I set the alarm a little later than years past (4:45 AM), but Abby decided she wanted to wake me up a but earlier, around 4:15. Since I had set out my running outfit the night before, all I had to do was get dressed, grab some water, and head out the door!
As you can see, I decided that a race costume was necessary – and I had been thinking about it since the Shark’s Tooth 10K, but couldn’t decide on what to do. In years past, I had gone with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, but since I had already done that in the St. Paddy’s Day Fun Run at Fleet Feet on Thursday, I was trying to figure out something else fun and recognizable…then, of course, it hit me: Belle!
Since I have a stock of Sparkle Athletic skirts on the ready, all I had to do was add a few extra pieces for a simple costume: a yellow tank top, embellishments (a sparkly rose, from my craft supplies, and some glitter tulle) and a tiara!
But….back to the recap!
I arrived at the Van Wezel parking lot around 5:45 AM (6:45 start), and hung in the car for a while before I got a message from my friend Stephanie! We had to get a “twin” pic as we had both been inspired in our running outfits.
After a quick trip to the portapotties (super short line!) and making the realization that I had forgotten to wear my Garmin, I made my way into the starting line corrals, since I had experienced crowding in the in years past…though that was not the case this year! I was pleasantly surprised to have lots of elbow space, and when the race began on time, it was a very smooth start.
Garmin-less, I knew that I wanted to just run the race at a sustainable, moderate pace. With my last few half marathons, I had run 1:50, 1:48, 1:49, so that was the range I was looking at, though I’d be fine with anything sub-2, as my best time on the course in the past was 1:59, and especially since it felt pretty humid that morning.
With the Daylight Saving Time change, the first hour of running was pretty much in the dark. Thankfully, it is pretty well-lit, since that first section features the out and back over the Ringling Causeway Bridge. Since I didn’t have my watch, I was thankful for timing clocks on the mile markers (though I may have missed Mile 1?) so I could keep loose track of how I was doing.
Around the halfway point-ish, the 1:50 pace group passed me, but I felt like they may have been going a little quicker. I was stopping at every water station, taking water, and walking. The humidity was really picking up and I wiped my face with my shirt repeatedly, which was also a bit wind burnt from crossing the bridge, which made it sting (my cheeks are still chafed!)
The second half of the course was changed since the last time I ran the half distance, which took us through the Indian Beach/Sapphire Shore neighborhoods instead of the straight distance down US 41. This made the race quite a bit more scenic, but also seemed to slow it down a bit. Despite that fact, it was nice to have a little more shade, so weighing those pros/cons, I’d say the change was a good one.
I didn’t take any course nutrition (other than a strawberry at Mile 8ish?) but I felt pretty good and even got a bit of a second wind at Mile 10, when I was able to pass a handful of runners, as I was looking forward to completing the race. My cheeks were reallllly bothering me – stinging now, with sweat – and with my past experience with this race, I was able to really visualize my finish. Up the small incline back toward Van Wezel, I pushed on, and when I reached the last straightaway (the relay area’s “finish together” stretch), I knew I could push a little harder, which was made even easier after I took a quick glance back behind me and saw a male runner – I wanted to sprint that out!
Drawing closer to the finish, I saw a 1:50:xx on the clock and was pretty darn happy about it! After I was awarded my medal, I grabbed water, a banana, a First Watch yogurt parfait, and was able to get to my car, and out of the parking lot in 10 minutes flat – another positive about this race! Oh, and don’t forget: free race photos!
This was my 24th half marathon, and another great experience that had once again proved the distance to be one of my very favorites. Now, you ask, how will I celebrate Half #25? With my sister, at the Tink Half in May! Wahoo!
Special thanks to Megan and her blog/instagram contest, where I won my entry to the race this year!