Race #6, State #6 FL
January 20, 2013--Naples, FL
When Runner’s World magazine published a list of top half marathons last year, I was thrilled to see Naples, FL on the list. My in-laws live there and the thought of running a race in January in southern Florida sounded pretty swell to me. This was my first long distance trip for a race, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Things got off to a nerve-wracking start, as my flight ended up being delayed several hours due to some kind of mechanical issue. The good news about that was that the airline issued everyone $100 flight vouchers to use on future travel. I figured that would help with one of my future running excursions. So I arrived much later than I had hoped, but my wonderful mother-in-law made some inquiries on my behalf and was able to pick up my number and race packet for me. That was a relief! We wouldn’t have to rush around taking care of that business after arriving so late. We enjoyed a late pasta carb-load meal and it was off to bed for the early start time.
We got to the starting line in downtown Naples before dawn which felt weird, but the temperature was perfect. The race began just as the sun was coming up and brought us from the downtown area in to an amazingly beautiful residential area. The homes were huge and lovely, right along the water, although you couldn’t see the water from the road. I noticed early on that the roads in Naples hump up in the middle to allow for rain to drain to the sides more easily. That being said, there wasn’t an easy flat surface on which to run. The best I could do was run along the side in the drainage area which wasn’t exactly flat but wasn’t as slanted as the road either. I knew my legs and feet would be feeling it when I was done.
The scenery in Naples is stunningly beautiful, and the race had its memorable moments. Like the little wooden church we ran past where the priest was flinging holy water on the runners. Or the guy I saw wearing a t-shirt that said something like “I run for WW points.” Cute, right?! The race finished back in the downtown area where I found my mother in law waiting for me. My finish time wasn’t my fastest (1:52), but overall I was pleased with the run. And the finisher medals were super cute and colorful. After a quick stretch and change, we headed back to her house for a shower and some rest. That evening we had a nice dinner out, and I treated myself to a celebratory cosmopolitan. The return trip home was easy, no delays, and I thought of how this was the first of many trips that will allow me to connect with friends and family all over the country. Hooray for that!