Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nancy Reagan Would be Proud - Say No to Drugs 10k Race Report

(Click on the photo to go to their site)

Back in September, I needed to find a December race to round out my 1-race-per-month schedule.  There wasn't anything really good in my town, but I saw this and decided it looked awesome!  It was close to where I grew up (I may have even played at Coachman Park, it sure sounds familiar anyway...), cheap (I used a promo code to save 20%) and came with a great medal and LS tech tee!

The race was an out-and-back, but what made it special (and challenging) was that it went out-and-back over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway!

10k and 5k Race Map
View of the bridge from my parking spot
So, I left the house around 4am (this was one of the more far away races I've done) to arrive around 7am.  Since I was so early, parking and packet pickup was a breeze.

Packet Pickup - why is the alphabet backwards?

I was able to get a great parking spot, super close to the start/finish lines!

See the tiny red arrow? It's pointing to my car - I got a CLOSE spot!
After getting my bib, I headed back to my car - it was only 48º out this morning, and I was cold!

Brrrrrr (for Florida, anyway)

I stayed in the car as long as I could, but evenually geared up, pinned on my bib and got out of the toasty car.  Unfortunately, my body decided it was now time to pee, so I had to get in the very long pottie lines.  Ugh, I wished I did this an hour ago!

Very long line for potties (which equals very well-used potties)
After that hell, I wandered around, keeping warm, checking out the Park and the tents.  The big tent had 16 lines for pancakes and OJ after the race.  It also had massive amounts of seating at long cafeteria-style tables for eating the aforementioned pancakes, after the race.

All roads lead to pancakes
All roads also lead to orange juice!

I got a picture of the start line and the medals.

Start lines are always so full of promise
Soon, one of you will be mine
At this point, it was time to line up, so as I generally do, I put myself on the left, about 3/4 of the way back.

I can see the start line... WAY up there
This was the group behind me.

This is the only time I'll be in front of you!
Start time kept getting delayed, but I just used the time to get a selfie of myself in my cobbled-together winter running gear.

Still getting used to this cold-weather running thing - fleece head wrap OVER a hat
Gloves under my running jacket; which was over a LS running tee
Soon, though, we were off!  We ran past the Pinellas County Courthouse, which I may or may not have been to before.

We meet again, PCC
We rounded a few more corners, then it was time to begin addressing the crazy - The Clearwater Memorial Causeway. This bridge was finished in 2005, is 2,540 feet long (or just shy of 1/2 mile) and has 74ft. vertical clearance, meaning it's 74 feet above the water.  Not the highest bridge I've run, but it's got a mean elevation to it!

Promo Shot courtesy of Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic
As usual, the pack is thinning out early, and I'm stuck with the "Hey, let's go walk a 5k" girls.  You know the ones, they dress in the cutest workout clothing from Kohl's, Target or Victoria's Secret and wear obnoxious shirts that are glittery and bedazzled. And, of course, walk five across a race route without giving a shit about people behind them.  Yeah, those girls.

Like, Oh My God, Becky, we're walking on a bridge, tee hee!
The view on the downhill is gorgeous, though, so I just ignored the other people.

Hello, Ugly Shorts Man
I tried to take a photo once I was going downhill to give you an idea of the elevation.

She seems to be cold
Once back on solid ground, one lane of the road was open to traffic, and there were big caution signs to tell traffic about traffic delays.

CAUTION: Crazy people giving up a cozy Saturday to run over huge bridges
Wow... Okay, so after I took that photo, the 5k route split from the 10k route.  And apparently, 90% of the people I was walking with were 5k people! All of a sudden, I was a lot more alone!

It's cold out here....

...and there are wolves!
Oh, yay, there's a person!

I just realized, I have no photos of mile markers! I don't think there WERE mile markers, now that I think about it!  (I think this is maybe halfway?) We had to cross another bridge, but it was a very tiny one, and it welcomed you to Clearwater Beach (which is different than just Clearwater, BTW).

