Training for this race had gone really well. Meaning I was able to complete the entire training program without breaking anything or horrible leg pain or anything. However, the week leading up to the race wasn’t so great. Our lovely Southern weather was being its usual bi-polar self, moving between highs of 70 and highs of mid-40’s and back, throwing everyone’s sinuses into a tizzy. Mark was suffering pretty badly, and I was sucking down Cold-eeze and Emergen-C and other hyphenated pseudo-drugs to keep my immune system up. On top of that taper was making me crazy, and Mark didn’t know whether or not his 2 weeks of rest would calm down his angry IT band. However, I still had a goal for the race: 3:15.
Because our employers just don’t give us enough time off, we headed to Tampa the day before the race with the plan to pick up our race stuff the morning of. This plan made me super nervous that something would go terribly wrong, but the vast knowledge of the internet assured me that this was no big deal. Turns out all of that worry was for nothing. We got up early and made it to the expo with an hour to spare. Picked up our bibs, sound our tiny names on the really big board, and went on our way to find some pizza.
And then got ready for the morning. Thank goodness I brought plenty of @nuunhydration.
There is nothing better than being able to roll out of bed and walk to the start line. I was still pretty nervous, but as we crossed over a little bridge to line up with the 2 hour+ wave, all my nerves just sort of melted away. After some announcements we couldn’t hear, and the national anthem, which we could, it was go time. I broke the race up in my mind into 3 portions: Davis Island, Bayshore out, and Bayshore back. I crossed the start line about 6 minutes after the beginning of the race.
Part 1: Davis Island
(Mile 1: 14:21, Mile 2: 14:14, Mile 3: 14:24, Mile 4: 14:07, Mile 5: 14:46)
The two things that were immediately apparent: It was very very dark, and it was very very humid. The humidity was supposed to decrease once the sun came up, but the temperatures were going to be in the mid-70’s by the time we finished. I know I’ve mentioned a thousand times: humidity and I do not mix well. I looked at Mark in mile 2 and told him that today is probably not a PR day. (SPOILER – I was wrong!!!) We agreed to push the pace for as long as we could and deal with the rest later. We made it to the bridge before the 1:40 cutoff, so I was pretty psyched about that. We did walk both bridges because of our knee problems and having not trained on any hills.
Part 2: Bayshore out
(Mile 6: 14:24, Mile 7: 15:46, Mile 8: 14:58, Mile 9: 15:10)
Aaaannnnndddd the sun came out. The water side of Bayshore had a gorgeous view, but absolutely no shade. Around the 10K point, Mark’s IT started to bother him, and he wanted to run as far as he could before it was too painful, so I told him to go on, I would make it. And I stopped to stretch my back. I never got down on myself, but the heat was pretty bad, since we’d been training in more like 50 degree weather, and the out portion of the road looked like it would last forever. I knew at this point that 3:15 wasn’t going to happen, but I still had a chance to PR, but I had to make my mind up to fight for it. So I did. I just decided I was going to fight for every minute I could.
There were tons of signs around. Some you’ve seen at every race (“Run like you stole something” and “Worst Parade Ever”), but many were inspirational. It sounds cheesy, but I tried to take those to heart, especially the one that said “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional” and kept repeating that to myself when it got hard.
And around the mile 9 water station I started dumping water on the back of my neck.
Part 3: Bayshore back
(Mile 10: 15:02, Mile 11: 14:58, Mile 12: 16:08, Mile 13: 15:48, Mile 13+: 13:13)
I was so glad to get past the turnaround and on the part of Bayshore headed back towards the finish because there was sweet, sweet shade. Well, at least until around 11.5, where they made us cross the huge, downhill grass median and back to the wide open, not shade part of the road, so they could start the 8K race. I was not amused, and neither was my left hamstring, which started to cramp. I probably should’ve taken a third salt tab here, but I was so close to being finished. By this point, both knees were hurting (gotta find some new shoes), I had at least 2 blisters, and it was really getting hot. I started dumping water down the front of my shirt too and once over the top of my head.
I kept myself distracted watching the 8K going the other way for most of the last mile. All of the course entertainment helped too. I missed the mile 13 marker and on my watch, but when I got to the banner that said “The end is in sight” I just gritted it out and ran as fast as I could. I ran as fast as I could towards the clock that said 3:23, and I knew that I had a massive PR.
Sure, it wasn’t 3:15, but it was soooo much closer than I thought it would be, and doing it in the heat and humidity made it just that much sweeter.
I am super pleased to see so many 14’s on this chart.
Mark was there to meet me. He finished about 10 minutes ahead of me, with perfectly even splits, and his IT behaved itself, so it was a good day for him too. And then there were pirates.
I do not think this blog post can express how supremely proud and over-the-top happy I am with my race. Two days later and I still choke up with pride. Oh, and I still cannot walk correctly.
In the miserable aftermath of Space Coast, where we immediately jumped in the car and drove 10 hours back home, we decided it was a better use of our time off to stay the night of the race and head home on Monday. And, of course, we chose to drive a little bit outside of Tampa to do that.
We have annual passes that expire in March, so we jumped at the chance to squeeze a couple of more park days out of those, and to eat at the new Trattoria al Forno.
There’s absolutely no better way to celebrate a PR.
We did some recon the night before the race to make sure we knew how to make it to the start line, which was easy peasy. Race organization was super, bib pickup extra easy. I wish they hadn’t run out of size small shirts, but I’m assured mine will be mailed to me. Plus, you know, pirates.
Can we say flat? And aside from the bridges on and off Davis Island, nothing was super crowded. I wouldn’t call any of the course really fun to look at, but there were musicians and even a mime, so they did pretty well to keep us entertained. The out portion of Bayshore was pretty long, though. I could see the turn around, but felt like I’d never get there. However, I did see dolphins in the Bay so that kind of made up for it.
There were water stations at every single mile. And the water was nice and cold, perfect for dumping on my head. Even when I didn’t need to stop, it was nice to see them coming up because it helped mentally tick off the miles.
I feel like maybe there had been more crowd support earlier in the race, but people had packed it in before I got there. But there were about a million volunteers, and people did leave signs out, so it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.