Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Jax Bank Half Marathon #racerecap

When we found out my daughter was accepted at Florida State and we knew we would be making the drive down to Tallahassee to check out campus, I made the (almost) impromptu decision to run the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon again.  I ran it last year in a downpour of Noah proportions and wanted a) some retribution and b) to see my Jax friends again (not necessarily in that order).  The timing turned out perfectly to leave the family in St. Augustine while I drove up to Jax to run and hang out.

In the couple days leading up to the race, my friends and I discussed race plans and goals.  I really didn't have one other than to do better than last year's 2:26 and if I was feeling really good, shoot for something under 2:17 since that would make this race my 3rd fastest.  I knew I wasn't in PR shape (I'd need a 2:06) and I wanted to have fun.

Friday night, I drove up to Jacksonville and met my friends at Engine 15 Brewing.  If you get to Jax, head over to the Beaches area and check out this place - they have their own beers (all excellent), good food, plus about a bazillion other beers on tap or in bottles.
Me, Wendy (who crushed her full and PR'd!) and Deb (my pacer!)
A little background - after the family and I checked out Tallahassee, we spent 2 full days at Universal Studios in Orlando.  The 18 hour drive to Tallahassee, 4 hours to Orlando, 20 hours in the parks, and 2 hour drive to Jax left my legs pretty trashed.  I did a couple short runs (Monday in Nashville and Friday morning in Orlando) because those hotels had gyms, but mostly, I was pretty undertrained for this race.  Since running Detroit in October, I'd only logged a few long runs - 8, 10, and 12 in the 3 weeks leading up to Jax.  

Saturday I did a bit more touristy stuff with the family (the Fountain of Youth and the beach) but then left them to explore St. Augustine while I hung out in the room and relaxed.

Sunday morning came VERY early since it was about an hour's drive from where we were staying to the race.  I was awake before my alarm and was out the door of the hotel by about 4:30 in the morning.  As soon as I walked out of the room I knew I was in trouble.  You could literally cut the humidity with a knife and the fog was insane.

Miles 1-5
Deb had agreed to pace me when I decided to run this race. (She needed 18 miles that day, so after she was done running with me, she had a snack and then headed back out on the course to run Wendy in for her full.  Incredible.)  We lined up near the 4:30 pacers and started pretty conservatively.  The race begins with the 5k, 1/2 and full all starting together so it's hard to position yourself.    You head out from the school where the race starts and finishes, do a little loop in a neighborhood, then head past the school and across a little bridge.  We chatted about random stuff and just tried to find our groove - or I guess tried to find mine.  (10:27, 10:31, 10:38, 10:33, 10:11)

Miles 6-10
I wasn't really feeling very speedy.  The humidity was a lot for me and I realized about 3 miles in that I didn't even think to pack an inhaler.  Deb commented that she had one in her car, which we were going to pass, but I knew once I got about an hour in, I'd be fine so I said we'd just keep going.  This is basically an out and back course with a few little loops so we got to see the lead guys and girls go flying by us.  Deb commented that she always speeds up a little when she sees them but like I said, I wasn't feeling very speedy.  My legs were already feeling heavy around mile 6/7 but I knew I was half way done and the first half seemed like it went by quickly.  I had taken a Salted Caramel Gu after mile 4 and I think Deb knew I was fading a little because she encouraged me to take my next one after 7 instead of 8.  I think it helped.  As we approached mile 10, she was talking to me about feeling proud of my run and not getting done thinking I'd just phoned it in.  She was wearing 2 Garmins and one was set for her ultras, which cracked me up when she'd say "we are on target for a XX 50 miler".  Only time I'll ever hear that!  Lots of people were walking in this middle section and the crazy fog and humidity were pretty wild.  (10:27, 10:28, 10:52, 10:27, 10:23)

Miles 11-13.1
This was where my run was made and it was Deb's encouragement that got me my finishing time.  She really turned on the "pacer" and pulled me along these last 3 miles.  I kept getting yelled at (in a nice way) for looking at my watch - which was on average pace so looking didn't do me much good anyway.  We started counting everyone we passed and stopped counting at 30 or 35 with still a good 1.5 to go. Mile 11 to 12 is a straight shot and the last mile loops through a neighborhood before taking you across the soccer field and then around the track at the school.  
Deb really pulled me along, kept talking the entire time, and would not let me slow down no matter how much I wanted.  On the track, and older gentleman also got in on the "Push Bari as hard as she can go" wagon :)  I have to say, seeing those final splits really did make it all worth it. (10:09, 10:15, 9:30, & 7:58 pace for last .1 on the track!)
Deb and my older friend look great - I'm dying
I really can't believe how fast I ran the last 1.1 miles of this race.  I'm kicking myself a little for grabbing a water in mile 12 because if I hadn't, I think I would have gone under 2:15, but I'm still really happy with my time.
Flying as Deb shouts out times
This was such a fun race to run again.  The weather still kicked my ass and even though it never rained, I think I was still just as drenched from sweat.  Thanks to Deb's pacing, I finished in 2:15:10 with a 10:19 average pace and a nice negative split.  I was 53/119 in my AG.  I'm not sure where I ended up overall or against all women because the race website is hard to navigate. 
Happy finishers
After I got some water and walked around a bit, Deb headed back out and I hung, chatted with other runners and waited for Wendy to come in.  Being there to watch Wendy take 4 minutes off her PR in really warm conditions was so great.  Mad props to that girl!
I now have a very pink shirt to wear in 6 weeks for the Donna Breast Cancer (half) Marathon and some shiny new bling :)  Plus, great memories with some of the best running friends I've met on DailyMile.