Category Archives: Race Reviews

Gasparilla Half Marathon 2013

My last half marathon of the race season was yesterday. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I love racing but happy because I need a little break. I gotta admit, for the past two weeks, I did not want to run this race. Once I knew how hot it was going to be, my motivation was killed. I even thought about skipping it but I already paid for the race entry and the hotel and I just can’t waste money like that.

I ran Gasparilla in 2011 and again in 2012.  It’s extremely well managed and one of my faves. Plus, the race has killer medals.

I almost missed the start because of some early morning tummy trouble. Then, because of the extreme humidity, I decided to start in the second wave (2hrs+) instead of the first wave (-2hrs) that I signed up for.

It’s really hard for me to breathe in 1000% humidity and Tampa was laying it on thick. The air even looked like you could cut it with a knife. I saw so many people in the long-sleeved race shirts (and one girl with a garbage bag on) and I just didn’t get it. It was HOT.

Thankfully, it was overcast the entire race. If the sun had peaked through the clouds, I would have surely punched someone. Or myself.

Water stops were at every mile, which was really appreciated. I started walking through them all after mile 4.

Around mile 6, my nose started bleeding. That was a first. My nose runs when I run (I guess it’s just being really supportive), so maybe I was just wiping it too much? That took a good mile to get under control.

Somewhere around mile 10, a 65-ish year old woman, who couldn’t have been more than 4’11”, passed me. I was going to get a picture of her schooling me, but I didn’t want to relive that shame.

I pretty much struggled the whole race and barely wanted to be there. It was part burn-out, part weather, and part that it just sucked to be there alone with no one to share it with. I was so happy when it was over that I grabbed my goodies and left.

I walked about a half mile back to the hotel, took a shower, packed my stuff, and made the two hour drive home.

Finish time: 2: 16: 06

You’d think with as many races as I do, there would be more good ones. I mean, I’m not even 50/50 here. I can probably count my truly good races on one hand. Anyway, the race wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but my day got exponentially better when I went to see Pink last night. But I’ll save that for the next post. 🙂

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Orlando Half Marathon 2012

I survived half marathon #14 on Saturday.

Let’s just say my lungs haven’t had that much action in awhile. I ran the race two years ago in 2:05: 38 and I knew that wasn’t going to happen this year. Luckily for me, Michelle is 17 weeks pregnant and slow. Smile

Instead of doing a full review, I’m gonna send you over to read Michelle’s recap. Her race was my race. Plus, you’ll get to see an awesome picture of me and a banana. What I will say is that I had a great time running an entire race (finally!) with my chauffer. I had a whole new playlist ready to go on my iPod and never turned it on. So I must have had some pretty good company.

We made it to the race just in time for me to make Michelle recreate a picture from two years ago that she doesn’t even remember taking.

This year:

2010

There was also time for me to be vain and make her take a picture of me.

We had a few walk breaks and a 5-minute port-o-potty stop. I was just happy I didn’t have the flu and was able to run the race. I felt good the whole time and never felt like I was putting in a large amount of effort (which was intentional since I didn’t want to overdo it). My legs were still killing me in the later miles because of Crossfit the day before. (I know. But this wasn’t a PR race.)

Since a time goal wasn’t on my radar after being sick and slacking on training, I set a new goal to not PW (personal worst). I’d like to keep my first half marathon as my slowest, thank you. And I did. By four minutes. We finished the race in 2:25:28. We’ve been joking about holding hands while we crossed the finish line for years now. Soooo we may have done that for what is sure to be the worst (or best?) race picture ever.

After we finished, we found Michelle’s husband and friend Tracy and hung out for a bit at the after party.

 

I got proof that Michelle does in fact wear her iFitness belt under her boobs.

That is something right there.

I also got to recreate our other picture from two years ago. #goalaccomplished

I skipped a breakfast invite with Michelle’s family to go to Crossfit with hubs. My trainer promised to stretch me if I came to see him, so while hubs worked out, I got stretched and foam rolled. Yes, I am so terrible at stretching that I paid someone to do it for me. It hurt like a bitch and I actually broke a sweat, which I didn’t even think was possible, but I’m sure I’d be in much worse shape today if I didn’t have that done. My legs are still super sore.

