Monday, November 14, 2016

NOW You Do This? - St. Augustine 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Oh, what a weekend...

For those of you who were paying attention (and it basically affected everyone on the Eastern Seaboard), there was a hurricane in the Atlantic last month - Hurricane Matthew. He formed at the end of September and hammered the Caribbean and US for 11 days. Matthew only made one landfall in the US, but the effects were still felt in many, many places.

In St. Augustine, there was a lot of wind damage, as well as 2.5 feet of storm surge.

Walkway to the large cross
Median Sign in St. Augustine Beach
Zoomed Out
Waves and Wind Battering the Bridge of Lions
Many locals stayed with their properties (typical in Florida), and many tourists followed suit - these idiots got 'stranded' in their Hilton hotel (on A1A).  Being a Floridian who has seen many hurricanes over the years, I have no pity for these people (get OUT!).

While I was watching the Weather Channel during the storm, hubby asked me if I thought that the race was going to get cancelled. I kind of laughed it off, saying "Honey, this is Florida! Once the water goes down, it'll be fine!"I mean, really - St. Augustine has survived for 450 years!  It'll survive another 450.

As the weeks went by, I didn't hear anything from the race director, so I figured the race was still on and everything was fine. 

We drove down the day before, after hubby had gotten off of work.  The Kiddo decided not to join us (and the mom in me was slightly freaking out, since it was the first time we've left her totally alone at home... yeah, she's 18, but still!). 

With Circle K snackage, the trip was uneventful, and our first stop was Packet Pickup at Francis Field.  Security was tight this year, so we couldn't just park on the side of the field like we've done before (yeah, against the rules..., I know) but I refuse to pay $12 to park in the Visitor Center garage for the 5 minutes it takes me to pick up my packet!

We drove around behind the field and I scored a parking spot in a nearby neighborhood. I left Hubby in the car while I walked maybe a quarter-mile to packet pick up.  Easy and free!

We parked on Sevilla Street

I've never been impressed with the "Expo" these guys do. You'd think for being run by Miami Tri Events, it would be a bigger production...  We got there around 4:30 (as we usually do), so maybe that's why, but there's never more than a handful of tents. This time around there was the packet pickup tent and one other tent for random clothes. I don't even know who the vendor was.  

Also, the actual packet, while organized, is not worth writing home about.  You get a 9x12 envelope that has your bib and your pins, as well as a glossy cardstock map of the race route. You also get your shirt. But that was all you got!  No bag, no backpack, nothing else!  I've run 5ks that have better swag!

Packet contains maps, bib and pins
Map and Info for all three races
Okay, I will admit that the shirt is really nice.  It's a weird waffley-texture that's hard to describe. It's not sheer, but you can see the outline of my hand underneath it.  Oh, and it's highlighter yellow!  People will see me coming from a mile away!

Unisex Race Tee (it fits!)
Not totally see-through, but very close
With flash, to show just HOW YELLOW it really is!
Once we finished at packet pickup, we headed over to our hotel, the Regency Inn & Suites. We originally booked a 2-Queen room for $78 via  Since the kiddo decided to bail, we were able to upgrade to a 1st floor king room for the same price - yay!  We headed to our room to unpack, and well, did some "grown-up stuff."* Hey! Don't be a hater - we've been married for 20 years and it's not very often we have the chance to do some out-of-town, dirty-motel "grown-up-stuff"!

After a very enjoyable break, hubby and I got back in the car and headed to dinner.  Fancy? Nah!  We've found that the best seafood in all of St. Augustine resides at a local mom-and-pop joint called Schooner's Seafood House. It's cheap and delicious, and the shrimp are fabulous!  Hubby got chicken fingers (we're so fancy) while I got a dozen fried shrimp. Two meals and a soda came out to $30 with tax and tip.  

Eat where the old folks eat - they know good, inexpensive food!
12 Shrimp (butterflied), fries and hush puppies (comes with salad)
Chicken fingers, fries and Texas Toast
Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by Publix to pick up something for hubby for breakfast tomorrow, since he'd be stuck in the historic district for hours.

Back at the hotel, I laid out all my gear so I could grab it in the morning, then hit the sack.

Sunday morning dawned with great weather and a beautiful sunrise.  the low was about 53ยบ and only got up to the mid-60s. 

