I’d say the luck of the Irish was with me this weekend! Only 3 weeks after my Gasparilla Half Marathon PR, I was able to get a new personal best in the Florida Beach Halfathon yesterday! I woke up around 5am and had a 45 minute drive ahead of me to Fort Desoto. It is one of my favorite beaches to go relax at for a beach day, and this would be my first time running a big race there (other than the Top Gun Triathlon last year). I met up with a few lovely ladies before the race, we chatted a bit about our race plans, and then all headed to the start.
The race started exactly on time at 7:05am – always appreciated! I took off those first few miles a bit quick, much faster than I would have liked. I decided I might as well just try to hold on, and see how it went. Not exactly a race strategy, but I honestly had nothing to lose.
I’ve been big about experimenting with my mental toughness lately, and this was a perfect way to test a few theories I have been working on. The sun was just rising as we went through the first 5k, which I loved! The beach (or the mountains!) is my favorite place to catch a sunrise, and Fort Desoto didn’t disappoint!
The course is an out and back route. It’s scenic, flat, but pretty dang boring at that. I can just zone out and not really focus on what’s around me, so I didn’t mind. If you need things to keep your entertained, this isn’t the race for you. Spectators are minimal, and there are really only about 5-6 turns, including a few in a parking lot.
I was keeping up fine with the fast pace, until I hit mile 6. I started to get a bit lazy, and was just in a rhythm that was starting to get stale. I had to dig down and snap myself out of my funk. Luckily, I was able to – in the past, I’ve definitely had a problem with this. I really do think that with the more races I run, the better I get at this point of the race. There really is a lot to be said about getting as much experience as possible racing, to race well.
The turn around was right before the 8 mile mark. We got a quick view of the sun glowing on Sunshine Skyway, and we headed back for the final stretch – the final stretch of 5 miles.
I was running with a solid pack of people for a good portion of the race. One woman decided to pass me at mile 9, so I went ahead and stuck on her hip for a couple of miles. I figured I might as well give it a shot, or I was probably going to fall off. At this point, the race was hard. I was pushing myself, but I was doing fine. Racing isn’t supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be rewarding, and I wanted the end reward!
I was able to stay with the same person like I wanted to, and eventually, I was able to pass her. A lot of people who start to kick too early get frustrated when they pass someone, and that person (me) is able to stay with them. It helped in this situation, as I didn’t see her again. The last 3 miles went by quick. I was picking people off and making them my target to pass. I was able to pass 4 very consistent female runners in the last 5k, and a countless number of male runners.
I wasn’t able to speed up the last mile as much as I would have liked, but I literally gave it everything I had. I felt like I was absolutely sprinting the past 2k or so. It hurt, and I was incredibly ready to be finished at this point. Luckily, I had a couple tiny turns to go, and then the finish line was mine. I can only imagine how silly I looked during the last .1 of the race. I was sporting an ugly face for sure! But it was worth it – I earned myself some shiny new bling – my coveted reward!
And of course, since it was a festive occasions, the race organizers hooked us up with some goodies!
Green beer! I only had a few sips because 1. I needed water 2. I’m not a huge beer fan, green or not. But it was still fun to have 😉
The rest of the girls finished a few minutes after I did, and nearly everyone earned a shiny new PR! Meg was nursing a hip injury, and I am pretty darn impressed that she pushed through the race. She was hurting but still was holding impressive splits. Meghan got her fastest time by almost a full 2 minutes, Megan (another one!) finished under 1:45, and Tori crossed the finish line in her first ever sub two-hour race!! There were smiles all around!
Congrats on a big day for PR’s for everyone that raced this weekend. I saw a lot of fun tweets and updates announcing so much success this weekend – I’m looking at you Ashley, Theodora, and Anne! Wooo hooo!!
And for my finish time – the final results aren’t posted yet, but I did use my own watch that I started and stopped right when I crossed both the start and the finish line. I’ll take it ;0)