Before the recap, I did want to share that I was successful in completing my 15 miler this morning. Heading into it, I wasn’t thinking that it was going to be a big mental struggle. But when I got out there and felt my legs, I knew it was going to be a long run. Last weekend’s half into 14 miler plus the miles at a quicker pace this week were definitely felt.
But I did it, and it was right around a 9:42 pace. I stopped a few times along the trail for water, fuel, and to talk to someone I saw from work running. But hitting a new personal distance record felt awesome. And so did the nap on the couch afterwards.
But anywho, the recap!
I met Genna to ride together at about 5:15; we had a bit of a haul down to Ft. De Soto Park, and because neither of us had picked our packets up early, we wanted to get there with enough time to get everything situated. The ride was a lot quicker than we thought, so we got there well before 6. We were excited to find that the race director, Chris Lauber, had paid the park entry fee for all of the participants. While it doesn’t sound like much, most races wouldn’t think anything about that and would expect runners to pay the fee.
Once we got to check-in, things ran super smoothly. There wasn’t a line, so we picked up our bibs and tshirts and then got our chips pretty quickly. That left a lot of time for my favorite part of any pre-race goings on: Port-o-potty time! It’s like a fine dance, and anyone who has been a party of it knows. You want to go as many times as possible before the race, but you don’t want to get stuck in line when you should be lining up. There were plenty of port-o-potties, so that wasn’t an issue here.
The race started at exactly 7:05, and before it they gave us a rundown of where the water/po stops would be. They were spaced out well, and at a few of them they would be offering orange slices as well.
The course was a combination of the 5k loop plus a five mile out and back around Ft. De Soto.
It was perfect weather, but it was incredibly windy. When we headed back towards the start at mile 2, there was a pretty strong wind, and I figured that would play in little in the race. Little did I know.
After we crossed back under the start line, the tail wind picked up, and it was pretty nice. It lasted until the turn at mile 5. For some reason, when I was running with such a great wind at my back, I wasn’t thinking about what that would be like running into on the way back. Oh how exciting that would be to find out later.
And I just have to add, at the beginning of the race, I finally got the jumping picture I’ve been trying to get since Rock n Roll St. Pete’s terribly failed attempt. I love this picture.
At the turn around at mile 8, there was an amazing view of the sunshine skyway, which is this massive suspension bridge over the entrance to Tampa Bay. It’s big enough for cruise ships to fit under it. The beautiful view made me wish that I had a camera on me, but my pace up to the point was holding steady in the high 8’s. I didn’t want to risk a slow down to get a picture with my phone that was in its arm pocket. I did find one online so you could see the pretty.
And as I mentioned, at the turnaround I knew I was pretty on track to run under two hours. That had been a goal in the back of my mind going into the day, but because of my surgery less than three months ago and my training up to that point, I didn’t want to put that goal on a pedestal. I just wanted to be happy if I achieved it.
And for the next few miles, I just wanted to be done honestly. We turned around and were running back the same course we’d run there. It was fun to see the other runner’s costumes (and the regret on some faces in realizing that they really did have to run 6 or 7 more miles in what they were wearing), but I just wanted to be done. When I made the turn at mile 10, the wind hit me head on. It wasn’t a gently breeze. It was like an oncoming thunderstorm. My pace slowed quite a bit for the last few miles because of that wind.
I knew what I had to maintain to keep a sub 2, but even that was a struggle. You can see in my splits that it definitely slowed me a lot. I ended up right next to a man for the last mile, and when we were at 12.8 and flipped again to have the wind at our backs, I said to him, “the wind should be at our backs now,” and he said, “it better be.” We were all feeling it!
There were some men telling me to catch a man ahead of me about .2 from the finish, but I just didn’t have the kick in me. I picked it up a little, but my training and lack of taper definitely didn’t intend for any speedy finish. I crossed in 1:58:41, a little less than a minute off of my PR set in February, and got my (super cute) medal and water..
I dropped everything at my car and finished for the 14 miles I had on the training plan for that day. I ran those last .75 at 9:50-10:00/mile; my legs were screaming. Because they’d never run further than 13.1, it was hard to understand why I was doing that to myself. But I did it indeed, and it turned out the 14 miles were done in 9:02/mile. That makes me happy.
It also makes me happy to think what I could do in a half marathon with some speed work and a proper taper. I’ll have to wait until the spring after the marathon. All of my upcoming races will be run on tired legs, and I’m not thinking I’ll plan on running sub-2 in any of them. My legs were killing me on this morning’s 15 miler because of the miles this week and that pace last Sunday. We’ll see though; I’m so competitive with myself.
I will definitely do this race again. It was well organized, started on time, and has great amenities for the runners. There were lots of goodies in the bag, water and gatorade throughout the course, and tons of food and beverages to choose from at the finish. My only suggestion might be to offer a GU or gel of some sort on the course. I brought mine with me, but I know a lot of races do have that to offer. There were orange slices, but I didn’t want to risk what my stomach would do with those.
I can’t wait for the Holiday Halfathon on December 9th! I know a few other girls running it and am excited for another Florida Road Races race. If you’re looking for a half that weekend, sign up for this one and run with me!
In full disclosure, I did receive free entry to this race for blogging and tweeting about it! I was super excited about that. I was planning on running it anyways, so that was just an added incentive.