On February 19th I would be in South Sarasota, FL with the family for President's Week. As those of you know, I quickly scanned race websites for any "local" races that weekend nearby.
The Scrub Jay 5k/10K is held at the Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey, FL. Oscar Scherer is mostly (yes you guessed right) sandy inland Florida scrub pine forest and exposed dunes. Flat sandy and fast. Bisecting the park is the Heritage Trail, a converted rails to trails of the Civil War era trail spur from Tampa to Naples to move artillery and troops to combat Yankee ships moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan Dad runs the 5K, I run the 10 and we sequester Heather, Josh, and Quinn with Nana beachfront in Casey Key for all Saturday at the beachhouse. Kind of like Brer Rabbit being forced into the Briar Patch. Luke and I would then stay with Mom and Dad in Palmer Ranch at their golf course villa at Stoneybrook.
Race morning 5K start time was 8am and the 10K following at 8:30. Yahoo maps showed that Stoneybrook was about 4 miles from the park. Plus parking is a $5 fee to enter the park.
Hmmnn, . . .. . so I convince Dad to grab his bike and at 6:45 am set out on foot for the Trail and the 4 mile run to the park. We enter the straight paved RR tracks on the Heritage trail. The trees shade the trail but it is going to be another beautiful 80 degree southwest Florida day. We have 40 minutes to cover the 4 miles and then have 35 minutes to check in no worries! 40 minutes later at the 4 mile mark, we are still out of visual range of the park. Dohhh! Friggin Yahoo Maps! I pick up the pace and after another mile we hit the park at about 7:35. Enough time to register, hit the let and get Dad to the start for the 5K. The local race brings out lots of southwest Floridians, including the Mannesota Track Club, or MTC, the race sponsor.
The turnout is about 400 as I chat up a local mom waiting for the start. As I stare in the nearby pond, scanning for early morning gator sightings, she tells me she moved from New Jersey and loves it hear . . I can see why, thinking of the cold and snow up north. Then she tells me about the elementary schools. She "home schools" her 7 year old. Hmmnn, three boys in Catholic school or home school. . .I don't think so.
At the start I spot a ripped 3os something gal with Ironman gear . . .we chat and discover we are both headed to Boston in six weeks. The gun goes off and so do we . . .the first mile is a whirl and flies by at 6:45 . . .ouch, I am fat, overweight and gassed! I dial it down several notches seeking, wind, air, and a sustainable pace that won't require vomit in the near future.
I settle in at about 745s and enjoy the scenery. 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles, and I am chuggin along but am reaching the point of exhaustion. Mile 5 and the undertrained Floridians around me start to slow down. With less than one mile to go it is time to go. I hit the jets and go. I cannot keep this up, but they believe. I distance myself and hit the finish a little over 46 minutes or 7:30 pace for the race. Not bad, for being unsleeped, out of shape, and running mostly on sand.
I spot Dad, who also ran about a 46 minute race! We grab a water and then turn back out onto the course. Five miles of 9:30s and we are back at the Ranch, Palmer Ranch with a nice little 17 miler under my belt with 10K of tempo thrown in . . . .if you find yourself in SW Florida in late February, and need a 10K great race, post race grub and band, but watch the two year olds the gators are hungry!!