This weekend I got to run the Friends of Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K in beautiful Southwest Florida for the third (or fourth?) year in a row. It’s a beautiful course through the Lovers Key State Park, which is 712 acres spread about Lovers Key and a few other islands. I love this race for a few reasons.
The course is b-e-a-utiful for one. I love living in Florida and, even though the heat can be murder, running it nature can be so relaxing. Sometimes I get caught up in and stop to take pictures. That wasn’t the case for this race, however. I actually had to have my friend send me pics for the purpose of this post. Oops?
The proceeds to this race also go to the Friends of Lovers Key, Inc., which helps to protect and preserve the State Park. Important things.
The first few times I’ve run this race I’ve done so alone. My friends always have other obligations, but I have no problems running the beautiful course by myself. Last year I ran with my sister and two friends, one of which was running her first 5K!
So, when I signed up this year I wasn’t expecting too many people to sign up with me. It’s a busy time of year and it was Mother’s Day weekend, so I knew people had plans. I was happy when my Best Running Friend Michelle and her family signed up, though!
I thought about setting goals for the race because I’d been really struggling on my weekly training runs. Michelle and I talked about it during our run on Thursday and both of us were just kind of confused by our bodies, to be honest. Training has been a struggle and we weren’t sure how Saturday was going to pan out.
One goal I was thinking was to at least run the entire time, with little to no walk breaks. That’s a big one for me, because I’ve been doing intervals when I run alone. I also wanted to keep pace at at least a 13 minute mile. Some of you may scoff at that number, but it’s pretty good for me, considering what my training runs have been like.
I picked up everyone’s packet on Friday before I went to a teachers’ night out even. Already I felt my goals slipping away as I drank wine and painted, but I wasn’t worried. I was scheduled to do a three mile training run, so I figured that’s what the race would be.
Saturday dawned too early (too much wine) and I made the hike out to Lovers Key. I met up with Michelle and her family about thirty minutes before race time and we hung out, checked out the porta potties, and took some pictures. The weather was projected to be rainy all weekend and, while it did sprinkle a little, it stayed nice and overcast the whole time. Lucky for us because, as a I said, running in Florida can be brutal.
Michelle’s husband and son moved to the head of the pack while we stayed kind of in the middle. We aren’t fast, but I know we were both wanting to push ourselves for the race. None of them had run the course before, but it’s a pretty simple one. And, also, it’s pretty.
When we came up on our first mile our pace was 11:47. WHAAAAAA?
All I could say was “We’re going too fast!” and laugh. Michelle and I make a lot of jokes about our pace, but that’s just how we work. We’re both on the short side and our stride just isn’t big. Besides, the only person I need to beat is myself!
At about mile two I was starting to get a little tired, so we slowed down a little. We stopped for water and walked, but not much. Both of us were feeling strong despite our talk on Thursday, so we kept on pushing. Mile two’s pace was a little slower, but not by much. It really felt like things were going by fairly quickly, considering how most of my three mile training runs had been.
We were almost to the three miles mark when I got a cramp. It sucked becuase we were so close and doing so well! We walked a bit while it worked itself out and then pushed on. The finish line is just over a little bridge and right on the beach. Another reason I love this race is because it has a great place for after race pics! After we got some water and a snack we definitely took advantage of it. We also checked out race stats and I was pretty stoked about being 10th in my age group…until I realized there were actually only ten women in my age group. It’s fine. I laughed.
Our official race results were pretty good, since Michelle and I managed to keep a good pace. I tracked with my Nike Running app and was happy with my pace and splits. This race was two minutes faster than last year, according to my app so I’m considering that a PR for me. (Don’t argue with me, okay?)
The Turtle Trot 5K is a great race to start off the summer with and I hope they continue to hold it. The proceeds go to a great cause and it’s a great course. 10/10 will run again.