Sunday, November 18, 2012

St Augustine 10k Race Report

(I apologize for the horrid quality of these photos – all I had with me was my iPod for some reason!)

Because the Kiddo had a test today, we didn’t leave as early as I’d hoped we would.  I left work at noon, and headed home to change, pack up the car and eat lunch. We picked up the Kiddo after school and drove towards the coast.

We drove through some small towns on our way there – Interlachen, Palatka, and my personal fave, Spuds!  Somewhere on our trip, we passed a farm stand that was selling produce.  The sign read “Vine Ripe Apples”. Um, what is wrong with this sign? Apples don’t grow on vines.  We had quite a laugh about that one (although not the Kiddo, she had her head buried in her laptop, as usual).

The trip, while filled with laughter, was pretty much uneventful, and soon we were in St. Augustine. I (again) told Garmin to take me to the hotel instead of the “Expo”, but St Augustine is a pretty small town, so we were able to course-correct pretty easily.

I put Expo in quotes because, well, it was pretty sad.  We pulled into the parking garage (which gladly accepted $10 from me) and we walked across to the field.  There were about 5 vendors out (by this time, it was about 6pm or so), as well as the place to pick up packets. They had a really nice assembly-line system going on. First, you picked up your packet, then you moved over and got your cool bag, then at the last stop, you picked up your tech tee.  I stuffed all my goodies into the bag, and we walked back to our car. All in all, I think this took 5 minutes. I saw other cars that had pulled over on to the sidewalk, or next to the parking garage in no-parking zones, and I was pretty pissed that I didn’t think of that!  Oh, well, that’s a $10 lesson I learned for next year.

In my race planning, I knew that I would need to find somewhere for dinner that would have non-greasy, carb-filled food, but ALSO have food that the family would want to eat.  Boom – Cracker Barrel!  It was right down the street from our hotel, too, which was a bonus. It wasn’t too busy on a Friday at 7pm, and I think it’s because most of the marathon crowds weren’t coming in until tomorrow, so we had a nice and peaceful dinner. 

Padded sling pack with a front zipper pocket and headphone hole (can't see in this photo)
 While we waited for our meals, I went through my packet.  The bag is pretty cool – it’s insulated (or at least padded) and has a little hole for earbuds. It would probably make a good race bag for holding stuff before a race.  
"Gift Card" (scam, I tossed it) ---  My Bib --- Free Sub at a local Subway
The tech tee was pretty awesome. Light blue crew neck, very soft. There were also advertisements for other races, coupons and various papers that you get at every race.

It's hard to see how pretty the blue is in this photo
 Shockingly, I didn’t take photos of what we got for dinner, but I’m pretty sure that Hubby got chicken fingers and the Kiddo got shrimp. I ended up going with big French Toast meal, which came with eggs and bacon. It was so good! I got carbs, I got protein, all is right with the world.

As we let our meal settle, the Kiddo played with the Peg Puzzle and I began reviewing our plan for the morning and I quickly realized that I forgot to pack ANYTHING to eat for race morning! Great…
She has yet to master the Peg Puzzle!
We paid our bill and headed over to our hotel – Quality Inn Outlet Mall. It’s on State Road 16, right by, you guessed it, an Outlet Mall. I’d really wanted to stay in the historic part of St Augustine, closer to the race, but budget prohibited that. We got a Double Double room with fridge and microwave for like $65. I figured that the low cost would make up for bad location.

And, it’s not a BAD location, just not walkable to the start line.  On the up-side, it’s close to generic restaurants like Cracker Barrel and gas stations, too.  Which was good, because before we hit the hotel, we needed to stop at a convenience store to pick up supplies for breakfast. 

I generally try not to take my family to a convenience store, because they turn into little kids who want it all!  Here’s what we ended up with (Keep the following issues in mind: #1, I’m a picky-eater and #2, we’re at a gas station)

For race morning, OJ, Twinkies and nuts. The chocolate milk is for after.

