On the 4th of July there are always lots of great races to do. Florida is pretty tough (for me anyway) for racing but its fun to do one on July 4th and for the second time in 3 years I’ve done the Kiwanis Morton Plant Mease 10k. The first time, in 2011, I did the 1 miler, the 5k and the 10k. That 5k remains my PR at 27:52 actually though I have a goal of breaking 25 minutes in the next years so hopefully it doesn’t stand long! This year, I really wanted to PR the 10k at this race even though the conditions aren’t the greatest for PRs this time of year in Florida. So with that in mind, I signed up for only the 10k. The week had been very strange weather wise and we had constant monsooning all week. I was getting worried the race would be rained out but finally the weather cleared around 8pm on the 3rd and stayed clear for the rest of the night.
The race is pretty small but its well organized. As much as I hate the weather of the race and the course, they do a good job of putting together a well run show. I showed up early in case some people I knew came out but the weather was so hard to predict I didn’t meet up with anyone. I did run into an acquaintance from my new tri group so its nice to see I’m getting active enough in the community to randomly see people I know. I took advantage of the time I was there to watch the 1 mile and 5k races since I rarely see the actual races. I like seeing the really fast people and the really slow people. I’ve been on the really slow side of things (I’m still slow…just not REALLY slow 😉 ) and its nice to get encouragement from the crowd so I cheered them on!
The 10k was a little delayed because of a medical emergency on the course from the 5k. I think everyone was ok but I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat got someone. Temperatures, at midnight, were around 77F and just incredibly humid since we were right on the coast. The course is pretty much a straight line out and back with about half of it in Honeymoon Island State Park. Once you get to 1.5 mile mark, there are lit candles all along the road (there are no other lights) all the way to the turn around where there’s an American flag flying. Its a very pretty sight to see after running 3 miles out but then you have to turn around and go back. One of the ‘features’ of this course is that you pass over 3 different bridges/causeways. One of them is fairly small and the other two I’d describe as medium. But because this is an out and back course, that means you actually do six total bridges.
Both times I’ve run, the wind has also been coming from the east, which means that 2nd half of the run is into a headwind and a fairly stiff one at that. Combined with the bridges and nearly 80F temperatures and humidity, this is just not a fun race! There were 507 finishers so the course wasn’t too crowded at least. So how did I make out?
Well I got my personal record! 58:21 was my final time. I’m very happy to have a PR on the race though I will admit that I had a slightly faster goal in mind. I was really hoping to come in right around 56 minutes and I was well on track for that on the way out. I hit the turn around at 27:30 or so and I felt like I was going to maybe even shave a minute off of my goal. But the wind in my face on the way back killed that. I kept my pace for another mile but between 4 and 5 I slowed down enough that a reverse split wasn’t going to happen and I obviously lost some time there.
Still, I finished in the top half (barely) overall and well in the top half for males. I was near the bottom of my age group which isn’t surprising to me considering it looks like everyone in my group except for 2 people at least managed a 10 minute mile pace. A pretty fast group since there were 42 total. Only the 14 – 19 year old kids were faster overall. So I’m glad to have done my part for a change. My final pace came to 9:24 so I’m still hunting a sub 9 minute 10k but hopefully in the winter I can run one that will be better suited for an all out race.
I’m not sure I’ll do this one again. Its about an hour away and because its so late I don’t get home till 2:30 in the morning. The conditions really aren’t all that favorable to a fun race either. The way out is ok but coming back is really pretty much pure agony. Next year I may do a big one up in Atlanta anyway. Maybe I’ll do it one day again if only because the organizers do such a great job. They can’t control the weather and July 4th in Florida will be hot and muggy anywhere.