While this is still a great race, it has changed. Sure, the branding has gone through several makeovers (the deodorant sponsor was short-lived), but the feeling of the race is different. The course itself changed. It used to incorporate two landmarks of downtown St. Pete--the Pier, and Tropicana Field, which runners used to be able to enter and run on the same field the major league players run on. But these two features have been removed from the course. The pier is closed because the city wanted to build a newer, more exciting attraction to draw in tourists. However, it's still there; we just weren't allowed to run on it. And I don't know the reason we weren't allow to run through the Trop. My guess is that it had something to do with money.
Enough about the background and business aspects of the race. Despite my distaste for what it has become, I still had a very enjoyable race day.
Tim came with me to cheer me on with the Best Damn Race Cheer Squad.
|Best Damn Race Cheer Squad, in all their glory.|
Just as Tim and I were about to part so I could make my way to the corrals, Tim spotted at least two of the three friends I hoped I'd run into, Nicole and Lisa. I had signed up with one other friend, Shannon (who has an excellent blog of her own), but I didn't get to see her until after the race.
|Lisa, Nicole, me, in line at the Porta Potties.|
The weather was cool and overcast, even a bit breezy. We started very soon after getting into the corral, and our goal was just to stay near the pacer. The two-hour finish time seemed to be a popular one, as there was a large group of runners sticking together around this pacer. But the group was too big, too tight. I felt claustrophobic and afraid that the size of the group would slow us down. So after a couple of miles, we were able to move ahead and break away from the pace group, although the pacer was loud enough that we could still hear him (he was one of few men running the race--they're permitted but discouraged). The initial five or so miles felt laborious to me, but Lisa was holding a great pace and Nicole and I were able to stay on her heels.
The BDR cheer squad was first stationed around mile 1, where I was able to see Tim and a couple other friends, and I knew they were also supposed to be around mile 7. After mile 7 passed, I first heard the cheer squad and then saw my friend Beth, who directed my gaze toward the male swimmer friends she'd brought along to help cheer us on:
|Beth is great.|
|Don't mind me, just trying to finish a race.|
|I look like a giant here. But a happy one!|
|This is the last moment Tim got to wear his pullover. |
Because, wet sports bra.
|Evie, my BFF. She could barely hold up the|
giant hunk of a medal.
And my official badge with time:
Even though that average pace of 8:54 is really close to my marathon pace of 8:59, I'll take it. It was a good race with great support from friends and family. That's the best kind.
And now to assemble some sort of midway marathon training plan for the next big race on January 19, the Clearwater Marathon. Who signed me up for all this?