Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Balance Ringling Bridge Run

We got up early and headed off to Toyota to drop our car off for service (thankfully they allow
us to drop off before dawn) then headed straight down to Sarasota for the race. Parking was a breeze, but we were also there around 6:15am. We visited the potties, got our bearings and then went to G Wiz Children's Museum to drop off the kids in their kid care club. This was a fabulous benefit to us, since Joe and I finally were able to run together, sort of (more on that to come). Wegot them situated and left the children's museum around 6:45 and headed back to the staging area....made my requisite multiple visits to the porta potties and then cased the area for later. Designated our meeting place for afterwards if we lose each other and then hopped into the corrals.

They did have markers for general starting times, so we hovered around the 9min pace banner. Joe was a tad trepid about this move since he has run 1.5 miles in the last month (he's been having some leg/knee issues lately and has been playing it safe). But hey, if he has to fall back, so be it.

The gun went off and we were walking to the starting line...about 45 seconds of a walk, but once we passed the starting line it thinned out considerably. Went east towards 41 and then south. Once we were going south on 41 though, the road took an unexpected climb. Now, we've driven this road countless times but a road is very different when you are running...the only
thing in my mind is "wow...if this is hard, i'm so in trouble for that bridge ahead!" It must be said that I lost Joe around this area...know idea how far back he was, but thats ok...he wasn't competing against me. He just wanted to run the whole race.

But as soon as that thought entered my mind, it left just as quickly when the road slowly slanted down. We made a quick turn onto the bridge approach and there it was...staring right at our face. The bridge is BIG. The ascent was there, right in front of you and you couldn't even see where it peaked in the middle from the running road.

So, I struggled up the hill....focused on taking short quick steps and keeping perfectly upright....knowing that I would soon be able to glide down to the other side. I did take a quick 30 second walking break on the way up....I knew my time was too fast to keep this pace up, especially given the hill in front of me, so I convinced myself that the walking
break was appropriate and smart, rather than keeping me lax. After seeing the top, I opened my stride and leaned forward a tad so I was running parallel to the ground...this eased any issues regarding my stamina at least. I tried to look forward to see where the turn around was. I thought it would be around St. Armand's Circle, but surprisingly it was right at the base of the bridge! Yeah the midpoint in no time!

On the approach back up the bridge, it felt steeper but also shorter. I looked at my watch. My initial goal was to run in under 40 minutes (again due to the hill) and I was way
under that, so I walked a bit....wanted to keep up my energy for hitting the peak after all!

Back on top, I flew down again...and as soon as it plateaued I tried to keep up a somewhat decent pace, but I was tired at this point. I walked about 20 seconds and then went off again. Rounded the 41 corner and headed north towards the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. And, what gives now! Remember when I thought that there was a hill coming from the start line? Well, apparently, there was a hill approaching the same finish line....just not fair. Thought I was done with hills! But, I struggled through it.

Rounded the final corner and finished with a chip time of 38:45. I was 60th in my age group out of 197. Not sure where I placed overall, but who cares. There were about 3000 entrances in this thing! Joe finished in under 45 minutes, so he pleased with that...and he ran the entire thing with no walking breaks.

Afterwards, we walked to get the kids which was the perfect after run stroll. Saw some of the 1 mile fun run while we let the kids play a tad more on the playground. Then, we went to get some food from the stands and let the kids play in the jump house. And of course my daughter had to get her face painted. The fact that the kids watch, bounce house and face painting were free was extra nice.

Now, would I do this race again? Yes. The parking was well handled. The food options afterwards were adequate. The course was clean. The kids activities made it feel that the event wasn't just for was a family outing with something for everyone. And more importantly, I know I can beat my time next year! What more incentive can I have?

Overall, I was pleased with my performance since my primary goal was to run in under 40 minutes. I should not have let this play so much into my running increments though, as I was allowing myself too many walk breaks since I knew my final time would be under 40 minutes. Next time, I need to push myself a bit more. The goal? Under 37.


  1. Great race! Sounds like a fun one and I love the kids activities. My husband and I never get to run together either (we alternate our long runs on weekend mornings) so I know it's definitely a treat.

  2. it was a nice race...think we'll do it again next year. kids had a good time, and it felt more like a family outing than just a race :)


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