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First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon

by Meghann on March 17, 2013

The dolphin medal is mine!


Seriously. How awesome is this bad boy?


I may or may not have signed up for the Sarasota Half Marathon because of the ridiculously oversized dolphin medal promised at the finish line. As far as medals go, it’s pretty bad ass. It’s huge, it’s heavy, the ribbon is a fun color, and the design is so different from any other race I’ve done. Let’s just say it was worth waking up at 4:30am and running 13.1 miles for.

This was not an easy race for me. I was undertrained, my stomach was giving me issues (i’ll get to that in a minute), and I just wasn’t mentally there. But when things got bad I just remembered the crazy medal and that’s what got me through the finish line. Come hell or high water, I was getting that dolphin medal.

This wasn’t just a medal I walked away with, this is one I freakin’ earned.


Race morning started with an alarm, a huge cup of coffee, an english muffin with peanut butter, and a little green.


Since this was a St. Patty’s Day race, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get pinched! The whole week leading up the race I kept telling myself I needed to buy a green outfit to run in, but kept forgetting to get to the store. For some reason I was certain I didn’t have a lick of green in my running collection. Turns out I was wrong. Last night I was able to find green lined Lululemon shorts, a green sports bra, and a green Brooks mesh shirt. I guess I had more green in my wardrobe that I thought!

Kelly and I were out the door before 5:00am in order to make it to Sarasota before 6:30. The race didn’t start until 7:00, but since we were doing race day pick-up we wanted to give ourselves a good buffer. I grabbed my coffee and peanut butter english muffin for the road. I’ve had similar combos before plenty of races/ long runs in the past, so I figured I would be fine. I’ve also never had any stomach issues during a race and thought I had a stomach of steel. Apparently there’s a first time for everything.

My stomach started feeling funky about an hour into the drive. We made a pit stop at a gas station and I felt fine after that, but the closer we got to the start line, the less fine it felt.

We hit traffic about 2 miles from the start line. The cars were moving slooooowwwly and I was jealous of all the cars that I assumed knew the area and were pulling off on side streets to find spots. I started getting really anxious and after 5-10 minutes of not moving at all, so I decided to bail and try the side streets too. Bam. We found an off-the-street parking spot within a minute of leaving the lines of cars AND we could hear the race announcer from our spots (= short walk). Success!

Grabbing our bibs and shirts took no time at all. It was the porta potty lines that ate up our time, but that’s to be expected in any race. My stomach still wasn’t feeling hot. Walking to the start line, I wasn’t sure my body fully understood I was about to run a half marathon. It felt off, not exactly how you want to feel when you’re less than 5 minutes from go time.


I decided to just start the race and see what happens. My very loose goal was to run a sub:2 half (that’s pretty much my goal for every half marathon I don’t specifically train for). If I had to stop and walk or take breaks, no big deal. I had zero expectations at the start, especially with an uneasy stomach.

Kelly and I have done so many races together that there’s a mutual understanding between the two of us that we always start together and whatever happens, happens. If one of us starts falling behind for whatever reason, that person is okay with the other pulling ahead or vice versa. Usually one of us is having a good race day, while the other is having a not-so-great race day. (Hint: I was NOT the one having a good race day today).


We lined up with the 9:00 min/mi runners and counted down with the crowd.




I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline of being surrounded by so many runners taking off at once, but I felt a lot better once the race started. Kelly and I took off with the crowd and just went for it.

Just after mile 1, we started our ascent up John Ringling Causeway (aka the one big bridge of the race).


Going over the first time, the bridge wasn’t bad. Kelly and I powered over it and actually ended up averaging an 8:20 pace that mile (my fastest mile of the race – go figure!). The views were gorgeous. The sun was just starting to rise over the water and you could see shades of purple, red, and orange filling the side.

Once we got to the other side of the bridge, we were back on flat land and on our way to St. Armand’s Circle, an adorable part of Sarasota filled with cute shops and restaurants. I need to come back to Sarasota sometime and hang out here.


We hit mile 3 around this point and I could feel my stomach starting to act up again. However, Kelly was on fire. She had a really frustrating run the other week and kept saying this was her come back race to get out all of that frustration. I knew we weren’t going to be together much longer.

We started back towards the bridge to head back to the mainland. This was an out and back portion, so we could see the rest of the runners heading towards the circle. I distracted myself by looking for friends who were running the race (sadly I didn’t see any familiar faces!).

I decided to keep with Kelly until the bridge, then urge her to go on ahead. I needed to do the rest of the race on my own, without the pressure of holding a certain pace. She ran off (still looking strong!) and I took my time enjoying the amazing views on the way back over.




