Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series - Pensacola Beach

The race day festivities actually started on Friday afternoon for me. I volunteered to help distribute packets at Running Wild for a few hours after class. I had so much fun! I ran into a few students and readers of the site (Hi, Jessica!) Plus, everyone there was in such a great mood looking forward to race day. I definitely plan on helping out again next time I can. 2013-04-05 13.53.17

After a quick dinner at home I headed downtown for Gallery Night. Parking was horrible and my neighbor and I literally had some drunk homeless guy try to molest us (he grabbed her ass before stumbling off) so I don't know how many more times I'll be attending. I did get to try Gelato for the first time which made it totally worth the sexual harassment. I prefer frozen yogurt still but it was fun trying out a few of the flavors!2013-04-05 20.20.47-1

Saturday I pulled out one of my favorite necklaces to wear out for the day - a rune that I've had since I was 15! #FeelingOld

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After seeing Brittney post her frozen yogurt bites on her blog that morning I finally decided to make some myself. I put them in the freezer and headed out to UWF's Festival on the Green to walk around a bit to keep my legs limber for the race Sunday.

2013-04-06 12.37.41The bites were delicious and I ended up throwing a big handful in with half a frozen banana and some almond milk ice cubes to make 'ice cream' in the blender! It was a bit colder than ice cream, and had more of a milkshake texture, but the taste was fabulous.

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That brings us to the bright and early 5 a.m. wake up call Sunday for race day. I got to the beach at 6 a.m. (race started at 7 a.m.) and there were plenty of parking spots available and the lines to the indoor bathrooms were very small (by 6:30 there was about a 10 minute wait.) The sunrise was spectacular and the temperature was a nice 65 degrees.

I made the epic mistake of wearing a long sleeve shirt, not bringing sunglasses/hat or wearing sunscreen. I'm always freezing when I run in the morning and when I saw the temperature wasn't supposed to get over 70 during the run I figured I'd be okay wearing it. Wrong.

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For the course itself - it's brutal. I read a few race recaps online Saturday night for the prior year and thank goodness I did because I had a better idea of what to expect. Here are some of the biggest issues I had with the race (no fault at all to the organizers just bad running conditions!)

- Zero shade and full sun on your face and in your eyes until the 7 mile mark. In the year of running I've done not once have I ever felt comfortable enough to run in just my sports bra. I never thought I could until I hit the 5 mile mark and knew if my shirt didn't come off there was an actual chance I'd have a heat stroke. I ripped that shit off so fast and ran the rest of the way with it tied around my waist.

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- The course is actually 13.4 miles, not 13.1 (which I was SO glad I knew ahead of time)

- There were cars driving on the course in the middle of runners  Seriously. I'm not sure if they just slipped by the police somehow but I saw two young kids driving in the middle of a pack of runners.

- The post race party was on the beach which means you get done running and immediately have to walk around on sand for a bit to get to any water/food. Also, the after party area was confusing to find and once I got there it took about 5 minutes of walking around the chaos of people before I finally spotted some much needed food.

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Since this was my first half I don't have anything else to compare it to, but a few runners told me this is the most challenging course they've done so I shouldn't judge half's by this! I'm still wicked proud of myself for coming in right under my goal at 2:19:18! Will I run this race next year? No. 2013-04-07 09.29.49

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So far I'm feeling pretty good post-race. I started getting a blister around mile 4/5 and it was pretty epic when the race was over. I didn't have any knee or shin issues which is amazing! I'm so glad I cut way back on running the last 2 weeks as I'm sure that helped my body prepare. The only negative I've experienced so far is some severe stomach cramps. I'm not sure if it's from dehydration (I've never sweat more in my entire life) or what but I've hardly been able to eat anything which has been pissing me off. I don't like to ever use food as a 'reward', but I was definitely looking forward to chowing down on some good food post race! I'm hoping my appetite will return by dinnertime tonight.

I'm so glad I ran into super sweet Regina post-race. We chatted for a bit and I asked her to take a picture of me. This is after 2.5 hours in the heat and humidity so likely one of the least impressive photos you'll ever see of me on here, but damn did I feel like a beast!2013-04-07 09.34.10