Sometimes, it seems like just yesterday I ran my very first half marathon. And all of a sudden, I am getting up at 3:20am on a Sunday to drive 60 miles to run my 9th half marathon. How did that happen? I’m always pretty competitive with myself and have some sort of goal in mind, usually with the hope of a PR. But after celebrating PRs at my last two half marathons in just the last 6 weeks alone, and then not running for the last two weeks, I knew this one was going to be for fun. I love the course and the views for this one. I also had the memory of this one being the first race last year where I finally broke 3 hours for a half marathon. After picking up my shirt and bib on Thursday, I was very excited to run this one again. I love the shirt and the colors!!
I arrived early enough to find a free parking spot not far from the start / finish line, which is located at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, right on the water. You can see the John Ringling Causeway in the distance. I am partial to races along the water, so I just love this.
I had plenty of time to walk around and take care of business before the start. Thankfully there were plenty of port-o-potties. I also ran in to my friend Caitlyn before. We joked that we were both tired and not really ready for 13.1 miles, but we were going to do it. Just before it started, I also ran into Meghan and Nadine, who were running the relay. The race started just after 7 and we were off. Once again, I decided to not listen to music and enjoy the surroundings. The course heads south on Tamiami Trail and then over the John Ringling Causeway. This might be my favorite part of the course. I love running bridges, however hard it may be, and I looked forward to running around St. Armand’s Circle. After St. Armand’s Circle, as I was approaching the causeway, I caught up to Caitlyn. It was shortly after that I took my first walk break. I always try to run at least 4 miles before I walk because I feel like once I take a walk break, I want to take more. I was very happy to catch up to Caitlyn and we ended up running for about 4 miles together. It was fun to chit chat with her and the time passed quickly. Around mile 8, I ran ahead. The course took us past the Ringling Museum of Art and through a beautiful neighborhood along the water. I took several more walk breaks during this time. The sun was high and bright in the sky and it had warmed up quickly. I also had Gatorade at each hydration station, in addition to the water I had with me. Between Mile 11 and 12, I had this amazing view and I stopped to take a picture of it. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and I really don’t think I will ever get tired of such views.
Finally – FINALLY – I made it back out to Tamiami Trail. A very nice woman, who’s name I forgot (!!), was along side me as I was taking a quick walk break. She said we should run it in together. We did just that, talking for a little bit, and then when I turned around to thank her after we crossed the finish, she was gone. Runners are so friendly, I always enjoy that. I was ready – and happy – to be done. My time was far from my last half marathon 2 weeks ago, but it was still better than this same event last year. Regardless, I was very happy with how I did and my time. We can’t PR every time, and I enjoyed running with Caitlyn for several miles on this one.
After calling hubby to let him know how I did, I caught up with my fellow Best Damn Race Ambassadors so we could all go to breakfast.
Beth, Meghan, Katie, Me, Haley, and Nadine
Katie, Me, Nick, Haley, Meghan, and Nadine
We also took a Tampa Bay Bloggers photo since so many of us ran the race. Clearly, we love photos. I think we’re a fabulous bunch.
Beth, Meghan, Me, Caitlyn, Haley, Chrissy, Denise, Brad
Me and Caitlyn
I am very happy with how I ran and finished this race. It’s a great event, I love the shirt and medal, and the camaraderie is priceless. And here are my official results…
What is your favorite thing about running races and the running community?
**Disclaimer: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers network, I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared are my own
It’s been a whirlwind of races the past month. Between Best Damn Race Safety Harbor, then Gasparilla Distance Classic, and then Best Damn Race Orlando, I’ve been a busy little runner. The past week and a half though, since Best Damn Race Orlando, I have not been running at all. My back has been telling me to take it easy, and I have been. But I am itching to run. And even more so, I am so excited to run the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay this Sunday!
Last year I ran the Sarasota Half Marathon on a whim, after seeing the amazing dolphin medal. Besides loving medals, I love dolphins and when I saw the medal that was up for grabs, I knew I had to make it mine. I knew the race had a BIG bridge but I didn’t care. I was training for Iron Girl and figured if anything, it would be a great training run.
What it turned out to be, was the first half marathon I finished under 3 hours. I was a sweating, crying mess when I cross the finish line in 2:48:12, so darn proud of myself. It will always be a favorite running memory of mine.
I knew I had to do it again this year. It’s a beautiful course and there is another great medal with a bridge and dolphins. How could I pass this up?
I also know many runners who will be running this. That’s another thing that makes these events so fun…. Seeing your running / blogging friends who enjoy the events as much as you do!
This will be half marathon #9 for me. I’ve PR’d the last three that I’ve run. I am going to run this one for fun and enjoy the course and see what happens….
Will I see you out there? Let me know if you’re running!
This past Saturday morning, our alarm went off very early…. At 3am to be exact. hubby and I were headed to Orlando for the Best Damn Race. I was running the half marathon and hubby was running the 10K. I was very excited to take part in this event in a new city.
Since first running the inaugural race in Safety Harbor in 2013, I have been a huge fan of this event. I was even more thrilled when last year, I was selected as a Best Damn Race Ambassador. Seeing it grow and going to another city was a lot of fun. One of the reasons I love this event is because it is put on by a runner, for runners. The race director, Nick, puts his heart and soul into it and it shows.