I think she read all of our minds.


We hit mile 5 after the bridge, then looped back past the start line to finish the run the remaining miles through the neighborhoods to the north. There was a good amount of crowd support here.


There was also a relay exchange point. Does anyone else become extremely jealous of the finishing relayers when ever you pass an exchange point during a race?! Just me?


Mile 6 was not a good mile for me. My stomach was churning and a bathroom break was needed. Luckily a set of porta potties appeared just in time.


I felt soooo much better after the minute pit stop. So so so much better. I’m not sure I’ve ever had to make a pit stop during a half marathon before, but it was totally worth it. I ran away feeling like a whole new person.

Mile 7 was pretty uneventful, just a straight shot down the main road in Sarasota.


Just before mile 9 we turned a corner and I knew it was time to start slowly making our way to the finish line – yes! There was a fuel station with GUs and I grabbed an espresso flavored one. I completely forgot to bring any sort of fuel with me today and was kicking myself for it around mile 5 (this is a BAD habit I’ve developed for races recently). The fuel at mile 9 was desperately needed and appreciated.


Crazy hair!


This wasn’t a terribly spectator heavy course, but the spectators that were on the course were AWESOME. They never lacked in energy and motivation.




Dear Lululemon girls who were handing out frozen grapes at mile 12…


The next time I spectate a race, I’m bringing frozen grapes to hand out. Next to be handed an icee pop at the San Diego Marathon, the frozen grapes were my favorite thing I’ve ever been handed on a race course. They were perfect – cold, icee, and a great distraction from the mile I still had left to run. I grabbed a handful and savored every one.


I can’t tell you how ready to finish I was when I turned the corner and started heading towards the finish line.


The Sarasota Half has a great finish. Right before you make the final turn to the finish line, the crowds start to multiply and grow louder, almost like they’re pulling you into the finish chute.


Then you make the final turn and the crowds kind of explode.


It’s a straight shot from there.


Final finish time: 1:56:32

Screen shot 2013-03-17 at 4.41.53 PM.png

Considering how horrible I felt at the start and in the middle of this race, I’m happy with my time. It’s no PR (actually, it’s a full 11 minutes slower than my PR!), but it’s a race I wasn’t really trained for and had no expectations going into. I think races are all about pushing your limits on that particular day. Today, 1:56:32 was about all the limits I had in me.


I found Kelly at the finish line. She came in at an impressive 1:50:04. Go Kelly!


Overall we both really enjoyed this race. The course was gorgeous, well marked, and not overcrowded. Besides the bridge, it was a relatively flat course and definitely PR-able. They were smart putting the bridge in at the beginning when our legs were still fresh and not at the end when we were wiped (that would have sucked!). I even liked running by FSU’s Sarasota campus (Go Noles!).


The post-race food was even great,] thanks to First Watch.



I grabbed a muffin, parfait, and some orange slices.


The parfait was AWESOME. I should have gone back for another!

Kelly and I left the finish line and found a cute little breakfast spot down the road called The Serving Spoon.


I ordered the mediterranean omelet and enjoyed every cheese filled bite.


Oh, St. Patrick’s Day, how times have changed! Seven years ago I was waiting in line at Irish Pub at 7:00am so I could be banded before the price jumped at 8:00am ( it went up $5 every hour before noon) and this morning I was running a half marathon. Oddly enough, both scenarios required me waking up ridiculously early on a semi-holiday. Pshh…

How did you spend your St. Patrick’s Day? Did you run a green race?

1 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Congrats! That’s still a great time especially with the bathroom break and not feeling well. And that medal is pretty awesome!! I don’t have any unique looking medals like that!
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..Ellie Giveaway!

2 carissa @fit2flex March 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

That is an impressive medal! How big was tbe race? I’m thinking of doing it next year. Way to power through!
carissa @fit2flex recently posted..I’m Running a Half Marathon on Sunday

3 MealsAndMiles March 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I think there were 2200 finishers.

4 Jan @ Sprouts n Squats March 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Well done on the race! I’m thinking of running my first half marathon this year but not till October so still just toying with the idea at the moment. Love that dolphin medal they gave you, it is really pretty and different.
Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted..Berry Coconut Bread with Quinoa Flour

5 emily March 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

That medal is ridiculous; it’s going to pull your medals display right off of the wall! πŸ™‚
emily recently posted..…I am so tired I forgot to title this post originally

6 meredith March 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Congrats on a great race! For not feeling well and even making a pot stop you certainly finished strong!
meredith recently posted..Big News!

7 meredith March 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Oops, I meant pit stop lol
meredith recently posted..Big News!

