… or the race that almost wasn’t.
I had originally signed up for the Reindeer Run 5k as a part of the Girls on the Run Buddy program. When I spoke to the school’s director on Wednesday she informed me the race started at 7:30 and I should plan to arrive at the Sea World starting line at 7:00 to meet the girls. I was told they would have balloons and should be easy to spot.
So, come race day morning I awoke an hour before I was supposed to meet the group. Ate a simple snack of a Vita Top slathered with pumpkin butter
And left with plenty of time to make it to Sea World before 7:00.
Then this happened.
Traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Traffic that wasn’t moving and was slowly picking away at the cushion of time I had built in for myself.
I grew more and more anxious as the minutes ticked by. It took 30 minutes to go about a mile and a half and I still wasn’t close to the parking lot.
This was the first year this particular race was being held at Sea World and I’m not sure they were prepared for the onslaught of 4000+ cars in the single parking lot entrance. They did their best shuffling people in, but with a single entrance there was only so much they could do. I’m hoping that this experience will give the race organizers more insight for next year and they can give racers plenty of warnings about the potential traffic jams.
Eventually I finally parked – about 45 minutes after my initial estimated arrival time and 15 minutes after the race start time.
Luckily, the directors took the traffic into consideration and delayed the start by 30 minutes. I was able to quickly grab my race packet and begin my search for my GIrls on the Run Group. Or you know begin my search for a needle in a haystack!
Yikes! So many people!
I was unable to locate the needle I was hoping for, but did stumble on another one.
My Supervisor was there were her daughter Carly -who was running with another school’s Girls on the Run group – and her son David who was running for fun. Very random to run into them, but also very exciting.
Since Carly’s Girls on the Run program was already full of running buddies, I asked David if he wouldn’t mind if I tagged along with him. It was his first 5k and I think every first 5ker needs a running buddy. He agreed – or was just too polite to say no -so I officially had a running buddy. Not exactly a buddy I had originally planned on, but I’ll take it.
Thirty minutes after the original start time, the Reindeer Run finally began.
We were in the very back and the starting line wasn’t clearly marked. We walked a good while and it donned on us that we were probably already in the race. Ooppss. Because of the unsure start, I just went ahead and turned my Garmin off. This was a fun race anyways, no time tracking needed.
The first mile and a half had us doing a couple of laps around the parking lot. David and I passed the time discussing running, Florida State, and the festive costumes that surrounded us.
That’s it – next year I’m dressing up. I was jealous of all the fun, creative costumes!
After our tour of the parking lot, we headed into Sea World – which honestly made all the parking lot running and traffic totally worth it!
Sea World went all out on this one. All of the Christmas decorations were up, all the rides were running, and the Sea World staff lined the race course in full costume giving words of encouragement and spreading holiday cheer. It was truly an amazing experience.
David was doing awesome! He kept telling me he had no intention of stopping and ended up running a very speedy final mile. He rocked it!
We sprinted the last .1 mile and ended up crossing neck and neck somewhere between 35 and 37 minutes (it wasn’t a chipped race).
Ok, so new plan for next year.
- Leave super early
- Dress up in costume
- Bring Derek
- Run for FUN
Carly came in seconds behind us and did AMAZING running her first 5k!
I told her that medal was the first of many. She has such a spirit and love for running – I know this girl is going to go far.
I looked for the school I was suppose to run Girls on the Run with, but it still resembled a needle in a haystack. I was super bummed on missing out on running with them. I hope it doesn’t give me a big black mark with the organization because I would love the opportunity to try again!
The drive home was thankfully uneventful. I left the parking lot with out any problems and zoomed on the highway.
When I made it back Derek made me french toast for breakfast!
French Toast stuffed with cinnamon fruit, ricotta cheese, and chocolate chips – OMG AMAZING!
Seriously, Cannoli French Toast! You NEED to try this at home!
It’s a bit gloomy outside, but not enough to keep me inside. Derek and I are heading to DISNEY today! Can. Not. Wait!