So, despite the early hour our alarm went off, I was excited to hit the road and run 13.1 miles on a new route. It was still dark when we arrived in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola Park and we picked up our race packets and had time to walk around and visit with others before the race started.
The Best Damn Race Director, Nick Katy of www.katywidrick.com
The race started and ended at Lake Eola Park. What a pretty setting it was and on a gorgeous day! It was a crisp 52 degrees when we arrived – perfect weather for running. The sun started to come up just before the 10K started. I saw hubby off and then waited for the half marathon to start 30 minutes later.
Before I knew it, it was time for the half to start, my 8th half marathon. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to listen to music or not, I haven’t in awhile. I decided I definitely didn’t need to, I wanted to enjoy the new-to-me route and the scenery. It’s also fun to listen to other runners.
Since I just ran the Gasparilla 15K and 8K the weekend before and my legs were still tired, I didn’t really have a time goal in mind. I knew I finished in 2:18:59 at Best Damn Race Safety Harbor on February 1st, and it would be great to beat that, but I knew it would be tough. Ultimately, I wanted to finish under 2:30 as a worst case.
The first couple of miles were along cobblestone streets. This can be tricky to run on and I have to pay attention to my footing to make sure I don’t’ twist my foot or step wrong. I ran the first 4 miles without a walk break, feeling great. I grabbed some Gatorade at mile 4 and then took off running again. We rounded the corner and under an overpass and then saw we would run around Lake Underhill. This was a really pretty view and it was neat to see runners as they made their way around it. I should have taken a picture, but at the time I didn’t think about it.
During the run around the lake, I also made my way up to the 2:15 pace group. I couldn’t believe it. I stayed with them for about a mile and then they got ahead of me. I would end up keeping them in my sight the rest of the race but never caught back up to them.
After rounding the lake, we made our way through a residential neighborhood and passed right along side those ahead of us, back tracking. It was here that I saw Meghann (Meals and Miles), Michelle (Crazy Running Legs), and Haley (Running With Diapers). It’s fun to see other runners that you know, wave and say hi, and get a little encouragement.
By this time, I had taken several walk breaks and my legs were killing me. Every bit of the 14.2 miles I ran the weekend before had caught up to me and I was so sore. I knew I had to listen to my body and walk if I needed to. There is no shame in that. Besides, I wanted to be able to finish strong.
Around mile 9, I looked at my watch and did some math to see how far off I would be from my Safety Harbor time. I knew the 2:15 pace group was ahead of me and I had no idea how far behind me the 2:30 pace group was. I was just thankful that they remained behind me the whole time. It was here that I realized, unless I was completely screwing up the math, that I could possibly beat my previous time, even if just by seconds. This helped to light a fire under me and I tried to walk less and run more.
Just after the 10 mile mark, we merged with the 5K runners. I joked with a couple of women running beside me how fresh they all looked compared to us. They were also moving much quicker. This, of course, was a little pick me up and got me moving a little quicker.
The final long stretch along South Street was fun because it was downhill and we could see the skyscrapers. There were spectators along here, and the closer we got to the last two turns, it was louder and louder. Finally, I rounded the last corner and saw the street lined with spectators. The finish line was in view and no matter how many times I’ve run a race, that just never gets old. It is so exciting to see after you’ve been running your heart out for a couple hours.
I also knew by this time that I had definitely beat my last time. I was a little worried by how much though because the mileage on my watch was off. I just hoped that my time was close to the chip time at the end.
I ran across the finish line with all my heart, excited by another PR. There is nothing like that feeling. I hurt, I ached, and I was starving, but I did it. Half marathon #8 was complete and most exciting of all, I would get to ring the PR bell again! I beat my last time by 2 1/2 minutes!
I was also very excited to learn that hubby did awesome on his first every 10k! I was super proud of him and so glad that he took part in this awesome race with me. We were also able to take some great photos on Lake Eola. It could not have been a prettier day…
I am very happy with my time and pace on this one. The first six miles were obviously my best and I knew that. To run in the 9’s is huge for me. It felt comfortable and was not a huge struggle to do it.
I can’t say enough about this event. I will absolutely run it again in 2015. I look forward to seeing it grow and will enjoy running the great courses and enjoying the great perks it offers runners. Thank you Best Damn Race for two wonderful races this year!
I can’t think of a more exciting way to spend the day before my birthday, the last day of being 41, than to run my 7th half marathon and PR! Last year, Best Damn Race was actually on my birthday and that medal will likely always be a favorite of mine because it has my birthday on it.
I did not train for this one like I did the Women’s Half back in November, but I was running 2-3 days a week and my pace has definitely been improving on those runs. Because of my lack of consistent training, I was hoping to finish in 02:30, which would not have been a PR but seemed like a safe time.
Our friend Mike drove in from Orlando to run this race, it would be his first. We arrived in Safety Harbor dark and early to find good parking and so he could pick up his packet. The rain had finally stopped sometime over night, which was great because it had rained here for three days. I even went to bed stressed about the fact that it was still raining. It was cool (50’s), muggy, and a little foggy, but NO rain when we got to Safety Harbor.
