Saturday morning brought perfect weather. Mike and I headed over to St. Pete to pick up our packets from the expo at Tropicana Field. I love going to Ray's games here, so an opportunity to troll around the stadium without as large a crowd was kind of neat. I noticed details about the stadium that I have overlooked in the previous times I've been there.
We mazed around the bib/t-shirt area, got our backpack swag bag and headed to where all the expo fun was.
Brooks had a HUGE section set aside with their big bus of running oddities and lots of clothes, shoes, and Brooks products to choose from. They were one of the major sponsors of the race. They also had this fun mirror with the phrase "here is your inner kenyan!" I wasn't quite sure about that just yet...
Mike and I met up with Meghan, Tori, and her fiance' Patrick and browsed around all the vendors. Mike has been considering giving a new shoe a go. He has been running in Asics for the past 6-7 years and the Newtons caught his eye for a few different reasons. Weight (much less) and the mechanics of running mid/forefoot. The brand was there with Fit2Run and 2012 models were on sale for 30% off, which is a rare find in itself for Newtons. I have tried them on once when I first started running and I liked them a lot. My qualm back then was I was still very inexperienced and wasn't sure if running was going to be my thing - I wasn't ready to drop that amount ($175) on a pair of shoes and I settled on a pair of Brooks Adrenalines (which I still wear and like). Now it's safe to say I am in love with running and I'm open to it - especially on sale.
Mike AND I both left with new Newtons! We run in the same shoes now and ended up with the same Newtons - Motions. He's given his a couple of break in runs, but I have yet to take them for a real spin.
At the Brooks set up they had this cool little set up where you entered your name+email addy and they scanned a bar code and gave you a corresponding prize. There were bandanas, Brooks t-shirts, sunglasses, and earbuds. Mike and I got a couple of ear buds but came back later when Kat was volunteering while repping Brooks and I got a the t-shirt!
The rest of the vendors had minimal samples to give away - I only left with sport beans and gluten free granola bars.
The expo did give me something to think about though - which race to run in March. First Watch Sarasota half or Florida Beach Halfathon or give myself a new 10k PR at Brandon Shamrock Classic. Hmmm....
After the expo, we headed to Lucky Dill in downtown St. Petersburg for lunch upon recommendation of Tori and Patrick. It was a great New York style deli. My California wrap was huge and I had to take half of it home for later.
Insert crazy busy day filled with 7th birthday parties, grocery shopping, Gasparilla Knight parade, and then me going to bed around 11p and waking up at 5am.
Mike and I headed to St Petersburg again (to Tropicana Field) to park near the start line at 5:30am.
The weather was projected to be warmer than it actually was. It wasn't as cold as it was the previous weekend at Best Damn Race, but I was just fine with the low 50s! This meant I got to wear a running skirt. I'm not very girly, but I definitely get picky choosy over what to wear for races. The last thing I want to be is uncomfortable or wearing something unflattering for race pics.
We arrived with plenty of time and were lucky enough to grab a spot right outside the pay $15 parking lots for $5. There was literally a 2 minute walk across the corrals to meet up with Meghan, Tori, and Patrick at Ferg's Sports Bar.
|Stupid Letter F.|
While walking over, one of the MarathonFoto photographers asked for a pic - absolutely while I'm not sweaty!
Inside Ferg's we got to use bathrooms indoors and relax before heading to the corrals.
I saw Mary heading into Corral 2 along with Mike. She wasn't sure how'd she do, but this was a training run for her. She is super speedy so I knew her time would still make my jaw drop. I slathered Perform gel on my hip and Tori, Meghan, and I jumped into Corral 3 even though we had changed to corral 2 at the expo. Corral 2 was just a wee bit crowded. We saw Caitlyn right before our corral 3 took off.
Meghan was a smart cookie and brought her camera with her for memories! ;)
I wasn't sure how I'd feel since I'd just run another half the previous weekend and pushed for a PR. I just decided to see how I felt a few miles in and make a decision on whether to push or have fun pacing Tori to her goal
Between miles 3-4 I felt awesome. We had started out at a good pace and were on track to hit her sub-2. In my head I was having a minor battle because my gut was telling me to hang back and have fun with the girls, while my competitive head was telling me that I could PR this course no question. So, guess what I did?
I listened to my gut. <<shocking!>>
I decided that this was a day to help Tori meet her goal, enjoy the company, and have a great run. I didn't want to end up in a world of hurt (pain) even if I came close to another PR. Run SMART right?
By the 10k mark, Tori started having some pains and admitted she wasn't feeling her best. She didn't think that the sub-2 was in the cards that day, but Meghan and I were still hopeful as we weren't too far shy of where we needed to be. Tori told us to run ahead, but no way! We were in this race to finish together whether it was a 1:xx or a 3:xx finish time!
Around mile 8, the dreaded pier came along. Except this time it was light years easier. The headwind wasn't 25mph, maybe 10-15mph tops and was refreshing.
We saw Genna holding awesome signs at the outgoing side of the pier. Hi Genna!!
To help Tori focus on anything else other than whatever aches or pains she was having Meghan and I told stories and pretty much acted like fools for most of the race.
I danced, I sang terrible wrong lyrics to songs out of key, I jumped in the air every time I saw a photographer or our "personal on-course photog" friend Ben Mena. Or just because I had some extra energy -- pretty much the last thing you'd expect to hear, right?
Need proof of just how much of an ass I was? Here you go:
|Source: Ben M|
|Source: Ben M|
|Source: Ben M|
|Source: Ben M|
This course was (in my opinion) soooo flat and easy. There were a couple of very small roller hills in the first 2-3 miles, but after that it was either decline or flat as a pancake. If you need a race to train for a PR on - this would be a great one. The course is almost identical to the Women's Half, but reversed and somehow it made it way way easier. That, or perhaps I have become that much stronger of a runner. (maybe both?)
And finally - the finish.
|REALLLLYYYYY Letter F???! - Might be the only pic I'm considering buying.|
We crossed the finish together and I had an absolute blast!
Although Tori didn't hit her goal, and I didn't gun it for a PR, this race held way more fun and conversation than I could have thought of. I loved running with these two girls and having a ball. Meghan said it perfectly:
"Some days are meant for PRs, and others are meant to remind you what running does for your soul."
Every race is a lesson. It teaches us things we didn't know about ourselves, about running, and about each other. The most important thing is that we don't give up chasing our goals if we fall short. They aren't meant to be easy! I know Tori will hit that sub-2 very soon. She definitely has a natural running talent.
I met up with Mike at the finish. He actually did get a shiny new PR - 1:42:59. I was so proud of him! He of course is already scheming his next training cycle to shave that time even more.
We listened to 2-3 songs by Sean Kingston and decided to head out with our new bling.
I didn't run this race last year so I don't know about the "unorganized" issue, but this year was spot on. Everything was very well put on and organized. I didn't even have a problem when I asked for a replacement medal when the ribbon came un-stitched about 5 minutes after getting it and my bling fell in the dirt.
The course itself, while not visually appealing for the first 5-6 miles, was very flat and the great views in the latter half of the race really make it a great run. There were plenty of water/gatorade stops, lots of super nice volunteers (Hi Caroline+boys!), and Gu was available at mile 9.
If you can snag a deal on signing up for this race, it's a good one.
FYI - Rock N Roll has a Lucky13 deal going on today only (Feb 13)!
Save $13 on any RockNRoll event with the code LUCKY13