Welcome to thatlinuxbox.com Thursday, July 25 2024 @ 06:38 PM UTC

Ocala Marathon 2016 - Race Report

  • Friday, January 22 2016 @ 10:46 PM UTC
  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 5,499
Running and Fitness

  • Google Plus
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg

I finished the Ocala Marathon with a smile on my face and I was able to put on pants afterwards without triggering any muscle cramps, so I consider this to be Mission Accomplished!

Photo by EventMugShots

I finished in 3:18:51 (avg. 7:35 per mile) and 3rd place overall.

Photo by Ozzy Vidal

I had not been excited about the prospect of making another go at a hard marathon effort... in fact, I had even contemplated never running that terrible race distance ever again. Last year I made the Boston Qualifying standard (BQ) at Five Points of Life marathon here in Gainesville, but my three marathon experiences thus far had not been "fun"... Rewarding? yes, but not fun.

Thus, I was quite surprised to find that I had "marathon on the brain" a few weeks ago. I had been putting in some longer and longer runs and feeling pretty good and thinking the next bump could be close to 26 miles. Having been "betrayed" by race planners and pace calculators in the past, I am one of those runners who now feels like I need to get close to a full 26 mile long run during training. I have been plagued by leg cramping of some kind during my three previous marathons, so I also really wanted a chance to run the distance without any hard performance goals and maybe, just maybe, I could feel ok during those last few miles. With the Five Points of Life race weekend just a little over a month away, I suspected that the Ocala Marathon could be a nice opportunity.


Read on for the rest of the report...

Matthew Howland told me that he had enjoyed the Ocala Marathon last year and that it is one of his favorite courses. A bunch of local runners have been training for marathons and talking about marathons and running great marathons and generally making marathons sound fun and glorious. When I saw that Ocala Marathon was scheduled on a weekend when I didn't have any conflicts, it was almost a done deal. The only thing left was to check the weather.

When I checked the extended weather forecast and saw that the weekend was going to be on the cool side, I went ahead and registered. However, during the days leading up to the race the forecast changed every few hours... first rain, then no rain, then rain at the beginning of the race, then rain at the end of the race, and each precipitation update coming with a swing in the temperature, ranging from low 40s up to the 60s, with wind conditions also varying at every update. When I went to bed the night before, the forecast showed rain for the first hour of the race.

I woke up and drank my coffee, ate my usual high fat greek yogurt, and finished breakfast on the drive. I ate an EPIC Bison bar and a Larabar which have both proven to be safe on my stomach in the past. The drive to Ocala from Gainesville is really easy at 5:30am on a Sunday morning. The event tent and finish line area were easy to find with plenty of parking available right there next to Paddock Mall. It turns out that the rain moved out prior to race start. I saw a few other familiar Gainesville faces getting ready to run. The temperature was a nice comfortable 60 degrees while the small field of marathon runners waited for the 7am start:

Photo by EventMugShots

During the race the temperature was actually forecast to drop a little. The sun came out late in the race though and made a few road sections feel quite warm. A brisk wind kicked up after the first hour which made the "uphill and into the wind" sections challenging, but this was still a huge improvement over the common 20-degree temperature increase that tends to happen with Florida marathons.

At the blow of the starting horn the eventual winner took off and disappeared from view pretty quickly. I really wanted to avoid going too hard so I just tucked in behind a pack of three guys (the group to my right pictured below). I struck up a conversation with a nice gentleman from Wildwood named Harold and our pack broke into two groups with the other two guys (in 2nd and 3rd place) pulling away. I ended up running most of the first half with Harold who did most of the talking and helped the miles go by quickly. I called out our splits at each mile and we were running between 7:30 - 8:00 per mile.

The marathon started 15 minutes before the Half marathon, so we marathoners had the course to ourselves during the beginning. The course consists of an out-and-back section and then a loop section. The marathoners run further out on the out-and-back section and then run the loop twice. The Half runners turn around sooner and only run the loop once.

After getting a little way out from Paddock Mall, the beautiful horse farms begin to appear, one after the other. Some of the horses seemed interested and ran out towards the road to get a closer look. This continued until the out-and-back that leads up up up into a nice neighborhood with fancy homes but a terrible road. That was the only area I remember that had a difficult road surface.

Coming back towards the loop section we hit the Half marathon runner traffic. We didn't really have trouble navigating based on the number of runners, but if the race ever gets to be much bigger they might have an issue with the runner traffic patterns. I felt a nice mental lift as we turned onto the first lap of the loop portion and started passing runner after runner. There was an uphill section, a turn, a wonderful blast of cool wind, and an aid table where I inadvertently put a big gap on my newfound running buddy. Once I figured out that he wasn't going to catch back up I went ahead and pressed on a bit. I crossed the half marathon point in just under 1:40 so I was right on schedule for a solid run and feeling pretty good. Maybe too good... it was hard not to push this section and I "accidentally" ran two of my fastest miles of the race (under 7:10 pace). Wisdom prevailed and I eased back on the throttle.