I had a really great race and now it’s time to get back on track for my next half in January.

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Race Review: UCF 5-Miler

Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early to run the U Can Finish 5-miler at the University of Central Florida. I don’t think it’s ever been easier to get to a race. I met my chauffer at her house around 6:45 and she was very excited to see that I was celebrating Movember early this year.

(Thanks for the picture, M.)

We left around 7:00 and her husband, Dan, dropped us off at the UCF Arena around 7:15. (I love when Dan drives us to races. Makes things so easy!)

We were running a little late but we never ran into traffic which was a big win. We had 15 minutes to kill before the race started so we hung around the extremely uncrowded pacer area and waited.

While we waited, we ran into a few friends, including my cutie pie Tower of Terror buddy, Danielle.

The race started on time – without a National Anthem. That was kinda weird. At least, it was pretty obvious for me it was missing. I think this is the only race I’ve done where it wasn’t played.

I was feeling wicked awesome the whole time. That’s right. WICKED awesome. It was so fun to run around campus and try to remember which class I took in which building as I passed by. Plus, the campus is so pretty it almost made me wish I was back in school.

For the first mile or so, I constantly checked my Garmin. I noticed I was running around a 9:00 pace and that kinda freaked me out because it’s a little faster than I thought I would run. I was aiming for a 9:30, so if I see that I’m running faster than what I think I should be, I worry about burning out. Then my mental game starts. So I stopped checking my Garmin unless I felt like I was slowing down because I can de-motivate myself easily. I figured as long as I was passing people and they weren’t passing me, I was doing ok.

I guess that strategy worked because I have never run anything this consistently in my life. I have no idea how this happened.

I finished in 45:45 (a 9:08 average). Considering I was hoping for a 47 – 48 minute race, I consider that a big win. Plus, I’ve never run a 5 miler before, so instant PR!

Now, I just need to figure out how to keep up that pace for a half marathon and I will have my coveted sub-2:00. The HIIT  workouts I’m doing seem to be working, so I’ll keep that up and see what I can do in November at the Space Coast half.

After the race, we ran into more friends (some managed to evade my camera). I swear I felt like I knew everyone. This must be what it was like for Norm when he walked into Cheers. ( < — too old a reference? Probably. But I’m old and that’s what you get.)

This was a really fun, really well-organized race. I’ll definitely do this one again next year. Oh, and apparently I missed out on the beer at the end, so I’m going to need redemption for that. No beer left behind.

***

The Giveaway: Tiffany guessed my time EXACTLY.

Tiffany, I emailed  you yesterday and the email was kicked back as undeliverable. So email me at eatwatchrun@gmail.com to claim that super sweet gift certificate. I’ll give you a week or so to contact me until I pick the next closest, which was just 3 seconds off! You guys are good at guessing!

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Winter Park Road Race 2012

Saturday morning, I ran the Winter Park Road Race Distance Dare (10k plus 2). Friday afternoon, I went to see Hunger Games with my best friend. Then we went to dinner at Ale House so we could get our nerd on and chat about all the things we loved and didn’t love about the movie. During our conversation, I had one six too many of these.

Why yes, that is my first Instagram picture, thanks for noticing. And no, that’s not water. Unless you count the ice. Then it’s totally water.

I knew drinking the night before a race was a bad idea but I was having so much fun I couldn’t help myself. I made sure to drink a lot of water along with the alcohol, so that’s something. Then hubs reminded me that I drank and ate much worse in Vegas when I ran the half marathon and that was a longer distance, so I was good to go. (He’s a helpful guy like that.) The fun continued when I ordered another pre-race tummy no-no, the Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure, also known as the greatest dessert in the UNIVERSE.

