What an amazing day for a race!
Great weather (if you’re running, a little chilly if you’re spectating), awesome friends (I’m not sure I could love the running community I’m apart of anymore than I already do!), positive attitudes (nothing but smiles at the finish line!), and, of course, one heck of a race. Thank you, Women’s Half Marathon St. Pete, for putting on a great show.
Official finish time: 01:56:37
I decided a while ago that this was going to just be a “fun” race for me. The best part about running a fun race, is all the pressure is off. I had zero butterflies in the days leading up to the race and slept like a baby the night before (if it’s a big race, I usually wake up multiple times through the night convinced I’ve overslept and missed it all). When my alarm went off, I had to remind myself why I needed to get up or risk falling back asleep while “resting my eyes” on my pillow.
I got up, took Maddie out, and made some oats-in-a jar as a pre-run breakfast.
I’m so over bagels and peanut butter. I’ll still force them down when I’m in a pinch at out-of-town races, but when I’m at home I’ve learned that oats and nut butter do the trick just fine. The in-a-jar approach also made the oats extremely portable, I grabbed my breakfast to-go and headed to St. Pete (picking Mary up on the way).
Thanks to Mary, we were able to find a great (free!) parking spot nearby and made it to the starting line with over an hour to spare (whoops, a little too early). It was chillier than we were expecting. The Women’s Half is sort of known for being a hot one (yes, even November races are considered hot down here), but this year’s forecast was looking to change that. The start was right by the water and the current temp was about 10 degrees cooler than what it was when we left our house. We knew it would be great once we were on the course, but – brrrrrr- it was chilly waiting there.
We found a truck to stand next to that, thankfully, took the edge off from the wind. If I had thought enough about it ahead of time, i would have brought a throwaway layer. I was actually kicking myself for not having one. While we waited, we also managed to find Dee in the crowd and say a quick hello.
And, if our outfits are any indication, yes there was a lot of pink out there today.
About 10 minutes before go-time, we headed to the start line.
Mary and I made a pact – we would run together for as long as we could, but if one of us needed to slow down (*cough* me *cough*) it wouldn’t be a big deal if the other one forged on ahead. Neither of us had specifically trained for this race and we had zero expectation as far as pacing or finishing times were concerned. I had a loose goal of finishing ahead of 2:00, but that was about it.
We lined up in our corral, listened to the National Anthem, and started the countdown
And we’re off!
Derek was waiting for us right past the start line.
Love you, babe! See you in 9 more miles!
(Caught mid-kiss blowing. )
Mary and I settled into an 8:30ish pace for the first few miles. We were joking, laughing, and talking about this and that. I love running races with Mary, she still laughs at my bad jokes even after a few miles are behind us (well… either that or her headphones are so loud that she doesn’t hear what I’m saying and takes the smile-and-nod approach. eh. whatever works).
Caroline was super-spectator. Not only is she a local St. Pete resident, but she’s run this course multiple times, so she knew exactly where to catch us on the run. I think I saw her 4 times out there!
One of the great things about running a local race is seeing so many familiar faces on the course. Whether giving a quick wave on a switch back, accepting a water at a water station, or the awesome spectators on the side, I saw dozens of people that I knew and gave a HUGE smile and cheer whenever I saw any of them. There’s definitely several benefits to running a race locally, and the ability to share that experience with so many friends along the way is one of them.
At mile two we took our only bridge of the course over to Snell Island.
I was still feeling really good at this point and started to fantasize about a potential sub-1:50 finish – HA. I tend to run high on adrenaline and coffee the first couple miles of a race and start believing I can hold the rockin’ pace for another 11 miles. What I fail to realize is that I still have a long distance to run and it’s a little too early to start daydreaming.
Callie had posted last night that she and her husband would be cheering runners on at mile 4.5. Starting around mile 3, I started counting down to Mary on when we would see Callie.
“1.5 miles until we see Callie!”
“.75 miles and we should see Callie up ahead.”
“oh, we’re at mile 4.25 – we should start looking for Callie.”
Sure enough, at mile 4.5 on the nose I saw a familiar bump come into view!
We got photos of each other taking photos of one another.
Take a look of Callie holding the camera and her husband being silly in the first photo, and me holding the camera with Mary acting silly in the second. We complete each other.
As soon as we passed Callie the girl next to us told us to tell our friend our how adorable she is with her baby bump and that her sign was perfect. Will do. Wait. What did her sign say? Mary and I were so excited to see Callie and family that we forgot to read her sign!
Luckily, she took a photo and emailed it.
love it! Keep in mind she’s 38 weeks pregnant while holding this.
After we saw Callie, we headed back down the waterway, on our way to the pier.
The pier was my least favorite part of the race. The wind was horrendous and I could barely run a straight line thanks to the strong wind gusts.
Check out those trees! That should give you an idea how awful the wind was.
