This post is a tad bit long…you’ve been warned.
On Friday afternoon I headed over to Safety Harbor, Florida to attend the Best Damn Race Expo. I had already picked up my bib and race packet the day before at Sports Authority but I love expo’s, and I really wanted to go and so I did.
There were quite a few vendors, it seemed like quite a few more than last year. I checked out as many as I could and even bought a few t-shirts from some of the other Best Damn Races from other cities.
I brought my little friend Jayde along with me and we also scored some beach balls and a ton of cookies. And then we hit the fountains for some pictures.
After the expo I went home to get prepared for the race the next day. I had been looking forward to this race for quite a while and I really wanted to do well.
I woke up at 4:45AM on Saturday morning and had a few cups of coffee. I also changed at least 3 times because even though it was a crisp 48 degrees that morning, I knew it would rise to around 70 by the afternoon. I finally went with my Under Armor Manx Capri and a long-sleeved Brooks shirt. It was fine until mile 12, and by then I was hot, but overall it was the best choice.
I left my house around 5:40 and arrived in downtown shortly thereafter. I got there early enough to get a great parking spot right across the street from Starbucks and the best pre-race bathroom around. There were three races on Saturday. The 10K started at 6:45, the half marathon started at 7:15 and the 5K was set to start at 9:00. I didn’t stick around for the 5K but the 10K and the half-marathon started right on time.
After a quick trip to Starbucks, I booked it to the start line and ran into my friend Fiona. She was shooting for a 2 hour finish and I was shooting for under 2:10 so we lined up in the same area and got ready.
Mile 1 takes you through Safety Harbor and towards Phillipe Park, which you run through for the next few miles. The start was a bit slow but instead of trying to weave through a ton of people, I took my time and finished the first mile in 9:52. Running through the park was nice and I felt strong. I finished mile 2 in 9:29 and mile 3 in 9:04.
We exited Phillipe Park near mile 4 and I passed the 2:10 pacers. I finished mile 4 in 9:16. We headed down Phillipe Parkway for the next few miles. I finished mile 5 in 9:15. Soon after passing mile 6 we turned into one of the neighborhoods and I finished mile 6 in 9:01.
At this point I was feeling pretty strong but I knew there were a few hills in the neighborhood and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold a pace in the low 9’s through those hills and still finish strong, so I decided to take the next few miles conservatively and save some push for the end when I would most likely need it.
I started to regret not keeping the pace because it was at that point I lost sight of the 2:00 pacers. I finished mile 7 in 9:21, mile 8 in 9:18, and mile 9 in 9:13. Around mile 10 I started to feel a little tired. I gave it almost all I had to finish mile 10 in 9:36. Around mile 11 we were back on Bayshore and that’s when I embarrassed the crap out of myself. The most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done during a race happened then.
When I get tired, I tend to look down and dig in to get that extra push from within. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the turnaround. And I probably wouldn’t have except that a car beeped at me to let me know I was in his way. I looked up and realized the other runners were about a tenth of a mile away…but in the opposite direction! My bad. OOOOPS….
As soon as I turned around and headed back to the course I started to feel defeated. I finished mile 11 in 10:01. I knew I needed to pick up the pace to stay ahead of the 2:10 pacers but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to.
MacGyver showed up on his bike! I know. It was the best thing ever at the Best Damn Race. I yelled out that I needed motivation and MacGyver replied, “There are free shoes and purses at the finish line, hurry!”
Mile 12, 9:52, done.
In the last mile, I started to get really hot. I had to stop for water twice but I still managed to finish that mile in 10:08.
I wasn’t sure how accurate my Garmin was but I knew that last year, it measured 13:17 at the finish. It read 3:03 at this point and I couldn’t see the finish line at all. When I did get there and I finally passed over it, I looked down at my Garmin and it read 13:34. I guess I did veer off course, just a tad bit….
I finished with a chip time of 2:06:28 and I was quite happy with that time. After taking off so many months due to some issues with my hips, I did much better than I expected to and now I have a definite goal in mind for the Sarasota half in March.
I’ll definitely run this race again next year but in case you’d like to run it, (and you should), here are the particulars:
Location: Safety Harbor, Florida
Host: Best Damn Race ® is a running series created for runners by runners.
Race Fee: The Best Damn Race has an awesome registration process. Some people scored bibs for a dollar…ONE DOLLAR!
From their website: Our unique registration process allows all participants the opportunity to register for as little as $1. This gives all athletes an opportunity to race regardless of income level. For example, each non-challenge race starts out with $1 (for the first 10 participants to register), $5 (for participants 11-20), $10 (for participants 21-30), $15 (for participants 31-40), $20 (for participants 41-100).
*Some of the races were sold out but you could register for the half on race day.
Packet Pickup: I picked my packet up at Sports Authority on Thursday. It was pretty quick and easy. The organizers also offered pick up at other locations throughout the week and you could pick up your packet at the Expo as well.
Parking: Because I live in the area, I’m familiar with the parking but I’d suggest getting there by 5:45-6:00am to get the best spaces and have plenty of time to visit the port a potty’s or whatever it is you do pre-race. I got to downtown around 5:50 and had no problems at all finding a premium parking space. Of course if you were running the 5K at 9am, I don’t think you’d want to come that early.
Support Crew: There was a plethora of water stops and several with water and Gatorade. I’m pretty sure one of the stops also offered gels but I didn’t need any so I didn’t pay too close attention. There were lots of people helping out at the water stops and all of the stations were well-manned.
Swag and Bling: The Best Damn Race series has some of the coolest T-Shirts around and free pictures. That’s right, I said, FREE pictures. I was super impressed with the Cape Coral Tees so I bought a few of those as well. The bling is also awesome. This year, it was another spinning medal but it also had glitter! Bonus! check it out:
After Party: The after party was crazy good. Lots of bananas and oranges, which I loved! They also had some brownies, I think, but most importantly, food from Jimmy Johns, Pollo Tropical and all the doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts! I’ve never seen that many doughnuts close up. I was super impressed. They also have a beer truck and it’s filled with beer. I’m not a big drinker, but if I was, I totally would have had some beer. Instead I opted for water and then sprite. They also offer red bull for those inclined to that sort of beverage. I think it’s safe to say that the Best Damn Race after party caters to every type of runner out there. I was impressed.
Overall: Overall I think this is one of the most well-organized races I’ve run and what’s even more impressive is how fast they’ve grown in such a short period of time. Typically one would expect to see all sorts of little issues and growing pains. Not so, in this case.
The Best Damn Race really is the best damn race. I’ll be running it again next year!
What do you think about beer after races? Indulge or not?
What was your favorite race this year?