It took some blood, sweat, and tears, but we finished! Beka and I conquered the Best Damn Race Half Marathon this morning.
Actually, “conquered” might be a bit of stretch. More like, we hung on for dear life as it conquered us. I would not recommend only training for a month for a half marathon. Not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. Not at all.
A little history…the Best Damn Race is a local race started by a local runner with the dream of creating a race that was for runners, by runners. The race is famous for its tiered pricing structure. Registration opens at $1 and goes up $5 every XX amount of participants that register. So if you register fast enough you have the chance of running the half marathon, 10k, or 5K for as low as $1. Pretty cool, right?
Beka and I ran the race last year and had a blast (it’s even Beka’s current half PR!). When we saw each other at the Yelp event on Sunday – and discovered neither of us had exactly trained for the race – we decided to make a pact to run it together again. This time we would just run it for fun and see what happened – no goals and no PRs.
So this morning I was up at the very painful 4:00am hour (ouch), put on my sparkle skirt, and guzzled a big gulp of coffee on the drive to Safety Harbor.
I also had made a thing of oats-in-a-jar, which is my new favorite portable breakfast for races.
The weather was awful on Friday. I’m not sure where the forecasted sunshine and warmth had disappeared to; instead it was cold, wet, and miserable. The same sunshine and warm temps were forecasted for today, so I just chose to ignore the rain on my drive over and think happy, dry thoughts instead.
Per usual, I arrived way earlier than I should have and chose to sleep in my car for 30 minutes. Fun fact: did you know if you lock the car, then open the door from the inside while it’s still locked, your alarm goes off? I know that now!
A fun addition to this year’s Best Damn Race was the PR bell. It was right next to the finish line and anyone who crossed the finish line with a new PR was encouraged to ring the bell to let everyone know. I heard it go off all day and it made me smile every time.
Unfortunately I knew there would be no ringing for me this time. Maybe next year!
Beka and I found each other right before the race. We were rushing to get to the starting line when we ran into Amanda and discovered the 10K start had been delayed (it was supposed to start at 6:45), so our 7:15 start for the half had been pushed back. Oh well, perfect excuse for a photo op, right?
We eventually made our way to the starting line and squeezed in near the 2:00 pacers.
And, just to show how small of a racing community it is here, look who squeezed in behind us.
The Best Damn Bachelorette Party was running the race in honor of Tori’s upcoming wedding. We ended up seeing them on and off on the race course. As our 10 minute delay turned into a 25 minute delay, it was nice having a group to talk to.
Even if all of us are named Meghan(n).
What are the odds of getting 4 Meghan(n)s together who all have an “h” in their name? Ha! Take that, M-e-g-a-n!
I also ran into two other Megans I know on the course. And my mom swears no one else had my name when she was pregnant. If she knew how many moms-to-be were thinking the same thing at that time…
Anyway, eventually the roads were clear and we were finally ready to start. Woot!
Going into this race Beka and I didn’t have any plans. I had a vague goal of going under 2:00, but with the way I’ve been running lately, I wasn’t even sure that was possible. Remember that time I trained my butt off and got super fast (for me)? Yeah, me neither. That was a lifetime ago.
When we crossed the starting line we just started running, simple as that.
The roads were a little congested with runners, so we hung back and somehow ended up right behind the 2:00 pacers (who were running crazy fast for 2:00 pacers in my humble opinion). We stayed with them for 2-3 miles, then Beka pushed past the guys in front and we broke free of the pack. Once we were in front of the pacers the roads seemed to clear up a little bit.
I felt fine for the first 3-4 miles. We ran through the same park I had run through with RunVie last weekend and had some gorgeous views of the water.
It was after the park I started to feel like crap. My thighs were really rubbing together (chafing! ugh!), my sock was falling down in my shoes, and my IT band was wondering what the heck I was doing. This course is famous for its rolling hills and this Florida runner was not a fan. At this point I started questioning life and why I was running the half and not the 10k.
I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to hold the pace for all 13.1. I kept waiting for the 2:00 pacers to come up from behind and pass us. The strange thing is, Beka and I never slowed down. Actually, we started getting fast. No wonder I was feeling like crap – we were doing negative splits!
We ran past the finish line and waved at all the 10k-ers entering the finish chute. We were very jealous.
We pushed forward and made a right into the neighborhoods we remembered from last year. My language started to get vulgar at this point. I cursed the familiar hills, I cursed the chafing between my legs, and I cursed my sock for slipping. Beka tried to distract us with conversation, asking about jobs, married life, and weddings (she’s in the middle of planning hers).
We hit a turn around point and saw all our friends. They all looked great – smiling and full of energy. I know I did not look great. My clothes were soaked with sweat, my buns were falling down, and I’m sure the forced smile I was giving looked a little scary.
Around mile 8 I took a mandarin Gu from an aid station. Beka and I were walking through every station and grabbing a cup of Gatorade and water at each one. I think the Gu helped, my tank was empty at that point and needed some fuel.
After the Gu, Beka and I continued to push ourselves past our current abilities. We caught up to our friend Meg, who was cramping and starting to slow down. We commiserated with her. Promises of extra large Bloody Marys were made.
From there we exited the neighborhoods and turned back onto Bayshore. All we had left was an out and back. We could do this. We could totally do this.
I kept looking at my watch and saying “Why the f*ck are we running this fast?!” If Beka wasn’t there, I know without a doubt I would have slowed down and given up at multiple points on the course. Instead I was digging deep and remembering what I was made of.
We hit the final turn around with two miles to go. At that point we knew we were coming in under 2:00, it was just a matter of how far under. Neither of us had much left, so our goal was just to keep it steady and make it to the finish.
There were a few hills between us and the finish. We pushed it on the uphill and cruised on the down hill. We also took a handful of walking breaks.
The weather had been nasty all morning. It was really humid and muggy. A thick fog had rolled in while we were running and we couldn’t see far in front of us. Beka had asked for another walking break at 12.85 and I told her we were so close to the finish line. The fog was so bad that we couldn’t see the finish line for that final motivation to finish.
Finally the finish line came into view. A couple of guys behind us started pushing hard and passed us. Good for them, I was perfectly happy with cruising in.
I lost Beka in the final stretch. The guy next to me started doing a side step into the finish line and I started thinking I should do something creative in the finish. A toe touch? A hand stand? I’ll just jump. So I jumped to the finish. No guaranteeing how high said jump was… should be a hilarious finish photo.
11 minutes slower than my PR, but I swear I finished feeling worse than I did after that race. The price I pay for not training.
We did it! It hurt way worse than it should have, but we completed our goal of finishing together under 2 hours. Boo-yah!
Love the medal! The sail spins and everything!
That race was brutal, but a ton of fun. I can’t wait to run the inaugural Best Damn Race in Orlando next month and earn my double race medal. (psst…. registration is still open online! come run with me!). I’m hoping to have a few more training runs under my belt before March 1st and not finish feeling like death.