Hi there! I'm Paula and I live in Orlando. I like to run and watch too much TV. I'm a lover of cupcakes and hater of chia seeds, even though I've never tried them. I eat peanut butter out of the jar and think Aaron Paul is my boyfriend.
Category Archives: Race Reviews
Sunday morning started with a 4:15am wake-up to get ready for the race. I did the same thing as always – got ready and made my PB&Js. About an hour later, we headed out to the race start. And for the first time ever, I discovered the glory that is staying at a hotel within walking distance to the starting line.
Unfortunately, I cannot walk and take pictures at the same time, so most of my pictures are blurry. I’m lucky I get one foot in front of the other.
Michelle and I found our corral, or what we thought was our corral since the signs were confusing, said our goodbyes to Melissa, who was in the “fast as shit” corral, and waited for the start.
The race started at 6:15 and even that early, it was extremely humid. Miami doesn’t believe in seasons, I think. The entire day was overcast which I was thankful for because I know it could have been much worse.
I didn’t feel good or bad during this race. I guess I just felt like I was going through the motions. I tried to increase my pace but every time I checked my Garmin, I just couldn’t get below a 10:00 minute mile. It was disheartening and I checked out mentally pretty early on. I hate that. My mental state makes or breaks a race for me. Every time.
But enough about my crappy running. Let’s talk about the race. Specifically, the things I didn’t like. Like how the whole race was packed with runners and never thinned out. I was dodging people for 13 miles.
The first water stop didn’t appear until mile 3, which I thought was a little crazy, especially with the humidity. And honestly, any Florida race should know better.
The water stops weren’t long enough (one thing Las Vegas RnR got right) so everyone was crowded at the tables trying to get water and none of the volunteers were prepared. I usually had to wait for them to pour my water – and I made sure to thank them all because I’m sure they were as frustrated as I was.
There were also these little water pouches available at each water station.
I tried one of these at the expo and it tasted like plastic but I still kinda liked the idea. That is, until it was put into action. Everyone was throwing unfinished pouches on the ground, so running through water stops was like running through a mine field.
I almost slipped on my ass twice. These things are a horrible idea for races. Not to mention that the volunteers were throwing them like footballs to the runners, so I felt like I was dodging little death torpedoes as they flew over my head.
And now for the things I liked. The course was amazing. I think Michelle said in her recap that you could tell the course was designed by runners and it is so true. There was always something to look at and it was gorgeous. It definitely gave me an appreciation for Miami that I didn’t get from my first visit.
We started out running by the port of Miami. It was dark when we ran by, so it was really cool seeing a fleet (about 6, is that enough for a fleet?) of cruise ships all lit up.
We ran through South Beach, by cute restaurants and shops, between skyscrapers, over several bridges with amazing views of the water and the city, and we even ran through a toll booth, which I thought was kinda fun.
Firemen showing their support.
Also, crowd support was amazing through the entire race. It blew away both Rock ‘n’ Roll races I’ve done. There were even 2 high school drumming bands out that I think were a highlight for me.
I crossed the finish line to a disappointing 2:21:07. That’s 3 minutes slower than Vegas and 18 minutes off my PR. But at least I looked pretty bad ass doing it.
Oh right. No I didn’t.
After the race, I walked through the finisher’s shoot (which was thankfully nice and long, unlike Vegas) but a backup still happened as everyone was trying to get their medals.
Then everyone’s friends and family were waiting for the runners just outside the medal area, and they were all lined up on either side making it impossible to get through which was super annoying.
There were a lot of goodies afterwards. The usual food, beer, and Pollo Tropical. And the cookies. Oh man. The cookies.
After getting through the crowd, I found Michelle and Melissa and we hung out for a bit.
To make a long story short (I know. Too late), we took some pictures, had a couple beers, talked to a weird stranger, lost Melissa, found her again, and walked back to the hotel while watching the marathoners run in and taking in some scenery.
And a little ING humor.
Overall, I really liked the race. Would I do it again? Maybe. But not anytime soon. I definitely think ING races know what they’re doing and this is the type of race I expected, but didn’t get, out of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series.
Now it’s time to improve my pace and get ready for Gasparilla in March.
So, about that marathon I ran yesterday.
The Jacksonville Bank Marathon is a Boston qualifier and I know you are all dying to know if I made it. A lot of you noticed that I didn’t mention the race on the blog and there was a reason for that. If you read my Savannah RnR Race Review, you know that I trained hard for 5 months only to be let down by a crap race and a knee injury. Honestly, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to run another one and that coupled with the thought of Savannah left me sad and disappointed. It took me 2 weeks after Savannah to be able to talk about it without my eyes tearing up. So, as much as I love the support from all of you that read, comment, tweet, facebook, and email, I wanted to treat this race like one of my long training runs. No stress. No build-up. Just running. I didn’t talk about this race much with anyone (not just the blog world).
The Back Story
Brad (my pace twin) from my running group was equally disappointed with his performance in Savannah and he was ready to bust a sub-5 hour marathon about 10 minutes after he finished the race. He also felt like he trained hard for disappointment, so he wanted to up for the Jacksonville Bank Marathon. He tried to get me to sign up too but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea with my knee injury. So instead, I decided to keep training like I was going to run the race and see how my knee felt as the weeks passed.
I was determined to get my knee back to normal. I went for a massage 3 weeks in a row to work on my IT band and my shoulder. I started using athletic tape on my knee during runs, and I iced every night even though I wasn’t feeling pain. My knee slowly got better, so I signed up after Thanksgiving.
Brad and I were planning on driving up to Jacksonville the morning of the race, running the whole thing together, and driving back after. But while I was in Vegas, Brad was hospitalized with pneumonia. (!) He’s doing MUCH better now, but he was grounded from running for 6 weeks (doctor’s orders).
So, I was alone for the race and I didn’t know anyone else doing it. Because I hate wasting money, I decided to do it on my own. I mean, if my hubs doesn’t eat a $1.00 yogurt before it expires, I freak out so I was not about to throw away a $75 race registration. I really didn’t want to drive to Jacksonville alone, but I was going to suck it up.