After parking at the Visitor Center Parking Lot (free as long as you got there before 7am, and you could stay parked all day after the race if you wanted to be a tourist), we headed over towards A1A, where the start line should have been... As we got around the Visitor Center building, I saw a large mass of people and realized that they'd moved the start line much closer to the Castillo than it had been previously. 

Good morning!
I was really confused as to why this happened, but I just kind of went with it until the Race Director began speaking.  Apparently there was 'a bit of flooding' on A1A which facilitated the change.  Oh, okay, I'm cool with that.  Also, unbeknownst to me, many runners apparently just didn't come, or deferred to next year, or even deferred to another Miami Tri event.  There were only about 450-500 runners here this morning (usually they have 700-800 runners)!  I've never run a half with so few participants!

I turned to hubby and said "Yup, I'm gonna be last."  I was actually trying to psych myself up for being last, because I was actually rally ticked off that I'd never heard anything from Miami Tri about deferring or switching races, or that the race might not even have been held today!!!  Seriously, Race Director man said he wasn't even sure the week before the race if the race was going to be run or not!

I had hubby take my photo before I headed to the (really uncrowded) start line.
I look thrilled
That's better!
The crowd in front of me...
... and the crowd behind me
With very little fanfare (I can't remember if we even did the National Anthem), we took off. I waved to hubby and trotted down A1A.

Ah, okay... I get it now... flooding!
Ah, yeah... "A little flooding"?  One lane on each side of A1A was completely covered!  I can see now why they moved the starting line!

More flooding!
So. Much. Flooding!
Once we got up on the Bridge of Lions, there wasn't much more flooding. I don't have any photos of the seawall along the waterfront, but the bay was up much higher than I'd ever seen it before.

I don't think I've ever taken a bad BoL photo!

Great photo from Chessie Photo
I made it to Mile 1 and I was feeling okay. I knew to expect that I'd be last and that this was going to be a very lonely half-marathon.  So far, I'm not alone, but that will change!
Mile 1
All along the route, there were still signs of damage from Matthew, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Either much of it was fixed in the last 3 weeks, or it wasn't as bad as it was reported.

Sign down, sign DOWN!
So far, I'm still with random runners. I'm not alone, yet.

First water stop
More flooding along A1A, but not as bad as the Historic District.

I just wanna splash!
Even before Mile 2, I'm falling behind the crowd, as you can see below. Oh well, I'm just here, soaking up the beautiful Florida sun, getting every penny from my race fee!

See you in 10 miles, Lighthouse!
I made it to Mile 2!

Mile 2, in front of Gatorland
Up ahead is the St. Augustine Amphitheater. I've never been there, but supposedly there is a Farmer's Market on the weekends. I'd like to check it out sometime.

St. Augustine Amphitheater on the left
Keeping up my spirits meant keeping up with my fuel plan. Since I was at Mile 2, it was time for a goo.  I prefer Honey Stingers for the texture, as well as the taste. Clif and Gu are too nasty for me.

Best. Fuel. Ever.
Hey, don't make fun of me!
There's still a few folks, way ahead of me, at Mile 3.  The way they do the route along this road is weird.  usually at races, you'd be walking close to the side of the road, but here, they block off the middle of the road to allow one lane of traffic on both sides.  It's cool.

Oh nothin', just a fat chick walking down A1A
I turn onto 312, and, finally, see some people!  Granted, it's the people who are already at like Mile 7.5, but people is people!

Hello people! I'm so lonely over here...
Over on my side of things, I'm only at Mile 4 and there's no people. I munched on some Honey Stinger chews.

Almost 1/3 done
But there is a big bridge over the Matanzas River to tackle, after Mile 5.

Up and Over!
I actually like this bridge. It's not super-steep, and I'm not in pain by the time I get to the top.

Feelin' good on the downside
At the bottom of the bridge, I hit the turn-around spot, then headed back towards the bridge, passing a water stop.

I always feel bad for water stops that have a pottie this close to them...
Mile 6 is before you get back on the bridge.

There are absolutely NO runners to be seen in front of me
They also had out a 10k split map, although it was kind of pointless because there was no live tracking or anything... It was still nice to see what my time was.

1:42:57 - that's actually a good time for me!
I headed back up the bridge to finish the second half of this very lonely half-marathon.

