Race Review: Orlando Xtreme Half Marathon

The Orlando Xtreme Half Marathon takes place in Christmas. Yep. That’s the name of the town. And yep. They have a Christmas tree year round.

The race starts at the Orlando Wetlands Park, which is only about a half hour from my house.

It’s in the middle of nowhere and takes you down one of those roads where you can imagine your car running out of gas, having no cell reception to call for help, and then some strange dude tying you up and bringing you home to “mama.”

But before I get to the race, I want to mention that it was put on by Epic Sports Marketing. If they want to run with the big boys like RnR and ING someday, they seriously need a new PR person. I got an email the week of the race that was not only terribly written, but it included this sentence:

Our race photographer wants me to remind you all that remember to dress like runners. That will guaranteed much better pictures.

What does that even mean?

Then, four days before the race, they released a newletter saying the race was in two weeks. So yeah, I just get an unprofessional vibe all around.

Anyway, I picked up my packet race morning.

Went back to the car to drop off my t-shirt and hoodie and walked back to wait for the race to start.

I did not put on makeup by the way. I washed my face before I went to bed, when I woke up, and used makeup remover…twice. That gel eyeliner still wanted to stay on my lash line. Also, that headband lasted one mile. Sweaty bands, Bic Bands, Bondi Bands – I have not met one that will stay on my head.

Just before the race started, guess who made an announcement?

Oh, I remembered his name alright. So when someone said that he had an announcement, I was prepared for greatness. And I got it. He told the 10k’ers and the half marathoners to line up…at the wrong flags. Luckily there was another volunteer by the flags that knew what was going on.

While we were waiting to start, this guy was standing in front of me. Are those the new thing in minimalist shoes? I have never seen anything like that before. Thirteen miles in those? No thank you.

This race was my first trail run and I can’t say I loved it. While it is supposed to be easier on the knees, it was definitely harder on the ankles. I spent the entire race trying to dodge tufty pieces of grass and loose patches of sand.

The race was a double loop, which I’ve somehow managed to avoid in all my 17 half marathons until now, and I can say I’m not a fan. We passed the finish line twice – once around mile 2 and again at mile 7. Knowing I had to do that whole loop again was a serious demotivator.

The course itself was beautiful and extremely peaceful.

I was using this race as a training run, but even so I still wanted to do the best I could. So it was a bummer that I just didn’t feel like running. My breathing never felt right and I never got into that groove like I did at 3M.

I stopped to walk at mile 5 and 9 to eat 1/4 of a PB&J and then ended up walking about three times between miles 11 – 12.5.

At one point, I ran by a flock (a gaggle? a murder?) of vultures. A few of them were looking directly at me with their wings spanned. I tried not to look them in the eye. (Does that work with birds?) I have a history with birds and I just wanted to avoid any type of “situation.”

Around mile 11, it was getting hot and we were running directly into the sun so I just wanted the race over with. I turned off my music at that point and literally heard five minutes of continuous echoing gunfire in the distance. What the what? I didn’t know whether I should take cover or look to the sky for holograms of the people that died on course.

I picked it up as much as I could at the end and finished in 2:13:01.

Last month’s race was 10 minutes faster, so that was a little blow to the ego.

If you want to know how to positive split a race, here ya go:

My Garmin had the course at almost 13.5 miles and I’m thinking that’s right because I heard from another person that the course was over 14 miles one year.

I must have looked like hell crossing the finish line because more people than normal were trying to motivate me and a random girl who was walking in the opposite direction, circled back to give me a high-five and tell me good job.

There were some good post race treats – lots of fruit and peanut butter, jelly, and Nutella for the bagels.

Annnnnd mini cupcakes!

Way to win me over, race. Also, include strawberries in the “foods I hated until last year” category.

When I got home, a poof of dust came out of my socks. My shoes and feet were filthy. And of course, just after I got done talking up my Brooks, they gave me a big blister.

Overall it was a really nice, small race although a little too hard on my feet and ankles. I’m not sure I like to pay that much attention to every step I take.

And just for fun, here’s the playlist I used.

I put slow and fast music on my list because I never know what I’m gonna want to hear once I get out there. All I know is that the new Fall Out Boy song got three plays in a row. Can’t get enough of that one. Smile

Next race is the Gasparilla Half in Tampa at the end of the month. It’s likely that will be my last half of the season – PR or no PR.


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22 responses to “Race Review: Orlando Xtreme Half Marathon

  1. Sounds like an interesting race, but definitely more of a fun race. I find it so hard to run on anything but concrete. My clumsiness always gets the best of me.

