By Mike Hensley
Just two months ago I had the opportunity to move back to Gainesville, Florida, to finish physical therapy school while interning with Shands Healthcare system. In the process, I have been able to join up with other athletes from the Florida Track Club. Though it was only two months of training, having the club really helped in my gear up for Disney. On race day I felt much like a college runner again in wearing the Florida Track Club uniform. I wasn’t just there to represent myself, I was there to represent the club and Florida.
At the starting line, I met up with Paul Nielsen who was also wearing a Florida Track Club outfit. I hadn’t met Paul before, but with a guy right next to me representing Florida, we both struck up a bond and decided it would be best if we ran the first half of the race together.
Wearing the Florida jersey through the race got me some of the biggest cheers I have ever experienced during a marathon. Many times the cheers that Paul and I got gave me goosebumps as I was running. At about 11 miles Paul was feeling good and took off. Later I realized he finished third. In the process, I finished fifth and Brandon Dahlen (another FTC member) finished eighth. So we had three Florida Track Club guys in the top eight. I think that in itself is a pretty big accomplishment, not just for the club but for Florida in general. Disney is easily the largest marathon in the state, and having Florida representation is important.
Personally the race for me went well. With grad school I didn’t get exactly the right training I felt I needed, but just enough to run decent. As with any skill level athlete, the marathon is always a challenge and we find ourselves continually tweaking and changing things from prior races. For me, nutrition has been a problem. In nearly every marathon, I seem to have bonked pretty hard at the end. This time I think I over-did it by eating to much prior to the race start. The first part of the race I felt extremely nauseous. At mile eight I tried to take a Gu and it came right back up. Finally, at about 18 miles the nausea wore off. I didn’t end up bonking at the end, but did throw up one last time at the finish. As always, it gives me more to desire for next time.
I’m happy to be back in Gainesville in such a diverse town of runners and people who like to stay active. While living in Naples the past two years, I realized how great Gainesville really was. The Florida Track Club offers this town another great outlet for those looking to stay fit and bond with others who have the same goals and outlook on life. Wear your FTC jersey proud as you travel around the state to races. I guarantee that at least one person per race will ask you about FTC. When I put on that FTC jersey I don’t feel like I’m running by myself, I feel like I’m running with a group, and that makes things a whole lot easier. I’ll strap my jersey on again in a couple of weeks for the Gainesville Half/Full Marathon. I hope to see you there wearing yours.