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Running for the Red, White, & Blue

by Meghann on July 7, 2015

I had the pleasure of spending the Fourth of July weekend with my sister and her family. It was a great excuse to see their new house, as well as hang out with my amazing nephew, Owen.

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Owen is 10 months old and growing like a weed. He is so full of personality and loves to walk. He started walking just after he turned 9 months and basically hasn’t stopped. I love this little man to pieces, my heart seriously swells just being around him.

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I’ve been itching to run another race since I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 8K last month. My sister ran a Fourth of July race last year (at 36 weeks pregnant!), so when I knew we were going to be in the area for the weekend, I immediately asked if she was up for running the race again.  It really didn’t take much convincing – a day later we were both registered and ready to race.

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The annual Firecracker Red, White, and Blue run takes place on Daytona Beach. Like, literally, on the beach. The starting line is the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and your course is 100% covered in sand. There’s a 4 mile and 10 mile option. Both distances are out-and-backs on the beach, with a water station every mile.  We registered for the 4 miler. Obviously.

We were up bright and early on Saturday morning so we could have plenty of time to pick-up our packets before the 6:40start. I think we arrived around 6:15ish and had a minimal wait to claim our bibs. They did have women specific race shirts, but we opted not to take them since we didn’t feel like running back to our car and quite frankly didn’t want to mess with them.

We then started our wait in the line for the bathrooms. Now, I know this is local charity-run race, but I have to say this was probably the worst bathroom situation I’ve ever seen at a race. Ever. They didn’t have porta potties, instead directing everyone to the 5-stall public restrooms connected to the boardwalk. I don’t know if it was the event never turning the water on, or the whole system becoming overloaded, but there was NO WATER. None of the toilets flushed and none of the sinks worked. Basically you had a few hundred women using toilets that were useless. I can’t tell you how DISGUSTING they were. Again, this was a pre-race situation where the #1 goal for the majority of runners is to clear everything out of their system before go-time. In a shallow surface. And not be able to flush. Ew.

I was crossing my fingers there would be other restroom options on the course. Because A) I wasn’t able to take of everything pre-race and B) this pregnant momma can’t run more than a mile without her stomach telling her it’s time to go. Now.

With still-uneasy tummies we made our way to the starting line, where we were able to catch the tail end of the gorgeous sunrise over the water.

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Alright, now I remember why I’m going this race. For the views – not the toilets.

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The race started promptly at 6:40. I totally forgot to turn my Garmin on, but luckily my sister had it covered.

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Unfortunately the first half mile of the race wasn’t great. My right side started cramping and my calves were burning – apparently they weren’t a huge fan of running in the sand. Per the recommendation of fellow Brooks Blog Ambassador, Jesica, I opted to wear the Brooks PureGrit (trail shoes) for the beach run. They did help a little with my stability, but my calves still took a beating.

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It took me a full mile to really get my bearings. I work better with mini goals, so as soon as I realized how well spaced the lifeguard chairs were, I developed the plan to run 2 lifeguard chairs and walk one. It was similar distance to the light pole method I’ve been following with my morning runs, so it worked great. Kelly also gave me some of her Gatorade to help with the side stitches and they eventually went away (I think some light side-to-side stretching helped, too).

We found a porta potty around the 1.5 mile mark and I booked it to the potty. Finally, some relief! I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to see a porta potty. Plus, there was plenty of toilet paper and about 100 times nicer than the public toilets from the start. See – sometimes a porta potty really is the better option!

The second mile went a lot quicker than the first. Before I knew it we were making the turn back to the boardwalk.

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Now that we had a pattern going, Kelly and I really started to enjoy the run. The sand/sun/heat remained brutal, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.  It’s always great to have an excuse to spend time with my sister, especially when it’s just us and we can take the time to chat about anything. I really am lucky to have her in my life.

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We hit the boardwalk just before the 4 mile mark and made a hard right to the finish line. I think we finished right around the 1 hour mark, which is about the same time I finished the 8K in the month prior. But at 27 weeks pregnant running in July on the sand – I’ll take it!

At the finish line we were handed our medals and a refreshing ice soaked towel to hang around our necks. The ice cold towel was a nice touch.

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Besides the terrible bathroom situation, I really enjoyed the race. It’s a great local race that supports a great cause. Besides, when else can you complete a 4 mile run on an empty beach? I wouldn’t recommend racing this event for time – or even the 10 mile distance! – but I’d say for a family-friendly holiday run it’s perfect.

Did you run a Fourth of July race over the weekend?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ash Diamond July 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Great job running another race! You two look GREAT in that picture!!
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2 Kim July 7, 2015 at 10:02 pm

That is such a great race, and a fantastic organization! The Tampa chapter does an organized race for it as well on Davis Islands, though it is not nearly as big as Daytona. Great pictures!

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3 Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed July 8, 2015 at 8:05 am

OMG those bathrooms sound like a race nightmare! Congrats on the race!
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4 Linda @ The Fitty July 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

One Hour for an eight kilometre run is not bad especially in your state!
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5 Kathryn July 8, 2015 at 9:39 am

weren’t you 26 weeks, not 27?

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6 Katie D. July 9, 2015 at 8:43 am

I gagged when I read your description of the bathrooms. I can’t imagine the smell or sights. I don’t think I would have been able to “go” there, no matter how badly I needed to do it. Not only is that gross, it seems like a big public health concern too – and how is that cleaned up when the water is turned back on? UGH!!!! Yuck!!!!

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7 Jessica July 10, 2015 at 7:58 am

Oddly enough, I was at Daytona during the 4th and saw this race while I was out for a beach jog! My husband and I were visiting the area for the first time and I didn’t realize there was a race that day. I was so jealous when I saw all the race bibs going by. I wanted to join the in the fun! Next time for sure!
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