Monday, February 23, 2015

Holloway Half Marathon Race Report

My husband and I had planned a trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida to help lift our spirits this winter. It ended up being an awesome vacation with perfect running temps. We decided a week or two before getting there to sign up for a cross-country style half marathon at a park about an hour east called Holloway Park. It was the inaugural race so we didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a great experience!

We got up around 5:30 am to eat and get dressed as we planned to leave by 6:15 for the drive to Lakeland, which is about 30-45 minutes west of Tampa. It was an easy drive and when we got there we picked up our packets and headed back to the car to stay warm. It was actually pretty cool that morning around 49 degrees, which for FL folks is freezing. I debated racing in something warmer than shorts and a singlet but for a northerner, I was afraid of overheating. Steve and I did a little warm up and I decided I would be fine in the singlet.

Steve leading the pack, me a few back!
The race started at 8 am. We lined up a few minutes before in the field to listen to race announcements about the course and we were off. FAST! Of course my husband Steve was out in front, which is pretty normal for him. I didn't want to pace tool closely to him but the beginning pace was pretty fast considering it was a cross country course and I was in the lead for the ladies, which is always fun. I tried to be mindful of my breathing and focus on the twists and turns of the course.

The first few miles the ground was dew-covered but the sun quickly heated things up and by a few miles in I could feel the heat and I was ready to hit to aid station for a drink. It was nice to be see the sun shining and the peaceful surroundings, which consisted of grass, marsh, sand, twists and turns, woods and a few hills. The course was pretty easy to follow but at times it just felt as if I was running through a maze. Around the halfway point I started to feel like I was laboring a little more. I was still in first place and had no idea how strong the other female runners were so I tried my best to maintain a good cadence and focus on staying steady.

enjoying the sunshine!
Around mile 7 or 8 before the aid station I got a little discombobulated with following the signage and two women that were running together moved ahead of me. Knowing I was now in third and beginning to cramp from the heat, I felt a little disappointed but I just kept moving forward. A couple miles later around 11 or so another woman passed me. I was not very happy but the cramping just wouldn't allow me to get the speed I wanted so I had slowed my pace down. I held on and thought about getting to the finish as quickly as possible so I could cool down, get something to eat and see how Steve's race went.

Coming in for the finish & those strawberries!
The finish felt long to me because my Garmin said the course was long and I just wanted to get there. Once you come out of the woods into the field you have to run up and around to the finish. Steve was there yelling for me and taking pictures and I was definitely happy to be done - especially because they had fresh organic strawberries at the finish and I must have had a couple dozen. My time of 1:49 was a little slower than I planned but it is a cross country course and with the overheating I was a few minutes behind my goal of 1:45. The race gave really cool handmade commemorative mugs to all the finishers. Steve and I also got medals since we both won our age groups! I came in 1st in 35-39 and 4th female and Steve came in 2nd overall and 1st in the 45-49AG. All in all we both had a good experience and would definitely do this race again if we're back in the area!

I don't know if racing back to back half marathons helped or hurt me with this race but with the Green Jewel 50K and Toledo and Cleveland Marathon quickly approaching, I need to get the experience under my belt! Next up is the Green Jewel 50K March 7th!

Below are some photos including the finisher mug, medals and some shots from the course, which was truly scenic and beautiful!

The finisher mug!

The AG winner medals

A lot of the course looked like this


  1. What a great finishing time! Congratulations

  2. Thanks Stephanie. My normal times are a little faster but with this being an xc race it was a little more difficult to find that speed!