This morning, I popped out of bed at 3:00 AM…walked into the kitchen to check the time against my already-adjusted oven and microwave clocks – then promptly went back to bed. With the daylight saving change, I was a little concerned that my clock wouldn’t readjust appropriately – but with that worry aside, I was able to enjoy one more hour of blissful sleep.
Then, at 4:00 AM – it was TIME!
Abby was stirring a bit, but still asleep, so instead of waking her, I followed my tried-and-true process I picked up from the Donna half a month ago and pumped before getting ready. Since I had set out my clothes and gear the night before, after filling my water bottle and hugging the pups (they were very confused about mommy being up so early, without crying baby in tow), I was out the door at precisely 5 AM.
Just as I had experienced two years ago, there was zero traffic at that hour (I seriously had green lights all the way), and so I pulled into the parking lot at the Van Wezel at 5:20 AM. After checking in with my relay partner Bill via FB messenger, we met up a little before 6 AM before I headed into the start corral, as I’d be the first relay-er that morning. The race went off on time at 6:45 AM (unlike the delay last year) and we were OFF in the darkness!
The first half of this race is very scenic – albeit a bit more challenging, since it features the causeway bridge. Still, I was happy to be out there pounding the pavement – it reminded me of past training cycles of running down by the bayfront! Since I decided to not wear a watch for this race, I did quick checks on the digital mile marker signs, with a loose goal of staying at or around 9 min/mile.
The first part of course is pretty straightfoward, and I’ve found that the more I run this race, the more I like it. You leave the staging area at Van Wezel, take a right turn onto U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail), the head right, up and over the bridge, past Bird Key, and around St. Armand’s Circle before retracing your steps back. The “out and back” feeling allows you to see a lot of runners, which seems to always motivate me!
Running back toward Van Wezel, I was still feeling good, but also feeling extremely glad I was just running 6-ish miles today – the humidity was killer. With the DST change in effect, it was just starting to get light out, so the dampness in the air was breaking a little, but it still felt very heavy! Cresting down the slight hill at Mile 6, I spotted Bill quickly and handed off our chipped bib* and he gave me a bottle of water, which was super nice (thanks, Bill!)
The way that this relay is set up is surprisingly simple: the 13.1 miles are divided into two sections – the first is around 6 miles, and the second is around 7. The relay point is organized with signs that indicate bib numbers. This area was well-organized and not congested at all.
*In the past, I read that the “baton” was an ankle bracelet, but this year it was actually a third chipped bib on a Fitletic belt. The trade off was very smooth.
After trading the bib, I figured I had about an hour to spare. I chatted with some fellow runners and spectators to pass some of the time, updated FB and Instagram, and before I knew it, it was time to cross the street and wait to join Bill for the last .1 miles!
I have to say, jumping in to run .1 miles after an hour break is…actually pretty darn awesome! I was pumped from watching the lead runners come in, and I was re-energized, so Team DUG was able to finish strong! We planned a fun finish line photo (will share if it comes out, lol) and the highlight of the race for me was the announcer saying, “…and coming in now – Team DUG! DUG! That’s spelled D-U-G!”
After making our way through the finish chute, we picked up our sweet, sparkly Dolphin medals and picked up some First Watch yummies! The spread is pretty healthy – mini muffins, fruit and yogurt parfaits and bananas. This year, there were also pancakes, but I skipped on those.
Since Bill had never run this race before, we had to go and check out the Beer Garden just to get the full experience, but as per usual, it was just Michelob Ultra, which is not appealing to me in the least. Still, we hung out with our refreshments for a bit before bidding farewell and exchanging a few more high-5’s on a relay done well!
<— Team Dug didn’t do so shabby!
I will continue to run this race, given I get in on blitz pricing (I’ll have to keep an eye on the site over the next few weeks) and I really do think the race organizers take feedback into account (wider start area this year was appreciated, as well as more post-race food options). There are a few points I’ll probably share in their post-race surveys, which include:
- I would have liked water around St. Armand’s Key. Since I don’t usually carry my own, I felt like it was a long wait to go ~2ish miles without water/gatorade.
- There was not much signage in the pre-race staging area. I wandered around for 15 minutes looking for the portapotties (they were only by the start line, whereas in years past, there had been a large bank of them by the bayfront area near Van Wezel.
Otherwise, the race went well, and I had a really fun time – would definitely recommend this race – as long as you are prepared for historically warm and humid weather!
Did you race this weekend? Where?