That dessert went really well with my mini Mint Oreo Blizzard earlier in the day. Smile  Anyway, just know that fun was had all day long, little sleep was gotten, and Saturday morning reared it’s ugly head for a 5:45 wake-up.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel great (surprise, surprise), so I didn’t eat breakfast because I wasn’t sure if I could keep anything down. Instead, I chugged some water, got ready, and waited for Michelle to pick me up.

We made the 15 minute drive to the race start, found parking pretty quickly, and had over a half a mile walk to the start of the first race – the 2 miler. We made it with 5 minutes to spare, cut in front of people at the front of the start line (since there was no start timing, only finish) and we were off.

By the time I got to the first mile marker, I was sure I had already run a mile and a half. That and the fact that eight year olds were passing me the whole time was a little disconcerting. Clock time for the first mile said 8:08 which made me feel all fast and giddy for about 3 seconds. Then I remembered I still had a mile left and wanted to die.

2 Mile Finish: 17:39 (8:50 pace)

Thankfully they had cold water bottles after the 2 miler because I was so thirsty. I took two of them, chugged one, and kept the other one for the 10k. Then I found Michelle chatting with an old co-worker that she randomly ran into. We all talked for a couple minutes and then made our way to the 10k start. (We had a little over 10 minutes between the end of the 2 miler and the start of the 10k.)

We got in the 8:30 pacing area, which is the pace I run in my dreams, so I guess that counts in reality. That’s when we noticed we were behind this guy.

Yeah, those shorts are pinned on both sides so they don’t fall down. Time for new shorts, my friend.

I gotta say, that 2 miler really pooped me out. I was feeling better finally but I was not in the mood to race a 10k at that point. So, I didn’t. I ran what felt comfortable. Sometimes I felt a burst of energy and went faster, sometimes my legs felt heavy and I went slower. A lot of the race was on uneven brick roads, so I spent my time trying not to faceplant.

The course was mostly shaded and I was really familiar with it since it’s where all my training runs with Marathonfest happened last year. It was nice to run some familiar roads. There were a lot of hills, which I didn’t expect. I’m pretty sure my group planned our runs around those because I would have been bitching about them way more last summer if I had to run them all the time.

10k Finish:  1:03:56  (I’m too lazy to figure out that pace. 10:20 ish?)

I know I can race that in under an hour. Maybe next year I’ll try not to drink all night beforehand and make that happen. Either way, that’s a PR because I’ve never run an official 10k before.

After the race, we found Michelle’s friend again. He just ran his first full marathon a couple months ago in Miami.

Someday I’m going to remember to take my headphones off for pictures.

Shortly after, we found Michelle’s husband, Dan, who was there to drop off the kids because he had to get to work. After Dan left, the four of us headed over to the VIP area that Michelle paid extra for because the proceeds go to charity there was beer.

I didn’t pay for VIP, so I stood on the outside of the fence looking in like a lost puppy. I waited with the kids while Michelle got her beer and when she came back, Livie really wanted a sip. I took this picture about 2 seconds after Michelle told her no.

I look the SAME way when I can’t have beer.

We hung around for a bit and did our picture thing. (One metal for the 10k and one for the Distance Dare.)

B played on his iPad the whole time and ignored everything around him while Livie flirted with 2 different guys and fist-bumped 8 strangers twice. The girl is not shy. I would totally take her out with me if I wanted to pick up some guys but not do any of the work.

Then, my favorite race picture of all time happened and my race season was complete.

I was all over that Nesquik bunny. Poor guy.

Overall, I really liked this race. It’s a nice course, close to home, the post race party is fun and has bunnies, and they give you a lot of goodies including an extra medal and a glass for everyone that completed the Distance Dare.

Michelle and I both agreed we’d do this race again, but will probably skip the 2 miler and just stick with the 10k next year.

When I got home, I was feeling especially energetic so I joined the Over-Exercising Bloggers Club and went to Crossfit with the hubs. I thought I’d share this workout since you don’t need any equipment for it. (Pretend your jump roping if you don’t have one and do it as fast as you can (with good form) for a good cardio workout.)

That workout took care of any energy I had left.

