Best Damn Race Safety Harbor 2017: Race Recap

February 15, 2017

The Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor is a ¬†gem of a race we have here in the Tampa area. They’ve expanded to other cities as well (I ran the Cape Coral Marathon back in 2014) and really know how to put on an amazing event!

The half marathon started at 7:15am (there was a 10k before and a 5k after), which mean the wake up wasn’t too crazy early! My friend Steph and I decided to ride together to Safety Harbor, so she picked me up around 6:15am and we headed over the bridge! The race start is only about 20 minutes from my house, so the commute was a breeze. We weren’t sure what parking was going to look like, so we wanted to give ourselves an extra few minutes. Luckily, we grabbed a parking spot in the surrounding neighborhood and used the distance between the car and the start line as a little warm-up. It was right around 60 degrees at the start, so warming up our muscles was perfect.

There were pacers standing in the corrals, so knowing where to line up was easy peasy. I started with the 8 minute/mile crowd, thinking I’d be happy to stick with this group, if at all possible. Once the gun went off, we all trotted on our way. It was pretty humid, but still cool and cloudy out, so weather wasn’t an issue. The first few miles, like always, flew right by. We ran on the water into Philippe Park, so it was a bit of an out and back. Seeing familiar faces in these settings is always a nice pick me up! Right around mile 4, we got back out onto a main road and start our trek back south. I was averaging 7:30 pace, which was much faster than expected!

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For anyone who has never been to Safety Harbor, its a cute little town right on the other side of Tampa Bay. I really enjoyed running through the neighborhood, and was so thrilled with the varying elevation of the course. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not calling it hilly, but it was just enough to get me thinking a little different in regard to race strategy. I really focused on taking on the hills strong, and really using the downward slope to my advantage, letting my legs really guide me down to make up for lost speed.

We ran in and out of neighborhoods, so there was a lot to look at! Spectators were minimal, except around mile 5.5 when we passed the start/finish areas. For me, this wasn’t a big deal – I just get out and do my thing ūüėČ This is truly a race put on by runners, so the amenities were not lacking! There were aid stations every mile and a half or so, which is so necessary in Florida. I always really appreciate it when hydration stations are on point. There are too many times when an out of town race comes to Florida and there isn’t enough water. That is not the case with Best Damn Race!

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Right around mile 8, I definitely started to feel the faster pace. The day of the race marked the 6th day of the Whole30 (more on that later!), so the altered diet was showing it’s face for sure! I could tell I just didn’t have as much in the tank right then, as my body was really still adjusting to the new way of eating. I slowed down for about a mile, and then dug down a bit deeper to get my pace back on track.

Mile 10 and 11 flew by, and at that point, it was really just a 2 mile run back to the marina. At this turnaround, the wind seemed to come out of no where and I really had to work for those last couple of miles. The headwind was pretty tough! I crossed the finish line in 1:41:05 (chip time) which was good enough for the 17th woman and 3rd place in my age group.

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I really surprised myself with the pace, and couldn’t have been more impressed with the race overall. Packet pick up was a cinch, getting to the start was no issue, the post race area was stocked well, and the medals are huge! Oh, and I forgot to mention – the race photos for this race are all free! Such an amazing perk!!

Best Damn Race Safety Harbor Medal

I’ll definitely be back next year for another Best Damn Race!

Davis: 8 Months

February 9, 2017

Dear Davis,

8 whole months baby boy! I say it every month and I’ll say it again, but time needs to slow down! You are the happiest little guy and your smile can melt hearts left and right. You are the best at giving away toothy grins and love to see faces you recognize.

Davis 8 Months_3

Any time your daddy or I turn the corner, you couldn’t be happier. As for your brother, he is the best at playing with you and keeping you entertained. You two are already fast friends and the bond grows deeper each and every day.

Davis 8 Months Grant 3 years

Month 7 to 8 was a big leap for you. You are (finally) sitting up like a pro and you’ve even started crawling too. You babble like a crazy man, blow strawberries, and scream at the top of your lungs to entertain yourself. You think that is so so funny! You’ve really taken a liking to music, really since you were a newborn, and can be calmed by most any tunes – even my rendition of the itsy bitsy spider.

Davis 8 Months_1

You’ve never had a food you didn’t like ¬†– you sir, are an eater! I make your food at the start of each week and you just wolf it down every day. You favorites seem to be oatmeal with banana and peanut butter, sweet potato with applesauce, and butternut squash. You think pouches are the coolest since you can hold onto them and feed yourself without help from mommy or daddy.