The Race Review
A week before the race, my friend K volunteered to go with me. K needs her beauty sleep or she’s a real treat, so she heavily suggested we get a hotel for the night. The cheapest one we found that we were willing to stay in was a La Quinta for $44 a night. (And incidentally, they had the best customer service ever). I met her at her house after the big bossman holiday party, we drove up, checked in, and went to straight to bed.
The morning of the race, we got up bright and early. And by we, I mean me.
I got ready, taped my knee, and put my race fuel together.
We left a little early for race day packet pick-up, which was held in the gym of The Bolles School.
It was pretty cold outside (49 at the start and an awesome 65 at the finish), so besides a port-o-potty trip, we stayed in the gym until 15 minutes before the race start to keep warm.
If you think my boobs look fabulous, thank you. That’s the magic of 3 PB & Js stuffed in there.
The race had about 3000 runners combined for the 5k, half, and the full. All the runners started at the same time. So, I started back by the 5 hour pacer and Mario to avoid the crowd.
Once the race started, K saw me off, and then left to get some breakfast and head back to the hotel.
The course was beautiful. About 85% of it was through up-scale neighborhoods with amazing houses that were shaded by over-hanging moss trees. The course was so surreal and peaceful. I gave my camera to K so I didn’t take any pictures during the run, but this captures most of the race scenery.
The race didn’t have much crowd support. I know runners love massive crowd support but I gotta say I’m not a big fan. Too many people cheering stresses me out and makes me run faster than I want to or makes me feel like crap if I need to walk. The small sporadic groups that were cheering were perfect for me.
At mile 7, I turned on my music. Usually I listen to fast songs while running, but I picked a slower one to start with so I wouldn’t feel the need to run too fast. I listened to this song (that’s a YouTube link) six times. It perfectly captured the mood of the entire race. From then on out, I listened to every slow song on my iPod. I hate slow songs when I’m running, but it just worked for some reason. This is not your typical running playlist, but these particular songs really put me in a peaceful, happy, smiley mood.
You know I’m in a good mood when Taylor Swift doesn’t piss me off.
Shortly after mile 8, we broke off from the half marathoners and the runners got even sparser. About that time, I passed one of the pacers. I didn’t know what he was pacing for and I thought about asking but I didn’t want to be stressed out if he ended up passing me later on (he didn’t). Around mile 11, we were running on roads that were open to cars and one of them drove through a freakin’ water station and came close to running me off the road. Most of the drivers were really respectful but a couple of them got so close that I could have extended my arm and touched the car. I think that would be my only complaint about this race – the d-bag drivers.
My left shoulder started hurting early on but I didn’t give a crap. My legs were working and that’s all that mattered. I was in a positive state of mind and felt good the whole time and I was passing people for all 26.2 miles, including this guy at mile 23.
(Besides the tutu, he had teal arm warmers, and a very colorful Micky Mouse hat on.)
It was such a mental boost to pass people and I’m sure that has a lot to do with starting in the very back.
The last 3 miles were the hardest. That’s when my pace slowed down considerably, but I was just happy that I was still running and not walking so I didn’t care. The finisher’s shoot was the track at the Bolles School where I crossed the finish line smiling and waving with no other runners in sight.
I kept running through the shoot, past the guy in yellow with the medals, and grabbed my medal from him while still running. Why didn’t I stop? I do not know.
I love my medal, by the way.
I met up with K at the finish line, grabbed some water, a banana, some hot vegetable soup (!), and sat down for about 10 minutes before I was ready to walk to the car.
My personal photographer and race supporter extraordinaire.
I looooved this race. I didn’t even mind running alone. I’m so bummed that Brad couldn’t run it with me but I’m so happy I stuck with it. And I’m so happy K came with me because she made everything easier (she drove the whole time, held my things, served as balancing post as I stretched before the race, took pictures, brought my flip flops after the race, and patiently waited as I hobbled behind her walking to the car). It was a peaceful, flat, beautiful, no stress race unlike the crowded, loud, and obnoxious Rock n Roll series.
And that is how I PRed by just over 23 minutes.
Chip Time: 4:43:33
Juuuuust missed that Boston qualification by 75 minutes.
After thoroughly preparing for this race by being drunk for two nights in a row, eating everything I never normally eat, and walking all over the strip for two days in the wrong shoes, I was ready to race. But first, why not get in one more meal that would seal my doom?
I ate that delicious burger around 11:00 am, sucked down 3 glasses of water, bought a huge bottle of water, then proceeded to nap all day until it was time to get ready for the race. Around 2:00 pm, my tummy wasn’t feeling so well so I “tried on a few things in the fitting room.”
Around 3:30, Hubs and I walked down to the race start at Mandalay Bay from New York, New York and by that time I was feeling much better but my legs were stiff and my feet were still sore.
Once we got to Mandalay Bay, the marathoners were starting the race so we hung out and watched all the corrals go by.
I was never so happy I wasn’t one of them. Running a race in Vegas sounds like a good idea until you get to Vegas because all you want to do is everything else but run.
After the marathoners were off and the roads cleared, we walked down to the Finisher’s Village to hang out while we waited for Michelle and Dan to arrive. We saw a couple caged tigers along the way.
And I saw this guy with his kid strapped to his back in line for the bathrooms.
You don’t have to be creepy. I’ll do it for you. He finished the half in 4 hours and 20 minutes. < —- stalker.
We left early so we could catch a few songs from Cheap Trick but it was so cold, I wished we had waited at the hotel longer.
Once Michelle and Dan arrived, we got into our corral, got some good luck kisses from the hubbies, and set them free to do their man-thing for a couple hours. And of course we took our pre-race pictures.
I planned to run this race for fun and didn’t care about my finish time, so I didn’t bring my Garmin with me which was kind of liberating.
