Since we have a vacation home near Venice, Florida, I already had a place to stay which is always nice when a race is more than an hour away from your home. And since my niece and her friends were coming down for Spring Break we got to spend some time with her too, so it worked out perfectly.
We went down on Thursday nite and on Friday morning MacGyver and I went over to the Fit2Run store to pick up my bib. The packet pick up was a breeze and only took a few minutes and the ladies there were extremely helpful and very nice.
My niece arrived Saturday morning at 2:30am so I didn’t get much sleep on Friday nite. Saturday was spent running around with the spring breakers, hitting up Trader Joe’s, and doing some shopping and other things; so I got to bed kind of late on Saturday nite as well, which made 4am on Sunday morning seem really early. Of course, if lack of sleep were my only problem, then this race would have been easy peasy…Unfortunately, this was half marathon number 4 of the year and I am 7 pounds heavier than I was last month but I am nothing if not a trooper so I powered on, full steam ahead!
The drive from my house to the race start is only about 20 minutes but as I got closer to the start there was a bit of traffic. It wasn’t bad though and parking was a breeze. I was directed to a spot right in front of the Hyatt fairly close to the start and once I was parked, I immediately hit up the port a potty because, well, because I’m me and that’s what I do.
The line for the port a potty’s near the start line was fairly long but there were additional port a potty’s near the finish and hardly any lines at all. I made my way to the start line with about 15 minutes to spare. The race start time was 7am and it started about 5 or 10 minutes late, no biggie.
Because the race was the day before St. Patrick’s Day, I wore green and some pretty fancy beer socks!
It was pretty windy first thing in the morning and I was really enjoying that wind, especially as I was chugging up the hellacious bridge known as the Ringling Bridge because this fist part of this race takes you South on the Tamiami Trail and then East over the Ringling Bridge to St. Armands Circle and around it and then right back over that bridge. But let me just tell you, the scenery is spectacular and it makes it all worth it. And on a side note, it’s probably good training for the Iron Girl half.
After you finish crossing the bridge the second time you head North toward the Ringling Museum, which you get to around mile 9. It’s a long stretch but it was nice because there were quite a few spectators along the course cheering us on and the policemen along the course were also very nice, I may have even high fived a few of them.
Once you reach the Ringling Museum, you turn left and enter the Indian Beach and Sapphire Shores neighborhoods. Some of the homes were really beautiful and I couldn’t help but stop to take pictures of the water along the way. I also saw some of the best race signs during this stretch.
With only a mile and a half to go, I came upon a boy who was only 12 years old. He was walking and I stopped to talk to him. His name was Treyton and this was his very first half marathon and he was running with his parents and his sister, all of whom he was ahead of. He was tired but I encouraged him to start running again and I ran with him all the way to the finish line. That was the best part of this race. Seeing that kid in his superman shirt cross the finish line of his very first half marathon, I loved it. It was a beautiful moment and I almost cried. Seriously.
After crossing the finish line, I received one of the best medals I’ve ever gotten. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the after party, (which looked like a blast), because I had some Spring Breaker’s to attend to. And may I just add that every single one of them loved and wanted my race shirt and I have to admit, it’s my favorite race shirt thus far!
I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 2:15:10. It wasn’t my best or my worst time but I had a blast. This is a gorgeous course and other than the bridge it’s relatively flat. Despite the fact that there were over 3,000 runners on the course and it was a sold out race, it wasn’t over-crowded and the race organizers did a fantastic job. The course was well marked, there were plenty of water stops with water and Gatorade and they also handed out gels, (which I believe was around mile 7.) I’m definitely coming back next year and I’ll be back at fighting weight and hopefully injury free because next year, I’m gonna beat my time, and I’m going to party like a rock star afterwards! Count on it!
What’s your favorite race medal and why?