This was a tiny bridge compared to the Causeway
We went up a bit on Coronado Drive (which was still 1 lane for us and 1 lane for traffic) on Clearwater Beach before returning back to State Road 60.  We passed the Clearwater Municipal Marina, and at that point, I realized that I was really close to being last.  I tried to put some pep in my step, but I was freezing still, and just wasn't feeling this race.

For some reason, I felt the need to take a photo of the Municipal Marina sign. You're welcome?
Returning back to SR 60, there was a nice paved trail that we could walk on for a large portion of the return, so we didn't need to worry about traffic. 

Tiny Clearwater Beach bridge, now via walking trail
Crossing from Clearwater Beach to Clearwater via pedestrian bridge
It had great views of the waterway, too.

Good morning, sunshine!
The trail led to a nice wide open sidewalk on the Causeway.  I'm sure it was just me, but damn if it didn't seem steeper on this side!

Also, at this point, another runner and I had been pacing each other for a few miles. He was maybe middle-age, and wearing really ugly shorts.  Right before getting on the trail, I passed him (I seriously think he was looking for a bush to pee in, not even kidding).

The Causeway had a cool spiral exit ramp for the sidewalk, so I was able to make up some speed on the downhill.  Unfortunately, so was Ugly Shorts, and he passed me at the end!  Oh, hell, no, man!  He was the ONE runner I thought I was going to beat!

Wheeeeeeeeee! What I wouldn't give for a bike!
Yup, there he goes. 

He was very close to having a wardrobe malfunction; his ding-dong was danglin'
So, now I'm the last runner.  I got a pretty white unmarked cop SUV to accompany me.

What up, PoPo?
Lastie selfie!!

Own it, girl. You're last.
It was the most disheartening 1/4 mile.

Yep, that's what the fuck I did
But, I powered through, actually 'ran' through the chute and finished in a very pathetic 1:45:26. My slowest time ever. 40 seconds slower than the Tacachale Trail Run that I didn't even know was a trail run.  And, I've officially had a DEAD LAST FINISH.

DLF wasn't not nearly as disheartening as I feared
I was so slow, they had already begun tearing down the finish line!  I was able to grab a guy to take my photo. He asked me to take his too, but by the time he was ready, half of the banner was gone!  Sorry random guy!

Where is everybody?  Out of range of the camera, checking results
I got my medal and my bottle of water, then wandered over to the Pancake Tent to get some food and a raffle ticket (one of the big selling points of the race).  Well, as you can imagine, there were no raffle tickets left, but I was able to get food (which NEVER happens!)

I'd say I've made better, but this is what mine look like too
If I do this next year, perhaps I should pay attention to which pancake line to get into. My cakes were made by a 6-year old (no, seriously!).  They weren't all that tasty, nor fluffy, so I didn't eat much of them. I did drink my juice, though.

Enjoying the sunshine, watching the awards presentation
After milling around outside for a few minutes, I decided I just wanted to go.  I headed back to my car, got a fancy pic of my medal with the bridge in the background and took off.

It's not tilted, so it's not artsy
And, as if I wasn't cold enough, it was STILL only 48º outside!

It's Florida, dammit, why isn't it warm?
On my way out, I scored some free samples of Noosa yogurt, one of each flavor. I'm still trying to like yogurt, and while I'm pretty sure I won't like this kind either (spoiler alert: I didn't), it's nice to be able to try them for free.

None of these were good, but you know I have food issues
I changed into better clothes at a local convenience store then headed to Countryside Mall. This was the mall that I spent a LOT of time in as a kid, after Pinellas Square and Seminole.  I always liked this mall because it has an ice rink inside of it!  You could go skating... in a MALL!  I always wanted to do it as a kid, and finally tried it when I was around 10 - and swiftly fell on my ass and broke my hot pink acrylic bangle.  No more ice skating for me after that; I'll stick to quad roller skating at Rainbow Roller Rink, thank you very much!

Anyway, after checking out some stores and grabbing a cute top at JCP, I hit the food court for some protein.  My go to meal, if I can get it, has become Chick-fil-A nuggets and fries. 