The race started and I felt pretty good despite the torture I had put my body through the previous 48 hours. Around mile 2, Michelle and I saw Sarah cheering her face off so hard that she didn’t hear us screaming her name or see us doing the monkey-wave.
Around mile 4, I was having some hip and left calf pain. My feet were already sore so the pain just escalated as the miles ticked away. Oh, but my knee was fine. So I guess there’s that.
Running down the strip and being able to look at all the lights was amazing. We saw a lot of interesting people along the way, including people dressed up as Elvis, people wrapped up in Christmas lights, and this guy with a broken foot scooting himself along.
The entire race was elbow-to-elbow. Michelle and I kept apologizing for elbowing each other and I yelled at a few runners for being d-bags and pushing through us. The marathoners were getting pissed at the half marathoners for not staying on their side of the cones, which were poorly marked to begin with and there weren’t as many bands as I expected. Especially for Vegas. Savannah sure. But Vegas? Oh, and the death metal band at mile 9 made me want to punch myself. I ran faster to get away from them.
Michelle and I stayed together for the first 9 miles and I really thought we were going to finish the race together (for the first time ever) but there were so many people that split us up and I lost her.
After mile 9, I was ready for the race to be over. I felt good mentally (for once), but my calf and hips were hurting. I walked through 5 water stations, including one where the volunteer was faced away from the crowd enjoying her own cup of water. The stopping and starting at water stations was really hard on me. I didn’t eat anything during the race which was a bad idea, but I was afraid to eat what I brought (a Cliff bar and some Gu Chomps) because of the sugar.
Running back down the strip was awesome because I knew the order of the hotels, so I just mentally ticked them off until I got to the end and enjoyed looking at the lights. My speed slowed down big time because of my calf and hips but I was still passing a ton of people so that motivated me.
Once I got to the finisher’s shoot, I saw the hubs! (If you saw a guy with an LED hula hoop, that was him. That hoop made him super easy to spot in the crowd.) Then I crossed the finish line to the biggest cluster f*ck I have ever seen. I had to slow down before I crossed the finish to avoid running into a standstill of people.
Finish time: 2:18:20
Once I stopped running, a wave of horrible hit me. All of a sudden my calf seized up, I couldn’t walk without limping, my stomach was in knots, and I felt like I was going to throw up. Feeling like that while packed in the middle of hundreds of non-moving people is AWEsome. I can’t even tell you what they had for post-race food because I just needed to get out of there fast and it wasn’t happening.
It took me a good 10 minutes to get out of the crowd and the whole time I was trying not to get sick. Then I found Michelle, Dan, and hubs and we started walking in the hot mess of people to Mandalay Bay. I was freezing and I had to get to the bathroom. After waiting in the longest, stinkiest line ever, I made friends with the toilet. I wanted to catch a cab back to the hotel but the lines were so ridiculous at Mandalay and Luxor that it would take less time for me to limp back than it would to wait for a cab. So, we walked. I had to stop every few minutes to sit down and get the energy to move on. The escalators and moving walkways sucked, but walking sucked more so I had to use them.
Once we got back to the room, I couldn’t walk anymore. I wanted to get room service but there was a $3.00 delivery fee and 18% tip on top of the price, so hubs got me food while I took a shower. Once I ate, I instantly felt better. I couldn’t walk, but at least I wasn’t nauseous.
Everything that went wrong with this race was my fault. The hip/calf pain was from all the walking in the wrong shoes, the stomach pain was from the giant plates of greasy food, the nausea was from not eating during the race and the dehydration from drinking like it was going out of style. But I’m still glad I did it because I had fun, and when in Vegas, do as the Romans. Or something like that.
I’m also glad I ran this race because running the strip is awesome. It really is an amazing course.
Next up is the Miami ING half marathon in January.
Well, I’m a marathoner! It feels pretty bad ass to be able to say that and now I have a whole new appreciation for people that run marathons. Whole. new. appreciation. I’ve been trying to think about what to write in this post and I almost don’t know where to start. Let’s just say the race didn’t go like I planned and I’m still a little sad about it.
But I’ll go back to the beginning. Saturday morning I had a 4:00am wake-up call to get ready for the race. I did that thing I do which included taking a self-portrait.
And stuffing 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my running top.
Speaking of those sandwiches, I ate half a sandwich at Miles 4, 8, 12, and 16. I wanted to eat half at Miles 20 and 24 too, but the thought of another one after Mile 16 was making me want to punch small children. At Mile 22, I forced myself to eat two more bites but that was all I could take so I ditched the rest.
Ok, back to the morning. Michelle, Dan, and I headed to the Savannah Mall where all the buses were picking runners up to take to the start. I was freezing and worried I had underdressed for the race.
Traffic was a little heavy, but once we parked we got on a bus right away without problems – around 6:00am.
That’s when the lines got longer. We heard from others that the buses weren’t exactly organized at first and a few drivers got lost. Thankfully we missed all that.
The bus ride took about 40 minutes and once we arrived at the start, we hit up the porta-a-potties. That line took another 30 minutes. During the wait, I made Michelle take a picture of the sweet throw-away sweater I “borrowed” from my friend K.
No Good Will needed. Just ask your friends for embarrasing clothes.
I also found Brad during that time. Brad and I are in the same training group and have a similar pace so we run most of our training runs together. We were all in Corral 12 and by the time we were out of the port-o-potty line, 9 corrals had already started the race. So, Michelle, Brad, and I ran to get into our corral and made it just in time to take a couple pictures before we started.
The start of the race was surprisingly awesome. An entire bridge was closed for all the runners so there was no bottleneck. The rest of the course was rather unimpressive. Very little of the course was scenic and we ran through some questionable neighborhoods. But all the residents of those neighborhoods were out cheering for the runners which was amazing. They were an extremely supportive community.
Mile 3: We ran into Allison, who along with her boyfriend, may be the cutest people I’ve ever met. Then, Brad and I saw at least 6 people from our running group, Marathonfest, which was fun.