  2. Verlin

    1. Are you sure it wasn’t “A Flock of Seagulls” – lame, yes, but my fingers insisted on typing it. You were running and all.
    2. A WIDE headband is the only way to go. It has to be a bic-band type with velvet inside, but seriously wide with more square footage to stick to your hair. Too bad that sub-par emailer didn’t specify exactly how you should dress for better pix – perhaps he could have suggested a proper headband. Maybe email to ask him and let us know how that goes.
    3. I like the eyeliner, but it doesn’t stay on like that for me. You must have magic eyes.

    • Paula

      1. Possibly. I did try to “run so far away.”
      2. The one I’m wearing does have the velvet inside. I’ll try the wide ones next but only because you say so. If it falls off, expect a large package of all my neglected headbands in the mail. Maybe you can make the worlds largest headband ball with it.
      3. That’s a bummer! I put it on the inside of my upper and lower eye and it’s like it never comes off. It will come off if I rub my eyes within about 5 min of putting it on though.

  3. I got one of these from ZOOMA and I’ve decided I need to get one you: http://www.banibands.com/

    They are adjustable underneath – but have the velvet on the inside up top!

    That does look pretty – but ugh on the sand. I think most trail runs are on more compacted dirt. Sand and grass are rough!

    We’ll pretend I didn’t see all of that Taylor Swift on your playlist…

  4. Michelle

    Okay so I’m sure everyone said this about every headband but I really like Sparkly Soul ones. I have the largest head known to man and these babies really don’t budge. For sure the best impulse expo buy ever. I *think* the secret is that they are stretchy headband material all around and don’t have any of that black elastic?

  5. I use A Little Slice of Awesome Noodle Huggers. She’s a blogger with a shop on Etsy and the headbands are super cheap. Oh, and Born to Run talked about the super fast Mexican native tribe wearing flip flop like “shoes” when they ran, so maybe that’s what the guy in front of you was thinking?

    • Yeah he talked about how to make your own I think, and I’ve seen kits online for like $100…which is really the definition of irony, actually, but that’s probably what they were.

  6. Stefanie

    I’m not sure I have any desire to run a trail race. Because I would be too afraid that the course would jack my ankle up. And I just dumped 20G’s into it, so I want to make sure that investment lasts a while. No trail running for me. And why would you hire a PR person that is so confused about running? WHY?

  7. Ali

    You are hilarious. The Birds pic kills me. I love reading everything you write 🙂

  8. Maybe the vultures were after you because you were dressed like such a runner? And because you looked so GORGEOUS.
    I need to start running in actual races again for the food afterwards.

  9. Cathy J

    You have the best race recaps ever! I kept snickering and had to read parts to my husband who was sitting next to me on the couch. He kept wondering why I was laughing so much. 😀 I’ve decided to not take running so seriously. My goal is to get to a 2:00 half time…I’m down to 2:11 – but last month had a tummy issue and went back up to 2:22. Bleah! Oh well. Doing the Princess this month so I’m sure my flight over from CA, plus the 4 days we’ll be in the park prior to running will be Fantastic for my PR achieving goals. 🙂 Thanks for the giggles.

    • Paula

      I am very aware of tummy issues in races. Why can’t that wait till after the race? Good luck at Princess! Hopefully you’re in the first corral if you want that PR.

  10. I just can NOT understand the weather down there. at no point should you have to say “it got hot” in FEBRUARY. Insane. But you have fun-looking races like Gasparilla so I’ll most likely continue to get amnesia and sign up for runs in Florida. By which I mean races, not The runs.
    Look up for holograms made me lol. 🙂

  11. …and I laughed through this whole entire post. The bunny head over the guy killed me 🙂
    I also could never fathom getting hot at a race in Feb!
    It’s crazy that as you wrap up race season, we are just getting started. I am running a ‘Winter Blast’ Half Marathon this weekend and I am praying for a ‘heatwave’ of 30 degrees!

  12. Jen

    I am terrified of birds (we, too, have a history) and for some reason people seem to think that’s funny. I do not see what’s funny. They have sharp beaks and talons, people! Terrifying!

  13. So, just got done catching up on all your blog posts the past couple weeks! I can’t comment on all (not enough time!) but wanted to comment on this because I had the same dang problem with headbands. Chicabands (http://www.chicabands.com/) does wonders for me. It’s got like… velvet on the inside and for some reason, it works.

    Now, I have relatively thick textured hair so if your hair is very thin, that may be your problem too. But give it a go if you got a few extra bucks 😀 Or I can just lend you mien for a run! Ewwww, but seriously!

  14. Anonymous

    The “writer of terrible emails” works really hard putting these events together and cares a lot about the athletes running it. He isn’t doing this to make millions of dollars like the big ING races. He wants people to enjoy the events and possibly come back to the next one.

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