Breakfast of champions!
For the family in the morning, chocolate milk and powdered donuts. 

And because, God forbid, we didn’t get “snackage”, they also got Mini Oreos and Skittles (Kiddo), Junior Mints (Hubby). We must have spent $20 on junk. All because I forgot to put this on my list. Another lesson learned for next year.

The prices of junk food at convenience stores makes my frugal heart shrivel and die!
Our room was serviceable, two simple double beds, a TV that was more centered in front of one of the beds, so the second bed had to kind of strain to see it. Mini-Fridge and sad little microwave. Typical bathroom, with an old 4c coffee maker (you know, the kind that people make hot dogs in?). It was actually very spacious, if a little old and used.  If I was on a budget and needed another $65 hotel for the night, I’d stay there again. It’s not at the top of my list, but it’ll do. The beds, of course, were hard as rocks. And a double bed is very hard to sleep in, when both sleepers are more than 200 pounds each. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting a lot of sleep that night, but I was hopiong for more than I got.

L to R - Goodie bag, our jackets, Race Bag, Clothes, Team Sparkle Skirt, Shoes (on top)
Hubby and the Kiddo, of course, had no reason to go to bed early, so they stayed up and watched tv. Comedy. “Whose Line is it Anyway?” to be exact. And when my Hubby laughs hard, he flails. So, every time something was funny, the bed would shake and wake me up. Very frustrating!

However, I made it through the night, and the 6am alarm came early.  I started getting dressed while the family was waking up, and soon, we were headed down the road to the St Augustine Visitor’s Center and the field behind it, which is where the finish line was. 

We parked in the garage again, which luckily was FREE (as long as you got in before 7am, which we did) and got an AWESOME parking spot, up against the wall on the first floor, literally inches away from the exit. I didn’t know how busy it was going to be, so I was so happy to have gotten this spot!

We sat in the car while I drank my OJ and ate my pre-race Twinkies, and the family both drank their chocolate milk and ate their donuts. It was cloudy this morning, and chilly. I kept my jacket on for a while to keep me warm. I headed to the potties, as usual.  It began to rain harder at this point, so the Kiddo ran back to the car (glad I got that good spot!) to get the big umbrella while I headed to the start line.  The 10k people would go at 7, and the 5k people would go 15 minutes later (I think that was it). I handed over my jacket to Hubby, who was now warm and dry, thanks to that umbrella!

We were finally off, and I waved as I passed the family, and I started my Garmin.  “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It!” came on my iPod as I headed toward the Bridge of Lions. It’s still raining, but it’s not as bad at this point, so I can move a little faster with my run intervals (rain + pavement = oil slicks). The bridge isn’t a very steep one, so ascending it wasn’t all that taxing. The view at the top was pretty nice! Boats, and the Castillo, so cool to see!

Descending the bridge, I was still doing my intervals and feeling okay.  By the time I got to the 2nd mile, however, I was blown to the side of the road by all the 5k people plowing through us! 

About this time, as I was in a run interval, something in my groin area (envision a Y – it was in the right arm of the Y) just started to HURT!  Every time I landed on my right leg, it felt like shards of glass were pushing into my groin! I had to slow down to a walk.  People began passing me, but every time I tried another run interval, it would begin to hurt again within seconds. I tried ‘pushing past the pain’ but it was just a really weird pain, and after the fourth or fifth try, I began to wonder if I was causing more injury by running with this pain. I finally gave up my intervals, and I realized that I was pretty much the last person on the road at this point. Even the guy who stopped at the Quik-e-Mart (why? Did he need a bathroom or a Snickers?) was way ahead of me at this point. Somewhere between 2.5 and 3, I resigned myself to the fact that I was last. Why bother busting my ass?

I rode this wave of self-loathing until  I got to Mile 3 at the Anastasia State Park entrance. The volunteers manning the water table were all very supportive and nice to me. I told them that I’d much rather just pack it in and get a beer at the finish line (even though I don’t drink).  