I finally met Jessica, who blogs over at Tampa Mom Runs. We met on Instagram when she bought one of running decals. It’s always fun to meet my “virtual” friends in real life!
This year, Best Damn Race put up a PR bell for anyone to ring if they had a PR. I walked past it before the start, thinking it would be nice to ring it but really didn’t see that as a possibility. The finish line was all set up, I was excited to cross that in a few hours!
My friend Corinna arrived around 6 and we all met up near the start line. The amount of people there was insane. It was exciting to see so many people there to have fun in this event.
The 10K would start first, the half marathon second, and the 5K last. There was a delay in the 10K starting and I saw my friend Kat who was waiting to start the 10K. Kat is a huge inspiration to me. She blogs over at Katrina Elle I love to participate in her challenges, and she was ready to start running and hopefully earn a new PR (which she did!!!).
A few of the Best Damn Race Ambassadors met up for a picture before the start as well. It’s been fun getting to know them, they are all great ladies!
Haley and I had been hoping for cooler weather for this race. Warmer temps were momentarily expected for this day, so we were happy when it stayed a touch cooler, although we were not so thrilled about the potential for rain. Haley blog over at Running With Diapers.
I also ran into my friend Carey as we were waiting for the half marathon to start. Back in November, Carey completed his first Half Ironman, something I just cannot imagine. I originally met Carey and his wife back when I trained with Jenna for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day in 2011, and now we have running and races in common! Carey is so full of energy – it was nice to see him!
And finally, it was time to RUN!!! I was so ready to go. I’m not one to get nervous about a race, I just really excited and I am so ready to run by the time it finally starts. I haven’t been listening to music on my runs, so I chose not to listen to any for the race either. I have decided that the music that I used to need as a distraction is no longer necessary. I love getting lost in the run and I feel like without music, I am more tuned in to how I’m feeling, how I’m running, and my pace.
The course us from the Safety Harbor Spa north, into Philippe Park and then south to Bayshore Blvd. through a neighborhood near the trail, and then back on to Bayshore Blvd where the last turn-around was to head back to the finish line.
The first 6 miles actually went by pretty quickly. I felt good and decided that those little hills that kept popping up were a nice little challenge. I ran just about 4 miles before taking a quick walk break to drink some water and have a GU Gel. Once we hit Mile 7, I was wondering why I never knew that Safety Harbor had so many little hills! I heard two women talking about it next to me so we joked about it for a few minutes. This is also where I ran with my friend Val for a few minutes. Val competed the Dopey Challenge a few weeks ago. She is a rock star also!
Just about Mile 9, I started taking a few more walk breaks, This is also where I realized that it was actually possible that I could PR. I did a bunch of math in my head and figured out what I needed to do to beat my last half marathon time of 02:23:28. I am so darn competitive with myself… The minute I knew it was possible, I knew it had to happen. Had to. I was going to ring that PR bell!
As I approached Mile 12, I saw my friend Corinna and she was not happy. Her knee was hurting and she was walking. She ran the Clearwater Halfathon a couple weeks ago and it started bothering her then.
Finally, I rounded the last corner and I could hear the crowds and the announcer at the finish line. Approaching a finish line never ever gets old. I was a little sore but still felt good. Carey saw me and told me to finish strong. And that I did!
I also had a surprise when I crossed the finish line… My mom was there! I heard her calling my name and she was, of course, video taping me. She loves to do that. This video amuses me because I am clearly excited that I beat my time….
So. Exciting. I knew my fabulous new Garmin Forerunner 220 would be close because the mile markers were almost dead on with my watch. What I didn’t realize is how close it actually was….
The usual post-race happenings took place from here on out… Pictures with my fabulous medal and ringing the PR bell! Funny story…. I went to ring the bell and the rope came off. The line of people gasped! I quickly fixed it, rang the bell, and moved on. It was awesome to see how many people were ringing that bell!
I stood in line for 20 minutes for an ice cold beer (totally worth it!), and looked for people I knew. Our friend Mike had finished just 3 minutes before me! Congrats!
I chatted with Beth for a few minutes back at the finish line and saw Caitlyn, too. Corinna found me there as well and her and I did our finish line photos together.
Here are my splits for this race. I was 20 seconds faster on my average pace than my last half marathon. It’s amazing how much that time adds up when you’re running.
Another great race added to my list. It truly never gets old. This race I spent several miles thinking about my huge decision to run a full marathon this winter. And while it does scare the heck out of me, I also see it as a challenge that I am ready to take on. I’ve already come so far. My first 3 half marathons were all over 3 hours and look where I’m at now. I love the half marathon distance. It’s not easy, it’s a challenge, and is as much mental as it is physical.
Crossing the finish line and earning this awesome medal with a new PR was a nice birthday gift….
I’m going to run the half marathon at the Best Damn Race in Orlando on March 1st. Who wants to join me? You still have time to register here and save $5 using my discount code NANCIC.
What is your favorite part of a race? Let me know if you’ll be joining me at the Best Damn Race in Orlando!