On Saturday I headed on over to downtown Safety Harbor to run the Best Damn Race Half Marathon. I was really looking forward to this race and not just because it’s located just over 2 miles from my front door, but because I missed it last year and I had heard rave reviews about it.
Of course being from the area and spending nearly every weekend running in Safety Harbor, I know about the parking so on Saturday morning I woke up bright and early and left for the race at 5:45am.
The first race to start was the 10K which was scheduled for 6:45, the half was supposed to start at 7:15 and the 5K was scheduled for 9am. I got to downtown within a few minutes but it took me around 20 minutes to find parking.
I immediately hit up the Starbucks where I ran into Johanne, whom I met at the Pasco Challenge last year, so that was a nice surprise. I was texting my friend Cheryl but she was running the 10K so I knew she would already be in the corrals and I wouldn’t get a chance to see her. I did see some of the Tampa Bay Bloggers but by the time I got to use the Starbucks bathroom it was 7:10 and I didn’t know the races had started late so I had no time to stop and yell or go say hi.
I jumped into the corral with the 2:00 pacers hoping I’d be able to finish close to 2 hours since I run this route all the time, but realistically, I had just run a half marathon 6 days prior and was also fighting off a sinus infection so I knew I wasn’t going to push myself too hard.
Anyway, the 10K race hadn’t even started when I jumped in the corral but it started shortly after. Apparently, there were some issues with one of the course vans and it caused a delay. The half finally started around 7:35.
It was very foggy at the start but I know the area so I wasn’t too concerned. I was worried about slipping because it had rained for several days prior and everything was still quite wet. I decided to keep my pace in the low 9’s and if I felt good I’d speed up a little, if I felt bad, I’d slow down.
The first 4 miles take you down Phillipe Parkway into Phillipe Park and back and they felt really good. Actually, I felt pretty good for the first 6 miles and then I stopped for a water break at mile 7. I knew miles 8 and 9 would be a bit hilly so I walked a bit and also stopped for some Gatorade during those 2 miles. And then just like in the Blue Moon Half, I got the stomach cramps. I walked a little bit and drank some more water and then realized that mile 10 was a 12 minute mile for me and I sort of freaked out.
I picked up the pace in mile 11 and finished that one in 9:30 but then the stomach cramps came back so I slowed way down for the last two miles and I was okay with that because I’d rather run like a turtle than smell like a pig, no what I mean?
I finished in 2:11:46 and my chip time was actually 2:11:17. I didn’t get to ring the super cool PR Bell but many other people did and it was pretty cool to watch them.
This is when I met Jenna. This was her very first half marathon and Jenna killed it! She is only 17 years old and she finished in under 2 hours! GO JENNA! This made the race for me. I love hearing stories like Jenna’s and I hope she continues to enjoy a life-long love of running.
I walked around for a bit searching for people who I knew but it was pretty crowded and my stomach was a little upset with me so I opted to head home.
I will definitely run this race again next year. There were a few issues with parking and food, but the race director emailed everyone with an apology later that night and I think he’s just the kind of guy who will do his best to improve this race year after year.
Regardless of the snags, they provide free beer, free food, awesome medals and an awesome after party. Plus, they offer an early registration every year and if you happen to be one of the first to register, you can register for as little as a dollar! They also offer free race photos if you register by a certain time. All these things definitely help to make this the Best Damn Race!
What’s your absolute favorite thing about races?
What’s your least favorite thing about races?