So this race officially ends my race season. My next race isn’t until the end of September and there’s only one other I have my eye on for now. I’m not planning my races in advance this year like I did last year. I think I want to do some fun destination races next, but I’m not sure where. So, we’ll see how it goes.  🙂

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Race Review: Navy League 5k

I’m not a big fan of 5ks. Nothing against them, but if I’m getting my butt out of bed early to race, you better believe I want to run more than half an hour if I’m going to lose my beauty sleep. So, I’ve only done 2 others besides this one: one was my first race ever and the other was a holiday themed race through Sea World where I got to wear a Hello Kitty shirt and jingle bells. (Priorities, right?)

My work was one of the sponsors of this race. We manned the water station at mile 1.5 and even had our company listed on the back of the t-shirts, which I thought was super-nerdy-awesome-cool. All of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project and Lone Sailor Memorial Project of Central Florida, so when I was asked if I wanted to run, I thought it would be kinda cool. Plus, I got to race with some peeps from work.

Left to right: Carla (VP of the department I work in), me (total peon), Ray (CEO), and Ray’s wife.

The race took place at Lake Baldwin, which is about 15 minutes from my house.

This was the first race that I’ve been to where it seemed like the National Anthem actually meant something to the runners. Usually, people don’t pay attention and are talking through it, which I know I have been guilty of. So it was nice to see that it was heart-felt.

The DJ announced that we should make our way to the start line, so Carla and I just followed the crowd because we had no idea where the start was or what was going on.

After a 5 minute walk, we spotted it. So official. 😉

The race started with some type of gun shot that scared the crap out of me and we were off. I carried my camera during this race and it reminded me how much I hate carrying my camera when I’m running. I took one picture only of the girl that was in front of me for most of the race.

I was putting in a good amount of effort trying to keep up with her. She lapped me in the end. (TWSS) After the race, I saw her walking around with a baby, so the girl that just gave birth not only kicked my butt in the race, but now the only picture I took is evidence of that. Awesome.

The crowd was pretty fun near the finish line. I think I got about 5 high-fives from this crew.

In the end, my Garmin had 2.91 miles in 25:50 minutes. There was no actual race timing since this was a fun run for charity. If there had been (or it had actually been a 5k for that matter), I would have PRed by over a minute. Figures, right?

I hung out in the shade at the end, took a picture of myself while some woman laughed at me, and waited for Carla and Ray to finish.

This marks the first time I’ve ever waited for someone at the end of the race. It’s usually the other way around. Felt goooood. 🙂

Once everyone finished, we met up with another co-worker, Stephani, and her daughter (who helped run our water station) for one last sweaty picture.

The race was a lot of fun and I love that my work is a sponsor. Now if they could only pay me to do these, I’d be set.

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Race Review: Sarasota Half Marathon 2012

I’d say race morning started with a wake-up call, but it didn’t. Our hotel wake-up call was an hour late because of Daylight Savings. I woke up on my own 3 minutes after the call was supposed to come. I said Michelle’s name when I realized the alarm didn’t go off, and I swear she shot straight up in bed like a vampire rising from a coffin. No back bend or anything. Straight up from the hips using abs only. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Michelle’s back-up Jimmy Fallon ring tone went off about a minute later, so at least we wouldn’t have missed the race. (If you don’t have that app, it’s worth the $1. Get it!) Then 15 minutes later, our annoying neighbors were up and arguing again and I yelled at them to shut up. Fun.

After getting ready, we drove about 2 miles to the race start at Van Wezel where parking was almost too easy, just like it was last year. We walked up to the starting line and had to make our way through all the runners to get closer to the 2 hour pacer. (Not that I needed him, of course.)

I had been feeling pretty good about this race all week long, especially after Gasparilla last weekend. That is, until Saturday. I’m not sure what happened, but my will to PR kinda went out the window. Of course, I was still going to try anyway but something changed with my mood and I still felt that way Sunday morning.

(I look so tired there.)

After a pretty terrible sounding National Anthem, we were off. The course was the same as last year, except this time we ran around St. Armand’s Circle instead of turning around just before it and some of the neighborhood miles were shortened a bit. Mile 2 and 4 involved going over this bridge.

