It doesn't feel like I completed 13.1 miles yesterday.
Well, according to some body soreness here and there, well yes, it definitely does.
But in my mind I still am grasping it. Did I really complete a Half-Marathon?
The St. Pete Rock n Roll Half Marathon - me? I did that? Really?
Thanks goodness there is a medal, pictures, witnesses because it feels so unreal. I did that?
Part of the amazement is that it didn't feel like one, huge, long trek. It felt like 3 or 4 wonderful consecutive races. All unique and with their own joy.
First, let me say the weather, from a Floridian's perspective, was awesome. 63 at start time (and 75 at my finish). There was just enough cloud cover to keep the sun from staying in constant fry mode. Gorgeous day.
Being a slower participant, I was in corral 10 which worked out nicely since we got to enjoy lots of great, high energy music before being "released" onto the course.
A note about Florida running - Florida is flat. So flat, that even the slightest incline feels like a hill. In fact, to add diversity to a course, local race directors usually run a course over a bridge. Well, we didn't have a bridge (yet), but we did have a full mile of steady upward incline.
You could tell the locals from the visitors. The Floridians were whining about the hill, while the out of towners kept asking - what hill? It was hilarious.
Ah but mile 2 to 5 were delicious. Almost all downhill with level parts. My run/walk pace was great and I was so excited to be feeling so strong, so in the groove.
Mile 5 was very emotional. We passed a beautiful wall that houses the sign for the University of South Florida - my alma mater. I swore I could see a reflection of my 18 year old self leaning against the wall, smiling and excited about this thing she would accomplish later in life. Major highlight of the race.
I passed the 10K mark still going steady, but a funny thing happened at mile 7. My past 2 races have been 10Ks, and by mile seven my legs were saying - aren't we done? Fortunately, I was still strong and could just laugh it off.
A note about the course and the race - it was so well organized. There were TONS of volunteers and police officers keeping up safe and cheered. The music along the way was pretty good. Unfortunately, some bands took breaks and weren't singing when I went by - not even when urged by the crowd - that was disappointing. Other bands were amazing, singing and cheering and really adding to the energy of the race.
At mile 9 my left hip started to twinge. Ironically, it felt better when I ran, so that actually kept me going faster. Mile 10 was around the St. Pete Pier with gorgeous views and a bench! A wonderful bench that I used to stretch. That slowed me down a bit, but it was a great relief.
At that point, I could feel the excitement in the crowd - only a 5K left!
Mile 11 - I really started feeling tired and slowing down, then I remembered I still has Power Gel. In the future, I will take these on schedule instead of waiting to feel sluggish. Fortunately, it kicked in pretty quick because at 11.5 we hit our bridge.
Ok, it was a tiny bridge, still, you should have heard the major moaning and groaning. This time, even the visitors were were a bit lippy...a flat course and NOW we have bridge. We all knew it was a tiny bridge, but my goodness that darn thing felt like Everest!
Mile 12 - I take off...well, in own my way. Even my fast run only matches a fast walk for others, but it felt wonderful. I was so happy to finish strong. It was surreal. After three and half hours of repeating my "Just Keep Going" mantra, there was the finish line.
Another great race moment, my friend and constant cheerleader, Vicky H was there as a volunteer. She put my medal on and grabbed me in a big celebratory hug. It was amazing to receive my medal from someone who has been such a great source of inspiration. Super special.
My sweetheart was also right there, just over a small fence and it was an amazing moment to be greeted with so much joy and love. She had mapped out the race and popped up at several mile markers to cheer me and had become something of an icon to the crowd. Ruth, the super spectator!
So there I am, seconds after crossing the finish live, receiving all this wonderful attention and my brain is screaming "keep moving, you have to stay on pace!". Seriously, it took me a few minutes to understand that this wasn't a water stop, this was the FINISH it was okay to slow down and stop. I just couldn't believe I was done.
I'm thankful for a beautiful day race day. Thank you friends and family for your loving support, and thanks SP friends for your ever constant cheering and enthusiasm.
The St. Pete Rock n Roll Half Marathon? Yeah, I did that!