My good friend Jane is running an under 4 hour marathon in every state. We had been looking for someplace to run in the lower 48 and she didn’t have Florida yet and the date fit, so we signed up. I had originally signed up for the marathon also but switched to the half a couple of weeks before we left. I have been doing a lot of skiing, core classes and overall outdoor activities, but not a lot of running.
We arrived after the snow and very cold weather down there but it never did get “hot” like we were expecting in Florida. It was fortunate for us though, leaving below 0 temperatures and snow to run on pavement in humidity.
The day of the race was super foggy with humidity that hung in the air and coated everything with moisture. We actually thought it had rained over night! The temp was an even 60 degrees the whole race. Perfect for shorts and t shirts but not so hot that our cold weather bodies complained.
Tallahassee puts on a great race. Extremely well organized with every detail taken care of. The course started on the Florida State campus, headed out to the roads for a short piece and then traveled the rest of the way on the St. Marks Historic Trail. It was quite flat with a few tiny rolls that you barely noticed but the guy in the wheelchair race (marathon) did. After 7 miles the half marathoners turned around to re-trace back to the start. The marathoners continued down the trail and turned around for their complete out and back.
As I was nearing the half turn around I noticed a woman running quite fast coming back. It struck me that she had a marathon number on (marathoners wore black, while half’s wore white numbers). Didn’t find out until after the finish that she was the runner supposed to win (from Russia) and she inadvertently turned with the half marathoners. Bummer for her.
I didn’t expect a lot of this race. With only 15 miles of running in January and all of that on snow and trails I figured I would be fairly slow. I started out quicker than I wanted to but tried to hold that pace and was able to for the whole 13.1 miles. (13.26 on my Garmin). Although not blazingly fast, I guess keeping steady and being “older” puts me near the top of my age group. I was 2nd overall out of 12 in my group but the woman in front of me ended up winning the grandmasters award (a ceramic hand made platter) so that bumped me to the first place award in my category. A very pretty handmade ceramic mug.
The story of our trip though was Jane. She is a speedy over 50 gal and she had a good race. She was first in her age group, first grand masters and ran a 3:39. She got one of the platters as an award.
Probably my only complaint about the area though was the trash. We flew into Jacksonville and took the interstate to Tallahassee. I have rarely seen that much trash along the roads. During the race, along this beautiful paved bike path, the trash was everywhere. We are used to Alaska roads, where there are many community organizations that clean up. The only time we see a lot of trash is for a week or so in the spring when all the snow melts and before clean up day.
It was like people just didn’t see what lay on the ground around them. Even behind our hotel, along the edge of the woods there was a lot of trash. I didn’t understand why employees from the hotel weren’t responsible for keeping it clean. It was puzzling to me, for it is such a pretty area and to be so littered. Just sad.
After the race Jane and I had a full day to sight see. Wow…Wakulla Springs was the first stop. A boat trip with very few people on it, took us down the St. Marks River to see the flora and fauna. Wow. Black vultures, alligators, cormorants, wood ducks, herons, ibis and an osprey were among the birds and animals we saw.
To top it off we got to see a Manatee.
Next stop was St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
It was a very foggy day but we had a great time walking around the trails. I didn’t know there was cacti in Florida!
Overall, a very fun trip. Successful in the running realm and good time with a good friend.