Last year, I had wanted to run this race, but it was scheduled on the same day as another local race – the one where I PR’ed and almost ran a sub 2:00. So when the opportunity arose for me to run the Sarasota Half Marathon this year with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I jumped at the opportunity.
I drove over to my parents house on Friday morning and dropped off the toddler, then headed over to Fit2run in Sarasota to pick up my race bib and packet. My parents were going to keep my daughter for the weekend so that my hubby and I could finish up some house projects on Saturday, which we did. That evening I drove back to my parents house and spent the night with them – they live closer to Sarasota, so the morning drive to the start line would be shorter from their house.
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and readied myself for the morning. I ate a PB & banana sandwich and drank my coffee. I made my Nuun, gathered my race gear and got on the road by 4:45.
I arrived in Sarasota a little before 5:30 and decided to park at a garage 0.7 mi away from the start line. There was already bumper to bumper traffic on Tamiami Trail (near the start/finish at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center), so I parked where I could get easy access. Thankfully, there was a bus providing shuttle service to the start line from the garage, so I hopped on and waited briefly for our short journey to the start.
Unfortunately, the bus ride took a lot longer than expected due to the massive amount of traffic on Tamiami Trail. After waiting a good 10-15 minutes on the bus without much advancement, the entire bus load of race participants exited and decided to walk the remainder of the way. I ended up losing quite a bit of time between walking to the start and waiting in an enormous port-a-potty line. When I eventually made my way to the starting coral at 6:45, I found myself waaayy back past the 13 min pace group. I decided to settle in where I was and just roll with it.
We waited for a few minutes after 7:00 for the start to commence, then we were off to a slow congested start. Being towards the back of the pack, I had a lot of maneuvering to do through the crowd. The course starts off at Van Wezel and heads South over the John Ringling bridge to St. Armands Circle and then back again to Van Wezel. I loved this part of the course. The sun was just beginning to break when we crossed the bridge. It was beautiful.
Immediately following the loop at St. Armands Circle, I found a bathroom and emptied the tank. I figured it was better now than later when bathrooms are more scarce. When I jumped back on course, I ran into a few of my running buddies. We chatted for a few miles while we made our way back over the bridge and back to Tamiami.
I ended up running the first few miles a little faster than I had anticipated. Maybe it was the weaving in and out of runners in the first mile, or maybe it was the group of friends I bumped into that temped me to keep their pace. Either way, I felt a little fatigued by the 6th mile and I wanted to take a walk break. I didn’t do it though; I held off for a few more miles. By this part of the course, we were headed North on Tamiami up to the Ringing Museum. This part of the course is kinda blah. There’s not much to look at besides the store fronts and oncoming traffic. I tried to zone out and focus on my form. Turning up my music helped. I kept up a decent pace and lost myself by the time we turned into a beautiful neighborhood near the water.
My Garmin beeped at the 9 mile mark and I decided that it was time to take another pit stop. My bladder was feeling the pressure with every single step, since around the 7th mile. It was long overdue at this point.
(It’s amazing how easy it was to stifle the urge to go before I was pregnant, but there’s absolutely no way I could make it through an hour of running now, especially with all the liquids I had to ingest to prevent dehydration, at least without risking the possibility of soaking my running crops)
I waited to see when the next port-a-potty would pop up. Thankfully, I spotted one not too far out. I managed to get in and out in record time and back on the course.
As we weaved in and around this beautiful tree lined neighborhood, I noticed a green haze of pollen falling from the oak trees with every gust of wind. Pollen is my arch nemesis and I cringed at the potentially dreadful aftermath I would face if that allergen entered my airways. I hadn’t taken any allergy medicine that day, so I prayed that I would make it to the finish before I encountered any repercussions. To my surprise, I wasn’t phased a bit.
I started to take minute long walk breaks for every water station I hit. It definitely helped me conserve my energy, but I was still sputtering out.
Somewhere around the 11th mile I heard someone call my name from behind; I smiled when I noticed that it was my girlfriend Chrissy. I was so happy to bump into a familiar face. We were both fading and I really just needed someone to keep me moving forward at this point. She admitted to me that she wasn’t really able to talk, and I was glad, because I felt the same way. We silently pushed each other the rest of the way through to the finish line and then immediately met up with Denise and some others to rest up and take some pictures near the water.
One thing is for sure. I was glad to be done. This was my last half of the year (most likely) and it felt good to accomplish it at 14 weeks pregnant. I was proud of myself for sticking with it and finishing yet another thirteen point one. The course was really very nice, and the weather was cool enough to make for a pleasant experience. I really liked the start/finish being hosted at Van Wezel. This is a perfect location for a finish line party. Being right on the water makes for a nice, relaxing finisher party.
After chatting and taking pictures with some of the Suncoast Striders, I made my way over to where the Best Damn Race Ambassadors were meeting. We had previously planned to meet up and grab breakfast together post race, so we were gathering together to make our way there soon. We ended up at First Watch (go figure), and we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with a group of pretty awesome people. It was a great way to end the morning.
Disclaimer: Through the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay in exchange for my honest review. As always, the opinions shared on this blog are my own.