Hello, 12 piece combo!  Get in me belly!
While sitting in the food court, I got a text from my mom. She didn't know that I was in town (oops), and she wanted to get together.  I told her I could get to her around 4 and we could do an early dinner.  I finished shopping (I don't think I got anything else), and headed out.  On my way to mom's, I stopped at the Last Chance Thrift Store - another blast from the past - to check it out. I love thrift stores because you never know what you're going to find. Unfortunately, I struck out this time; I only got some nostalgia.  I also passed an Old Time Pottery, which I love, so I popped in for a bit there.

I ended up at mom's a bit earlier than 4 and she buzzed me up (she lives in a retirement condo).

I feel the need to ride my Big Wheel down the hallway
We ended up chilling in her cute little apartment for a while, then just having an early dinner at McDonald's of all places!

I think I left around 5ish, so I could get home at a decent time.  She talked me into going up US-19, rather than go back to the interstate.  I honestly only did it to say that I did it, so she would stop harping on it (she always says I should go that way), but I have to admit, I did like it better.  It takes about the same amount of time, even though you may have to stop for red lights in small towns. It's also nice, just in case you need to stop for gas or munchies. So, yeah, mom was right on this one...

Bear Crossing - a long standing family in-joke.
Okay, mom was right - this way IS easier and more peaceful.
Anyway, I got home around 7:30 or so, had some Publix fried chicken for dinner then passed out in bed. What a long day!!!

The next day, I checked out my goodie bag.

I was pissed, still, that they didn't even have a shirt in my size - I'd had to get a men's large, rather than the x-large I requested when signing up.  It's a great shirt, but it won't fit me for a while.

Long Sleeve tee with a honeycomb pattern to it. Nice, but the boobs don't fit in it.
 The medal was also really cool.  As big as my palm, nice and colorful. 

I really love the medal
 Finally, there were the typical pens, notepads and BioFreeze.  I love when they give out BioFreeze!

So, did I like this race? Kind of. I love the medal. I love the route (even the bridge). I'd love the shirt - IF it fit me. I would have liked the pancakes, if they were made correctly. I was upset that they ran out of shirts in my size, and ran out of raffle tickets. I, obviously, was upset that I finished last. If I'd only done the 5k, I would have beat over 150 people with my shitty 50+ minute time!  But, no... I had to try to be badass and do a 10k.

Would I do it again? Maybe.  I want to do it again, just to not be last. Is it high on my list for 2016? Not really.

Location: Coachman Park, Clearwater, FL
Host: (Who put on the race)The Say No To Drugs Race Team
Race Fee:  $25.00 + 2.50 Race Sign Up – 20% Promo Code
Packet Pickup: Very organized; picked up pre-race
Parking: Arrived very early, got a spot three rows away from the park
Support: (on-course) I only recall two or three water stops. The last water stop was packing up by the time I came by.(Still had water for us though)
After Party:  16 lines for homemade pancakes; prepackaged syrup and butter. Also bananas, oranges and OJ. LOTS of tables for sitting and eating (under tent AND in the sun). Raffle tickets were already gone when I came in. Noosa Yoghurt also giving out samples. Awards going on while I was eating – very loud, but very organized and fast paced. Pancakes (or syrup, couldn’t tell) were gross, so I chucked them after a few bites. Could’ve been me?

HEADACHE NOTES (for reference)
·         Hydration:
o   24oz water while driving
o   20oz PowerAde after packet pickup
o   1/3 of Nathan while running
o   16oz of large PowerAde after race
o   2 Bottles of water (16oz) after race
o   1 Diet Coke with lunch
o   2 Diet Coke with dinner and while driving home
o   24 oz. water with dinner
·         Drove Interstate TO race; drove US 19 home
·         2 Hours at mall. Didn’t try on any clothes, so I didn’t CARRY any clothes
·         No headache by the time I went to bed.
·         10am Sunday, now I have a headache, but could be that I laid in bed for 3 hours watching TV…