8 Mary March 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm

That’s an awesome medal! Well done on your sub 2 despite not feeling great. And well done Kelly!
Loving the ‘Just a few miles from breakfast’ sign!
Mary recently posted..Feeling poorly

9 beka @ Rebecca roams March 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Way to go meghann! I’m sorry you had tummy troubles. You know I can definitely sympathize on those! I am sad I didnt get to earn this awesome medal with all the people i knew running it, but there is always next year πŸ™‚

I did ok at my 10k today πŸ˜‰
beka @ Rebecca roams recently posted..When 45 seconds can make or break it…

10 Caroline Calcote March 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Sorry I didn’t see you today! I was just really happy to finish and get that gorgeous medal. I think this will be my last half marathon…my hip is just not right. But maybe I’ll do the relay next year πŸ™‚
Caroline Calcote recently posted..Saturday before my last half marathon EVER (promise)

11 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane March 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Looks beautiful! Great post-race food, I’m impressed! I ran the LA marathon this am & there was a ton of green gear everywhere! Fun day for a race.
Jane @ Not Plain So Jane recently posted..LA Marathon by the numbers

12 Logan @ Mountains and Miles March 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Nothing St. Patty’s themed, but I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in DC yesterday and set a 17 minute PR!
Logan @ Mountains and Miles recently posted..Liebster Awards!

13 Caroline March 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Congrats on running with all that you had! Sometimes our best varies from day to day from things that are outside of our control- what can you do? Enjoy the post race high!
Caroline recently posted..Indy Mini Half Marathon Training Week 7 Recap

14 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More March 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Congrats on finishing! I’m running my first 1/2 marathon in less than 3 weeks (AH!!!) and I’m definitely getting nervous-excited for it. My goal is to finish and earn my giant penny medal! πŸ˜‰
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Sunday Confessions #4

15 Kelsey March 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Race looks beautiful and fun. Thanks for the report! And GREAT JOB!!!
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16 Emily March 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Congrats on a great race! Sorry you had a rough start, but it seems like you still had a good time.

We enjoyed a lot of smithwicks and guiness this weekend as well as family dinner of Cabbage, potatoes and Corned Beef on Rye. This is the one day of year I insist on going by my maiden name…Riley! πŸ™‚
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17 BroccoliHut March 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Congrats, lady! Sounds like you pulled through a rough race. That medal is definitely worth it!
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18 Chelsea March 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Sorry about the tummy issues, Meghann, but congrats on rocking a great time at the half anyway! I have to say, I’m TOTALLY jealous of the dolphin medal – its one of the cooler (coolest?) race medals I’ve ever seen.
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19 Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Congrats! I loved looking at your pictures … I lived in Sarasota for years, so it’s fun to recognize where y’all were running. πŸ™‚
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20 Laura March 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Awesome job, especially given all the issues you had at the beginning and the middle of the race! I just reached my first 5k mark on Saturday so I was on a bit of a runners high today too! Love all the green! Happy St. Patty’s day.
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21 Erica March 17, 2013 at 9:55 pm

CONGRATS! Way to make it through despite the potty issues πŸ˜‰ Whoop whoop
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22 Michelle March 17, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Sorry about your stomach issues – but great job pushing through!! I’m glad to see that Sarasota pulled off another great race! Aren’t the views (for the most part) beautiful? I love that they do the bridge first (apparently the first couple of years they did it LAST – can you imagine?).
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23 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs March 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Such a cool medal! Way to pull through to get the bling! πŸ™‚

24 Holly March 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Congrats on the finish! I walked the Sarasota Half today also. Had to walk after throwing my back out on Thursday but I finished.

It was a great race, however, they RAN OUT of 2013 medals. My mom and I got a 2012 medal today with the promise of getting the 2013 one mailed to us. It was disappointing to not get the actual medal after running 13.1 miles.

25 Sarah March 18, 2013 at 12:43 am

you are AWESOME and i am so jealous of those medals! i can’t wait to get my flying pig one in may and my wine and dine half when i move down to florida!! eeep! πŸ˜€
Sarah recently posted..Losing yourself in a run.

26 Serena March 18, 2013 at 1:36 am

I spectated a beer run and then ran with my daughter.
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27 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats March 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

Haha I thought the same thing about my St Pats Day! I spent many years watching the sunrise with a green beer in my hand at the Pub. Now I couldn’t think of anything more annoying lol
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28 Ani March 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

Congratulations and yes that medal is awesome!! It looked like a beautiful event and I cannot wait to run my first half marathon in June. Glad to see you made it through and shared your experience with us. It always gets me pumped to read about other races, especially when I’m stuck in sub-freezing conditions churning away on the dreadmill…
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29 Melissa March 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

That dolphin medal is WICKED cute. I don’t run races but that might;ve even enticed *me* to run a race!

