Friday I spent the day prepping for the race. I stopped by Everman’s to get some post-race treats, spent the afternoon on the couch icing my knee and eating a delicious sweet potato, then met a friend for a drink after dinner at The Wine Bar.
Given how rarely I drink now I was worried that I may regret the one glass of wine I had when my alarm went off the next morning but I’m so glad I went out! I was so nervous about the race if I stayed at home I would have tossed and turned all night so this was the perfect way to relax. Plus, this guy is always a blast to hang out with.
Saturday morning I had my alarm set for 4:20 but woke up at 4 a.m. because I’m a nerd and was so excited about the race I apparently couldn’t sleep. I had my outfit laid out so I spent most of the hour before I left the house stretching and enjoying my usual oatmeal breakfast. I decided to rock my favorite new Old Navy top and blinged out headband from Headbands of Hope!
I left the house at 5 a.m. to meet up with Larisa and Jennifer at the Hilton to take the bus to the start line together. It was freezing and in the rush of trying to make sure I got to the bus on time I wasn’t thinking clearly and decided to take my keys with me – epic fail. They ended up falling out of my pocket twice before I put them in my sports bra (with my gu pack) for the rest of the race. Only time in my life I felt top heavy.
The race started at the new Maritime Park:
Gorgeous isn’t it?! Here is the official 15k course map:
The race was pretty evenly split with the first 1/3 going through downtown Pensacola, followed by the 3 mile bridge, then the last 1/3 through Gulf Breeze and the Pensacola Beach bridge. At 6:45 I went to my 10 minute corral and started to get super pumped with all the incredible energy in the air!
In the corral I bumped into some of the incredible ladies from Running Wild! I kept pace with them until the first water station where I stopped to stretch and walk for a bit. My goal for the first 1/3 of the race, until the Pensacola Bridge, was to not go to fast. With my knee still in recovery I didn’t want to go all out and potentially hurt myself again so my mindset for the day was to just run, carefully, and enjoy myself!
The worst part of the course was definitely the 3 mile bridge. Before the race I though “Wow, this will be so much fun getting to run the bridge I drive over so often!” Yeah. It wasn’t. It was just 3 miles of a bridge. The scenery was definitely gorgeous but it was hard to stay motivated, especially at the top of the ridiculous hill!
Fortunately, I received some great advice before the race to save my energy over the bridge. I knew once I crossed into Gulf Breeze I’d have the last 1/3 of the race to go, and in many ways the most difficult part because of the on-ramp we had to run up and the hill on the second bridge. Around mile 6 I stopped at the water station to eat my GU pack and stretch for a bit. When I do my long run’s I normally walk about 20-30 seconds after every mile and I did the same for this race.
One of my friends saw this pic of me online that photographers took mid-race. I look so serious!
My only pet peeves about the race were the guys spitting all over the road. Seriously gross. I was almost spit on about a dozen times. Also, the traffic on the bridge was backed up the entire course so I was inhaling fumes as I ran and started to get a bit dizzy!
The last few miles had a decent amount of people on the sidelines cheering and that definitely helped! The last 1.5 miles were pretty easy since I had taken the run so slow I had a nice amount of energy stored up. I was even able to bust out a sprint at the end! I didn’t stop my HR Monitor right away so my official race time was 1:37:06. I was thrilled!
Isn’t the medal gorgeous? I’m so happy they decided to give medals out this year! After I crossed the finish line I wandered around in a bit of a daze for a minute, inhaling a banana and stretching.
I made my way over to the food area (provided by Hemmingways) and got a box of red beans and rice. I initially wasn’t very interested in eating it, especially at 9 a.m., but sure enough half of that was gone by the time I made it home at 10!
I left almost immediately after I finished and I wasn’t able to catch up with some friends I had hoped to take some pictures with but I knew I needed to get home and foam roll + ice my knee. Most of Saturday was spent on the couch watching X-Files and eating. It was glorious. I also soaked with some epsom salts and drank a ridiculous amount of water.
That night I made up one of my favorite healthy desserts: A banana rolled up in wrap with peanut butter and drizzled with honey and cinnamon. omg.
Overall, the race was spectacular. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in it. I would even say this is a great race to travel out of town for! The course is gorgeous, the weather is perfect and it was so well organized. One of the absolute highlights of my day was having this doll recognize me from Twitter and ask to take a photo with me. #Died.
Now that I survived a 15k my next goal is to attempt the half marathon, again. There are a few out of town I may try but I’m definitely going to do the Gulf Coast Half on April 7th!