Davis 8 Months_4

You are still on the smaller side and are in 6 month clothes and still in size 2 diapers. The doctors say you are growing right on par with your growth chart and say you are absolutely thriving. I have to say I agree! Nursing is still something I look forward to when you wake up, since its really the only time of day you and I spend together by ourselves. Sometimes at night you will nurse, but most of the time you take a bottle since my supply is a little lower then, and you get frustrated and start biting me. Ouch! That can stop sooner than later, mkay?

Davis 8 Months_2

Your sleep is still great, and I really thank you for that! Bedtime is right around 6:30pm and you sleep until 6:30-7:30am most days. Once I get back from my early morning runs or gym sessions, you are ready to play! You love coming on runs with me in the stroller and have an affinity for your thumb and lovies.  If you grab something soft, your thumb immediately goes into your mouth and spend a few moments cuddling. Its absolutely adorable.

Davis 8 Months_5

We are creeping up on a very busy spring,¬†with your first trip to Disney, your brother’s 3rd birthday, and lots of other fun outings in between. You are so great about taking it all in stride (or nap!) and we couldn’t be more thankful to have you in the family, sweet baby!


Davis: 7 Months

January 12, 2017

Dear little Davis,

It’s definitely true what everyone says – time sure flies in your baby’s first year. It’s so hard to believe that you are 7 months old. I really feel like you’ve just graced our family with your presence!

Davis 7 months

Your days are filled with toothy smiles, endless giggles, and babble that never ends. You are around 16 lbs and comfortably in size 2 diapers. Your 6 month clothes fit you perfectly, and you can even still wear some 3 month clothes too. They just look more like capris than pants ūüėČ

You are eating solids like a champ and really haven’t run into a single thing you don’t like yet. I think your favorite so far has been a butternut squash and banana blend I made for you. You couldn’t get enough!

Davis 7 Months_2

You are so so close to sitting up. If you didn’t see your feet and instantly want to put them in your mouth, I’m convinced you’d be sitting up by now. You are also scooting and rolling around like a mad man. Crawling is definitely not very far away!

Davis 7 months_4

Sleep is just the same as it’s been for quite some time – great. Your naps are usually 2 hours long, twice a day. Night time tends to range from 12-13 hours of solid shut-eye. You always wake up so happy, so I know you are getting the perfect amount of sleep¬†– and so are daddy and I!

Davis 7 months_3

You experienced your very first Christmas with the family. I know you didn’t think anything was different about the day, but I sure loved having you there. There’s something so special about Christmas morning with our little family. We kept it to just the 4 of us this year for Christmas morning. And it sure was amazing. Your brother loved tearing open his gifts and you thoroughly enjoyed playing with all the paper spoils!

DAvis 1st christmas

There are so many more fun things we have to look forward to! I’m pretty sure Grant is just waiting for the day you can really play with him. He is pretty much your biggest fan. He asks for you every morning when he wakes up and is always sure to ask “where’s my baby brother” before heading to bed. You two already have a special bond and it absolutely makes my heart melt.

Grant Davis 7 Months

Thanks for being such a special part of our family, little one. You really are just the best.

Running Around New Orleans

December 21, 2016

When Marcus and I went to New Orleans for our 30th birthday a couple of weekends ago, we made sure to put some time in our agenda to go for a nice exploratory run. It’s always nice to explore somewhere new, and running is the best way to really see everything at your own leisure.

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Marcus has hung up his running shoes for the time being, so we found a bike rental shop and grabbed him a cruiser for our little jaunt. We committed to 2 hours, knowing we could see plenty of new places during that amount of time, without running too far. Check out the video Marcus made about our run and keep reading for some more details on the actual route

We started from the bike shop, and headed into the quarter to make our way to the recommended trail. The Lafitte Trail goes almost all the way to the huge and beautiful City Park, so we opted to pick it up and run on it almost all the way there. I was glad to have had him with me, because I can’t say I would have been ultra comfortable running solo.

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Miles 1-2.5 (and 7.5-8.5 on the way back) went through some more urban neighborhoods, so just be aware if you are using this route as a solo female – its always good to have a buddy when running in a new place! Once we got past about 2.5 miles, the scenery really changed. We started running right by Bayou St. John, and it was a really neat part of the city. The houses were really pretty (and big!) and it was a nice and quiet neighborhood. there was a lot to look at and it made the miles really fly by! Once we got into the park, we had some fun playing around a bit. We had an impromptu photo shoot on a running track in the middle of the park, which was so fun! I needed some more running pictures for sure!

