Ok team, so we finished February out with a humid little half marathon near Orlando, FL called the Swamp House Half in Debary, FL. It was about 35 minutes north of Orlando…rural. I was kind of skeptical about this race. Communication was a little poor and getting some conformation info wasn’t easy, but when I arrived to get my packet it was a different story (though my goodie bag was sans a Moon Pie that I saw them putting in the bags). This was very organized race, not big, but well put together. I believe we had about 1500 runners so it was not crowded by any means.
Concern crept in when the race organizer announced that the first 8 miles was comprised of rolling hills…and the last 5 miles was comprised of, yes, rolling hills! And she was right. I think the last 1.5 miles was flat…may just be the last 100 yards but by that time, with the humidity I didn’t care. I was happy to not need the sag wagon or an ambulance! I jest a little but the humidity was something I had not ever experienced before in a race. It was only about 64 degrees but the humidity was crushing to me. I felt like I was dragging a 40lb sandbag behind me all race…up and down the famous rolling hills!
One nice aspect of the Swamp House was that there were 10 aid stations. Plenty of opportunity to stay hydrated. My big mistake was hydrating so much the prior day because of the forecasted humidity that I had to take a pit stop…not easy in a one piece tri-suit. So that killed my time by about 3-4 minutes. I had forgotten my TomTom watch so I was running blind, and was relying on the pacer to keep me on track. Bad move. My only criticism is that our 2:00 pacer was running about a 1:55 pace. That really taxed me and combined with the humidity (did I mention the humidity?), I had to to let the group go. The course ran through a mixture of rural Florida complete with a bear crossing sign (who knew), through some affluent areas, downtown Debary, finishing on the rural river bank next to the all famous Swamp House Grill. Overall I ended up with a much better time than I was calculating in my head…2:05:15. Not my best but I am pretty happy considering the pit stop and running out too fast at the start.
This was a great race to bookend the coast to coast challenge we set starting with the Surf City Half in Huntington Beach, Ca. Very fun to run on both coasts in a 30 day time frame. The Swamp House is definitely worth checking out. As I understand, it has grown each year and the post race expo/festivities were top notch. I put them on par with any big race I have done…Rock-n-Roll Half or Surf City. I was disappointed that I did not see any gators…
I look forward to next year’s race and will be prepared for the humidity and rolling hills!