I totally intended to write and post this earlier today but my day was busy. Busy at work, busy getting my hair done (more on that tomorrow), busy playing mom (I miss Spring Break!). Busy.
So where was I? Oh yeah, race day!
We woke up “bright” and early. Whoever planned a race the day the clocks spring ahead was OBVIOUSLY on crack. I seriously laid in bed for about 5 minutes trying to talk myself out of racing. I just wanted to sleep. But, I finally rolled out and got ready.
One thing I was NOT counting on was the weather. I was expecting it to be warm (like Tampa), but it was actually VERY chilly when we first got up (Paula’s car said it was 49 degree — pretty damn cold for South Florida). So, of course I didn’t bring anything warm. Just a tank top and shorts. Brrrr. I wound up wearing my nice sweater until we lined up (no way was I chucking that), with the hopes that it would warm up once I started running (it did).
Paula drove to the race. We stopped by 7-Eleven on the way because NOBODY in the house drank coffee. What the heck? I probably would have been OK – but why mess with a race day tradition? The dude behind the counter either thought we were cute or nice (I did say “good morning!!!” when I walked in) or drunk – because he gave the coffee to me for free. Or the coffee was like 800 hours old. It did the trick, so no complaints from me (and thanks 7-Eleven dude).
We arrived at the Van Wezel (the start and finish) around 6:15 and grabbed our VIP parking spot. Sweet. The starting line was LITERALLY 50 feet from the car. Paula and I quickly Porta Pottied it (I’m now a pro, by the way) and headed back to the car. It was really nice being so close to the start – as soon as we did get in line I was shivering.
We lined up in the 9:00 area and finally started around 7:05. Like any race it was slow going and I was dodging people left and right, but by the half mile point I found my stride. I felt REALLY good and really steady.
The climb up the John Ringling Causeway started right after mile 2. I Garmined it — the climb was about a half a mile. I kept a decent pace going up — this part of the causeway wasn’t super steep, but it was still a climb. The down side IS steep though and I ran the HELL out of that hill. I gotta admit, I love hills like that!
(I did not take these next 4 pictures — I borrowed them from this SOURCE)
We turned around right before St. Armands Circle and headed back. This is the part of the race I was dreading most — I knew the incline was killer and the run down wasn’t going to be as fast so I just embraced it and tried to go as fast as I could without killing myself. Once we hit the incline it was ROUGH. We were running against the wind — and HOLY COW was it windy. I was SO happy when we started going down. The tough part of the race was OVER. We hit mile 5 just as we turned back onto Tamiami Trail.
Miles 6-9 were pretty calm and steady. We ran past the start/finish so there were a TON of people cheering us on. I always love that! I hit the halfway point at 58:36 and I knew if I kept up a steady pace I could hit sub-2. It was SO freaking motivating! At Mile 9 we hit Florida State’s Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts. This includes the John and Mable Ringling Museum (where apparently Great Expectations was filmed). I love see all of the FSU stuff — so proud of my alma mater for having such a beautiful campus!
Miles 10-13 were LOOOONG, but I still zipping through them! Miles 10-12 were in neighborhood roads (GORGOUS homes) and some were along the water. I didn’t take pictures because a) up until mile 10 I was holding a water bottle and b) I just wanted to RUN — but this is the part of the race where I really wish I popped out my camera!
At Mile 12 we hit Tamiami Trail again and headed home towards the Van Wezel. It was an incredibly fast mile and I think it helped that I knew exactly where I was going and how far away the finish was. It was one of my fastest miles! We turned that corner at Mile 13 and that last .10 miles was probably the fastest I’ve EVER run. I crossed the finish at a 7:00 pace (and I thought my heart was going to leap out of my mouth)!
I seriously thought I was going to cry (tears of joy) when I saw the clock coming in. It was just hitting 1:59:30 — and I knew I started about a minute later than than the gun. HOLY WOW — my official time was 1:58:37!!!
A year ago if you had told me I was going to run a sub-2 half marathon I would laugh in your face. I had the heart, but not the strength or endurance.
Mile 1 – 8:57
Mile 2 – 8:55
Mile 3 – 8:46
Mile 4 – 8:57
Mile 5 – 9:23 (<—-causeway mile)
Mile 6 – 9:05
Mile 7 – 9:02
Mile 8 – 9:05
Mile 9 – 9:05
Mile 10 – 9:16
Mile 11- 9:09
Mile 12 – 9:06
Mile 13 – 8:58
.11 – 7:35 (<— Yes, I ran the tangets THAT well!)
After the race I waited for like 2 seconds for Paula to cross the finish line (she also PR’d!!) and then we hit up the Porta Potties! Party Time! We then headed to the car to grab our stuff (again – so glad it was so close!), did a mini-photo shoot, and then headed over to the finish line to watch Tiffany and her mom Connie cross.
It was a stellar day because they ALSO PR’d (which, by the way means Personal Record) and ran their first sub 2:30 half. So proud of them!!!! And also – they are so cute…
We then grabbed some food — which was hosted by First Watch (hence, the name of the race). YUMMMMM! I only grabbed a bagel (I am least hungry right after a race), but their stuff is always so good. We then watched Tiffany’s friend cross the line — her first half marathon and she beat her expected time by about 8 minutes. It was a GOOD DAY!
We chit chatted for a little bit and then headed back to Tiffany’s to shower and gab more about the race. I love post-race chit chat, especially when I am clean.
Around 12:45 I left Tiffany and Matt’s with my deep gratitude for letting me — a perfect stranger 6 months ago! — crash at their house. It’s SO fun and easy when EVERYONE in your house is waking up and heading out on race day. Thanks so much for your hospitality!!
I had one more stop to make before I left for Orlando — Sweetberries! At Sweetberries I met up with my high school and college friend Jamie, her hubby Ryan, and her sweet little guy B (he’s almost 3). Jamie is due with baby #2 in June and has the most adorable baby bump. She recommended Sweetberries for the custard and man, she was not wrong. It was delicious! The serving was so huge (I got a small) that I shared mine with B and I almost didn’t finish my portion! If you are ever in Bradenton — check them out.
It was finally time to hit the road around 3. I fueled up with some Starbucks (thank goodness for coffee) and headed back to O-town. Traffic was just as bad (if not worse) on the way up. I was at a standstill on 1-4 several times! Thankfully once I hit Polk county it cleared and was able to get home in good time to see my monkeys (hubby included). I missed them!!! It was DEFINITELY worth going out of town though (and to think — I almost didn’t sign up for this race!).
In Summary — This race was awesome. The course was beautiful. The weather was chilly until the second part – but I think I run better in the cold, so no complaints here. It was a no frills, smallish kinda race but I think I prefer that over a huge production (at least when I am trying to PR!). If you are in or near Sarasota — run this race next year! You will not regret it.
Whew…I am exhausted. Time to sleep! Hasta Mañana 🙂