This is also the portion of the race where I lost Mary. She stayed strong in the wind, while I was starting to struggle. When I saw her pull ahead, I didn’t fight it. I loved running the first 7-8 miles with her, but I had reached my limit at that pace and knew it was time to start letting up on it a little.
We made a left off the bridge and started heading back towards the starting line/ finish area. The course is a little cruel where they take you right by the finish line at mile 9 before sending you back out for another 4 miles. Those last 4 miles felt reallllyyyyyy long after that.
Luckily, I got to see a little piece of sunshine before hitting that final stretch.
More air kisses caught in action.
I stopped for a real kiss too. I needed a little boost before my last four miles.
I was feeling tired at this point, and was just ready to be done. Not going to lie, those last miles weren’t great. The stretch downtown felt really long, then there’s a run around a really big lake, and, when you’re done running around the lake, they take you another half mile down the road to Tropicana Field where you get to do a giant lap of both the field and the parking lot.
Running around the field was pretty cool. Derek and I have gone to a couple of baseball games here, so it was fun to get the full view of the place from the ground.
The only problem was that after running 10+ miles on asphalt, my feet weren’t digging the artificial turf. My pace slowed a little bit on the field, but it wasn’t a big deal.
I began to perk up after I emerged from the field, it was a straight shot to the finish line from there!
I fed off of the energy from the crowd and just rode that energy home. The course was only handing Gatorade out every other water station (I hate that! Why not every water station?!?!) and I really wanted Gatorade! I knew there would be bottles and bottles of Gatorade at the finish line and told myself I could have as much Gatorade as I wanted after I crossed that finish line. I was bribing myself with Gatorade to get to the finish, and it seemed to be working.
I turned right when I got to the water and watched as the finish line came into focus. I could hear the announcer calling out names. I had no idea what my time was and I didn’t care. I knew the 2:00 pace group was a good ways behind me after the last switch back and that’s all I needed to know. I saw Callie and gave her a nod – my eyes were on the prize.
I looked for Derek, but he was lost in the crowd somewhere. However, he managed to spot me.
Check out that smile – do you think I was happy to be done or what?
The announcer called my name a good 15 seconds before I crossed the finish line. I wanted to say – wait! I’m not quite there yet! Since I wasn’t shooting for a personal best, I sort of took my time making it across. I didn’t speed up or gun it in the last 50 yards. I just tried to soak it all in and finished in a nice and easy jog – lifting my hands up slightly for the camera and pausing my Garmin after hitting the first mat.
Done. I wasn’t breathing heavy, limping, or holding my sides. I was just done – plain and simple – and I was happy just to be that.
(photo courtesy of Mary)
Mary was waiting just on the other side of the finish line. She had finished a few minutes before I had and was pleased with her no-pressure approach to the race.
We continued through the finish chute and picked up our adorable medals courtesy of some amazing men in uniform (we made sure to thank them for both the medal and their service).
LOVE the medals. They’re so girly and big. The perfect amount of flash and bling.
I also got that Gatorade I promised myself. So happy this was a Gatorade course and not Powerade. Gatorade is about a million times better in my personal opinion.
Did I forget to mention the tent of Publix cookies?!
This must be what heaven is like.
I had a chocolate chip and a sugar cookie. Yum. Yum. Yum.
We didn’t stay long after the race. We said some quick hellos, but it was chilly and we needed some dry clothes stat! We warmed up at a local Starbucks with some hot coffee and a quick change of clothes, then headed to Harvey’s to meet our group for brunch.
Seeing the Mini Athlete smile is always a highlight of any day.
For brunch, I ordered the three egg breakfast (scrambled with ham and fruit) and a blueberry pancake on the side.
By the time we got our food I had crossed the finish line three hours prior and couldn’t scarf my meal down fast enough. It was exactly what I needed and I licked my plate clean.
Strange to think that the next time I see Callie she’ll be a mom of two! I’ve already promised to visit her in the hospital armed with cupcakes, Publix subs, and whatever else she craves post-labor. Want to have a new-mom love you for life? Bring them good food after they give birth. We brought Publix subs right after Mini Athlete was born and she hasn’t ditched me yet!
Love these girls!
Such a fun morning. Despite my lackluster attitude in the last few miles, I really did enjoy the Women’s Half Marathon St. Pete course. It was flat and fast, and if I had been training for a PR today, I bet it would have happened. However, I think I prefer the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Pete course a smidgen more (it’s basically the same route, just backwards). I liked having the downtown portions out of the way at the beginning at Rock ‘n’ Roll (instead of dragging on at the end) and liked the ending portion by the park. I didn’t dig the point-to-point set-up of the course for Rock ‘n’ Roll, so in that aspect Women’s Half wins.
Congrats to all the finishers today! Whether it was your first race, a new PR, or something you did just for fun, I hope you’re all soaking up that post-race glow.