Mile 4: I wondered what the BFDeal was about Rock ‘n’ Roll races. I’ve heard from everyone how awesome they are and this one wasn’t even in the top tier of awesome races.
Mile 6: I started having left shoulder pain that I thought was because of my Camelbak. I didn’t use my Camelbak during the race, so I guess it’s just me?
Mile 7 (I think): We ran through downtown Savannah which had the most crowd support. My favorite sign from a spectator said, “something inspirational.” I thought that was cute and it gave me a good laugh during the race.
Mile 8: Left knee pain started. It felt uncomfortable at first and wasn’t constant. So when I didn’t feel it, I could cruise along at a 9:30 pace. When I did feel it, I dropped to an 11:00-12:00 pace.
Mile 8 or 9: Michelle, Brad, and I saw Dan along the course. I know it was for just a second since we were running by, but it was really awesome seeing someone on the course cheering for you. That was a first for me. So, all of you runners that have people willing to go to multiple mile stops for you – consider yourself lucky!
Mile 9: Brad and I walked through a water stop and Michelle kept going. So we lost her.
Mile 11.5: We split from the half marathoners. My shoulder was hurting, my knee was hurting, and I never wished so much that I had signed up for the half instead.
Mile 13.1: Port-o-potty stop. I wanted to stay in that port-o-potty forever so I didn’t have to finish the race. <— words I never thought I’d say
Mile 14: Everything was going to shit. I kept thinking about my 24 mile training run that was so much easier and how I finally worked out all my stomach issues and now I have a shoulder and escalating left knee problem out of nowhere.
Mile 18: Brad and I started taking more walk breaks. He wasn’t doing so well so he told me to go on without him if I thought I could still make a sub-5 hour marathon. So, I did.
Mile 19: The only mile during the whole race where I felt great. No knee pain and my energy kicked up a notch.
Mile 20: Walk breaks aplenty.
Mile 21-24: These miles were on a deserted highway with no crowd support and no bands. The highway had a lot of steady inclines and a nasty headwind that just took everything I had left in me. My knee was so bad after Mile 20 that I felt if I didn’t stop to walk, that my knee would have buckled under me. So for the remaining miles, I ran until my knee couldn’t take it anymore and then walked.
Mile 25: I started to cry. Not because I was about to finish my first marathon, but because my shoulder and my knee were killing me and I finally realized I wasn’t going to make a sub-5 hour marathon after all. I can’t even talk or write about that mile without tearing up.
The last 2/10′s: I was tired but my knee was surprisingly ok right at the end. So, I ran through the finish because there is no way I was going to walk any part of it. I was finally a marathoner and it was kind of bitter sweet.
Although I was properly rested and hydrated, I didn’t feel awesome at any point during the race. I put in 5 hard months of training, I finally solved my stomach problems after a year of making friends with race port-o-potties, and I get taken out by a knee problem I’ve never had before. I never even hit a wall. It’s just that $%#$& knee that held me back. <—- insert your own expletive
By the way, Brad finished too. He didn’t want to take a picture, but I made him.
Around Mile 14, I was sure I was never going to run another marathon. Now, I alternate between never wanting to run another one to wanting to run another one while I’m still trained so I can prove to myself that I’m capable of my goal.
On one hand, I’m so proud I finished something that most people in the world can’t do. On the other hand, it’s hard to accept that I couldn’t achieve my goal, and with all the time involved in training, who knows if I’ll get another chance to find out.
Overall, I had a really great time in Savannah. And I can’t even tell you how awesome Dan is for driving us to Savannah, back to Orlando, and all around town all weekend. The guy is a freakin’ saint. We also had some really fun blogger get togethers that I’ll tell you about in another post. So, thank you Michelle, Dan, and Brad for making my first marathon weekend so memorable! It’s really amazing to have supportive friends with you the whole way. No way I could have done it alone.
Chip time: 1:38:51
Saturday morning started off with a 5:00am wake-up. Since that’s considered “sleeping in” lately, I was confused.
The Miracle Miles 15k is a race benefitting the Center for Neonatology at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Got that? It’s also the official start of my new race season.
I got up, did that thing I do, and headed downtown early so I could pick up my race packet. Traffic was a bitch but I finally parked in hospital Parking Garage C. (<—- remember that, because I didn’t.)
I found Michelle shortly after picking up my race packet, which had one of the nicer technical T’s I’ve seen for a race.
(That’s Michelle’s shirt. She texted me this picture the day before the race. Stolen!)
After the 5k runners started, the 15k runners lined up.
There were a lot of people (about 3,500) and it was like 9th circle of hell muggy. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine that’s the muggiest circle.
Michelle and I took our usual pre-race photos.
Best unplanned photo bomb?
And we were off.
I saw some interesting things during this race including my first blind runner! He totally chicked me and I thought it was awesome. I also saw a girl with hair so long, her braid was flopping against her calves, a girl with hair to the middle of her back running with her hair down, and a girl with a SPIbelt turned backwards and the belt part under her left butt cheek. Just goes to show something different works for everyone I guess.
I also saw a ton of people I know along the course including Michelle’s pace leader, a bunch of pace leaders from my running group, and speedy Running Peanut, Victoria.
I’ve got to remember to take off my headphones after a race. Seriously, have you ever seen lamer looking headphones? They are the only ones that will stay on for me.
The post race was really nice. Good food (bagels from Panera, bananas, watermelon, oranges), lots of booths to visit, and family type stuff like face painting for the kids. Or adults. I guess I didn’t ask. Could have gone for a painted on pirate patch myself.
This race was tough. The heat really beat me down. My Camelbak was empty by mile 7.5 and there weren’t nearly enough water stations (I think I counted 5). I ended up walking about a half mile of the course.
I was hoping for a 10:00 minute mile pace and I got a 10:36. Not horrible, but I hope it’s not an indication that my running has gotten slower since marathon training started.
After the race, I spent about an hour looking for my car. I’m pretty sure I walked an additional 2 miles and successfully found parking garage A, B, and D.
