Sarasota Half Marathon

I had run the Sarasota Half Marathon last year (in 2013) and I loved it. It was a big ol' slumber party for me. We had drove down to Sarasota on Saturday had a great big group dinner and woke up bright and early to run a race on a beautiful course. I remember loving the view over the bridge as the sun came up over the ocean. 
When I was given the opportunity to run the race again this year I was thrilled. When I run I'm usually focused. I'm not sure on what exactly to be honest, but sometimes I don't pay attention to my surroundings. When I hear other people talking about the path of a race course and the streets they turned on or a building they saw I sometimes have no idea what they are talking about. I just run, and follow the other runners. Sometimes I'm looking ahead, sometimes I glance at my feet. Sometimes my thoughts get lost in the music I'm listening to at the time, sometimes I just have random thoughts that my mind drifts of into.

Sarasota was different. Sarasota was one of those races where I actually remembered a lot of the course. I remembered the beauty of the views I took in as I went up and over the bridge. I remembered looking around at all the shops around St. Armand's Circle. I remembered being cheered on as I ran up the rest of the course. I was psyched to do it all again.

This year was going to be a bit different for me though. I wasn't running as often as I had been last year. In fact I hadn't run since the Gasparilla 1/2 Marathon 2 weeks prior. I had been doing the T25 program, which is a lot of cardio and A LOT of jumping, squats, and lunges. I had a suspicion that my legs would feel stronger, but I was a little worried about my endurance over 13.1 miles. 

The night before I did not eat a proper pre-race meal. I was at my boyfriend's parents and we were having BBQ food and some wine - having a great time. I had about 3 glasses of wine and realized I hadn't had any carbs. I decided to eat a roll, but I didn't know what help that would be. I also realized it was quite late - I would only be getting around 4 hours of sleep. Yikes.

I woke up, got ready quickly and continued doing things you shouldn't do before a race. I ate something new. I knew I needed some carbs and I had these awesome Minute Muffins I hadn't tried yet, so I decided to eat one. I combined that with my vanilla shakeology and I was off. 
Pre-race breakfast
The e-mail about parking said to get to the race site before 6am, which we did, but the traffic was still crazy and I roundup getting to packet pickup at 6:50, 10 minutes before the race was to start. I was feeling anxious, which made my stomach start to cramp. I made my way to the start, but I couldn't get to where I normally started, I was all the way in the back. I guessed that would be OK since I wasn't expecting a fast run. Plus at this point I had realized my headphone weren't working out and I was discouraged. Stomach cramps, no headphones, anxiety. I was actually dreading the race at this point.

The race started and it took about 4 minutes for me to cross the start. No problem for me, it's chip timed and I wasn't winning any awards. I crossed the start and settled into a comfortable pace. The weather was beautiful and the sun had being to rise. I knew from last year that the bridge comes up quickly, so I made sure not to push myself. I was also excited for the bridge because I knew I'd love the view. 

I started up and over the bridge at a decent pace. I've only run over a bridge once before, so I figured I would if I could and if I got tired I'd walk. But up and over that bridge and went and I was holding a pretty good 10:30 min/mile pace. I tried not looking at my watch a lot and just ran what felt comfortable. I wasn't expecting a PR, so I was just running to run. As I kept seeing the time at the mile markers, however, I realized I was going pretty darn fast for myself - and was actually on pace to PR. 

I felt strong but I knew I had to go up and over the bridge one more time. I was going to try to run it. This would be a personal accomplishment for me because I've never run 2 bridges in one race. I ran into Denise right before the bridge and I decided I would try to keep up with her. We ran up over the bridge and my legs started to feel tired. Normally I would have probably stopped to walk but there was so little bridge left to run that I just HAD to get up there. And I did. The down part was easy.

Coming down the bridge the second time

I may have pushed myself a bit too hard on the bridge, because after that I got tired. I took my first walk break at the 5.65 mile mark. I tried to only stop and walk for a little bit because I could tell I was still on pace to PR but as I started running more I realized that may not happen. I was still super impressed with myself considering my last 3 halves and how much slower I had ran them compared to normal. The Gasparilla half I ran just 2 weeks prior - my finish time was 2:55. And here I am, conquering bridges, with the thought of a PR. Just that alone made me feel great.

I kept on moving along and then it started to get hot. The sun was blazing up in the sky and me and heat don't do well when running. It wasn't too bad, but I felt it contributing to my fatigue a little more. I gave up the idea of a PR and thought about finishing around the 2:30 point. 

We ran through a beautiful neighborhood on the water. A lot of my thoughts during the race were how beautiful that area was. I had hoped to take more pictures, but I felt strong running and I didn't want to stop and slow down. I think I made the right choice.

I also loved the cute little signs from First watch scattered along the sides of the course. There was one that said "Last one in buys breakfast". That was cute. 

I passes the mile 12 marker and decided to check out my watch. There was a possibility of finishing just under 2:30. I was excited. I pushed myself for that last 1.1 miles and came across the finish in 2:30:15. I took 25 minutes off the time of my last race. And I realized I hadn't run a 2:30 half in a year! I couldn't be happier!

All smiles through the finish

After the finish I felt good. I had a bit of a cramp in my glutes, but the food spread going on was amazing. The food at the after party was provided by First Watch (yum) and I was feeling hungry! After all, they did tell me muffins were waiting for me! They had muffins, bananas, bagels, parfaits, etc. Pretty much anything your little heart desired. 

I got some food, drank some water and of course had to go take a picture in front of the bridge I conquered - TWICE. I was proud of my time, but I was really proud of the fact that I actually ran the bridges.

And, if the race couldn't be more awesome they gave you this cute little printout of your race results!

And it obviously doesn't hurt that the medal is freakin' awesome - the biggest in the state of Florida. 

I absolutely loved the race. I ran in two years in a row and I'll definitely be going back again next year. Hope to see you there!

Disclaimer: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers Network I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared are my own.