One of the downsides of this section of the course (the east side of the loop) is that with all of the half marathon traffic, I completely lost track of where the other marathoners were located. I couldn't see them among the sea of runners behind and ahead of me. Regardless, I enjoyed this section of the course along nice country roads with a fair amount of tree cover. The very last leg of the loop (SW 42nd Street) reminded me of Williston Road in Gainesville, except on this course the duration was much much shorter.

I started the race with two energy gels, finished them off during the first hour, expecting the aid stations to have more. I asked at each one as I went around the loop, and unfortunately, none of the aid stations were stocked with energy gels. They did have bananas, oranges, fig newtons, Twizzlers, and some other fare. I decided on bananas once I figured out that no gels were going to be available.

After completing the first loop, the half marathoners turned right towards the finish and the marathoners turned left to run the second and final lap. I was pleased at this point to see two runners ahead of me. They were no longer a pack and 2nd place now had a gap over 3rd place. The closest runner was only about 40 seconds ahead so I decided to try and catch them. I stayed in my own pace zone and still gradually got closer. I ran strong through the hills. When we passed the mile 19 marker I did notice my hamstrings started to hint that they might cramp up. By this point I was eating a half banana at each aid station. I started drinking gatorade and water at each station also. Even though I stopped pressing the pace I still gained ground on the runner in front of me. When I eased past him he said he was having cramping issues. Ah, I know the feeling. That runner (Jose) would go on to take the overall Masters. I was now in third place. I caught a glimpse of the next runner in front of me a few times but would never get closer to him. The miles beyond 20 were hard, even with a Twizzler. For the first time during a marathon I made it to those last miles and felt that I had a choice between pushing harder (accepting more pain) or not, rather than getting muscle cramps that shut me down without a choice. I kept chugging along but did not opt for additional pain.

It seems that many race courses have "that one turn" which is poorly marked and un-staffed and this event was no exception. When I came to what I thought was the last turn off the road to go back into the mall, the folding sign had blown over. I stopped and set it up but there was no arrow or direction attached. Looking around I saw that the arrow had blown completely off and was laying over in the grass by the bushes. A police car was stationed in the median to block traffic but no officer was in sight and I couldn't see through the windshield. I ran a little further looking at the police car, trying to look lost, and mouthing "which way?" as clearly as I could. Eventually a hand poked out of the window pointing me to turn.

The course was otherwise well-marked the whole way with signs such as these:

I successfully found my way to the finish line and the announcer said I was smiling so that made me smile even more.

Photo by EventMugShots

After the finish I told the race directors about the sign issue and they apologized and thanked me for letting them know and said they would get someone at the corner right away to help with the turn. This was as good and professional of a response as is possible to give.

The post-race food included a wide variety of items. I most enjoyed a Coke and pecan pie. They didn't have coffee so I just walked across the parking lot to the mall and got some Starbucks, used the not-porta-potties, and stayed out of the wind for a bit. The proximity to the mall is a nice feature of this event.

My legs were sore for the next few days but not too bad at all. Mentally I am ready to get right back into training. Speaking of training, I feel like my overall mileage has not been very high, with my biggest week since late November at 48 miles. During that time my long runs have been 19.5, 19.5, 18, and 20.5, with that last 20.5 full of hills and exactly one week before the race. I ran two half marathons in the fall, including Tom Walker in November. I did not run a lot of miles over the holidays due to illness but I did get in a fair amount of hill work during that time.

In summary, the Ocala Marathon is a nice low-key event with a scenic but challenging USATF-Certified course. It seems very convenient for those of us in the area who are looking for a nearby Full or Half at this time of year.

I had fun!

Marathon entrants received a nice long-sleeve t-shirt and finisher medal. I wore my Altra Instinct 1.5 shoes.

The Ocala Marathon was held on January 17, 2016 and results are posted:


Race photos available from Event Mug Shots:
Ocala Marathon 2016 - Race Report | 0 comments | Create New Account

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

User Functions



thatlinuxbox.com is the home of Dan Stoner's Personal Blog, Photos, and More (opinions, rants, techno-babble, and possibly a few useful tidbits of knowledge).

Questions or Comments about this site? Contact danstoner _ at _ gmail.com.

RSS Feed for this blog

Other places to find me on the web:




Support This Site

If you like something that you find on this site, please consider making a purchase through one of the links below or sending me an item from my Amazon Wish List.

The Clymb

Awesome VPS hosting by Linode.com