I swear I get lost all the time in my own town. It’s so annoying. Michelle texted me the address for Parking Garage C and I used the GPS on my phone to find it. Then I got lost on the way home.
Overall, I liked the course. It was fun running through downtown Orlando. Plus, the race is cheap and for a good cause. So I guess I could risk heat stroke again…for the children.
That, my friends, is the kinda time you get when it’s the 7th ring of hell humid and you’ve barely run for the past month. It’s hard to believe I ran a 2:03 in Sarasota just a month ago.
Sunday morning started with a 4am wake-up call. Michelle and I did all the pre-race things we do – got ready, ate some breakfast (oatmeal and a banana for me), and got our caffeine on.
This race was the first time I’ve ever seen timing chips like this:
We fastened them on with zip ties but I could still feel it flop around on my shoe through half of the race even though it was on really tight and through several laces. Not a big deal, just not my favorite. At the end of the race, they cut them off and took the chips back.
Michelle and I drove to the park (where the Expo was held the day before) to catch the trolley that took us to the race start. We had NO problem parking and caught the trolley right away.
Side note: Our friend’s Tiffany and Connie ran the 5k. They waited for an hour for the trolley and once they made it to the race, they were closing the starting line because finishers were starting to come in. They almost didn’t get to run. Luckily they did and schooled all the other teams by coming in 17th out of 129. Way to go, ladies!
On the trolley, I enjoyed my second Red Bull before 5:30 am.
Then Michelle and I annoyed other passengers by taking way too many pictures of ourselves. I say, the more pictures you take before your gross and sweaty…the better.
We arrived at Pier 60 and stood in line for the restrooms a couple times during our hour and a half wait before the race started.
People kept staring at Michelle (or her bib?) and we couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was her super-hero like utility belt that she uses to scale walls.
We headed down to the race start where people without bib numbers were just hanging around IN the start line.
There were no corrals but the race start seemed pretty organized for having no organization. A guy just made an announcement for the 6 and 7 minute milers to get toward the front, the 8, 9, and 10 minute milers to get in the middle, and the 11 and 12 min milers and walkers/joggers to get toward the back.
This is all the people standing behind us.
The race started on time and I really didn’t feel like I had to dodge many runners like I normally do. I’m sure this was a sign somehow.
Most of our running areas along the course were really narrow so girls were running outside of the orange cones which slowed cars that I could have touched if I reached my hand out.
Although the picture is blurry, the first bridge is in the distance here. There were three of them. Three horrible, horrible bridges. That didn’t include the rolling hills. For the first time, my hamstrings are sore after a race. The whole race felt like a hill climb. I will never bitch about the Melbourne Half Marathon bridges again.
Pretty sunrise over the first bridge.
Top of the first bridge.
Oh, I saw a LOT of ladies in running dresses (there’s one in the picture below). This was the first time I’ve ever seen one. I want to bring running evening gowns in style. Look for that at my next race.
I know runners look forward to the decline after a bridge – but I thought it was all hard this time around.
Around mile 3.5, blog reader Shawntae recognized my Camelbak (!) and said hello.
Hi Shawntae! Thanks for saying hello. (I hope I spelled that right.)
Don’t worry, I didn’t get totally creepy and stalk you in the race results to get that spelling.
Shortly after the mile 4 marker, I put away my camera. I hate holding things during races and I needed to get out my trusty sweat rag because I’m a disgusting, sweaty woman.
My pace was significantly slower than normal. At my worst, I can run a 10 min mile but I was running a lot of 11 minute and 11:30 minute miles during this race. At Mile 9, I walked for 5 minutes. I also walked leisurely through three water stations. Then I walked for a few minutes at the top of the third bridge (Mile 11) because my heart rate felt too high. I was DYING during the entire race. It was SO hot and uncomfortable.
Best part of the race? Tiffany and Connie stayed after their 5k to cheer for me and Michelle when we crossed the finish!
No clue why I’m still wearing my headphones there, because nothing was playing.
Speaking of the finish, as I was coming in I heard the announcer call my name and then I crossed a big blue area that looked like the finish. So I started walking.
It wasn’t the finish.
I looked up to see photographers and ANOTHER big blue area that was the actual finish. So, I had to start running again. That was SO confusing to me. Tiffany and Connie said that everyone was making the same mistake, so at least it wasn’t heat stroke that was making me see finish line mirages.
Oh, and the Sweaty Band that I bought that the Expo did not stay in my hair. I didn’t even realize it was falling out until Michelle said something. The blog world swears by them and I’m here to tell you…I have not found a headband that can stay on my head.
I did LOVE my new sunglasses and the iFitness belt I bought rocks the pants off of Spibelts.
Michelle and I walked around a little bit after the race and took some pictures.
We waited for about 30 minutes to catch a trolley back to the area where we parked. Then we took cold, uncomfortable showers (not together) because there was NO hot water at the condo.
Before we headed home, we had to get a few pictures. Remember that belt I told you about in the last post?
Let’s look at it a little closer.
Yeah, those are hands.
I love a belt that can double as a fashion statement and a way to show surprise.
Michelle gets cranky if she doesn’t get Starbucks after a race, so we stopped there and I had my first Starbucks drink ever – a tall skinny vanilla iced latte (Michelle’s treat!).
I felt like Mary Louise Parker in Weeds holding this drink.
The latte wasn’t bad, but it’s not my thing. I think next time I’ll stick to their mini-cupcakes.
Overall, this was the hardest half marathon course I’ve done. The heat didn’t help at all and I had a hard time getting through it. But I finished and got my medal and I’m proud of that. Now I can sit back and relax for a couple months before marathon training starts.
Updated to add: A cool thing I forgot to mention about Iron Girl – they email you with your actual race results, not just a link to get your results. I’ve never seen a race do that and thought that was pretty cool.
We all (Michelle, Tiffany, Matt, and I) woke up at 4am for the race so we had time to get ready, have some breakfast, pick up Tiffany’s mom Connie, and get to the race early.
