Thursday, July 5, 2012

34th Annual Melon Run

Yes, I am a crazy gal. I ran a race in the July heat in Florida.  I did the 34th Annual Melon Run in Gainesville. I debated it for a while, worried about the heat, but decided to go ahead and do it, since it was a tradition in our town (though I'd never heard of it!) and it was Independence Day, so I was off of work anyway. I was prepared for the heat with a watermelon pink BondiBand, a pink RunDisney hat (Thanks Betty!) and a purple CoolMax tech tee. 

About a week before the run, I realized that my husband would have to go to work (we have 1 car), so I got up at 6am on a DAY OFF so that I could eat and get dressed before waking him up and taking him to work.  I dropped him off and headed to Westside Park to pick up my packet.

Registration included a great tech shirt and chip-timing, courtesy of Start 2 Finish Race Management. They also were giving out ClifBlocks, so I grabbed a strawberry and a blackberry before heading back to my car to grab my stuff.

The Melons run right across MY melons!

I walked around the area, warming up and stretching my feet and calves.  I had to stop and take a photo of the TROUGH of watermelons! You know those metal things that farmers put water in for cows? That's what was holding the watermelons!

Over the 45 minutes, it got busier and busier at the packet pick-up area!

At this point, the announcer, well, announced that the race had reached 500 people and registration had been closed!  It is the most racers they have ever had. However, they were nice enough to let people run in the race anyway, if they wanted, but they wouldn't be timed or show up on the results.  That was cool!

Little by little, we began heading towards the street to line up.

From the BACK of the line (you know, where the slow people line up), I never realized just HOW many bodies 500 people were!  They made some announcements, apparently sang the National Anthem (again, I was in the back saying "C'mon already!"), and then we were off!

The front of the race (Photo: Gainesville Sun)

I started my Garmin watch as soon as I was actually moving (not when the gun went off) and we all began running. I was kind of jogging.  As the crowd dispersed a bit, I realized, holy hell - who puts a HILL at the beginning of a course?  Jeez!  I was hoping to get some good time at the beginning, but the hill kicked my ass in the heat and I had to walk. At the beginning of the race. I walked. Who has two thumbs and felt like a fatass? THIS girl! I was wheezing so bad I thought I was going to have to stop, but I kept pushing through and got up the damn hill.

See that tiny pink hat by the yield sign? That's ME! (Photo: Gainesville Sun)

The next sections were easier, and I kept my intervals of running and walking pretty steady with this cool app called Interval Timer for my iPod.  I can listen to whatever music I want and set the app to alert me to high (running) and low (walking) intervals. Then, when I hear the tone I set for the run interval, I run and when I hear the tone I sent for the walk interval, I walk! No thinking required!

Why yes! That is a Jonathan Coulton song on my iPod

I made it to the first Mile Marker and I was feeling good; I snuck a glance behind me and saw other people. I wasn't last! Yippee!  I soldiered on with my intervals, coming up 8th Avenue, heading towards a small boardwalk that crosses the Hoggtown Creek.  Hoggtown Creek is usually either empty or a sad little trickle, but thanks to TS Debbie, this is what the creek looked like:

iPods don't really take great pictures when you are running
At the end of the little boardwalk that connected 8th Avenue to 25th Street, there was a water stop and both of the guys were fully dressed as Uncle Sams. I thought it was a nice touch. I wish I took a photo of it, but I was too busy sucking down icy cold water and running through these nice folks' neighborhood.

But wait! What is that at the end of the street?  A damn hill! I'm really beginning to hate this course.  It's a slight hill, so I don't feel like that yodeling Mountain Climber from The Price is Right, but it slowed me down and I ended up wheezing again.