(source)

I was feeling ok for the first 2 or 3 miles, but coming back over the bridge really took a lot out of me. That’s when my mental state took a nosedive, not that it was great to begin with. It was also really difficult for me to breathe for the first 7 miles because it was so humid. I felt like I couldn’t get enough oxygen, so my speed slowed. Every time I looked at my Garmin, I was at a 11:30 pace. I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal early on because I didn’t feel like I had it in me.

After mile 5, I gave up mentally. Every song on my iPod was pissing me off so I ran without music. Not even the spectators dressed as bacon and eggs cheered me up. I suck at running in hot weather, so that wasn’t doing me any favors. Either was my lack of sleep, my running shoes, or my stomach issues that started at mile 9. But really, I could blame my performance on so many things. The fact is, I couldn’t do it. And I’m not getting faster.

I have a really big problem getting past mental blocks. Unlike Michelle, once my state of mind plummets, I don’t try harder and it doesn’t challenge me to break though that barrier. I just shut down and give up. So after mile 5, I didn’t even see the point of running the race when I didn’t have a shot of improving upon past races.

At mile 12, the 2:15 pacer passed me and I was all:

Around that time, I had a side cramp that forced me to walk for a bit and my stomach was still on the decline.

During the final stretch, some tall, thin, fast lookin’ dude ran past me and said something like, “come on, you can catch that 2:15 pacer” and I wanted to punch him. I ran slowly for a few minutes while my side stitch went away and noticed the pacer wasn’t that far in front of me, so I just decided to take that guy’s advice. There was no way she was crossing that finish line before me. So I booked it.

I probably passed about 7 different people down the finisher’s shoot – including that stupid pacer – to finish in 2:14:45.

Michelle was waiting for me at the end of the finisher’s shoot. She PRed by 37 seconds for a 1:58 (on the dot) finish! I was super proud of her and glad one of us made our goal. Now, she has the world’s ugliest metal to remind her of it.

We’re going to make our dolphin metals kiss later.

The finish party was just like last year with all sorts of food from First Watch like bananas, bagels (with peanut butter!), muffins, and yogurt parfaits.

And this time we found the beer.

And we found Theresa and Ryan. 🙂

Overall, I still really like this race. I like the course and I like being back in Sarasota. It feels like being back home.  The course is also really accurately tracked. My Garmin (and Michelle’s) read 13.11 miles at the end. It’s really nice to pass a mile marker and then look down and see your pace coming up on the screen.

Of course, I was super disappointed in my time and I say this knowing that some of you would kill to run a 2:14 and others would kill to not be injured and just be able to run. Well, I would kill to run anything under 2:02. But I guess there’s always next season. It’s not like I’m going to stop running.

So, the last half marathon of the race season is done and hopefully I’ll see that sub-2:00 later this year.

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Race Review: Gasparilla Half Marathon 2012

Saturday morning, after running around trying to get last minute chores done and last minute packing done, I headed over to Michelle’s place to pick her up and leave for Tampa. The drive kinda sucked (for me) because it was so windy that I could feel my little car blowing to the side with every wind gust the whole time. But we made it to the hotel safely, checked in to our room with one king size bed (bow chicka bow bow), dropped off our stuff, and walked over to the expo.

The expo was your basic expo, and by the time we got there most of the vendors were packed up or packing up. Michelle grabbed some Cliff Shots and an iFitness belt, I drooled over the Saucony Cortana’s, and we were outtie.

After taking our stuff back to the hotel and inadvertently getting stuck in a whirlwind of 6’7” hot groomsmen (now I know what it’s like to be short!), we went back out for an early dinner – mainly because we were both already starving.

Dinner was at Pizza Fusion, a place Michelle found online a few days earlier. And man, the place was good. We both had a half salad (pear and Gorgonzola for me).

We also shared some stuffed sausage and goat cheese mushrooms.

