It was just a three weeks ago that I registered for the Sarasota Half Marathon, all because of the picture of the amazing medal that was posted online. Seems like a good reason to run a race, right? I will also admit that I loved the idea of the course because part of it went around St. Armand’s Circle, which is a favorite of mine.
Last week, hubby and I ran Memorial Bridge twice in preparation for the Iron Girl half marathon, which is next month. I’ve been worried about that one because of the bridges. I also knew that there was a bridge for the Sarasota Half Marathon. I figured it would be good practice for the Iron Girl.
So, yesterday morning I got up at 3am to get ready and eat breakfast before driving the 50 miles from my house to Sarasota. My mom and sister made the drive with me, which I am very thankful for. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is not my favorite in the dark…
It was still very dark when we arrived, and a chilly 52 degrees. We found a great parking spot (which by the way I love that they did not charge for parking!).The start and finish line were in the same place (love that!), right on the water. I also saw the medals all shiny and ready to go for the finishers. I could not wait to get my hands on that medal!
The John Ringling Bridge was all lit up in the distance and it was a reminder that this would be a challenge, my first half marathon with a bridge.
I met up with my blogging friends Caroline and Beth and we started the race together…. It’s always fun to see fellow bloggers at races. I look up to these women for their racing and how active they are.
The race started at 7am, and we were all the way in the back. I knew that I would run when I could and walk when I needed to, and we held a nice pace leading up to the bridge. We all agreed that if any of us wanted to run ahead, it was fine. When we reached the bridge, Beth suggested I run it, since I had run the memorial bridge a couple times last week. I decided she was right and I went for it. I ran all the way to the top. I don’t think that bridge is as tall as the Memorial Bridge, but it was still a nice incline. When I got to the top, I stopped to take a picture of the beautiful sunrise happening behind me. Thank you, Beth, for the little nudge to run the bridge!
Beautiful picture taken, I ran down the bridge, towards St. Armand’s Circle. This set my pace for the entire race. I was feeling really good and as I ran around St. Armand’s Circle and hit the 3 mile and then 5K mark, I knew that I was doing good and assuming my Garmin time was correct, I had a great 5K time. I loved running around the circle, of course thinking of my dad and how much he liked it down there, and the times we had been down there as a family…
Heading back to the bridge, I knew I was going to run it again, thinking about how once I got over the bridge and back around to where we started, I would be almost halfway through the race. The miles seemed to be passing quickly.
As I approached the bridge, one of the songs I just added to my half marathon playlist came on – Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson. I love this song! I was feeling great, loving the cool morning, and enjoying the run, and this song just added to it.
I ran halfway up the bridge, took a quick walk break, and then ran the rest of the way to the top. I took another walk break and then ran all the way down. Checking my Garmin, I saw that I was still doing great on my time.
Rounding the corner, I headed north and mile 6 passed pretty quickly. I passed by the relay area and enjoyed all the cheering that was going on. The speedy runners were already passing by to finish the half marathon. Always amazing to me!
Around Mile 7, Beth passed me by with an encouraging “if you keep up this pace, you’ll come in under 3!”. Just what I needed to hear to keep me going! Just after that, I finally got the runner tracking texts I had signed up for. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it…
Estimated finish time of 2:46:25? How was that possible? I actually had a chance to come in under 3 hours, which has been my goal since doing my very first half marathon in February 2012. And of all races for it to happen on, when I least expected it. This was where the race really started, where I had to dig deep. I kept a close eye on my Garmin from here on out, doing my best to keep my pace around 12:40. I was going to give it my best shot!
After running north for what seemed like forever, we reached the Ringling Museum of Art and turned west for our turnaround. From here, we ran through a nice residential area, passed a little park, and ran along the water a time or two. It was a beautiful day.
When I hit mile 10, I told myself I just had a 5K to go. I could do it. I could cross that finish line under 3 hours. I tried not to look at my Garmin too much at this point, mostly because I wasn’t sure how close my watch was. This was the hardest part. I wanted to slow down and take longer walk breaks, but I knew I couldn’t. I had come this far and had to make sure I gave it everything I had. I could rest when I was done. I just needed to cross that finish line.
When we reached Tamiami Trail again, we had just a mile to go. There were people lining the streets and I could hear cheering. I was SO close!!! At long last, I made the turn towards the finish line. I knew I was under 3 hours but I wasn’t looking at my Garmin. I saw my sister and my mom and I kept running. When I crossed the finish line, I was so excited – and once again, emotional. When the text came in that I had finished in 2:48:12, I started crying. A new PR!!Will there ever be a time I finish a half marathon and don’t cry? I couldn’t help it. I had come in under 3 hours by a solid 11+ minutes. I have joked that coming in at 2:59:29 would make me happy, and I killed that. And, I finally got my hands on that medal.
I am so darn proud of myself, amazed that I beat 3 hours and set one heck of a PR for myself. This one will be hard to beat… Next up is the Iron Girl half marathon in Clearwater next month. Even more exciting? Once I complete that I will be eligible to be a member of Half Fanatics for completing 3 half marathons within 90 days. Who am I?!
Please visit my blog for the full race recap and photos... http://thiscrazylifeofmine.com/race-recap-sarasota-half-marathon-2013-and-a-huge-pr/