I hung around in the car for quite awhile before venturing out....was a chilly 42 degrees (more like 38 with the windchill). I could already tell the tourists who were definitely not anticipating this coolness. I'm glad I remembered to bring an old towel to wrap around me...may try the plastic bag method next time around if its just as chilly.
Tons of people were walking to the starting area, so there was a like a mini caravan from downtown St Pete to Tropicana. Even in the dark, it was easy to find your way...and even if you overshot the proper street, you would be able to see the building and detour...so no stress there. I arrived in the staging area right around 6:50. It was interesting to see so many huddling on the south side of every information/medical/bag check tent....yes, the wind was that severe that you needed to hide behind mock buildings!
But, in our huddling, everyone made comments of understanding how the penguin rituals are appropriate in cold weather. Really, it made sense! So many accents, so many regions of the US represented....and spattered amongst all of this were the locals :) I eventually left the huddle to stand in the requisite line for the requisite trip to the porta-potty. Afterwards, I checked the info booth and they said that the 2:15 pace team should be around corral 5. So, I enter the corral and search...no sign. I eventually see them in corral 6. Introductions are made, and Ben (the one carrying the 2:15 sign) was extremely pleasant.
We jumped up and down for a bit trying to keep warm...but before you know it, we were moving up to the starting line! The nerves weren't there at all....I suppose I was focusing so much on the weather, as everyone was. I think everyone was anxious to run just to warm up! But, before you know it, we were off! I was running in front of Ben immediately...not so far ahead that I couldn't hear him (he was a bundle of information about products, watches, GPS...any question thrown at him, he was answering). I knew that anytime I heard him talking, I needed to focus on speed. I found a running mate immediately off the bat. Her mother was running as well, but didn't want to drop down to her slower speed so she was hanging out with Ben. She knew she could run faster, but there wasn't a 2:10 pace group. Actually, it was a good match. Granted, she was half my age, but her pace was comfortable so we supported each other a lot for the first 5 miles or so. But, then she went off and I fell a tad behind, but still ahead of Ben. I really saw her the next 5 miles though, as she was always right ahead of me.
The bands were generally every 1.5 miles....sometimes they were pretty close, sometimes distant...all depended on the surrounding area. Quite quiet in the residential area, but breaking out the amps in the commercial area! The water stops were fabulous as well! They made it very easy to distinguish the water tables from the gatorade tables. Really, great volunteers here...lots of young kids as well, so I wonder if they got help from a local boys/girls club.
The bands on the street were great. Some of the singers were actually on the street high-fiving people, while others stayed on the stages. In any case, there was only one band that didn't seem quite right tone-wise. All cover bands, of course, but their song selection was perfect.
The first 3 miles was steady. The next 3 were ok. At around the 6-mile mark, I was feeling great. It slowly got harder from there, but my pace really doesn't show it. We headed towards the waterfront where the roadway opened up significantly, and then out towards the pier and back. Now, it was at this moment when I thought I wasn't sure of how I was handling it. I glanced around and Ben was right there next to me with his posse. I was tired, for sure...but still going.
Right at mile 10, I felt some discomfort on the bottom outside of my foot, so I walked for a few to check it out. Wow....do not ever stop running! The pain involved in getting yourself up and running again is overwhelming. The first few steps made it feel insurmountable....but I ventured on. Unfortunately, the pain in my foot didn't get better, so I immediately lost some momentum.
I knew I only had a 5k left...and I kept telling myself this, but it was a tough thing. I stopped a few more times because of the foot issue (I think I've self diagnosed it as a minor case of
peroneal tendonitis), but every time I stopped it was harder to get running again. My body was fighting it. And, I was doing so great up until mile 10. I was on a stellar pace,
better than expected. But, it wasn't to be. The next 3 miles was stressful and I ended up walking much more than I expected. As you can see by the official timing mats on the right, I hit 10 miles at 1:41, but finished at 2:20. It took me 39 minutes to do a 5k....yeah, it was hard.
I do wonder if the pain in my foot caused the time, or was that just a mental excuse not to push through it? If I had no foot pain, would I have been able to go strong the last 3.1 miles...or was it really me hitting the wall at the 10 mile mark? I suppose we never do know why we do the things we do, but I do hope each time it gets better.
Looking at my garmin specs, I'm quite pleased with my cadence. Even given those walking breaks, that was a pretty good SPM!
The splits are quite revealing. Honestly, I thought that they would look worse. I was very strong until the pier, but from that point onward, it was a tough run. Overall, I'm pleased with my performance. After all, I never did this far of a run, and I only got one 10.7 mile run in during my training. So, yay for me!
I do think the RNR series was well organized and well run. The expo was great, the volunteers great, the distractions/bands on the race course were great. The food after the finish line was just so-so....gatorade, water, small bagel, small banana and then some fruit snacks and marathon bars. I suppose I've had worse, but I've definitely had better food at some local 5ks!
I didn't stay for the after party at all. Sure, it was chilly and who knows if I would have stayed if the weather was nicer...but seriously, I needed calm after this, and their headliner (Flo Rida) was far from this. I'm not a fan of rappers, and this was supposed to be Rock, not the Rapper Half Marathon. But, since I'm not even sure I would have hung around if it was a better performer, I can't really speak too much of this.
So, I had my food, ran into my earlier running partner and wished her congratulations (she too had some aches and pains around mile marker 10 and finished just a few minutes ahead of me). I donned my mylar blanket and started walking towards the parking lot. Wow....12 blocks was far! It must have taken me a good 20 minutes to walk, if not more. I was exhausted and my muscles were yelling at me. I eventually got into the car and changed my top so I wouldn't experience too much of a chill, but there was no physical way that I could change my compression socks for dry ones...I just don't think my body was willing to move at that point. So, I get onto facebook and state my final unofficial time and I head home....a warmish-cool shower has never ever felt so good.
Would I do it again? Sure....I need to say this since I already registered for next year! But, I think I would anyway. I just hope the weather is better AND the headliner is more to my liking.