But WAIT!!! 

What is that in the distance? 

In the (bad) photo below, if you look near the 3rd light pole, you see two orange blobs?


I'm NOT LAST!!!!

They're tiny, but I see PEOPLE!
Anyone who pulls up the back of the pack knows the joy of seeing people behind you. I was absolutely amazed to see these two people! Thank you, Running Gods, for letting there be two people slower than me in this race!

Since it was Mile 6, time for a goo. Clif Shot Vanilla tastes like really slimy frosting. It's the least offensive of the Clifs for me.  

Take it with water and shoot it like a pill
Okay, so funny story - while I was up at the top of the bridge, my brain was starting to get kind of loopy. I could feel the wind pushing me around and I wondered what would happen if I fell off the bridge!  Is the river deep? Could I swim to shore? Could I make it to a pylon and hold on? Would anyone come get me? My brain goes to weird places when I run...

Off the bridge, I'm officially more than halfway done, and at Mile 7. 

Making my way towards Anastasia
At this point, my Big Lots wireless Bluetooth earbuds ran out of juice, so I had to switch over to wired earbuds.  Note to self - don't use these wireless buds for races longer than 10k.

I wore my headphones like this for the rest of the race
I got a great reception from the water stop between Miles 7 and 8.  I think they were just happy to almost be done with their shift.

Thank you, Water Stop Volunteers!
Hi, cone truck guys!  Thanks for cheering me on at Mile 8!

I think they just want to be done
At this point, I'm feeling pretty good. No foot pain, breathing pretty well, keeping up with my intervals and having a good time.  I know there are two people behind me, so as long as they don't pass me, I'm in good shape. 

Mile 8 brings us to some woodsy neighborhoods on the way to Anastasia State Park.

Nope, nobody up there
Oh, wait now... what the fuck?  

What the hell is going on???
This black truck just rolled up to the intersection up there, and the two people who were behind me just got dropped off?!?  Seriously, YOU CHEATERS!!!! This is bullshit!

At this point, I was a woman on a mission... I will pass them, and I will beat them.

I am now officially last
Every once in a while they'd look back to see where I was, but they seemed to be keeping a pretty consistent walking pace, so I knew I'd be able to catch up with them.

I didn't catch up with them by Mile 9, but I could see them up there.  Cheaters.

Mile 9. I'm still last.
Don't make fun of me... I know I'm slow!
Here's another "one day" thing - I'd love to kayak out here! It's so beautiful!

Fuck this race - let's go kayaking!
Oh look, now I'm getting followed by the Sag Wagon, which happens to be a fucking ambulance! 

Officially. Last.
Before I made it to the Mile 10 sign, I made it to the cheaters!!!  One of the ladies was bald and had some writing on her shirt - she was running for Celiac Disease and something else (cancer, I think).  The three of us chatted for a few moments, and they told me that the truck brought them along the course because the only other option was to be swept and not finish.  They begged the truck to just move them forward a bit.  Also, they said that their mission was to be the last two finishers, no matter how long it took.  Hearing that, I #1 - felt like an ass for assuming they were cheaters, and #2 - very nicely told them that I was gonna beat them to the finish line, and then took off.

No longer last!
I ran past the St. Augustine Lighthouse and some pretty neighborhoods and made it back to A1A for Mile 11.

I can see the bay, I'm close to the bridge
Only 2.1 to go!!!
At about this point, one of the Cone Truck guys pulled up next to me and said that they were going to move us (the last 3) to the sidewalk at 10:30am so that they can open the roads. I thanked him and kept going. I hate having to be moved to a sidewalk - it's like the walk of shame. But, I understood that it needed to be done.  I only had to deal with it for a few miles.

Walk of Shame
I'm so happy to see the bridge at this point, because it's Mile 12! I'm so close to done - if I look to my right, I can see the Castillo and I know the finish line is right around the corner.

But it's RIGHT THERE!  I just need to cross the bay and get to the finish line!
I wonder why the traffic is backing up?

Um, why are the lights flashing?

Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!!!!

No... please, just no!
I'm at Mile 12 of a half-marathon, 3rd from last, and you bring up a fucking DRAWBRIDGE??? NOW????? 

