Two Halfs and a 5K: Tallahassee, Gainesville, and the Bahamas (February 2017)

February might be a short month but it was a busy one for me. I completed two half marathons that I have done many times before, the Tallahassee half on February 5 and the Five Points of Life half in Gainesville on February 26. In addition, my family and I took a relaxing Disney cruise. We are dedicated Disney cruisers and enjoy the casual atmosphere, especially after I’ve finished a race or two. One of my favorite memories is jumping on the Disney Wonder after finishing Goofy back in 2009. I felt I really deserved that vacation!

The Tallahassee half marathon followed the new course that was introduced last year, only this year half marathoners finished on the colorful ‘official’ finish line downtown. The race is extremely hilly and those hills seemed even steeper than last year. That may have been due to my slowing down as I get older; in any case, they presented a definite challenge. Even so, I much prefer the new course and apparently so do many others. Over 941 people joined me in running and walking the half and enough people were around my pace to keep me confident in finding my way around. I finished in 2:53:46. My legs were sore for several days post-race but that soreness eased rapidly and I enjoyed this race immensely, my 11th Tallahassee half in as many years.

I’ve completed the Five Points of Life races, both the full and the half, numerous times. Occasionally the date conflicts with another favorite race of mine, the Austin Marathon, but if I am in the area I usually sign up to do the Gainesville race. Since the full has a 6-hour time limit, nowadays I feel more comfortable registering for the half. This year I discovered that the half has a 3 ½ hour time limit, kind of surprising since the full marathoners cover the same ground as the half except for an additional 13.1 miles tacked on so way not make the 6-hour time frame for both? This year the 2nd half of the marathon was changed to avoid the long trudge up Williston road with those miles now more scenic and less boring).

At any rate, the half is fun, though occasionally hilly (but nothing like Tallahassee!). However, signage could be a lot better. There were no directional signs that I could see anywhere along the course although there were police and volunteers at almost every turn. Almost every turn – I got lost (!!) along with my friends Harry and Giles and several others inside the football stadium where we missed an exit and had to do some extra mileage. Now, I have done this race lots of times and my instinct was to turn right but I followed everyone else as they turned left. I wasn’t absolutely sure, only had a gut feeling, but I was concerned that if I went one way while everyone went the other, I might be accused of cheating, so I stayed with the others. Next time I will persist! There are about 600 people who do the half but most of them are much faster than I am so if not for Harry and Giles and a few others I would have been by myself for most of the latter 7 miles. I finished in 2:56:40 (lost a few precious minutes in the stadium, I guess) but I was happy to finish in under 3 hours.

For those coming from out of town, staying at the Hilton right across the street from the start and finish of the Gainesville race is most convenient. Checkout is at noon so I had time after the race to shower and eat my pizza before driving home.

I hardly ever do short races but the 5k on the Disney private island in the Bahamas was a nice change from walking around and around in circles on the ship. The race is untimed although there is a timing clock so I could see that my pace was about 12 ½ minutes per mile and I finished in under 38 minutes. Of course, the weather was perfect, the course was paved and completely flat, and the scenery amazing. Lots of people of all shapes and ages signed up for the race and it was great to cheer on people who probably have never done a race in their life. We all got vinyl Mickey medals at the finish line. If I am fortunate enough to take another Disney cruise to the Bahamas, I will look forward to doing this 5k again!