Mile 3 - There is a water table behind the little building and we turn by the cones
They encouraged me to finish strong, and it reminded me of my favorite race saying ever:

I rounded the building which served as the turn-around and started back towards the finish line. I had a renewed sense of purpose (you know, the little thing that lights a fire under your ass?) and I was bound and determined to cross that finish line with a smile on my face. I …

Oh my GOD!!!

I’m not last!!!

Coming up to the turn-around and Mile 3 is a couple of walkers!  I was so happy to see them that I almost screamed out loud “I’M NOT LAST!!” but I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, (because I thought they were last) so I kept it to myself, but it gave me a burst of energy and I started walking at 4mph or so, really busting my ass and pumping my arms. And then… the most wonderful sight…

TWO more walkers!  Not only am I not last, I’m in front of enough people that I could probably stay ahead of at least ONE of them, so I was guaranteed to not be last!!
St Augustine Old City sign - I love these signs!
Miles 4 and 5 were uneventful. I’d gained some ground, so I began to see other stragglers in front of me, including one solo walker who looked like she was nursing a leg cramp.  This sounds so horrible of me, but I wanted to use that limp to my advantage and I tentatively started my intervals again. Not a lot of pain in the groin now, but I was tired, so the intervals were hard!  As I got closer to her near mile 5, she must have heard me (I’m a heavy breather), and she began intervals too!

Might as well enjoy the scenery while I'm out here! I love lighthouses.
She and I kept interval-ing back and forth, over the bridge and onto to Avenida Menendez. The roads were still wet, but both of us were determined to finish strong. 

You can't see here, but she's up there by the car
 She pulled ahead of me at the finish, and I finished the last .2 miles alone, coming up behind the parking garage by the playground, and there at the corner – my family! They picked out such a good spot to spectate, and I was so happy to see them there.
They cheered me in, then headed towards the finish line. I came in as strong as I could and finished my first 10k in 1:35:12!  Not what I wanted (I wanted under 1:30), but I fought pain and self-defeat and finished my first 10k!

I got my medal and exited the chute to find my family, then got my Finisher Photo. 

My VERY FIRST medal!
I stuck around to cheer in those few behind me, of which there were only 4. So, yay! I officially beat 4 other people. 

After the race, I grabbed my chocolate milk and chugged it down, as well as a bottle of water. We started heading out, but came back in to watch the Kid’s run, cheering them on, but finally after an hour or so, I was ready to get changed and head to lunch! 

I did a quick stretch at the benches by the play ground, then we headed back to the hotel.  Check-out time was 11, and it was only 10 by the time we got back, so I got changed and plopped onto the bed for a while before packing up the car and checking out.

When we came to St Augustine back in 2006 (or whenever that was) for our anniversary, we found a little mom and pop place called “Schooner’s” that served super-fresh seafood, for great prices.We came back a few years later, with the Kiddo, but they were closed for renovations (we ended up at IHoP of all places!), so I was excited to be able to go back for some shrimps!

This time, it was much less busy than it was last time, and we were able to get a seat with no waiting.  As we were seated, it looked like there were at most, 2 other occupied tables. (Later it began to fill up with old people - the best indicator of good, affordable food - and a whole ROOM of Red Hat Ladies!)

Hubby got chicken fingers.
Chicken Fingers, Fries, Texas Toast and a Dill sauce that is fabulous!

Me and the Kiddo both got a dozen butterfly shrimp.
Butterfly (split) shrimp, fries, hush puppies
It was just as yummy as it was last time! Big shrimp, crispy fries. Lovely!  Can’t wait to come back next year.

We debated whether or not we wanted to walk around St Augustine (race planning had me down for some fudge), but I was still in a bit of pain from that groin thing, that we decided to head on home instead.  I guess I’ll get some maple fudge next year. It will be my reward for PR’ing this race!

Close-up of my VERY FIRST medal