And we each had our own individual pizzas on a whole grain crust. I was in the mood for pepperoni, which Michelle thought looked like nipples. I’m not sure what kind of nipples she’s been exposed to, but I was concerned.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and the weather was still super windy (wind gusts up to 30mph, I think?), which worried me about the race conditions.

We were in bed pretty early (yes, together) and after a dream that we missed the race, I was relieved when we woke up on time. Then I was pissed that we woke up on time. I realize I’m never happy. It was 4:15am after all. And this girl does not do mornings.

We got ready, left for the race, and just missed a mini-monsoon before walking out the door. We wore trash bags to keep warm and dry and ended up pitching them right before the start.

This year, Gasparilla had 2 corrals – one for finishers in 2 hours or less and one for finishers over 2 hours. It was an improvement from last year’s pace markers, but the start was still congested. I think they need more corrals and maybe a waved start next year. Also, I couldn’t understand anything the announcer was saying through the loudspeaker, so I assumed the race started when we all started moving forward. We were in the first corral, which was closer to the speakers, so I’m sure no one could hear anything behind me.

During the race, I didn’t get into my running groove until mile 4 and even then it only lasted for about 2 miles. Honestly, I didn’t feel like running. So knowing I had 7 more “meh” miles to go really sucked. At mile 5, I ran past the port-o-potties I had to stop at last year and was glad my stomach was feeling ok. Not great, but ok. That’s when I had my first half of a PB&J.

While I was running, I was trying to remember what was going through my mind when I ran all of my faster races last year. Then I remembered that I “talked” to my legs. A LOT. If I noticed I was slowing down, I would “tell” my legs to go a little faster. So, that’s what I did through the entire race. I don’t even remember most of my music which was playing the whole time, because all I can remember is talking to my legs and being grateful that the wind wasn’t that bad. For the time being.

There were no timers on the course and I didn’t see a mile sign until Mile 6. I think after that, I saw a sign for mile 8 and 12. There were plenty of water stations and a ton of awesome volunteers. I had my Camelbak on, so I only stopped at 2 water stations but they were completely prepared for the amount of runners, which was nice for a change. (Hear that Rock ‘n’ Roll Series?)

After the turnaround, the wind gusts got pretty ridiculous. At times, the gusts slowed my pace by a minute and a half and I would just try to run through them the best I could. Despite the wind, I was loving being on a familiar (and beautiful!) course because I knew when I was close to the finish and when I should push a little harder.

About a mile to the finish, I knew I was going to make my goal of beating last year’s time. So then it just became a competition with myself to get a “10” in my finish time. And I just made it, coming in at 2:10:52 with a 9:59 pace. That’s 6 minutes faster than last year and over 7 minutes faster than any half I’ve ran in a year.

I gotta say, this race was hard. There wasn’t a point where I wasn’t putting in max effort for how I was feeling. Usually during a half, I have about 7 good miles where they coast by with little effort. No mile was awesome or effortless. Every mile just was.

After the race, I collected my coveted medal.

And found Michelle.

Just like last year, there were so many goodies after the race – bananas, bagels, fruit cups, Coke products, 5-hour Energy bottles, beer, and bowls of hot black beans from Colombia Restaurant.

We only hung around for a short time. My feet hurt, I was limping from another pair of crap shoes, and we were cold and ready for a shower (not together). We left Tampa for another windy ride home. I dropped Michelle off and then when straight to the running store and returned my shoes…for the third time. So long Mizuno Wave Rider 15s.

Overall, this is still my favorite race.  I love the course, the goodies, and it’s run so efficiently. I’ll definitely do this one again.

Next week, I run the Sarasota Half Marathon which holds my PR from last year (2:02:41). I’m not crazy enough to think I can shave over 8 minutes off my time from this week for a new PR, but this is the last half of the race season, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t give it my best shot. No promises, though.

 

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Race Review: Miami ING Half Marathon

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.

I asked Michelle and Melissa to walk in front of me and turn around for a picture. I swear to you they both started running. Who does that?

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.

(source)

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.

(source)

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. Smile

(source)

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. Smile

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Race Review: Jacksonville Bank Marathon

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.

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Race Review: Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

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.

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