Even though we were really tired from only 4 hours of sleep, we managed to take some pictures. All for the love of the blog, because no way in hell would I normally take a picture of myself unshowered after only 4 hours of sleep.
I would however, take pictures of Tiffany and Michelle that way.
There is no food Tiffany doesn’t love. At all. She is proving that by showing us the nugget of actual poop she ate for breakfast.
On the way to the race, we made a pit stop at 7-11 so Michelle could get some coffee. I’m not sure what the chances are that out of 5 of us, she is the only one that drinks it because it seems like everyone I know lives at Starbucks.
Tiffany and I got our caffeine in Pepsi Zero form. Much healthier.
Michelle forgot her money at the house, so I went in to pay for her coffee with my credit card. I’m not sure what we did – but the clerk told us the coffee was on the house. AWESOME! I know it was only $1.50, but still super cool. Maybe he took pity on us because he saw our race bibs.
We arrived at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center for the race start.
Tiffany and Matt rock because they got me a VIP parking ticket, so we were able to park about 15 feet from the starting line. This turned out to be the best thing ever because it was COLD out.
I know. It’s only Florida. It’s not snowing. But you stand still in 45 degree weather for 30 minutes with just shorts and a t-shirt on and then talk to me.
Michelle and I made a trip to the porta-potty and then high-tailed it back to the car and sat in there with the heat on until 10 minutes to the start. <—— Diary of a Wimpy Blogger
Just before the race started, I decided not to take any pictures. I wanted to focus on running. But I do have some pics from driving the course the day before.
Now, I know I said the Gasparilla Half Marathon had the perfect weather. But I take that back now. THIS race had the perfect weather. A cool breeze the entire time and once the sun came out, most of the course was shaded. PERFECT.
Miles 2- 4 were over the John Ringling causeway and back. The view was beautiful and the incline wasn’t so bad on the way out. But on the way back, there was heavy wind, so my pace slowed considerably and there was a woman making panting noises next to me that made me really worry for her.
The first 6 or 7 miles of the course FLEW by.
Just before Mile 8, some dbag decided to cut off all the runners with his car. Most of the cross streets were police patroled but there were so many, I’m sure they just chose the bigger intersections. I could see the guy was about to cut me (and 3 people behind me) off, so I signaled to him to stop, and he kept going anyway. I had to run around his car at the last minute and was so pissed I slammed my hand on his back window twice and called him a word that rhymes with Rick.
Around Mile 9, my stomach started to hurt. So, I looked for a porta-potty but couldn’t find one. By mile 10 when I finally saw a few near a water station, I decided that I felt a little better and since there was only 5k left, I was going to power through it.
It wasn’t easy. Or fun. But I did it. I crossed the line at 2:02:41 – a personal record by 3 minutes – all without pooping my pants, thank you. I wonder how well I would have done those last miles if my stomach DIDN’T hold me back.
I found Michelle immediately after I crossed the finish – she made a sub-2-hour half! She is a machine. Michelle finished in 1:58:something and we were both rockin’ some PR highs while we made a b-line for the bathroom.
After we got our porta-potty on, we headed back to the finish line to wait for Tiffany and Connie to come in. They PRed too – and got their first sub 2:30. Tiffany was so excited, she started crying tears of running joy. It was really cute to see.
Here’s Tiff and her mom - PRing by EIGHT minutes. Awesome ladies!
We hung around the race finish a little longer to wait for Tiffany’s friend Erika to finish with her hubby. This was Erika’s first half and she finished 15 minutes earlier than her practice half. Personal records for everyone!
The post race set up was really cute. And the food was awesome since it was sponsored by First Watch – bananas, bagels, muffins, fruit/yogurt/granola parfaits, and other stuff I couldn’t see through the mass of people.
Michelle and her bling.
I’m smiling here, but inside I’m dying. Literally. My stomach was trashed all day long after the race.
Ahh, one more laugh out of Charlie Sheen’s fading-fast joke.
Gotta give Sarasota serious props for it’s views.
After the race, I hung around Tiffany’s house for awhile until my stomach felt ok enough to make the drive home. The Hubs and I already had plans to go out with the in-laws for my MIL’s birthday. We went to TGI Fridays, where we usually love the food but almost never go because the service sucks more often than it’s good.
I asked the MIL and FIL to hold up their glasses and take a sip for a picture. This is what I got.
Eh, it’s close.
I had the Mediterranean Fusion Skewers – and it was seriously good. Juuuuust not good for my stomach.
Hubs had the cheeseburger which he said was really good. Before you think, “man. cheeseburger. man like cheeseburger,” he’s actually pretty picky about them.
For dessert, our old favorite, that was unfairly taken away from us years ago, is back on the menu and served on a much longer plate. Oreo Madness.
Why so far away my Oreo friend?
The Oreo Madness wasn’t as good as it used to be. The cookie part was hard and we remember it being much softer before. Plus the chocolate and caramel drizzle used to be on top of the cookie.
Still, that didn’t stop us from doing this.
The MIL may have made a comment that I should just lick the plate already. That’s an invitation if I’ve ever heard one!
The rest of the night was pretty miserable for me. I layed down on the couch fetus-style for most of it, and my stomach still hurt this morning. Now I’m finally starting to feel normal again. Minus the stomach issues, the Sarasota Half is an awesome race. I loved it and it was so fun to run around the town I spent most of my life in. I will definitely be doing it again next year.
Chip Time: 2:16:55 (Boo)
Before heading to Tampa to meet up with Michelle and Dan on Saturday, I went to Best Buy to get this cheapy $30 camera to take pictures during the race.
I just bought a new camera about a month ago that I used during the Melbourne Half Marathon, but I was constantly worried about dropping it, or scratching it, or…breathing on it wrong.
Dropping a $30 camera is ok, dropping a $300 camera…not ok.
We woke up at 4am the morning of the race, got ready, and I had a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. I was still full from the night before, so eating the sandwich sucked. I hate when eating sucks. It’s my favorite thing to do.