Running New Orleans

After getting in a bunch of photos and running lap or so around the track (hence why my route comes out to just under 10 miles since I didn’t include the lap), we headed back to the bike shop so we would be on time to return the bike we rented. ¬†We dropped it off and made it back to our hotel with time to spare before our brunch reservation.

We both really loved the run we went on! The only con I would say is there is no accessible water on the Lafitte Trail. It was nice and chilly out, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but if we were running during a warmer month, it would have definitely been necessary. If you run this route, be sure to take your water with you!

More to come on where we ate and played in another post!

The Hot Chocolate 15k Race Recap: Tampa

December 19, 2016
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If there is one thing we can’t ever change when running a race (but will always want to), it would be the weather. This past weekend, Tampa hosted the Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k here in Tampa. Historically, this is a race held in cold locations so the runners can really indulge in the post race festivities of cocoa and fun. Well, give you Florida in December and you really never know what you are going to get. This year, unfortunately, we had 80 degree race day temperatures. Womp Womp.

The 15k started at 8:20, so I gave myself enough time to park and find a bathroom before the gun went of. I got pretty close to the front of my corral, and I am so glad I did. To the people who should really be closer to the back and line up at the front, please be considerate of others. It really is a safety issue if you plan on walking right out of the start line (end rant). I felt like a lot of people were in the front that shouldn’t have been, so there was a bit of weaving in and out for the first 200 yards or so. Once the course opened up a bit, it was no biggie.

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We all knew it was going to be a hot one, given it was already close to 75 degrees at the start, so I was sure to hydrate from the get go. I grabbed a cup of water at the first stop, and downed it pretty quickly. I knew I was going to need every drop! The course, like so many in Tampa, was held on Bayshore Boulevard, which is right and the water and always boasts a flat and fast course. We had a noticeable headwind on the way out, which meant only one thing – we’d pick up ¬†the tail wind on the way back. More often than not, I would be excited about a killer tailwind, but with the heat we were experiencing, it was less than ideal. As soon as we hit the turnaround spot, it immediately felt a solid 5+ degrees warmer. I couldn’t believe how hot it was! I was on the hunt for some more water and took as much as possible at the stop.

One super fun thing that happened on the course was running into Meb Keflezighi! His wife’s family lives in Tampa, so we tend to see him around here during the holidays. He was out for a run and I spotted him around the 5.5 mile mark. He is always so so nice and willing to chat with other runners, so I was sure to give him a holler and welcome him back to Tampa!


Right around 7 miles, I was so so ready to be done! The heat was really getting to me and I needed some more water, ASAP. I really just powered through the last 2 miles, grabbing two cups of water at the last stop, and headed over the bridge to the finish. The finisher’s chute was lined with cheering families and friends, so the energy was pretty exciting. Finishing is always something to clap about!

I made it through the chute, grabbed my medal, and caught my breath.

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I grabbed a bottle of water and then headed to the post race celebration. It was pretty scarce, since the 5k had already finished and I was at the beginning of the 15k finishers, but that made getting my goodies super simple! There was a tag on our race numbers to get our finisher’s mug, so went in the chute and grabbed it from the super chipper volunteer!

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The mug had hot chocolate and a bunch of yummy goodies to dip in the provided chocolate as well!Hot Chocolate 15k Tampa_1

I ended up taking a quick sip and then just tossing the hot chocolate – it was wayyy to warm to be drinking something so hot! It was pretty tasty though! It was much creamier than expected, so that was a plus! Once I got home, I was surprised to see the results and the *free* race photos already up and online. They weren’t kidding around! I ended up getting 3rd in my age group and had some decent finishing pictures.

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I would had loved to be closer to 7:30 pace, but I am pretty thrilled to have averaged sub 8 minute miles given the conditions. It always amazes me how much the heat affects running performance.

Hot chocolate 15k finisher tampa

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The only thing I would change about the race (other than the hot weather of course) would be the number of water stations on the course, as well as the number of volunteers at those water stations. Since the race is used to hosting races in colder places, I think it was a bit of an over site. With the crazy heat, we could have really used a cup of water every mile. I think it took me a solid 24 hours just to get to a point where I felt hydrated again after running those 9 miles. Other wise, I think everything went off very well for the race’s first Tampa event. The swag was awesome, the course was well marked, and the post race¬†tent was well stocked and easy to get to. I’m hoping for a cooler race at the event next year!