Sarasota Half Marathon & Slumber Party!

After the Gasparilla races I didn't have much going on. I ran the following Tuesday but my legs felt heavy and weak. I ran/walked 2.4 miles at the World of Beer group run. I didn't have any races the following weekend because I had a wedding to attend. It was odd not waking up to go run a race. But the wedding was awesome and well worth the time off from racing. On Tuesday, March 5th, I did a double run day. Four miles with the striders in the morning, where Mera and I got lost, and 3 miles at the World of Beer Run later that night. I pushed myself for those 3 miles because I was planning on running the Armadillo 5k that weekend, and I wanted to run a sub 30 5k. I was close, but not quite under 30 min. 

Then work got crazy. I wound up working 13 days straight over a two week time period and was on my feet for the 120 hours I worked. I didn't have time to get any training runs in for the Sarasota half marathon. The 11 days leading up to the race were non-running days for me. Instead I spent most of the time working, some days pulling double shifts. All of this time was standing. I didn't think I was going to do too well during this race, but I figured I'd just have fun with it and get back into the running again by finishing and getting that shiny dolphin medal. Plus, the race was on St. Patrick's Day, and I had a plan to dress up to celebrate. I decided I would have fun with the race. I wasn't going to worry about a PR or any other goals. I was just going to go out and have a good time. 


Pretty view driving over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

On Saturday Mera and I drove down to Sarasota in the afternoon. We had went out the night before, not a smart thing considering the half on Sunday, so we were a little tired. We got to Fit 2 Run for packet pick up and it was super crowded. Packet pick up was easy, but if you intended on buying something, you were going to have to wait on line quite a while. 

After we got our packets we headed over to the hotel to meet David, Karen, Patrick, and Marcia. We were going to be spending the night with them. Runner slumber party! David and Karen were awesome hosts and had all we would need for race day. Bananas, bagels, peanut butter - and they even brought their Keurig. I have to admit I was a little excited about that. We put our bags down and were about to leave for our group pasta dinner, but before we left it was decided that I would try on the tutu I would be running in for the race. 


Trying out my race tutu and headband

I had mentioned to my amazing aunt, Doreen, that I had wanted to make a green tutu for my race on St. Patrick's Day. She surprised me by making me not one, but two tutus. Its not clear from the picture but theres a mix of green, white, and sparkly tulle. And there are also ribbons strategically placed all around the skirt. And then I had to add the shamrock headband - perfect finishing touch for the holiday race. 

After a quick photo session we headed over to Cafe Baci where the striders were all meeting up for a pre-race meal. Special thanks to Mike for organizing the event. 
Mera and I at the pre-race dinner

I had a salad and penne a la vodka. Everything was delicious. It was a great meal, great conversations, and I was happy to meet some of the other striders I hadn't met yet. As dinner came to an end I started to feel the tiredness hitting me again. I knew it was time for bed soon.

Suncoast Strider after our wonderful dinner

We headed back to the hotel, chatted for a little bit, and then everyone got ready for bed. We needed to be well rested for our early morning wake up. 

The alarm went off at 4:30 and I hit the snooze button a few times. Then it was time to get up and get in gear. I got dressed, had some coffee and a bagel with peanut butter and then finished up with my tutu and headband. It may have been early, but we were all pumped and ready to go.
Ready to rock this race! Patrick, Marcia, Mera, Me, Karen

We headed down to the start. We got there relatively quickly, and we had a lot of time to kill. It was cold. We met up with some of the other Striders, and chatted for a while. Mera and I decided to go back to the car for a bit to warm up. Then the start time approached and we headed over to the start line. I lined up at the 11 min/mile mark. I didn't think I would run the race that fast, but I'd stay as close as I could to running a 2:30 as possible. Again, this was just going to be a fun race for me, but I'd like to run a decent race for me, even if all in fun. 7 am came, and we were off.

Before the start

During the first mile my left shin started acting up. I got worried because I knew the last time I had ran my shins were screaming in pain. This wasn't a good sign for me. A mile in, and already having difficulties. My music was giving me a hard time as well. My headphones weren't working. I had never run a race without music and was scared I was going to lack motivation. 

A picture of the bridge we ran over

Then we were approach in the bridge. I couldn't run up the whole way.  I stopped to walk for a bit. Mera caught up with me and we took a picture together, of course a nice man decided to photo bomb us, but it was all fun. Then I looked back and saw how beautiful the sunrise looked and the view from the bridge. I snapped a quick picture, and then started running down the bridge. 

Photobombed pic on the bridge

Sunrise during the race

My shin started feeling better and I started picking up the pace. I started to feel good out there. I tried something different. I tried not paying attention to my watch. I could feel that I was going a little faster than normal, but I didn't want to be concerned by time or milage. As I was running back towards the bridge to go over it again I ran into Michelle. I knew she runs faster than me, so I got excited that I was probably doing a lot better than I expected. 

I got through the first half of the race and was feeling good. I started to get tired around mile 9. Typical for me, but I knew I was almost there. Four miles to go, I got this. My legs started to get a bit tired, and my breathing became more labored. I slowed down when I needed to. At some point I passed a cheering section and had people chanting "go tutu". It gave me an extra boost. 
Around mile 4? And Michelle in the pink shirt behind me =)

At some point after mile 10, I heard someone saying my name. I turned to see Chrissy and Denise, two of the striders. We talked quickly about blogging and Denise's blog group. Made a mental note to join. I ran ahead of them for a little bit, and I started to run out of energy. When they caught up to me I tried to hang with them for the last bit of the race, but eventually I slowed down. 

With one mile to go I looked at my watch and realized I was going to finish under 2:30. I was quite surprised with myself considering everything that was working against me. No music, a giant bridge - twice, lack of sleep Friday night, 120 hours of work preceding the race. All these negatives that could have slowed me down, and I still wound up with my 3rd best half marathon time: 2:28:24. Not a PR, not my half goal, but so much better than I thought I would do. I was proud!

Chrissy, Me, and Denise

After the finish Denise and Chrissy were waiting to take a finish picture with me. We took a quick pic, and then headed over to where the striders had congregated. Congratulations were all exchanged, and many photos were snapped. We saw Deigo finish - with a sub 2:30, and PR time of 2:27. Joanna finished here first half ever in 2:30 - right on goal. And Mera PR'ed by over 20 min - 2:42. So many of the other striders PR'ed and had amazing races. 

Striders at the finish

Mera and I celebrating her PR!

After the congratulations were exchanged we went off to get some post-race food. And of course to take more pictures. I ran into some Run Tampa friends and got a shot with them
My RunTampa peeps!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Nelson and Rene Snow. Nelson runs a group on Facebook - 1000 miles in 2013. One of my goals is to run 1000 miles this year, and he keeps track of everyone's milage when you post your runs on Facebook. Very awesome. 
Nelson and I

After we took a few more pictures, and did a quick interview for something (I have no idea who was filming or for what), we headed back to the hotel. We all cleaned up, talked about future races, running strategies, and our amazing race in Sarasota. We all look forward to running this one again next year.

Finished!

Super pretty medal! Love the dolphins