I also considered running in Michelle’s new boots to start a new running fashion statement that would sweep the world.
Michelle and Dan assured me this was the lamest idea ever and told me to refrain from talking when possible.
Dan dropped Michelle and I off near the race start (thanks, Dan!) and we had a short walk to the starting line.
We came across this sign.
I don’t think I’ve ever seem them called Porta Johns before. So of course I took a picture. I’m wondering if this picture was a premonition for the race. The sign is saying, “you will spend much time with me today, Paula.”
Michelle pointed at the sign, but I suck at taking pictures and didn’t get the sign in it. So now she just looks like she’s doing our signature pointing picture.
We got to the starting line and it was insanely crowded (and too dark to get a picture). So crowded we couldn’t even walk up to the 2 hour pacer. We were stuck somewhere behind the 2:40.
The race started and instantly had a bottleneck over a bridge that had me running at a 14:00 minute mile pace. This race desperately needs corrals.
The first 40 minutes of the race was pitch black with minimal street lights (the race started at 6am) so I was worried about tripping since I couldn’t really see the ground well.
Once the sun started rising, I started taking pictures. All of my pictures were blurry. Anti-shake my ass. I guess you get what you pay for.
This was the most scenic, beautiful race of all the races I’ve run. I mean, 10 miles of the course was along Tampa Bay. Part of the course was out and back which normally sucks, but it didn’t matter to me this time because it was so pretty.
All the people on our side of the course were going crazy cheering for the other side of the course when the first finishers started running by. That was pretty awesome. And I wonder if they even noticed. They seem so focused and make it look so easy!
Even the breeze was perfect once we got to the Bay, making for perfect weather. Everything was perfect…except for me of course.
I was feeling pretty good for the first 4 miles, but around mile 5 my stomach started to bother me.
During mile 5, I made a dash for the porta john and had my way with it.
I did multi-task during the stop and took a Thermotab and a Buddy Fruit. Here I go again, experimenting with different foods while running. What I learned about Buddy Fruits is they all taste like apple sauce no matter what flavor you get, and I do not like apple sauce.
Only took 34 years to figure that out. I’m special.
After that stop, my stomach was never the same. I made another stop around Mile 10, and considered stopping again around Mile 11.
Every time I got to my goal pace (9:00 – 9:15) my stomach would feel worse. So, I hung back at a 10:30 pace which made me feel slightly less like pooping my pants than the faster pace.
Stopping at a porta john was a first for me during a race. But oh…there were so many other firsts during this race that should be mentioned:
- I left my iPod in the car when Dan dropped us off. First half with no music. (It wasn’t too bad.)
- A random guy started a conversation with me. (I’ve only read about this on other blogs!)
- There was a spectator with his shirt off, twisting it up and snapping women on the butt with it as they ran by.
- TEN different people called my name and cheered me on during the race. (Our names were on our bibs.) AWEsome.
- Toward the end, there was a mime. Just one.
- There were 2 girls that just dropped during the race, one at Mile 7 and one at Mile 12 that were being helped by medical personnel.
- There was a dog with a race bib on – although, I saw him before the race, not during.
- I got goosebumps at Mile 10 (dehydration…not good. I made sure to stop at the water stops as well as use my CamelBak after that.)
- A woman chanting behind me over and over (at Mile 12), “I’m already home. I’m already home. I’m already home.” Whatever gets you through it, Creepster.
After the race, Michelle and Dan found me pretty easily considering the place was jam packed with people. We walked over to get some post-race eats and saw more pretty scenery.
Holy people. There were a LOT of freebies after the race – bananas, bagels, food from The Colombia restaurant, Coke, Dole dried fruit packages, powdered drink packets, fruit cups, 5-hour energy bottles, beer, and bottled fruit drinks.
We grabbed our stuff and were outta there pretty fast. It’s hard for me to hang around after a race when all I want to do is shower, sit down, and eat. And I’m glad Michelle feels the same way!
We got back to hotel and took our showers.
I spotted this on the sheets.
Overall, this was a great race. Scenic, well run, lots of goodies, and cheap ($65). Probably my favorite so far, so this is one I could see doing again.
With that said, I am SUPER bummed about my time. Except for my first half marathon, this was my worst time. I’ve really been wanting a sub-2-hour half and I didn’t get it…again. Around mile 4, I thought I was on track when I caught up to the 2:05 pacer from the 2:40 but everything was downhill from there.
I’m feeling better now mentally, but during the race I just wanted to give up races altogether. There is always something that stops me from my goal. My stomach, my energy level, my mentality, the course, whatever.
My next race is on March 13 in Sarasota. I’m not feeling that race right now. I hope I get my mojo back.
Chip time: 02:11:30
That’s my second to worst time right there. But that’s ok, this was a hard race.
No Expo stories to share with you. I used my friends wisely this time and had Michelle pick up my race packet for me on Saturday. Later I’m going to have her do my dishes and braid my hair.
This morning, I woke up at 4:00 am, got ready, brought my breakfast with me in the car, and headed over to Melbourne (just over an hour drive from Orlando). I met Michelle at the race shortly after 6:00 am and we did what any runner would do. We headed to the port-o-potties. And then took pictures of ourselves.
I think it was during this time that my Garmin decided to lock up and completely reset itself. Everything got wiped. I even had to reset the time.
Michelle said she could hear me setting my Garmin in the port-o-potty.
I like to multi-task.
After my Garmin freak out, we got in the pacer area and took more pictures of ourselves.
Michelle made sure I knew that she planned on running this race in ONE hour. Or she wanted me to pull her finger. One of those.
Getting ready to start!
The race started and the weather was pretty dismal. It was misting for half the race and just overcast and gray. But the views were still pretty.
Michelle’s head to da right!
A few people saw us taking pictures of ourselves and offered to take pictures of us. One guy actually ran backwards in front of us for about a minute to get a good picture with Michelle’s camera. Very cool.
