you aren’t used to inclines. I really wouldn’t recommend Mount Dora for a first time race simply because of these first few miles, it can be discouraging.

Mile 6

The course really starts to flatten out at this point and it’s a lot easier to fall into a pace to maintain for the remainder of the race.

Mile 7

There should be a law against orange Gatorade. Not just at races but in general. Stop it.

Mile 8

The taste of orange Gatorade hasn’t left my mouth and I’m starting to worry it never will.

Mile 9

My IT band is not thrilled with the hills from the first part of the race and decides now is the time to let me know about it. I am reminded that I need to buy new inserts for my shoes. Also, it’s almost time for new running shoes.

Mile 10

Begin water being available every mile. At this point I’m not dehydrated but you could certainly farm enough salt off my face to supply a small country.

Mile 11

There’s non-orange Gatorade at the water stop. I don’t trust it. I just get water.

Mile 12

Just when you get used to the nice flat course, Mount Dora decided to remind you about the mount part of its name. Time to head back uphill. Nothing too bad but after this long, you’re going to feel it. My leg is hurting so I move to a run/walk to get me through. I stop to stretch a few times.

Mile 13

All downhill to the finish. That horrible hill we started on is our finish point and what goes up must come down. I had to force myself to slow down a tad because going too fast on that incline would have ended up with me somersaulting across the finish line and I feel like Santa would have laughed at me.

Mile 13.1

Santa is there with Mrs. Clause. They cheer you on. Life seems okay.

If there were ever a race that I needed a beer upon finishing, it was thing one. Naturally

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And here is what I look like dehydrated. Please note the ice on my crotch. My hips don’t lie… about pain…

this is one of the few races that doesn’t serve beer afterwards. There were donuts but I honestly wasn’t in the mood for that much sugar. I snagged a banana and some water and made the trek back to my car.

All said and done, I completed the race about two minutes faster than last year. A bummer was losing about 5 minutes at the bathroom stop. I wasn’t the only one who waited until we were on course to pee and it cost me. I now know that I need to leave home a little sooner, start slower in the race, and push it in those back miles.

My next race comes in the new year with the Spring Hill Half Marathon which will be my last race before the Dopey Challenge.

Until next time!

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