From 25th, we turned onto 16th Avenue and headed back towards the park. Before today, I really never paid attention to 16th Avenue, but the more I walked it the more I both hated it, and wanted to walk it again - it was an asskicker but would be good to train on.  The sidewalk began going downhill and I jogged for a bit and then reality hit me - if I'm going downhill, there has to be an UPHILL soon! This hill was worse than the first hill.  I was very very close to stopping - it was very steep, I could not walk very fast and I was getting passed left and right. It was a mood killer, that's for sure. I was getting passed by fat chicks, old people, even one guy who must have been at least 80!  God, kill me know and save me the embarassment of coming in last....

However, just when I was moments from throwing in the sweatrag (which I brought!), I crested the hill and saw the 2nd Mile Marker.  Only 1 mile to go! I can do that!  It was relatively level ground and I made up some time, doing my intervals and playing catch up with the old guy I mentioned earlier.  I'd run and pass him, then he'd run and pass me.  It was nice to have my head back in the race.

The final half-mile to the finish line brought us back to 31st Drive, which is where we started, but the finish was headed in the opposite direction, so while the start was a bitch going uphill, the route designers were smart because the finish was DOWNHILL!  I only had about 15 seconds of run left in me, which I was saving for the official finish chute area, so I power walked down the hill passing at least 5 people and feeling great! I was going to finish strong!  I pulled out that 15 seconds of run and headed into the chute, finishing at 49:46, in 448th place (out of 460 finishers).  I beat 12 whole people!  I met my goal though - under 50 minutes and NOT LAST!

Now, I don't know who this guy is, but as I was walking over to the finish line to ask someone to take my photo, this guy was there taking pictures with everyone. So, what the hell?! I took a photo with him too!

I joked that the winners got watermelon, but the slow people got hot guys!

After walking around a bit to cool down, I ended up by the water stations and there was a lady there who noticed my RunDisney hat and we started talking.  I noted that it was going to be hard for me, and she said that I'll do great since I've already done a few 5ks. I said that I have a lot of weight to lose and she said that when I'm at the Princess I'll see lots of women who are more out of shape than me.  I said one other thing (I don't recall what it is) and she looked me square in the eye and said "I'm a fitness expert so I don't blow sunshine up anybody's butt, you will be fine!" I guess I sounded a lot more negative than I realized. So, thanks Fitness Expert Lady - you made an impact.

Thank you, nice Fitness Expert lady!
I got a little more ice water and grabbed a slice of watermelon and dared myself to try it. Those of you who know me know how there is a lot of foods I won't eat due to how they feel in my mouth. Watermelon is one of those. But I tried it! I took about 5 small bites while walking around before giving up.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't want the rest of it.

My first tentative nibble

Other people were sucking down the watermelon like it was going out of style! (No offense of course to this lady - she probably finished the race before I even hit mile 2!)

Ermagerd! Wertermelln!  (Photo: Florida Track Club)
I was planning on heading back to the car to grab my tech shirt to exchange it for a larger men's size, but I decided not to - I liked the women's type, and knew that in a few more months I'd be able to fit into it.  I'll tack it to my Race Board for more inspiration.

Back in the car, I sucked down some PowerAde Zero, then some of the ice water I brought with me while I de-geared - I took off my iPod, my watch, my Bondi and my hat.  I cranked the AC and headed for the closest Kangaroo convenience store to fill up my Roo Cup.  Fittingly, this flavor is Strawberry Watermelon.

Neon green, but so yummy!

I was back home by 10am and quickly changed into comfy lounge pants to chill and read my email.  The results were posted within the day, as well as photos by Martin McCrory, which you can see here.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We decided against going to see any fireworks for two reasons - 1) It was hotter than hell that day and 2) Disney's fireworks spoiled us for regular fireworks!

Finally, in light of getting scolded by Fitness Expert Lady, I leave you with this.  It's something I think I need to pay more attention to. Looking ahead to 13.1 is daunting and I sometimes feel like I'll never be able to do it. But looking back, I've done an 8.6 mile walk and three 5ks, just in the past four months.  I'm heading in the right direction, it just seems so far some days!