The temperature for the start of the Inaugural Rock ‘n Roll St Pete Half Marathon had been predicted to hit 42 degrees. Therefore, I had to rethink my whole outfit which is a big deal to a stunner runner like me, especially since my friends, Chrissy, Faith and I had planned our race outfit months ago.
Layers would be essential. So, the night before the race I tried on all my old winter gear to make sure everything still fit and wouldn’t rub my unmentionables. I also had to find a fleece pullover, some gloves and other warm articles of clothing, which would be waiting in baggage check at the end of the race.
After studying the course map for water stations and food stations, I decided against wearing my fuel belt and opted to wear my SPI belt instead to carry my phone and camera, the most important gear next to my shoes.
Chrissy, Faith, Heather, Jillian and I arrived at Tropicana Field a good hour and half before the start and even in all our layers, we were freezing our Rock ‘n Rolls off. Before the start of the race, the overnight low had dipped to as low as 35 degrees.
Crowds of people huddled around the propane powered halogen lights for warmth. What’s a few brain cells? Oxygen is so overrated. It’s a small price to pay for warmth and my friends and I gladly paid it once I stripped off my fleece pullover before the start.
Our bib numbers corresponded to our corrals, which placed me in corral 6. After a few potty breaks and baggage check, the line into corral 6 spilled past corral 8. The start time would be delayed approximately two minutes for each corral and I became a bit obsessive with trying to get into corral 6, like a scene from European Vacation, “Look kids! Corral 6! If I could just get over, I could get into corral 6.”
Finally with a little fancy footwork, I managed to find my way into corral 6 and joined the masses to start on time or as close to “on time” for those of us in the back (about 7 minutes after the offical start).
The first mile looped around and led us back to Tropicana Field. During the first mile, my socks felt a bit strange, like they had slipped down and bunched up in my shoes. Then, I felt a sensation like pins and needles in my toes and realized my socks were fine. My feet were defrosting.
I ran that first mile pretty hard, harder than I had intended (~8:30), but I was so bloody cold. The warmth and pace felt good.
Local bands and DJs entertained us about every mile along the course, which broke up the distance and kept things moving along.
I hit the 5K split at around 30 minutes. At mile 5, I tossed my gloves because my hands were starting to sweat. At the 10K split, I appeared to be meeting my 2:15 goal.
And then, we turned the corner and headed towards the bay. The wind off the bay nearly froze me all over again. When that first arctic gust hit me, I wished I still had my gloves. Why didn’t I stuff them in my SPI belt?!
With the wind, blew my chances of finishing around 2:15. I just couldn’t fight it. Every time it hit me, I would clench my fists, cringe and shake. I am such a Florida girl.
But I kept pounding the pavement. Although technically for this little stretch, it was cobblestone and I began running through neighborhood yards to avoid the cobblestone. Like I said, it was only for a little stretch, so no yards were harmed in the making of this half marathon post.
For the most part, the course was flat. There was the occasional bridge and incline, like around mile 7, but I found the wind more of a challenge than the inclines.
Along the Pier around mile 9, I caught up with the 2:15 pace group. After my sad experience with the Space Coast pace group, I vowed to avoid them because they make me feel all insecure and unworthy if I can’t keep up, which wreaks havoc on my self-esteem and breaks my stride. So I did my best to not focus on the pace group, especially when they seem to be slipping away. No matter. I was still having fun with or without a super hero pace group.
However, the real super heroes are the entertainment and spectators who fought the frigid temps to cheer us on.
* Stilt men photo captured by Tracey of Suncoast Running*
King Tut danced for us, but the girls holding these signs stole my heart, because they spoke honey badger.
Just after mile 10, a food station offered Gu, but the cold air made it as hard as a rock. Once I managed to squeeze out the contents, I was disappointed with the flavor. I should have packed a Cliff Shot.
Once we reached the Vinoy Hotel, my panic over another path of cobblestone took my mind off the after taste of the vanilla Gu. I opted to run through the grass of Vinoy park to avoid the cobblestone.
As we approached mile 11, we faced another bridge and I began to struggle a bit more. At this point, my heels started bothering me due to a previous plantar fasciitis injury and I had to walk a little.
We circled around the Vinoy Country Club and mile 12 led us back over the bridge. This was the homestretch now.
Oh how the term “homestretch” never felt truer as this short distance of the race seemed to go on forever!
I could see the finish line, but it felt as though it kept slipping away from me. A few Suncoast Striders cheered for me as I ran towards the finish line which helped me pick up the pace. I knew I was almost there.
Yep, I rocked 13.1 miles in the cold.
And I would totally do it again, even if it was cold and windy. It was that much fun.
Overall 4227 out of 7006
Division 455 out of 822
Gender 2349 out of 4562
5 Km 31:00
6 Mi 1:01:04
10 Mi 1:43:08
Chip Time 02:20:28
Clock Time 02:27:32
Garmin Time 2:20:34
Garmin Ave Pace 10:32
As for Chrissy and Faith’s first half marathon, they finished at 2:45:26 and 2:45:28 respectively. They wanted to finish under 3 hours, so they were very happy with their times. We were all proud of them!
Jillian finished a few minutes behind me. I didn’t even know she was behind me!
Due to a bad T-band situation, Heather finished around 2:35.
After the race, Jillian and I heard Flo Rida bellow, “Where them girls at?” So, these Flo Rida girls found their way over to the stage and the post-race party reunion area. Flo Rida was the a perfect headliner to keep spirits high.
The weather was cold, but Flo Rida was HOT! He created a fun party atmosphere.
*Photo of Flo Rida in the crowd by Jillian*
Although we just ran 13.1 miles, we found the energy to bounce with Flo and got low, low, low. Between a great race and hanging at a jumping post-race party with friends, we really did get a good feeling…yeah.