Sunday, December 22, 2013

Race Recap: Marco Island 5 Mile Hill Run

I'm home for the holidays in Naples, FL, and decided to get together with some of my high school friends to run a race. (Yes, I'm a Florida transplant to Chicago.) Saturday morning we drove to the southernmost part of Florida's west coast, Marco Island. I met up with my friend and old high school cross country running buddy, Jessica (below), and we got our bibs and warmed up. I was already sweating and hot after the warm up and dreading running 5 miles. After running in bitter cold, snowy Chicago for a couple months, 80 and humid was a shock to my system!

The first 3 miles went well and I was keeping a pace between 8:15 and 8:30 (I think - I didn't have anything besides my Nike Fuel Band with a watch on me). Then, the fourth mile was the hilliest. Who knew an island in Florida has hills? Apparently they are formed by shell mounds and we had to do the steepest hill twice. Florida (and Chicago) people are not used to running on hills and everyone was struggling on mile 4. I was also feeling very, very hot and pounced on the water when I saw the aid station. Mile 5 was flatter and I picked my pace back up once I saw the finish line ahead!

Jess and I also met up with Sam, another high school friend who just picked up running a year and a half ago. Her next big goal is a half! Jess did awesome (as always) and got 2nd in our age group with a time of 39:00. I did much better than I expected given the hills and heat and finished in 42:07. That's 8:25 pace! It probably would have been closer to 8:15 pace had it not been for that 4th mile that took me over 9 minutes. Anyway, a fun race and I'll do it again next year if I'm in town!

There's Jessica getting her 2nd place prize from Mark McGarity! He's the Lely High School (in Naples)  Cross Country coach and has one of the best teams in the district and state, also creator of this hilly course! With some online research I actually learned that this hill run is the oldest race in the Naples area (Collier Country). This was the 32nd running of it and it is also known as the "Toughest Course in Southwest Florida," and I believe it! The race is organized and sponsored by Gulf Coast Runners which is an amazing group very involved in the local community that holds many races throughout the year. They even give scholarships to young athletes and I got one of them in high school before attending Purdue!

Are you running any races this holiday season?

What's the toughest (not longest) course you're ever run?


  1. Congrats on the great time!!

  2. Just found your blog - I love it! I live in San Francisco and even with training on all the hills, the Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon course is still one of the toughest - there's SO many hills - and long ones at that! Sounds like you had a great race!

  3. A few of my Chicago friends did the Nike Women's Half and said it was really tough. I'll have to get out there one day!


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