I lost Michelle in all her speediness around mile 4. The race started getting hard around the 5 mile mark when we crossed a never ending bridge.
Can you see the bridge in the distance and gloom?
Apparently the guy in purple runs faster than me too. Get back here!
Getting to the top of the bridge was a relief, but there was another one at mile 11 that wiped me out.
After the first bridge, I put my camera away. Which was a shame really because we ran by some AMAZ-ing houses. There were also 10 bands along the way. I particularly liked the band that was just a violinist and a bongo player named Nuclear Umbrella.
Really? With a name like Nuclear Umbrella, I want everyone to have a mullet, wear skinny jeans, play electric guitars, and try to sleep with me.
The course also had real billboards with inspirational quotes, which were really fun to read (you can tell a lot of money went into this race). My favorite quote that made me laugh out loud:
Shake and bake, baby. If you ain’t first, you’re last. – Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights)
Around mile 9, I started having some serious stomach pains which really worried me. I’ve only recently stopped having stomach issues when running long distance and I do not want them back.
Around mile 11, my hips started to ache, so I was glad the race was almost over.
When I saw the finish line, I gave it all I had. My Garmin said I was running at a 7.8 speed – because I messed up and didn’t set it to “pace” like I meant to after it locked up.
Whoah there lady in green! Celebrating a little prematurely, are ya?
Yes, that’s a sweat rag in my hand. I’m a sweaty girl.
I crossed the finish of my 6th half marathon, and the best part? My friend Liz from high school was there to cheer me on!
I have never had someone waiting for me to finish a race before that was there just for me. It was AWEsome! All I could think about the last two miles of the race was Liz waiting there and I hope I don’t look like a d-bag running to her.
By the way, Liz took those photos of me coming in at the finish above. Thanks, Liz! <3
She also brought Michelle and I some vitamin water and protein bars. She’s so sweet.
Then I made Michelle and Liz pose in a picture. Yes, Michelle and I are really tall.
That guy holding the banana isn’t look so hot behind Liz.
Am I disappointed I didn’t PR? Not really. This was a hard race and I was not feeling well for several miles of it. But I finished.
During the race, a girl in front of me stopped dead because of a leg cramp. After the race, I saw a girl barfing her lungs out, and then I saw more than a handful of people limping. None of that happened to me.
Ok, maybe I did some terrible, terrible things in a port-o-potty – but it happened after the race and not during.
And the medal was super cute.
All things considered, this race was a win.
First off, I’d like to welcome the person that found my site through the search query, “what do you look like when your 6 weeks pregnant.” I’m happy to have you here! Although, I hope you did not find what you were looking for.
Now onto the race.
If you didn’t see my first post on the Warrior Dash, go ahead and click HERE.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Warrior Dash is a 3 mile race with 12 obstacles throughout that are similar to a boot camp. Their slogan is Mud, Sweat, and Beers. So, it’s a fun, challenging race that even has a costume contest (the group dressed up as Street Fighter won) and best beard contest for participants.
A couple things to know if you ever do this race:
- Unless you’re going through one of the obstacles, the terrain is either dirt or grass – or both. So, you need to watch where you’re going. I had a near face plant.
- You don’t want to hold anything during this race because it will get dirty or destroyed. They have a Gear Check area but we just kept everything in the car.
- And for the love of sweet baby Jesus, bring a change of clothes.
Now for the fun stuff.
We got into the 3:30 wave and waited about 15 minutes to start.
Once we were off, we ran about a quarter mile until we started hitting obstacles.
Meow. Check out the costumes to the right.
- Trudging through muddy water.
Pebbles and Bam Bam to the right finished about the same time we did.
- Running through knee-high muddy water.
Best to keep your mouth shut here. Trust me.
- Running over hail bails.
The faster you run, the less you have a chance of sinking.
- Rolling under barbed wire.
Hubs said it wasn’t “real” barbed wire before the race started, so I made sure I got a picture of this:
After rolling (or ducking in this chicks case) under barb wire, we had to jump wooden walls. Duck and jump! This was tiring.
There was a lot of running through mud.
Double knot those shoes, cuz you’ll lose them.
- Balance beam walk.
Much harder when your shoes are caked with mud.
- Climbing up and then down the backside of a rope wall.
That is higher than you’d expect so I was a total wimp and went super slow on the way down.
- Jumping over logs.
Probably the easiest obstacle. I really thought the water would be higher too.
- Mud crawl.
Can you see the canopy? That’s all deep mud in there. We had to crawl through that, and it was DARK and they had low beams you really had to watch out for.
- “Tightrope” climb.
That’s hub’s butt. *cat call!*
- Running through one of the last obstacles, which was the “typhoon.” Basically a muddy lake with a big fan blowing.
Not very typhoony if you ask me.
- At the end, we jumped over fire. That picture must not have come out because I didn’t get it back with the rest of my developed pictures.
- There was also an elbow crawl under barbed wire in muddy water. My whole body, including the camera, were underwater there so I couldn’t’ get a picture. But I think race photos got both the fire jump and the elbow crawl.
So stay tuned for those gems when they are posted.
After the elbow crawl, you sprint to the finish. I’m pretty sure I high-fived about six spectators on the way to the finish line. LOTS of fan support from people who already finished the race which was SO awesome.
Here I am after the race and before the “Warrior Wash” behind me. Don’t get that water in your mouth whatever you do.
We headed to the car to get out of our wet clothes.
Those socks were white.
Still filthy but in dry clothes. Ahhhh…felt so nice. I never knew ears could get that dirty.
The race was SO fun and different. It’s worth the wicked-awesome warrior hat alone. I would definitely do it again and the hubs is already deciding how he wants to dress up next year.
We headed back into the dash site to claim our well-earned free beer.
We hung around for awhile and tried to get our finish times but our names weren’t listed. Oh well. Hopefully that’s not because we totally party crashed the 3:30 wave.
We headed back home after and exhausting but FUN day.
Updated: Click HERE to see pics of the last 2 obstacles.