30 Megan March 18, 2013 at 9:45 am

I LOVE that medal and hope that they have something equally as ginormous and awesome in years coming up so I can plan for this one! So much fun – love those dolphins!

I ran Georgia Publix half – not a great morning either, but given my exhaustion from the 3 days prior, I’m happy. Not stoked, but happy. πŸ™‚
Megan recently posted..Race Book 2012

31 Lindsay March 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

You want a big medal? try the Little Rock Marathon for next year. I ran it this year & it’s crazy huge. Nearly 3 lbs!

32 MealsAndMiles March 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

That race is on my bucket list just because of the medal!

33 Nikki March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

Do you still have your bangs? I love the look but have seen them put up a lot. Did you not like the look as much as you had hoped? I think they look adorable.

34 MealsAndMiles March 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

I still have them. I like the versatility of wearing them both down and pulled back. When exercising I always prefer them pulled back.

35 Erin@TwoBlueSparrows March 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

Awesome, awesome medal!! What training plan do you normally use? I want to start training for a half marathon soon and I’m looking around at all of the plans. I’m curious how you pick one when you train. Thanks!
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36 Emily N March 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

Great job getting through all of your tummy troubles to finish the race strong! Did they magically clear up as soon as the race was over? That seems to happen.
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37 MealsAndMiles March 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Unfortunately no. It took a few hours post race until I was 100%

38 Samantha March 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I ran this halfyesterday too and the frozen grapes were AWESOME!!! such a treat at the end like that!

39 Sonia the Mexigarian March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

That’s an awesome medal. Congrats on finishing and getting through the tummy troubles. I hiked a half on Saturday and am still sore from them crazy hills, but loved getting my medal at the end. That was my green race. I spent Sunday mostly on the couch or outside in the lawn chair soaking up the sun and Guiness πŸ˜‰
Sonia the Mexigarian recently posted..Badger Cove Half Marathon hike Race Recap

40 Heather @ March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Congrats on the race and bomb diggity medal! That thing is insane! My thoughts exactly on St. Patty’s day πŸ™‚ Oh how times change.
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41 Kim March 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Congrats on your race! I just love that 7:00 am
start as well as the flat course. And I cannot believe you ran it
with such an icky stomach! Way to inspire. Just the fear
of an accident would have killed me -Haha Congrats again!
Did you run in your Ghosts?
Kim recently posted..How ‘Bout A Little Happiness?

42 MealsAndMiles March 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

No, I’d only done one 4 mile run in the ghosts so I played it safe and ran in my broken in Glycerin 10s

43 Amelia March 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Congrats!! Anytime under 2hrs for a half is always awesome especally when you had stomach issues. I have had plenty of stomach issues with running before, my advise with stomach issues is too not eat food that has fiber in it, veges, fruit or dairy the day before a race or to be safe two days before the race. I did see you had ice cream before you went to bed that may have been the problem. Anyway doing that has worked for me.

44 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions March 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Oh man, no judgment here for running that race for the medal. I would’ve done the same thing! That’s got to be one of the coolest medals I’ve ever seen. And way to power through even though your stomach was out of sorts. That’s definitely not easy for any distance, let alone a half marathon. Way to go!
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..Get Lucky 7K Recap

45 Melissa March 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I ran my first full marathon on St. Patty’s Day!

46 Nanci @ This Crazy Life of Mine March 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

So cool that you and your sister did this one together. Great time, even with your tummy issues. I LOVE the medal and I PR’d so it was a great day for me. πŸ™‚
Nanci @ This Crazy Life of Mine recently posted..Race Recap ~ Sarasota Half Marathon 2013 (and a HUGE PR!)

47 Sara@RunningInPinkProject March 18, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Ohhhh I love the dolphin medal! Great job pushing through!!! πŸ™‚
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48 Sara March 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

Congrats on your finish! I wanted to do this one but was in NYC for the half there – maybe next year πŸ™‚ Congrats!!
Sara recently posted..eatcleanmakechanges:


49 skinnyrunner March 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

congrats on toughing it out! i ran a race sunday too and also had to make a little guest appearance at the porta potties… it happens. blargh.

50 Emily @ Emily Rocks the Road March 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Well done! It makes me excited for the SF Marathon I’m running in June!!
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51 tom gallagher March 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm

HI guys:

Know anyone whose plans have changed and they are not able to run this years half marathon? Will pay for entrance…missed out on registration.. my bad…
Thanks for any help



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