Florida Beach Halfathon

March 23, 2014

This is another one of those whim races for me. I set a goal to run 14 races of half marathon distance or better and I needed to fill my calendar and this one fit so I registered. I haven’t run any of the races from this particular series so this will be new for me.

I have to get a room since I’ll have to pick up my packet the day before and Clearwater is a bit further than my “I’ll drive the morning of” distance. It’ll take me about two hours to get there. It’s only an overnight stay so the expense won’t be too bad.

I board my pups and head over on Saturday. I’m going straight to Fit-2-Run to pick up my packet. Then I’ll head to the hotel. I don’t really know where I’m going because I don’t come over this way often so I’m relying on Waze to get me where I need to be. It really is the best GPS app on the planet. If you don’t have it, go download it now. Really; do it now. I’ll wait.

I find Fit-2-Run and park around the corner. I have zero idea of the area I’m in so I don’t want to park too far away. The store is semi-crowded but packet pickup is quick. They’re offering discounts on in-store purchases for runners so I browse but don’t find anything of interest.

The race t-shirt isn't exactly my color but it is a nice tech tee.

The race t-shirt isn’t exactly my color but it is a nice tech tee.

I get back to my car and use Waze to get me to my hotel. I get checked in and just stretch out to relax for a bit. I have two friends that live in Sarasota and we’re going to meet for dinner later. I have some time to just relax; and let my phone charge; before I meet them.

We meet at Joe’s Crab Shack; a favorite of mine. We all way overeat but it’s so good that we just can’t help ourselves. It’s also so nice to get to spend some time with these girls; Sam and Janine are two of my favorite people. They are so funny and so cute and I really enjoy being around them. We laugh a lot! It makes me wish I could see them more often. But…life.

My friends, Samantha and Janine and I eating at Joe's Crab Shack. I LOVE these ladies!

My friends, Samantha and Janine, and I eating at Joe’s Crab Shack. I LOVE these ladies!

I head back to the hotel so I can get some sleep. I’ll have about a 20 minute drive in the morning and I’m not 100% certain where I’m going. I get all of my run clothes ready so I won’t have to scramble. I also stopped by the store and bought some cereal and such for breakfast. I even grabbed a chocolate milk for recovery after the race.

Early alarms…ugh.

Begrudgingly, I get up. I sign up for this. And, yet I still question why I do this. I really do love to run. I’m dressed quickly. I eat and then head out the door. I have the address in my phone so I pull it up so Waze can get me there. Surprisingly, it only took me about 15 minutes. I guess not really surprisingly; there isn’t much traffic this early in the morning.

I park and have a little bit of a walk to get to the start line. It’s a nice morning but it’s supposed to get pretty humid and warm. I don’t know anything about this course other than we’re on an island and it’s Ft. DeSoto State Park. I hope that means there will be some breeze.

I stop by the bathroom as the line is already long and I know if I don’t go now, I’ll have to go two miles in and I don’t know how the bathroom situation will be on the course. It’s an actual bathroom rather than a porta potty. I like this. The line moved pretty quickly so I was able to get in and out.

There is no special corrals at the start. Faster runners start at the front and slower runners follow. Walkers are asked to stay in the rear of the pack. A few quick announcements and then the National Anthem. It’s still dark but the sun is starting to peek out when the gun sounds.

The course made a 5k loop that actually took us back by the start line before we headed out the island. As I passed by the start line for the remaining 10 miles, the sun was just above the trees. It was still cool but it was warming relatively quickly. I was already quite sweaty though thanks to the humidity.

We made our way out the bike/walking trail that runs along the road. The road runs straight through the middle of the island. There are water stops every couple of miles; not as often as I’m used to or even as I’d like today given the heat.

This is an out and back course. So I’m approaching the six mile mark and the faster runners are coming into the final mile or so. Since we’re sharing the same path, the outgoing runners are giving words of encouragement to the incoming runners. As a slower runner, I must say that I appreciate when these faster runners at least acknowledge that I’ve cheered them on. I get that you’re running really fast and you may not be able to speak, but you can wave or nod that you’ve heard me. I mean, you really should say thank you, but at least acknowledge me. I sincerely appreciate when people cheer for me and I try to always say thank you or acknowledge the cheering.

When I finally make it to the turnaround, there are oranges. These are quite possibly the best oranges ever. It was really hot and they were cool and juicy. I always bring my own fuel (like Chomps, peanut butter pretzels, Honey Stinger waffles, etc.), but I don’t generally carry hydration. I hadn’t ever had an orange during the middle of a race so this was a great treat (I have used oranges during training but they can be tough to carry on longer runs).

I headed back down the path on the return. Since it’s an out and back course, we pass the water stops again. When I got to the water stop around mile 10, I was informed that the stop was out of cups. So, unless I had a bottle, I wasn’t getting any water. And I, of course, don’t have a bottle.

I’m a bit thirsty and a little concerned that I might get a little dehydrated. I know my body and I know the symptoms of dehydration. I’m OK but the thought lingers. Also, I believe this is the last water station so I still have about 5k to go.

I follow the course across the road. I’m now on part of the initial 5k loop we did. I know I’m about a mile or so away from the finish. I also see that there is another water stop. The volunteers are several yards ahead of the tables too so I can get extra if I need it. I rehydrate and they tell me I have about a mile to go.

The water gave me a boost so I pick up my pace a little. It’s really hot though and I feel sunburned (even though I used sunscreen). My arms feel sunburned so I may not have sprayed them quite enough or I’ve just sweat THAT much.

I make the last two turns and give it my all to get the finish line. I am so hot and so tired and mostly just thirsty. I get my finisher’s medal and then line up for some food. This race has a great after party. They have pasta for all the runners, beer, soda, fruits, pastries, chocolate milk; all kinds of goodies. I get some snacks, a chocolate milk, and find a place to stretch. I’m so sweaty that I leave a butt print on the bench I sat on. But I don’t care because my snacks and chocolate milk are delicious.

The finisher's medal for the Florida Beach Halfathon. They have some really cute medals for their races.

The finisher’s medal for the Florida Beach Halfathon. They have some really cute medals for their races.

I head back to the hotel so I can shower before heading back home. My official finish time was 2:38:35. Overall, considering the heat and humidity, I’m happy with this. I had a great time. The race was well organized; the course was flat; the food and refreshments after were plentiful and tasty. My only complaint would be running out of cups at the water station. I don’t like to carry things when I run but this makes me seriously consider a fuel/hydration belt. Some shade along the course would’ve been nice too but this is Florida, aptly named the Sunshine State.

I don’t know if I would do this particular race again but I would definitely try some of the other races put on by this group. It was fantastic and they are great to the runners. They even have virtual options for those that would like to participate but can’t travel. Can’t really beat that.

Florida Beach Halfathon in dollars:

Registration: ~$86
Hotel: ~$110
Gas: ~$35
Food: ~$60
Kennel: ~$130 (they had baths and paw-dicures too!)
Total: ~$421

Gotta run…

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