As temperatures will begin to rise and we will face days of higher temps and humidity here in North Florida, I was happy to find a close Half Marathon to round out my third for the year at the Bainbridge Half Marathon. Just a straight shot, 50 minute drive from Tallahassee up US 27, Bainbridge, GA was a great lower overhead race to check off the 2013 Half Marathon list.
Race morning started out like any typical half marathon race morning. The alarm goes off at 4:15 am and the preparation rituals begin. Shower, body glide, compression shorts, cutsie outfit, you know the drill. My friend and Tallahassee Mom’s RUN This Town member, Beckey, graciously offered to pick me up on her way up so that we could carpool and run together. Thankfully, she is an on time and even early arriver, like myself and we were on our way by 5:30.
In the preceding days, gloomy weather seemed to be a lot of our conversations. Since there was a chance of an impending severe storm, we continued to hope that the bad weather would hold out until we at least finished. These high hopes would be let down with just 3K left on our run.
Arrival at the starting area was the simplest I have experienced thus far in my half marathon events. Located at the entrance area to the Bainbridge Memorial Hospital & Manor, there was ample parking for all the runner participants and spectators. OH YEAH, and it didn’t hurt that there were only 200 registered runners! The day before Beckey drove up to Bainbridge to pick up our packets and bibs. Upon meeting the race coordinator, Andy, she was informed that we would receive our chips the morning of the race due to the chip system they were going to use for this race. We were a little apprehensive, to say the least, on how organized a chip pick up on race morning would be, but it was a very smooth process. We walked up and gave our bib number and received our chip, which happened to be a velcro ankle bracelet. Yes, supposedly the new innovative way to chip a race! I was not thrilled about this, as for this race I chose to wear my Injinji socks that offered no calf protection and the thought of velcro on my leg and potentially rubbing for the duration of a race was not making me a happy runner. I pushed the negative thoughts out of my head and loosened up the velcro as much as I could without causing the chip to flop around and off we went to take some pre-race pictures.
It was still dark in Bainbridge at the beginning of the race, but we were happy because the sun was not up yet and the temperatures were a cool 58 with little to no humidity at this point. We situated ourselves in the middle of the crowd of the starting area and listened for the standard announcements, singing of the National Anthem and then a few more tips from the coordinator and then the 1, 2, 3 . . . GO start.
I made sure, though the day before I just couldn’t get rid of a icky pre-race funk I seemed to be in, that I was well prepared and there was no pre-race day stress to cause me start line anxiety. Beckey and I agreed we would run this race the entire way together, no matter what! I was happy to have her there running with me since my last half seemed to be self-defeating running alone. Nike+ app started and we’re off!
We began running down Shotwell Street heading to the downtown area and there were already a few spectators along the way cheering us on. We made our way through the historic area of town and then down by the river. We came down what would seem to be our first steep hill, we previously heard there were a few steep hill on the course, so we were prepared for what was ahead. We came to our first water station and continued along the river to a local park. This would be our first turn around point of two out and back portions of our course. We got our pace update and we maintained a 10 minute mile for the first mile.
Beckey and I talked some, concentrated on our breathing and I found myself very happy and content with my run to this point. No stress and my legs were feeling great! We made our way back past the water station and ahead was our first steep hill. I knew this was nothing compared to the hilly courses I had trained on in previous months of training. Breath, lean and push all the way up! We made it and ahead for the next few miles were flat beautiful neighborhood miles.
Mile two and three worked out to be a 10:30 pace and we were feeling great! We ran on brick pavers, cobblestones, old oyster shell road and then finally made our way to the second “steep” hill which also happened to be an interstate overpass bridge. I told Beckey, just don’t look at it, since we still had a little way to go before getting to it. I always seem to find myself having defeating thoughts on seemingly long hills ahead, just like I did the last weekend in my 8K race. We rounded the corner and up we went and surprisingly, this “steep” hill was not so steep and it was quick. We approached the first race photographer and had our picture together. Down the hill and to the second out and back part of the course. This took us through some newer neighborhoods and ultimately around the Bainbridge College Campus area.
Miles six through eight were pretty flat and we found ourselves slowing down so we would be able to finish running and not exert all of our energy pushing our limits as Beckey was dealing with a double IT Band issue. This course was perfect for her though. Miles 9 and 10 came and went and our pace stayed up in the 11 minute range. We stopped and hydrated at all the remaining water stations because by this time some humidity began to settle in for the impending rain that would be ahead. Mile 10 took us back over that bridge and my moment of funny (if there can be in a half marathon) was that my top layer of KT Tape that I put on my right knee did a sling-shot move and came off. It was good for a giggle and I tore it off and pushed on. There will be a KT Pro Tape purchase in my immediate future.
Mile eleven for me seemed to last for FREAKIN’ EVER! Possibly because by that time we began getting some rain, but at this point it was not much more than a light drizzle. I was thankful that I decided to grab my hubby’s wind jacket before heading out the door because it got cool really quickly!
By mile twelve we were ready to be done. The rain turned into buckets (it’s a southern term) and it was getting harder. This made us very cautious of how slippery the asphalt could potentially become, but we continued to push on. We rounded the corner to the last water station. We decided to walk through this station and I opted for a double hydration here and downed a Powerade shot. Stopping longer that other stops proved to be a mistake for both me and Beckey. She immediately had horrible leg tightening and my knee pain shot through the roof. I knew I had to get running or I wouldn’t finish this race with a jog, but with a slow sad walk. As we rounded the final corner a race volunteer told us that the finish was just ahead.
We were finishing this half running it, I told Beckey, even if I had to carry her over the finish line with me. We rounded the corner to the home stretch and finish never looked so good! We saw our friends that finished early and were happy to see them there taking photos and cheering us on at the finish line. We crossed that finish line, cold and with soggy wet bottoms, and our “unofficial” finish time for this half, 2:28. I was so happy to run this entire race with Beckey and to have the motivation for each other there like my running partner, Tammy, did for me in Jacksonville for The Donna.
So, there you have it, my Bainbridge Half Marathon Recap. This would be my last Half Marathon for the Spring racing schedule. I plan to finish out the Spring season with several 5/10K races and will take May, June and July to train for the fall. Admittedly, I am looking forward to some lower mileage races, but I know I will soon have the half marathon bug again and will be anxiously awaiting the Fall schedule to pick those back up. Next week, a special run for a wonderful cause, the Run for Autism 5K here in Tallahassee. Stay tuned for the update, but in the meantime . . . RUN HARD & Be Nice to People! Wishing you Happy Miles!