I completed my fourth half marathon on Sunday, January 25th! I ran the Celebration Half Marathon which was held in Celebration, Florida. This was the first race I have ran where there was an expo beforehand and there was also a full marathon taking place, so there was all sorts of new excitement happening. Sally and I headed down to the expo on Saturday morning to pick up our race packet (race bib, shirt, hat, goodies, coupons, etc.). We also browsed the booths that were set up and did a little bit of window shopping. We both picked up some race day fuel to use the next day.
Sunday morning, my alarm went off at 3:45am and I got ready. I met a group of ladies down at the YMCA to carpool down to Celebration. It was FREEZING. Maybe not freezing, but pretty darn close to it (which is not typical for us Floridians). The temperature was in the low 40s when we got down to Celebration, so we went into the Grand Bohemian hotel to stay warm. It was SO cozy in there, I didn’t want to leave.
Since it was so cold, I was really stressing out about what I was going to wear on race day. I wanted to be warm, but I didn’t want to get too warm too fast and I really didn’t want to have to take off any layers because I didn’t want to have to run with them. I opted for long tights with shorts over them; a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve shirt (with thumb holes so it covered some of my hands); and my visor with an ear warmer over it. I was legitimately shivering until we started running. Since it was so cold out, I chose not to run with my Camelbak, which usually has water and Cocogo in it. There were plenty of water stops along the course which I figured would be good since it wasn’t going to be hot out.
We made our way over to the start line for a 7:00am start. I started to warm up a little bit only because I was standing in a mass of people. Right before we started, I got super nervous and was bouncing all over the place. Our goal was to beat 2 hours and 30 minutes, which happened to be our Lake Nona 13.1 time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done at the OUC Half Marathon, so we were determined this time around. Our plan was to run for 5 minutes and walk for 1 minute, but intentionally keep our walks at a brisk walk so we didn’t lose too much time.
The entire race course was beautiful (see above) and ran through the entire town of Celebration. We were mostly commenting on how beautiful the houses were. The miles were passing by and at 45 minutes I ate my first GU (Caramel Macchiato – yum!) for some fuel. Knowing that I didn’t have my Camelbak with electrolytes in it, I was determined to have both of my GUs at 45 minutes and an hour and a half whether I felt like I needed them or not. I had a bagel at 4:45am, so the last thing I wanted to do was be starving at the end of the race. I took water whenever the water stops coincided with our walks, which worked out very well. Since it was so cold, I didn’t feel like I was sweating a lot, even though I know I was. I had my second GU (Salted Caramel – also yum!) right around an hour and 40 minutes. We still had about 50 minutes left until we were hitting the 2:30 mark, so I forced myself to eat it. I wanted to make sure I had enough energy the whole race. Overall, I felt great throughout the race. In previous races, I felt like I hit the wall around the 10 mile mark, but I made a comment this race about how good I felt. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like I had just ran 10 miles, but I also was a in good place to do the last 3.1. Mile 12 was the hardest. I knew we were close to being done but I was also getting worried about our time. We picked up the pace a little bit so our chatting with each other completely stopped. We were in the zone. My watch buzzed to tell us to walk for one minute while we were getting close to the end, but we decided to just finish. The last part of the race was around a lake so we could see the finish line in the center of town for a while. I felt like it was much closer than it really was. We finished strong, almost sprinting, so I was almost completely out of breath. While trying to catch my breath, I grabbed a water and a banana and saw Greg and the kids standing on the other side of table directly behind the finish line. I made my way over to them (still panting) and started crying. We finished in 2:26! Greg kept asking what was wrong but I was STILL trying to catch my breath and couldn’t get any words out. The poor guy thought we did horrible or I was injured or something. None of the above, thankfully!
My official time and pace:
85 902 1606 Kendra Gilbertson 30 Orlando FL 2:26:17 11:10
We made our way back over to the after party (which I will add was amazing!). We were given a food card as we crossed the finish line. Most of the restaurants in Celebration had a tent and we could get food and drinks from each tent. There was a wide array of food: pizza, egg rolls, rice & beans, rolls, as well as beer, mimosas, and coffee. Kayla and I also got a massage, which was awesome. The weather was nice, so we hung out for a bit before heading back home.
The Celebration Half Marathon was a fabulous race start to finish. The swag bag was great and included a Raw Threads shirt (which I am now obsessed with). The course was beautiful, flat, and scenic. The after party was the best I’ve been to so far and the medal was so pretty! I will definitely be running this race again next year.