Another race weekend came and went and I completed number 7 of 10 2013 half marathons on my race calendar. I never thought I would be capable of pushing myself mentally and physically to the limits that I do and stay healthy and even more importantly, happy during the process. Each week logs more miles, but more importantly it fills my heart with joy!
This weekend I had the great pleasure of traveling with my running partner/sole sister and her family to our race in St. Pete, FL to run in the Women’s Running St. Pete Half Marathon. We opted to leave on Friday afternoon in order to spend some time with her hubby’s family while we were down for the race. What an awesome addition to a great weekend. We celebrated an early Thanksgiving with his grandparents and extended family and they welcomed me with open arms as if I were one of their own and even extended their home to me so I wouldn’t have to book a hotel. There is still kindness in the world and this was amazing to experience this weekend.
After we arrived on Friday night, we promptly got some dinner and then settled in so we could get up early on Saturday morning and hit the Expo and the Saturday Market down by near the Pier. The St. Pete area was packed full of people this weekend in addition to the 5,000 plus runners in town for Sunday’s race. The weather on Saturday in St. Pete was quite hot which made me worry about the temps on Sunday morning. We walked around more than 5 hours on Saturday and got to hit the Vinoy for the Expo as we wound down our day in the downtown area. I was excited for a few things at the Expo, one of which was finally getting my Fellow Flowers daisy for Sunday’s run as it also matched my red Strength shirt that I already have. It seems very fitting to finish out the last 4 races of the 2013 race season with this in my hair.
Saturday morning arrived and it was an EARLY wake-up since we had to drive a little earlier to make it to be dropped off at the race start before all the entrance roads were blocked off at 6 am. So we got up and went through all of our pre-race morning rituals and hit the road. We were glad to see we made the right choice to leave early since they were already beginning to block roads off as we approached the downtown area. We arrived around 5:15 am and then promptly made our way the few blocks to the runner village and began to get organized and ready to meet our Tallahassee Moms RUN This Town running Chapter members and running buddies for our pre-race group photo. We also made sure that we wouldn’t be starting this week’s race in the porta-potty as we did in St. Augustine last weekend.
It was such an exciting weekend to run with all of them in St. Pete. One Mama was pregnant and another running her very first half marathon! It was such an emotion filled morning for sure! We snapped our shot and then made our way to our corrals and awaited the start. I was somewhat excited about the fact that this would be my first all flat half marathon, but also somewhat apprehensive since I seem to struggle with long and flat distance running. So I tried to keep a positive outlook and anxiously awaited our corral to move to the start line.
The bell sounded and we crossed the start line and were off. We were greeted immediately by a lot of supportive spectators along the first few miles of the course. It is always so great to have people out cheering for us and holding signs to keep our attention away from the fact that we have so many miles ahead of us to push through. I was looking forward to seeing my friends Mindy and Kat from Mindy’s Fitness Journey and Sneakers and Fingerpaints at mile 1 and mile 7 on the course. Kat did not disappoint in making me smile and laugh both times I saw her. I was so excited also to see Mindy each time and still wished her health had allowed her to run this race with me. Seeing her at least made my heart smile! I just wish that I had gotten a chance to get a photo with them on the course!
As we winded our way through some old St. Pete neighborhoods, cobble road (which are not so kind to runners) and along the water that offered some welcomed breeze for the first 7 miles of the race. I was so excited to keep up with the 2:15 pace group for the first 6 miles. I passed several of our ladies on this part of the course that were just a few minutes ahead of me which also helped boost my effort to keep on pushing, but after that my hip told me that I needed to slow my pace in order to finish running. So I opted to catch my breath and find some less bumpy road to tackle those next few miles on. Thankfully there was a paved sidewalk along the cobble area that a lot of us found our way over to in order to get through that part of the course. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, just not my favorite terrains to run a distance run on.
As we returned to the downtown area and began our out course to Tropicana Field and back, I felt the road lift a bit, which I was happy for. As a runner you know, what comes up must go down. This incline, though ever so slight, seemed never-ending at some points and all I could see was a sea of runners ahead of me continuing to make the trek up to the turn around. This part of the course had a lot of spectators with signs. It is so funny to see what people come up with. I even touched a few signs that offered a Power UP mental boost, which was awesome and much-needed.
As I made my way to the final stretch of the race I started reflecting on how this race made me feel excited and accomplished. I was not focused on time, but quality of run. I kept to my mile countdown to keep myself motivated to finish. When I needed to walk, I walked and even though I was wearing my hydration belt with additional bottles, I even stopped to take advantage of the water stations which were plentiful for this race. It was really turning out to be a wonderful race and I was embracing the flat course that St. Pete offered.
Turning the corner to what I thought would bring the finish line into sight I was spent, the last half mile always seems to be the toughest for me. I’ve held out for 12.5 miles and by that point all my mental walls have been broken down and my mind yells to my legs that it wants to stop, but you can’t. I kept on pushing and started looking for all of my race buddies and my race partner on the final stretch. I was excited to see that my finish time was amazing and I was only a few minutes away from hitting my first half marathon time from February. I attribute that to the fast flat course for sure. I finished the Women’s Running St. Pete Half Marathon in 2:25:49 and couldn’t be happier with my effort, mental resolve and finish for this race.
I also got to spend some post-race moments with my running partner, which was a great BONUS!
This week I will celebrate Thanksgiving and travel, yet again, with my running buddy Becky to another race in Florida and run the Space Coast Half Marathon on Sunday, December 1st before taking a weekend off from racing. I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!
But until then, I’ll leave you with this week’s post race quote from my page –
Never in my whole life would I think that I would run for 2+ hours in a race on purpose. Facing fears, living dreams, making memories . . . Life is grand (and my feet hurt)