You think I can jump it?
This is such bullshit!!  Celiac and her buddy caught up to me, as well as a bunch of random tourists who wanted to know why we were all wearing skirts and tutus.  We explained that we were in a half-marathon, and we were the last runners, trying to get to the finish line. 

We were stuck up here for over 10 minutes.  I heard from hubby later (who was tracking me with a great app called Glympse) that he had no idea why I'd stopped - he was scared I fell off the bridge, or hurt myself or got hit by a car or something! I had to laugh about the 'fall off the bridge' part, given my weird thoughts at Mile 6!

Finally - finally! - they lowered the bridge and I could get to the finish line. Cone Truck Man told me to stay on the sidewalks until I got near the turn. I had to actually cross traffic with no help to get to the final finish area.

The approach to the finish line is a little side street that runs next to the Parking Garage. And it wasn't closed to traffic. So I had to dodge cars, on a road with no sidewalk on the right side of the road, who had no idea why I was walking on the road... Not good, guys.

I can hear the finish line
I came around the corner and crossed the finish line running. I was so happy to see it, and so happy to know that I was not last!  Hubby was just happy to see me, since he thought I was floating in the bay, apparently!

I always look like "heeeeeeyyyy" when I come across the finish line

I did it! I did it!
I stuck around to see Celiac and her friend finish, just a few minutes later. They approached the finish line backwards so that everyone could read their shirts. Cheesy, but whatever works for you.

Back that shit up
Facing forward
I stuck around and got a great pic with Cone Truck Guy - I have no idea what his name was - because he was so helpful to us in the back of the pack. I felt very taken care of, and I never felt that I was missing information or felt lost.

Thank you for taking care of me, Truck Guy
My official time was 3:53:14.  That is faster than many other halfs I've done, but not as fast as the last time I did this one. However, if you use the pace of 17:06 (per my Garmin), I would have finished at 3:44:10.  This makes sense, since I was stopped for 10 minutes for a damn drawbridge!

I like these, but I never print them
And thanks to Celiac and her friend, I was not last, nor was I last in Gender or Age place (Hey, I'll take stats where I can get them!)

Once I changed into my flops and got some water in me, we went back to the car so that I could change clothes, then we headed to lunch. 

We ate lunch at Harry's Seafood Bar and Grill, right on A1A.   As always, I got shrimp and Hubby got chicken fingers.

These are good shrimp, but they aren't Schooner's shrimp!
After lunch, we wandered St. George Street, picking up some maple fudge and white-chocolate covered Oreos from Savannah Sweets, before heading home.  


*Okay, for your eagle-eyed folks, did you see the asterisk up there when I was talking about "Grown Up Stuff"?  Yeah...

November 19th
I was driving to work on  when I realized something... I'd run out of birth control pills, so when GUS happened, there was no protection... Am I destined to become a Pole Vaulter
(For those of you who are not HIMYM fans, this is code for being a mother, or having a baby).

December 5th
So far, I don't think pole vaulting is in my future, but I'm still not sure... lady things should be happening, but they aren't... not really... but they are, kinda.  I have refilled my pills, but I'm kind of hesitant to take them... what if I AM pregnant... will they hurt the baby?  Sigh... I should take a pregnancy test...

December 17th
I gave up and got a pregnancy test.  If it's to be believed, I'm not a pole vaulter. Also, I started taking my pills again, just to be on the safe side.  Dr. Google said that it is not much of an issue, although, if I do see some uterine action, I'll stop with the pills.

January 27th
Annual Girl Time Fun Time with my gyno. The official word is - no pole vaulting in my future.

Location: St. Augustine FL
Host: (Who put on the race) Miami Tri Events
Race Fee: $60 (Signed up at Gasparilla Expo)
Packet Pickup: Very quick, parked on side street to avoid paying to park
Parking: FREE to park in garage before 7am, able to leave car after race to tour town, got a GREAT space at Visitor Center exit (close to bathroom and St. G street)
Support: (on-course) Limited, since the race had been minimized, but what WAS there was great. No pirate water stop inside park this year. Guy who kept with us in the back updated on road openings was very helpful (photo with him)
After Party: Most everything was packed up. Looked like there was food left, but didn’t get any. Water and LARGE GatorAde at finish line. Got another water from Columbia’s tent (no soda left). 

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